Where is there an end of it? | Canon S90

Canon S90

New Toy


I like gadgets, and here’s a new one. I’m not expecting it to replace my DSLR, but it has a couple of big advantages over it – it weighs practically nothing and fits in a shirt pocket.

My former Canon point and shoot, an IXUS 800 IS (called the SD 700 in the USA) has now pretty much given up the ghost: the accumulation of pocket lint and grit in the mechanics of the lens extension mean it frequently stops working with a “lens error”, and after dropping it and cracking open the casing, a liberal wrapping of duct tape has been necessary to stop light leaks. It was the fragility of a mechanical lens extension which made me swear I’d never buy another camera like it, and yet Canon have tempted me with this model, which – crucially – has a sensible blend of sensor size, pixel density (it's a 10 megapixel camera) and lens speed which means it will produce very nice shots in good light, and still be able to perform reasonably in less bright conditions.

I’ll try hard not to drop this one (in general, I seem to experience one drop per year), as it seems unlikely it would fare well. It’s very small – which is okay as I have small hands and am used to holding point-and-shoot cameras in a dinky way after experiencing the IXUS 800 – and the buttons feel rather cheap and cheerful, especially the very free-spinning rear dial (though curiously, the function dial on the top of the camera is quite meaty).

One of the most interesting features of this P&S is its (official) ability to shoot RAW, thus allowing one to sidestep the over-zealous noise reduction that often characterises this type of camera. My favourite RAW converter, DxO Optics Pro, has built in support for the S90 and so I’m up and running with my favourite conversion presets straight away. Interestingly the RAW images exhibit a huge amount of lens distortion – at the wide end it’s a bit like looking through a goldfish bowl – and this is corrected in camera (as it is by DxO Optics Pro) using software … so this camera is very much a fusion of hardware and software in what it produces … but then, thinking about it I suppose that’s true, to some degree, for all digital cameras.


Boats of the Fleet Lagoon
Boat on the Fleet Lagoon (taken with Canon S90)

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