S100 photo “grabbed” from kenrockwell.com

I‘ve had the Canon S100 for a few weeks now and I might say that this is one fine camera. This is a pro’s point and shoot and it does its work with aplomb. Why do I say that? Read on.

I bought this camera as a backup to our office’s Nikon D300 DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex). Since buying another DSLR was out of the question, I wanted to buy something that would not be a compromise in terms of image quality. I’ve been reading reviews of the S100 for a few months prior to buying this and I was very confident that this camera would fit the bill.

The body of the S100 is well-built. Solidly built. I know it will withstand the rigors of the field. How do I know? I’ve taken the camera to Chiang Mai, Thailand when I went there to teach photography. It was in my shoulder bag all the time. The big Nikon was in the heavy camera bag and I did not have to pull it out until I was teaching and used it for illustration.

If you have been shooting with a point and shoot and have noted the controls, then the S100 would not be hard to use. What you may not be familiar with is the ring surrounding the lens that you can set up to do various commands. Mine is setup to change the ISO with the twist of a wrist. There is also a custom function button at the back of the camera to which you can assign a command. Mine is setup to change the white balance quickly. The lens ring and the function button make life a bit easier for the photographer.

S100 photo “grabbed” from kenrockwell.com

Then there is the small ring at the back of the camera. The functions of this ring changes depending on which mode you are using. I usually shoot using Aperture Priority. This means that I will take care of setting the aperture and the S100 will give me the appropriate shutter speed for the lighting condition. So I can use the ring at the back to change the aperture in a snap. In shutter priority (Tv in Canon speak) the ring changes the shutter speed. If I’m in Manual mode then the smaller ring’s functions change. You can now use it to change the shutter speed and the aperture.

The plethora of features that this camera packs in its small body is a bit of an overkill to the casual user. In the hands of the experienced photographer, more creative avenues are opened up. If you are in the former camp (the casual shooter), a have good news! The Auto mode is very good. So good that you can actually just set it and forget it. White balance is fairly accurate and the High ISO performance is very decent. I really don’t use High ISO so much, a force of habit, but test shots using ISO 3200 showed opportunities for those who need it as a last resort.

The downside with this camera is in terms of battery life. You may have to have a spare battery if you will heavily use this camera during the day, especially with the video feature which I may add is also very good.

As a working semi-pro shooting portraits, weddings and all sorts of events, the Canon S100 is a relief from the heavy load of pro gear. Shooting with it is a lot different and a lot slower. Some may be curious why someone like me who has been shooting with DSLRs for almost 8 years would even consider shooting with a point and shoot. I dare say that the experience is different. It makes you think different and that thinking can be translated with how you shoot with the bigger rig.

Below are some photos that I’ve shot with the Canon S100. It would be an understatement to say that I am satisfied with the camera. I really am. If you are a casual shooter that wishes to go another level up but without having to go the DSLR route, then I highly recommend the Canon S100. If you are a professional needing a small point and shoot that will not let you down, I think the S100 will do it for you too!

For detailed specs on the Canon S100, which I wont bore you with, you can visit www.kenrockwell.com.