Saturday, August 4, 2007

Canon S5 IS

I told you all that I'd gotten a couple new cameras and it's about time I introduced you to one of them. I didn't ever think I'd buy myself a super zoom but I'm now the proud owner of a Cannon S5 IS camera.

I was getting tired of lugging the DSLR and lenses around all the time but I was reluctant to leave them behind on my hiking trips never knowing what I'd see or when the mood to do some photography would strike. After getting a couple longish lenses for my DSLR I was finding I liked using the longer focal lengths. The idea of a decent super zoom camera was really starting to appeal to me. It would give me a good range of focal lengths (leaving out the wide end) and was also light and compact enough not to be a burden when back packing. Not having to lug around as much camera gear would also let me carry around a smaller, lighter back pack as well.

I did some research but it really wasn't tough to settle on the Canon S5 once I decided to buy a super zoom. The fact that it was one of only a few to offer a flash hot shoe made the decision even easier. While there may be other brands that do better under some circumstances Canon seems to build the best overall P&S cameras from what I've seen.

I stopped in a Best Buy one day and was able to play with both the S5 and the S3 (its predecessor). Both are setup very similarly but the larger screen of the S5 was nice and it also seemed to have a much wider viewing angle (the S3 seemed to black out very easily if not looking at it straight on). As with all small sensor cameras the S5 IS won't do real great at higher ISO's in low light but I'm banking that the IS (Image Stabilization) will make up for the difference by allowing me to shoot at lower ISO's in low light.

So far I must say I'm very happy with the camera. I've taken it out on a few outings from biking, to walking around the city, to hiking in the mountains. The small size and light weight is a real blessing and I love the long zoom capabilities of the lens (423mm Equivalent). I've gotten shots with the camera I wouldn't have been able to get with my DSLR just because I don't have that long of lenses. The 35mm equivalent on the wide end is pretty much standard and it's a focal length that I enjoy using. So far I've found the controls to be set up pretty well and using the camera in either AV or M (Aperture Priority and Manual) is very easy; the live histogram makes getting the exposure correct a snap. I also love the flip out screen which is something I wanted the camera to do. It's great for macro and low angle shooting when I don't want to crawl on the ground for the shot. You can flip the screen around 180 degrees too which makes taking a self portraits a snap!

The picture quality is decent and pretty much what I expected. There's no way the image quality compares to that of a DSLR but I didn't expect it to either so I'm not disappointed. Most of my images will only be used on the web anyway and I'm sure I'd have no problems making 8X10's from most of the shots.

I haven't done any real testing but the IS seems to be working as advertised and I've gotten some sharp shots at very long focal lengths at pretty low shutter speeds.

The focus speeds is fast enough for me and I haven't had any troubles with the focus accuracy. I'm using the camera on center weighted metering and it's done a fine job so far. Like I said earlier the live histogram makes it easy to see when it's made a mistake before you take the shot.

There are of course a few complaints I have with the camera, none of them real major though. The EVF (Electronic View Finder) sucks, not that anyone else is doing any better in this regard from what I here. It's low resolution, small, and I find it difficult to use. So far I haven't had much issue using the screen even in the sun but it would be nice using the EVF to save battery life. As it is though I'll sacrifice battery life for easier to use screen over the EVF.

I also wish the lens cap fit tighter. I find it's constantly popping off and if I forget to remove it before powering the camera on the lens extends and just pops it off and onto the ground, which could be a very bad thing in some situations. I wish they would have just programmed the camera so that it would detect excessive current as the lens tried to extend on startup if the cap was on; causing it to stop extending the lens to keep from damaging anything and displaying up a warning on the LCD to remove the lens cap.

If course, I really wish the camera had a RAW capture mode too though I've been happy with the JPG output so far.

I'm sure as I use the camera more I'll find more limitations and things I don't like but right now it's looking like it's going to be a real winner for me. Hiking 10 miles through the mountains yesterday was definitely easier and more fun since I could carry a smaller pack and less weight.


Thomas said...

Hi there,

Nice early impressions. I hope you keep updating it as you get to know the camera more.

Take care

Paul said...

Great review. Have you tried the S5 with an external flash yet? I ordered the 430EX but now I'm somewhat disappointed to hear that the flash's focus assist light doesn't fire. Only the on camera focus assist works with the combo. I'm sure it's not a big deal.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Paul-

These are the first really positive comments that I have heard concerning the Canon S-5. Thanks for breaking the ice.


Anonymous said...

Alan, you, like many others, are not happy with the way the lens cap pops off too easily. I use the "cord" and find that when I turn the camera on, it pops off as it should and hangs on the "cord" no problem. Kind of handy, I think.

I wish it had a "better" pinpoint spot meter like my Panny has.

Ken Laninga

David Chin said...

Alan - thanks for an excellent review.

As a DSLR owner myself, I'm also looking into getting a smaller camera, but perhaps I'll go with something even smaller than the S5 IS.

Hope you don't mind me linking up to your post.

Alan said...

To answer a couple questions, the only flash I've tried it with is some quick wireless tests with my old Vivitar 283's. I don't have a dedicated Canon flash and don't plan on getting one any time soon so I don't know how it will perform.

As to the lens cap issue. I saw the little string for attaching it to the camera but I don't really like the thought of that either. I don't want something hanging from the camera and banging around, especially if I'm shooting down at something (it could get in the way of the lens). That is a way to keep the cap from getting away though.

Also, my biggest problem with the cap coming off too easily is that it pops off many times when I'm taking it in or out of the bag or it pops off in the bag while I'm hiking...not too cool.

Anonymous said...

Keep the updates coming. I just got the S5 for Christmas (was considering this, as well as an Olympus and a Sony). I went from film SLR ameteur photography, to a cheap digital P&S, but I just got tired have having little, if any, control. Although I haven't had a lot of time to get used to my S5, I think it's a great compromise between the DSLR prices and the cheaper P&S cameras. The best of both worlds, especially considering the ability to add filters, external flash, and wide angle or telephoto adapters. I knew about the lens cap problem, so I've attached the cord so I won't lose it. I hold it out of the way (just like I used to with my old Minolta 35mm camera), and I'm careful to keep my fingers over it when placing it in, or taking it out of, my camera bag. I had similar problems with the caps on my SLR lenses, so it's nothing new! Anyway, keep the information flowing! I can't wait to see what you do with this camera.


Anonymous said...

By the way, if anyone can recommend a particular, proven telephoto lens (or converter) for this camera, I'd appreciate it.


Paul said...

I wrote the previous comment about the S5 & an external flash. I know am the proud owner of an S5 & 430EX. They work great together and the S5's focus assist light does a fine job by itself. The 430EX FA light only illuminates when used with a DSLR.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Rhonda said...

I own the S5is and currently seem to notice the lens does not sound smooth when I power on. I'm not sure if it has always been like that and I just now noticed it or if there is a problem with it that I need to have looked at. Thanks!

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