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Review Canon S95

Canon S95

Canon S95 (6.8 oz./193g with battery and card, but no strap). enlarge. The biggest source of support for this free website is when you use these links, especially these directly to the Canon S95 at Adorama and at Amazon when you get yours. Thanks! Ken


October 2010 more Canon reviews


Introduction top

Intro Specs Performance Recommendations


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Ritz Camera

I personally buy from Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet and J&R. I can’t vouch for ads below.



The Canon S95 is the much improved new version of the extraordinary Canon S90.

The Canon S95 fixes the S90’s flaky rear control dial and hard-to-find-by-feel shutter button, and adds a host of clever new features.

As expected, images from the S95 look great, just as did images from the S90, and the S95 handles even faster and better than the S90.


BAck, Canon S95

Canon S95. bigger. (photo from 1993)


What’s New

The Canon S95 adds over the Canon S90:



Every Canon point-and-shoot for at least about the past 10 years has had a VIVID mode, which I use all the time on all my Canons.

The S95 adds a new SUPER-VIVID mode for even wilder colors, but sadly, it also locks-out all the white balance (and some exposure controls), so it’s mostly a parlour trick today.


Rear Dial Detents

The S90’s loose rear dial turned by itself, changing the ISO unintentionally.

Canon S95 rear controls

Canon S95 Rear Controls.


Redesigned Shutter & Zoom Knobs

Top, Canon S95

Top, Canon S95

Top, Canon S95. enlarge.

The new shutter and zoom controls are designed properly so that they are easy to locate by feel.

(The S90’s mode dial felt just like its shutter button, so many people, including myself, my wife and my son, tried to take pictures by pressing the mode dial accidentally!)


HD Video

The S95 adds 720p to 640 x 480 and 320 x 240.

The S90 only did 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 video.


S – t – e – r – e – O   Sound

Canon S95 stereo microphone

Canon S95 stereo microphone

The S95 also adds 720p/23.976 HD video, but more important is the addition of S – t – e – r – e – O microphones for great audio.

The S95 has two microphones for wrap-around STEREO sound!

It used to be that I had to use my Casio EX-V8 for stereo movies; every other DSLR and compact camera of which I know only records mono sound.

Even if they offer a stereo input jack, every Nikon DSLR and every Canon DSLR still only has a single mono microphone, not two for stereo.

The S95 uses a spaced pair of microphones separated by about 5cm, for a semi-ORTF pattern, just with with shorter spacing (ORTF uses 17cm spacing similar to our ears). I use the ORTF pattern for my live music recording, which I’ve been doing in digital since 1981, two years before the Compact Disc and back when digital audio was super high-tech beyond the scope of most recording studios.

The S95’s spaced microphone placement ought to give much more spacious sound compared to coincident X-Y microphones in other consumer electronics, especially when heard via headphones, since this extra spacing adds phase and time difference information lacking in X-Y coincident placement. (Recording engineers will point out that microphone placement is more important than most anything else in recording, and will debate stereo pickup patterns as well.)


Dynamic Tweaks

The S90 and other recent PowerShots have what Canon calls “i-Contrast” to deal with unruly highlights and shadows. You may turn this either OFF or ON.

New in the S95 is the ability to adjust exactly what this does.

The S95 has “Auto Dynamic Range Correction,” which alters the rendition of highlights, and has a few different strength settings.

To master the shadows, the S95 has a few different “Shadow Correct” settings.

It’s nice to have these tweaks, but better still is how Nikons DSLRs just deal with all this automatically from shot-to-shot as conditions change, most recently called Adaptive Dynamic Range by me, which corrects both shadows and highlights and automatically optimizes these effects for each and every shot. With Nikon’s better system, you never have to guess the level of correction you’d like; that’s the camera’s job.



Gag, I was not looking forward to the first camera to be able to do HDR gymnastics in-camera, but I’m actually pleasantly surprised that the S95 is the first camera to do this, and it does it fast and easy.

Good news is that it works quite simply: just select “HDR” as a scene mode, and the S95 makes three bracketed shots all by itself, does the math, and saves the result. Easy!

The results look refined and natural, but there’s the same catch as with the Super-Vivid mode: it also locks-out all the white balance and exposure controls, so it’s mostly a parlour trick.


New AF Modes and Tricks

New to the S95 is Tracking AF, which attempts to track moving subjects. Select it in the first item in the shooting menu under “AF Frame.”

The S95 may be set to “focus point magnification” (choose AF Point Zoom under AF Frame), in which case the LCD magnifies the selected AF area automatically so you can check the autofocus before you shoot.

Also new to the S95 is AF bracketing, where the S95 will pump off three shots at slightly different distances. My S90 never misses, so I’m unsure why I’d need either of these two nanny modes in the S95.


