Canon Powershot S95

The Canon Powershot S95 is one of the most compact cameras available with RAW support and a larger than normal sensor. Recently it’s been replaced by the Canon Powershot S100, which to all intents and purpose is a better camera, however it’s introduction has meant the now “aged” Canon Powershot S95 is available for around £229, making it great value for money and well worth looking at.

The Canon Powershot S95 features a 1/1.63inch CCD sensor, this is larger than the majority of sensors, and should enable lower noise. Other useful features include optical image stabilisation, and an f/2.0 lens at the wide end of the 3.8x optical zoom lens.

View our Canon Powershot S95 Sample Photo Gallery

Read our Canon Powershot S95 Review

Canon Powershot S95 – Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 26/02/2012
Rating: Recommended
Author: Joshua Waller

Lets look at the camera in more detail.

Canon Powershot S95 Pop Up FlashCanon Powershot S95 – Front on – the camera has an electronically controlled pop-up flash – meaning when you switch the flash on, it pops up, then when you swith it off, it pops down (you can’t manually push it up or down).

The front of the camera – the front of the camera shows the ring control that surrounds the lens, this can be used to quickly change options, and you can choose what to set this as.

Specifications / Features:

  • Sensor – 10 megapixel CCD Sensor
  • Lens – 3.8x wide angle optical zoom lens (f2.0-5.9, 28-100mm equiv)
  • Screen – 3.0″ screen with 460k dots
  • Macro – 5cm macro
  • Continuous – 2fps shooting
  • Video – 720p HD video with stereo sound (digital zoom only, AVI)
  • AF: AF Tracking, Face Detection, Manual, Focus Bracketing,
  • IS: Optical Image Stabilisation
  • HD output: Yes: HDMI
  • Red-Eye Reduction: Yes
  • ISO: AUTO, ISO80 / ISO100 / ISO200 / ISO400 / ISO800 / ISO1600 / ISO3200
  • Aspect Ratios: 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1, 4:5
  • Histogram available: Yes in playback and record
  • Manual Exposure Compensation +/-2.0EV (1/3EV Steps),
  • Exposure bracketing: Yes – 1/3 – 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments
  • Manual WB: Yes


Canon Powershot S95 TopCanon Powershot S95 Top – The top of the camera features a Ring Func button letting you quickly change the function of the front ring.

Box contents: Camera, Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery, Charger, AC Cable (Figure of 8), AV Cable, USB Cable, CD-ROM, Wrist Strap (useful).

Battery life: Battery life is rated at 200 shots according to CIPA standards. I was able to take around 200 photos before the battery went flat. This is below average for a compact camera. As the camera uses lithium ion batteries, a spare is highly recommended.

Recommended accessories: A large SD or SDHC memory card, 4gb or larger is recommended: SD Cards at Amazon: 1GB, 2GB. SDHC Cards at Amazon: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32gb. A case is also a must buy for any digital camera, the Lowepro Rezo 10 fits the Canon Powershot S95 very snuggly, and if you want a bit more room (for a flipbac grip) try the Rezo 20, or for a weatherproof case, have a look at the 20AW.

Speed: The camera is quite quick in use, quick to switch on and focus, although continuous shooting could be a bit quicker, as it shoots at 2fps, with the built in HDR mode this means a tripod is necessary for the HDR mode to work properly (as it combines 3 shots).

Canon Powershot s95 function screenEase of use / Menus: The gives quick access to options using the function button – this lets you quickly set the options using a screen overlay. The menus are clearly divided into photo, playback and setup options.

Canon Powershot S95 dialsButtons / Ergonomics: You can easily customise what the front lens ring and rear scroll wheel does and also customise what the function button does – this makes it easy to setup the camera how you would want to use it, giving you quick access to your favourite options be it ISO or exposure compensation etc. The bottom of the camera has a metal tripod socket near the middle of the camera, and the battery and memory compartment are under the same cover.

Video: Records 720p video, with stereo sound, although optical zoom is not available while recording. Quality is good.

Macro photos: The camera has a 5cm macro mode, which isn’t the best in the world, but is still decent enough for good macro shots. You can also get slightly closer by zooming in slightly.

ISO / Noise / Low light performance: The camera lets you set the ISO from ISO80 to ISO3200. Using ISO80 to ISO100 noise is very low, with good detail. ISO200 and ISO400 show slight increases in noise. It’s not until ISO800 that you start to see a slightly unpleasantness to the noise, however images are still useable. Noise increases noticeably at ISO1600 but results are still useable. At ISO3200 noise levels are the highest and detail suffers, and at this point images are borderline useable, but may still be acceptable when resized or converted to black and white.

General musings? It may not have the highest image quality of the serious compact cameras, it may lack the flash hot shoe of larger models, it may also be a little slower than some of the others, and have worse battery life and grip. But, it does an excellent job of being compact whilst also giving control, and provides good image quality, and if at the end of the day you just want a camera that you can rely on, that’s small enough to take everywhere you go, then the Canon Powershot S95 is an excellent choice. The camera also has an iContrast mode that can be used to expand dynamic range.


Bellagio Las Vages, Taken with Canon Powershot S95Canon Powershot S95 – Sample photo – Bellagio, Las Vegas

Image Quality: Image quality is not the best I’ve seen from a “serious compact” with others, particularly the Panasonic Lumix LX5 excelling in this area. Colour is really good, detail is decent, but images are quite soft generally, and better results should be possible using RAW, but for the most part image quality is good and is extremely useful for use on the web. The built in optical image stabilistion helps in low light to get sharp shots. (8/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): While handling could be better, and particularly battery life, the Canon Powershot S95 is a very good all round camera, and the majority of issues have been resolved by the replacement the Canon Powershot S100. If you can live with the battery life and lack of grip (easily solved with a flipbac grip for $10, and a spare battery), then the camera is very good and has a number of customisable controls making it easy to quickly set options. (8/10)

Value for money: The Canon Powershot S95 certainly costs more than a lot of other compact cameras, but in terms of cameras with larger than normal sensors, and a bright lens, the camera offers pretty good value for money, and delivers better image quality, controls and features than many compact cameras. Especially now that it’s price is much lower than it once was. (8/10)

Recommended LogoConclusion: The Canon Powershot S95 makes an excellent all round compact camera, and it’s small size and built in image stabilisation lends itself extremely well to being the camera you can take with you everywhere you go, and still rely on it in low light conditions. The only major drawback is the poor battery life, which can be avoided either by taking the charger with you at all times, or by keeping a spare with you. Another complaint is the lack of grip on the camera, this can be worked around by attaching a flipbac grip, and by keeping the strap always attached.

Canon Powershot S95 Rating: Recommended (8/10)
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What I Like (Pros):

– Compact size
– Reliable results (even in low light)
– Image stabilisation
– Good image quality
– Easy to change settings
– Good build quality

What I Don’t Like (Cons):

– Battery life (buy a spare battery)
– Lack of grip (buy a flipbac grip)
– Could be quicker

For a second opinion, have a look at ePHOTOzine’s review of the Canon Powershot S95.

View our Canon Powershot S95 Sample Photo Gallery
Check for the latest Canon Powershot S95 prices on Amazon UK

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