Canon Thoughts after handling a Canon S100 and comparing it to the S95

Mandeno Moments

New Member
New Zealand
I have a S95 as a carry-everywhere and had an unhurried half hour or so with a friend's S100. Sorry, I couldn't do any meaningful comparisons of image quality. In no particular order these are my thoughts on the two cameras (two dots indicate what is significant for serious photographers making stills):

• The S95 has always struck me as a photographer's tool, while the added GPS, zoom range, and video start button of the S100 make it seem more consumer-oriented. This impression is strengthened by two of the two minor points I'll get to near the end of this post.

•• I have large hands and I find the S95 decent to hold without an added grip. The S100 has a much rougher texture, a rubber-like strip on the front, and a rubber-like thumb pad. The S100 is much better for holdability, although I'd like to see the thumb pad have a diamond pattern rather than be smooth.

•• The battery life of the S95 is very poor and the S100 has a smaller battery.

•• Under tungsten light the S100 has an unpleasant greenish colour cast on the screen before shooting. Switching from auto white balance to tungsten made no difference. When compared side-by-side the S95 had accurate screen colouration. The colours provided by the S100 were accurate on playback, but this colour cast makes previewing the white balance impossible and a major part of the user interface very unpleasant to use (under tungsten lighting at least). My Nokia gives odd colour casts before I take a photo and I expect better from a premium compact. The screen of the S95 is very pleasing.

•• The S95 provides 28-105mm-e f/2-4.9, while the S100 gives 24-120mm-e f/2-5.9. F/4.9 is well into diffraction territory, while 5.9 goes deeper still. The S100 is about two thirds of a stop slower over most of the range. I like 24mm-e, but you're losing a lot with the lens of the S100 and there's the matter of inconsistent lens centering.

• The pop up flash is the same on both cameras: when up it does reduce your grip on the camera but I don't consider it to be a problem because I can fit a finger onto the top plate behind the flash. The flash is less than ideal ergonomically, but it's just part of life with a tiny camera.

• The shutter button of the S100 gives much better tactile feedback than that of the S95, although the chrome finish on the S100's button looks cheap and out of place. The zoom toggle on the S100 gives better grip than that of the S95, not that the latter has been a problem.

• The Func button on the S100 is domed instead of flat as on the S95, which is a definite improvement.

• The S100 lets you choose from three levels of high ISO noise reduction, the S95 gives no choices.

• Adding GPS and a video start button has compromised the user interface, but not drastically so. If you want to have a shortcut button the ring function has to be adjusted in the menu. The Disp button isn't where Canon usually puts it. Direct access to the self timer has gone.

• The microphones on the S100 have less separation, are off centre, and are very close to your hand. The S95 has much better setup, with one microphone on each side of the lens and below it.

• My recurring gripe with Canon compacts is the absence of a Superfine JPEG option. JPEG quality of 90 is unacceptable to me, and the only way to get better is to use CHDK.

Minor points
• The S95 has the writing on the lens barrel and the model number in a nice subdued grey, while the S100 has these in a garish white. I prefer subdued cameras and the white printing doesn't fit with the rest of the S100.

• The end of the S100's lens barrel looks cheap and tacky compared to that of the S95. I suspect that the design of the S100 was simplified in order to reduce costs.

• The S100 has a nice black wrist strap, unlike the horrible off-black one that came with the S95.

Canon giveth and Canon taketh, as it often does with a new model. For a happy snapper the S100 is definitely better than the S95 (apart from battery life), while for serious photographers it's probably the other way around.


Huntsville, AL
Real Name
Good write up. I played with an s100 and felt underwhelmed. It zoomed and focused pretty slow. I don't know if the s95 is any better/worse. The thing right now is I have been seeing reports of bad lenses in some of the s100's. Not sure if thats the case with the s95.


Minnesota USA
Real Name
Kyle Krug
Thanks much for the comparison, Jachin. I have considered both the S95 and s100 as an ultra compact option, so I really appreciate your feedback. I just wish the price on the s95 would fall more... I remember a few lucky people around here got a great lightning deal on Amazon, but the price seems pretty stable since then.


Bring Jack back!
Houston, Texas
Real Name
Welcome to the forum Jachin! What a great way to make an entrance, with your excellent comparison. Thank you very much.

Did you see any difference in shutter lag between the S95 and S100? I have the S90, and there is a considerable shutter lag.

Mandeno Moments

New Member
New Zealand
Thanks for the compliments and feedback folks.

Armanius: due to a senior moment I forgot to make a direct comparison of shutter lag and focus speed :dash2:. However, I'm pretty sensitive to those things and the S100 didn't leave any negative impressions. The S95 is very good to excellent for a compact in that regard.

Djarum: the S95 is softer than I'd like at 85mm-e and 105mm-e. I don't know if this is sample variation, diffraction, IS-induced or something else. I've been meaning to do some tests. I haven't read about any manufacturing problems as with the S100.