My review of the Canon Powershot S1 IS

I decided to post a review of my Canon Powershot S1 IS because there are some things about it that are not immediately apparant.

  • The macro mode is great -- I can reliably get the lens within a couple inches of the subject -- very high detail
  • The telephoto mode is also good -- one of my favorite features -- you'll need a steady hand even with the image stabilization. Invest in a cheap tripod for low light conditions.
  • Speaking of low light, the Canon Powershot series varies in dark conditions. The S1 IS isn't that great, definitely needs long exposures. Also, there is no autofocus assist lamp -- a bit of a nuisance.
  • While you are pressing the shutter button part way down to autofocus, the LCD screens freeze. This is a problem is you are trying to track a moving object, like a bird, while autofocusing. If there was an optical viewfinder, this wouldn't be an issue, but it would be useless anyway because of the long lens that makes this camera special in the first place.
  • You can adjust the flash brightness over a nice range -- good for closer flash photography.
  • The layout of the buttons and other controls is absolutely gorgeous. I've never seen a camera with a better layout. I can control all but the flash, timer, manual focus, and image stabilizer on/off with only one hand. Wonderful if you need a hand free, which is quite often. The S2 IS has a bit of different layout -- might not be as good.
  • Warning about the flash: don't try to raise it by hand. You'll break it. If the flash is set to go off, the flash will pop up as you begin pressing the shutter. I work at a home and car A/V retailer, and I hear a lot of S1 IS's get returned with broken flashes...
  • The decent-sized flip/swivel LCD is awesome, especially when you are taking pictures at odd angles, or doing self-portraits, or taking a picture of something that is not in your direct line of sight, or taking stealth photos from the hip with the screen pointing up (a must for candid photos).
  • The lens cap falls off really easily. Be careful not to scratch the lens or accidentally touch it, thinking that the cap is still on.
  • For what it's worth (being a very individual thing), I've had this camera for over a year now and I'm still in "new toy" mode. I'm quite pleased, in spite of a few shortcomings.

I've mentioned a number of negative attributes, but in my view they pale in comparison to the positive features (telephoto, swivel screen, ergonomics). In any case, compare it to the S2 IS and the A95 in the Powershot series, or look at maybe the EOS Digital Rebel if you want a (definitely) higher end camera.

Responses: 2 so far Feed icon

  1. Canon Powershot S1 IS owner says:

    Had Canon Powershot S1 IS for 5 months and the flash has just stopped working (after explosive noise when picture taken).

    Did not try to fiddle with flash by raising with hand at any time. Just stopped working.

    Buyer beware.

  2. Tim McCormack says:

    I searched on the topic, and it seems a few other folks ([1], [2]) have had the same problem with the Canon Powershot S1 and S2, which appears to be a blown capacitor or a short on the capacitor board. Capacitors do blow on occasion, but arcing or grounding of the capacitor is almost always caused by a design flaw. Luckily, your camera should still be under warranty, and the replacement camera comes with a 6-month warranty of its own.

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