Canon S100 workout

Inspired by late November sunshine over a holiday weekend, I took the Canon S100 to a popular photographers’ perch of the Seattle skyline with the hopes of capturing a golden sunset. Alas, the sky turned gray as I set up the tripod, so I grabbed the opportunity to give the S100 a workout with the different special effects and HDR capability. A little ‘getting-to-know-you’ session, so to speak, and we had a great time.

built-in HDR

Capture with the built-in HDR capability. Captures JPG only, not RAW. Notice the ghosting of the cars. I'm unlikely to use this effect much, as I get better results shooting RAW and handle HDR with post-processing.


Single image HDR

Single image HDR: capture via RAW, converted to TIF, processed with Photomatix.


Built in nostalgic effect

Captured with built in nostalgic effect


Built in fish-eye

Captured with built-in fish-eye effect. Could be useful in different situations.


Built in minature

Captured with built-in minature effect. I like this a lot, good for amplifying objects in the middle of a shot.


Built in toy camera

Captured with built-in toy camera effect. Interesting, seems like something that could be reproducible with post-processing.


Built in super vivid

Captured with built-in super vivid effect. Another one that seems like something that could be reproducible with post-processing.


Built in color accent

Captured with built-in color accent effect. Handy to have in the right circumstances.


Grunge Seattle

Captured with RAW, converted to TIF, grunge effect by Photomatix. My favorite of this series.


First impressions: Canon S100 camera

The Canon S100 is a nice little ‘cusper’ camera, filling the niche between your phone camera and a DSLR. It’s small enough to be an everyday carry, slipping easily in a jacket pocket or motorcycle suit. The more you carry a camera around, the more likely that you’ll take more pictures. And a DSLR doesn’t always make for a convienent appendage.

Samsung Focus and Canon S100

Size comparison: Samsung Focus and the Canon S100

Just as importantly for me, I can turn it on and shoot it left handed while I’m doing something else – riding a motorcycle, driving a car, or holding an over-achieving dog on a leash. The S100 is not a substitute for an action camera like the GoPro HD or Contour – it’s too refined to be out in wet weather, and I doubt it’s resiliency if dropped from a 4 foot elevation.

GoPro HD and Canon S100

It's not the size that matters, it's the output: GoPro and Canon S100

The S100 is designed to be an everyday companion when you want to quickly pull it out, quickly do a RAW or HD video capture, and tuck it away unnoticed. Such as grabbing a foodie shot at a restaurant or capturing a pepper spray incident at an unruly crowd rally. The 24-120 lens has a wide enough coverage for most mid-range uses, with a handy supplementary fish-eye setting for JPG captures. By comparison, the GoPro excels as an all weather video capture recorder, despite it’s algebriac menu settings.

Here’s a short 1 minute video sampler with the GoPro HD and S100 set at 1080, where I clamped both cameras on a stick and followed our over-achieving dog up a trail.

Still captures

S100 in motion

Shot with my left hand while riding


Got any sheep to herd?


What it doesn’t do

  • Interval shots, which means it’s not a camera for KAP (kite aerial photography) or automated capturing long sequences like a highway ride.
  • RAW captures with special effects, such as fish eye
  • Perform in wet weather, like the GoPro
  • Also MIA: native RAW support within Windows, Photomatix, and Lightroom, as the camera is too new (unless I’m doing something wrong with the Canon codec install). Need to use the Canon photo editing tools to convert RAW to TIF or JPG until Microsoft and Adobe release updated drivers.

Hands on

  • The front rubber grip helps, particularly when operating with gloved hands
  • Customized self timer is useful (say, fire off 3 shots at 15 seconds instead of standard one shot after 2 or 10 seconds)
  • One touch flash control is handy, regardless of other settings.
  • Battery life goes quick for 200 shots/video captures.
  • I like the fish eye effect.

Unlikely to use…

  • Built-in HDR, which requires a tripod. There will come a day when this is just built into all cameras, we’re not there yet. I’ll just capture RAW instead and handle HDR via post processing.
  • All those special built-in filters…does anyone really use sepia or B&W on the hardware end?

Haven’t yet played with…

  • GPS functionality
  • Neutral density filter

Bottom line
I’m not sending this one back to the retailer, the Canon S100 is a keeper.

Car mounted camera

The concept: mount a camera to the car roof, fire off shots at 5 second intervals, drive to somewhere fun.

GoPro camera mounted on Mini Cooper

GoPro camera mounted on Mini Cooper through moonroof

Route planning: Issaquah, WA to Red Mill Burgers in Phinney Ridge. Map details.

Survey says: cool idea, 500 boring road shots, best when done at sunset. The best of the lot…

Approaching a roundabout

Going westbound on the 520 Bridge

Approaching I5 interchange from Rt 520

Red Mill Burgers

Full frame view of shot from GoPro mounted on the roof