The award-winning Canon PowerShot S100 -- the successor to the popular Canon PowerShot S95 -- garners rave reviews from critics, who say it's the best high-end compact camera out there. Like its predecessor, the S100 packs powerful features found on pricier (and bigger) enthusiast models into a compact body. In addition to the S95's creative manual controls, RAW image file format and an intuitive lens ring for quickly setting key functions (zoom, focus, etc.), the S100 boasts an arsenal of upgrades: Canon's newest DIGIC 5 processor, a larger 12.1-megapixel sensor, a faster 5x zoom lens and built-in GPS that tags photos and tracks your movement. The camera shoots full HD video (1080p) and includes a dedicated record button, optical zooming, stereo microphones and a mini HDMI port for TV playback.
The S100, however, omits some key features found on rival enthusiast models. Testers say that Canon's 3-inch LCD has lower resolution than some competitors. Likewise, the Olympus XZ-1 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 have brighter, faster lenses in the telephoto range plus a hot shoe and an accessory port for an external flash or viewfinder. Canon's battery life also pales in comparison, although the S100 keeps pace with zippy shooting speeds and stands out from the crowd with sharp photo and video quality. Reviewers agree that unless you really need a faster lens and a hot shoe -- and are willing to lug around a bigger camera -- the Canon PowerShot S100 is the way to go.
If you're on your second or third point-and-shoot camera, the Canon S100 is a good step up from more basic models. It offers advanced features without being intimidating, takes great shots -- and still fits in your pocket. Plenty of reliable reviewers recommend the Canon PowerShot S100 based on thorough testing, among them CNET, PCMag.com and DPReviews.com. Customers at Amazon.com are forthright about the S100, which helps to reveal problems that might surface with extended use.
"The Canon PowerShot S100 takes everything the S95 did right and improves on it," says Jim Fisher. With its excellent performance and well-rounded feature set, the S100 "easily" earns the Editors' Choice award for high-end compact cameras, even though the Samsung TL500, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and Olympus XZ-1 offer better LCD displays, faster lenses and hot shoes.
Review: Canon PowerShot S100, Jim Fisher, Nov. 15, 2011
Lori Grunin says the S100 is a great little camera that "builds on the strengths" of the excellent Canon PowerShot S95 with GPS and video zoom capabilities. However, the lens aperture "narrows quickly" when zooming and shooting speeds are "so-so," especially compared to a digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera.
Review: Canon PowerShot S100 (Silver), Lori Grunin, Nov. 17, 2011
The Canon PowerShot S100 earns a Highly Recommended award from PhotographyBlog.com. Although the high price tag is a slight concern, Mark Goldstein says the S100 provides excellent image quality up to ISO 1600 and improved handling.
Review: Canon PowerShot S100 Review, Mark Goldstein, Nov. 24, 2011
4. Camera Labs.com
By making some key improvements on the Canon PowerShot S95, the Canon PowerShot S100 makes its mark as "one of the best pocket cameras for enthusiasts," says Gordon Laing. Despite its short battery life, missing hot shoe and waning brightness in telephoto mode, the S100 excels with its small form factor, increased powerful features and punchier-looking images.
Review: Canon PowerShot S100 Review, Gordon Laing, November 2011
DPReview.com gives the Canon PowerShot S100 an overall rating of 72 percent (out of 100). Reviewer Kelcey Smith says the camera provides a "near DSLR-like level of manual control," with excellent image quality and improved handling.
Review: Canon PowerShot S100 Review, Kelcey Smith, December 2011
Jim Keenan at DigitalCameraReview.com likes that the Canon PowerShot S100 includes a variety of advanced options, including RAW support and full HD (1080p) video. However, like other reviewers, the short battery life and high price tag are cited as drawbacks.
Review: Canon PowerShot S100 Review: Powerful and Pocket Friendly, Jim Keenan, Dec. 22, 2011
Like most reviewers, Shawn Barnett at Imaging-Resource.com says the Canon PowerShot S100 is an improvement over its predecessor, the S95. Updates include a wider zoom, full HD video and a new image sensor. However, "it's not quite as fast in the autofocus department as we like to see," says Barnett.
Review: Canon PowerShot S100, Shawn Barnett, Stephanie Boozer and Zig Weidelich, Feb. 23, 2012
8. PC World
PC World gives the Canon PowerShot S100 a 4.5-star rating (out of 5), calling it a "near-perfect pocket camera." Other than some minor concerns about short battery life and slow autofocus, PC World says the S100 "is just about the most capable compact camera we've seen."
Review: Canon PowerShot S100, Theano Nikitas, Dec. 23, 2011
The Canon S100 receives a 4-star rating (out of 5) from TechRadar.com. High points include an upgraded design, excellent image quality (even at high ISO) and full manual controls, but the price tag is a little hard to swallow.
Review: Canon S100 review, Josie Reavely, Nov. 10, 2011
The Canon PowerShot S100 maintains a 3.6-star rating (out of 5) after about 150 reviews at Amazon.com. Most owners say the S100 represents a solid upgrade over the S95, but there are a number of owners who complain about a lens error or deteriorating image quality around the edge of photos.
Review: Canon PowerShot S100, Contributors to Amazon.com