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Canon S90 review

Canon revives its S series compacts with this likeable SLR backup

Our Verdict

For

  • Fast, bright zoom lens
  • Quality high ISO sensor
  • Powerful noise-reduction technology
  • Innovative, helpful design
  • Generous three-inch rear LCD

Against

  • No HD video recording
  • Flash is harsh on auto setting
  • Rear rotary well is fiddly
  • Burst mode could be faster
  • Rear screen tends to scratch

canon powershot s90

The lesser zoom range will be less of an issue for PowerShot S90 owners when they discover they get a very handy maximum aperture of f/2.0 at the wide-angle end, a big advantage in a camera in this price range.

Something else the PowerShot S90 has in common with the PowerShot G11 is innovative ergonomics.

Although the S90 lacks the cleverly combined exposure/ISO dial you get with the G11, it has a unique ring mounted around the lens.

canon powershot s90

Using the Ring Function button on the top of the camera, this can be configured to adjust aperture and shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, white balance compensation, or operate a 'step zoom' feature that sets the lens to a series of specific focal lengths. Just like a 'pro' camera.

Rotary club

The PowerShot S90 also has a bigger rear LCD than the PowerShot G11.

It's a full three inches in size and is very easy to read with its 461,000 pixel resolution. All it lacks is the PowerShot G11's articulation, but as we mentioned in the G11 review, this does make the latter rather fat.

canon powershot s90

Another of the PowerShot S90's innovations is a rear rotary wheel, used to adjust key settings in a similar way to the ring around the lens.

So, you can set the front lens ring to change aperture, for instance, while the rear ring adjusts exposure compensation. The rear ring is a good idea, but can be a bit fiddly. It's not as well engineered as the ring around the lens, and it's frustratingly easy to activate the nearby four-directional controller by mistake.

Making the rear ring a tad stiffer would have really helped here, and we suspect Canon will fix this on the next iteration.

canon powershot s90

Another slight quirk is the placement of the shutter button; it's quite small and you find yourself fingering the PASM dial every time you want to take a shot until you get used to it. The zoom lever, which is connected to the shutter release button, is also quite fiddly if you have big fingers.

These are not major problems though and the PowerShot S90's build quality is pretty good. This is clearly a compact that is built to last, although you should be aware some owners on the Canon USA site have already complained that that lovely rear LCD has a tendency to scratch quite easily. Since we have to send our review sample back, we weren't going to put this to the test!

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution640 x 480
Effective Camera Resolution10 Megapixel
USBYes
Wide AngleYes
Product FamilyPowerShot S
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom3.8x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameCanon
FeaturesFace Detection
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsQuickTime MOV
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)175 g
Minimum Focus Distance50 mm
Maximum Image Resolution3648 x 2736
Maximum Frame Rate30 fps
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
HDMIYes
HD Movie ModeNo
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, MultiMediaCard (MMC), MMCplus, HC MMCplus
Height30.9 mm
Width100 mm
Depth58.4 mm
Product SeriesS
Focal Length6 mm to 22.50 mm
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Flash ModesAuto Flash, Flash OFF, Flash ON, Red-eye Reduction
Focus ModesAuto
ManufacturerCanon, Inc
Product ModelS90
Product NamePowerShot S90 Compact Camera
Product LinePowerShot
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberS90
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.canon.co.uk
Marketing Information

At a mere 175 grams, the Canon PowerShot S90, is packed full of features. With a 10.0 megapixels High-Sensitivity CCD sensor offering amazing low light capability, a bright 2.0 lens and complete creative control you're only one click away from the perfect shot.

Package Contents
  • PowerShot S90 Compact Camera
  • Battery Pack NB-6L
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
  • AV cable AVCDC400
  • Wrist Strap WS-DC9
  • CD-ROM
Display Resolution461000 Pixel
Limited Warranty1 Year