Auto ISO

Auto ISO is now settable for the maximum ISO to which Auto ISO will reach

Something unclear until I get more time with an S95 is that you can alter the “rate of change” of Auto ISO. I suspect that may be Japanese English for the pivot point for shutter speed, but we’ll have to wait and see.



The S95’s ON/OFF and RING FUNC buttons are reversed compared to the S90.

The mode dial now has a thicker, knobbier grip, however the rear thumb-hold seems smaller than on the S90.

The S95 is Canon’s first pocket camera with what Canon calls “Hybrid IS,” which supposedly works much better than last year’s IS in the macro mode.

The S95 is very slightly smaller by a millimeter here or there and lighter by 5 grams from the S90.

I could be wrong, but it seems we now have some more menu options in setting the functions of the two control rings, especially in “C” mode.

The shortcut ([ S ]) button has twice as many options as in the S90.

Used with the right TV, HDMI CEC compatibly lets you control playback with your TV’s remote control.


Trick Shooting and Editing Modes


The S95 shoots natively in 4:3.

New to the S95 are the ability to have images cropped while shooting to 16:9, 3:2, 4:5 and 1:1 (square) in any of the various sizes.

The only crop mode in previous Canon PowerShots has been a full-resolution 16:9 crop mode, called [ W ] in the size menu.


Lens Tilt

Canon calls this “miniature,” meaning that it defocuses the top and bottom of an image, leaving only one plane in focus.

It’s a similar effect to tilting the lens on a view camera (or a lens baby) to throw most of the image, except the subject, out-of-focus.

The lens doesn’t actually tilt; firmware progressively blurs the image away from a line of sharpness.


Smile shot

If select among the SCN modes, the S95 shoots by itself when you smile.


Wink self-timer

If selected as the self-timer mode, then the S95 shoots 2 seconds after you wink.

This replaces a cable release or conventional fixed self-timer for self-portraits.


New-Face self-timer

If selected as the self-timer mode, the S95 takes a picture 2 seconds after a new face enters the picture.

Use this so that you can take you time walking into a group portrait.



You may warp an image to pretend it’s a fisheye shot.

It doesn’t cover any greater angle than usual, however.


Canon S95

Canon S95. enlarge.


Specifications top

Intro Specs Performance Recommendations


6.0 – 22.5mm f/2.0 – 4.9.

(equivalent to 28-105mm.)



Genuine 6-bladed diaphragm.



15 seconds – 1/1,600, will vary by setting.





Real CCD, not just CMOS.



AUTO, 80 – 3,200.

ISO Auto is perfect, and selects any speed between 80 and 1,600 exactly as I would, based on the selected focal length of the lens.

ISO 12,800 can pop up in the super low-light mode.


Image Sizes and Formats

3,648 x 2,736 pixels native.

Also 2,816 x 2,112 (M1), 2,272 x 1,704 (M2), 1,600 x 1,200 (M3) and 640 x 480 (S).

New cropped modes also let you record images cropped from the full 4:3 down to 16:9. 3:2. 1:1 (square) and 4:5.

At stupid-high ISOs in the ultra-low-light mode (Amnesty International candle icon), image size is reduced to 1,824 x 1,368 pixels.

JPG and/or CR2 raw.



1,280 x 720/23.976p

640 x 480p or 320 x 240 @ 29.97p.



Built-in, pop-up flash.

No hot shoe — why would any sane person put a big flash on a tiny camera?




Correct full-height 3:4 aspect ratio.

461,000 pixels.


Color YRGB Histograms?

Yes, playback only.





PAL or NTSC analog audio and video.


Body Covers




NB-6L Li-ion Battery

CB-2LY folding-plug charger (USA). Works on 100-240 VAC 50-60 cps, so it works worldwide with a passive plug adapter.

(CB-2LYE is the corded charger.)

Rated 200 shots per charge; S90 was rated 220 and I got more.

1 hr 55 min maximum charge time.


Waterproof Case for SCUBA

Waterproof Case WP-DC38, $180 ($240.00 at retail).



3.93 x 2.30 x 1.16 in. (99.8 x 58.4 x 29.5mm), rated.

The S90 was rated at 3.94 x 2.30 x 1.22 inches (100.0 x 58.4 x 30.9mm).



6.810 oz. (193.1g), measured by me with battery and card, but no strap.

6.8 oz. (193g), rated by Canon with battery and card, but no strap.

Canon specifies 6.00 oz. (170g), with no batteries or card.

(The S90 was specified as 0.18 oz (5g) heavier than the S95.)



August 19, 2010.



Promised for the end of August, 2010.



Included with Canon S95

Included with Canon S95. enlarge.

PowerShot S95 Body

Lithium-ion Battery Pack NB-6L

Battery Charger CB-2LY

Wrist Strap WS-DC9

AV Cable AVC-DC400ST

USB Interface Cable IFC-400PCU

Digital Camera Solution CD-ROM

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