With full manual exposure control and the ability to save images as raw files, the Canon PowerShot S90 may be the perfect compact camera for the demanding enthusiast photographer

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Canon PowerShot S90

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Canon PowerShot S90 review


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Build and handling

Unlike the Canon PowerShot G11, the S90 is an ultra-compact camera. Measuring 100×58.4×30.9mm and weighing 175g, it is small enough to fit inside a jacket pocket. With a discreet, simple, yet stylish design, it isn’t a camera you would be embarrassed to be seen with at a party. However, the body isn’t all style and no substance, as the front and rear of the camera are made of metal and feel solid and well built.

That is not to say there aren’t a few peculiarities when it comes to handling. For example, when I first picked the S90 up and tried to press the shutter button, I missed by almost a centimetre. I think this button is set too far to the left of the position where I would naturally expect it to be.

Passing the camera around to a few people at AP confirmed that it wasn’t just me who thought this because most of the people who handled the camera instinctively pressed the top of the Mode dial rather than the shutter release.

Similarly, the neat pop-up flash rises from where I naturally hold the camera with my left hand, and it took me by surprise when the automatic flash popped up for the first time.

For the most part, though, these small ergonomic issues aren’t a problem once you have used the camera for a while, and certainly shouldn’t put off potential purchasers. In fact, there is one handling feature of the S90 that I wish was included on the PowerShot G11 – the control ring. This is found around the base of the lens, and feels just like an aperture ring. In fact, when the camera is in aperture priority or manual exposure mode, the control ring can be set to change the aperture. This is a nice touch, and really adds to the camera’s handling.

Aperture control isn’t the only function of the control ring, as it can also be used to control the EV compensation, ISO sensitivity setting, stepped zoom setting, manual focusing and the white balance shift. Using the ring to control focusing, zoom and EV compensation feels very natural if you are used to handling a DSLR.

There is a button on the top of the camera to select those features you wish the ring to control. I changed this according to what I was photographing and the exposure mode I was using at the time. Generally, I had it set to control aperture or EV compensation.

As for the rest of the camera’s handling, the S90 is largely the same as most other current Canon compact cameras. A mode dial controls the shooting mode, while buttons on the back provide direct access to the most commonly used functions, such as turning the flash on and off. A scroll dial is located on the back of the camera, which allows settings such as shutter speed and ISO sensitivity to be quickly scrolled through and selected from the on-screen menu.

In all, the range of dials and buttons makes it easy to select all the various controls and settings, regardless of whether they are accessed directly or via one of the camera’s on-screen menus. However, as it has more buttons and controls, I prefer the handling of the PowerShot G11.

  1. 1. Canon PowerShot S90 at a glance:
  2. 2. Build and handling
  3. 3. White balance and colour
  4. 4. Metering
  5. 5. Autofocus
  6. 6. LCD, live view and video
  7. 7. Resolution, noise and sensitivity
  8. 8. The competition
  9. 9. Our verdict
Page 2 of 9 - Show Full List
  • Keith Tomkins

    I thought about getting the Canon 7D but the vari-angle screen on the Canon 60D did it for me. Being left handed this camera suited me
    Its Solid build and good balance great control positions with a lock button in the centre of picture setting type control knob,which for left handers works brilliantly as you can’t knock it with your hand like I used to do on the Canon 550D I had before upgrading also the NOSE print every time i took a photo! But not on the 60D which also has the view screen top right of camera for AF/drive/ ISO and metering meaning you know your setting with the screen turned inwards.
    Best camera I have ever bought, so I bit the bullet and got the 24-105mm IS USM, 50mm 1.4f USM and the 70-200mm F4 IS USM lenses
    The pictures I took at the London 2012 olympics made it all worth while

    Highly recommended 9.5 out of 10