Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Canon Powershot S5is Review

The enduring popularity of Canon's 'big zoom' range began on the day the original PowerShot S1 IS was announced back at the start of 2004, heralding a return to a sector of the market many believed the photo giant had abandoned when the Pro 90 IS was discontinued a few years earlier. Since then it has been rare for there not to be an S series big zoom PowerShot in our top 10 most popular cameras (measured by clicks) despite stiff competition from Panasonic (responsible for the reinvigoration of the whole 'superzoom' sector), Sony and a handful of other players. Perhaps this is why Canon has been loathe to tinker too much with the formula established in the original model for subsequent generations. Sure, the S2 IS was a much-needed upgrade (bigger lens, big performance boost), but since then Canon has pretty much left well alone with fairly predictable upgrades to the sensor and screen, and minor feature tweaks.

And so we arrive at the camera on test here, the PowerShot S5 IS, another incremental upgrade to its predecessor that adds a couple of welcome (and some would say long overdue) features but, for the most part, doesn't mess too much with what made its predecessors some of the most appealing cameras in their class. The extra two million pixels and bigger, better screen were inevitable, the flash hot shoe a welcome surprise. Surprising too is that Canon avoided the temptation to go for a longer zoom range (now that 15x and 18x optics are becoming commonplace) - the S5 IS has exactly the same lens as the S3 IS and S2 IS before it, meaning you still don't get a true wideangle unless you attach the large optional lens converter. There is also still no raw mode (perhaps the most requested feature from serious S3 IS users) - it would now seem certain that Canon has abandoned raw capture in non-SLR models.

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