Canon PowerShot S5 IS
The latest model in Canon’s popular line of image-stabilized superzoom cameras, the 8-megapixel Canon PowerShot S5 IS is similar to its predecessor, the 6-megapixel PowerShot S3 IS (Canon skipped a number so there’s no S4). Both have an image-stabilized 12x optical zoom lens with a focal range of 36-432mm (35mm equivalent), an SLR-like design, an articulated LCD, and a versatile feature set that mixes a full range of manual exposure controls (Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual) with easy-to-use Auto, Program, and Scene modes.
Measuring 4.6 x 3.15 x 3.06 inches (117.0 x 80.0 x 77.7mm) and weighing 1.25 pounds (574g) with battery and card, the Canon S5 IS is slightly larger and heavier than the S3 IS, in part to accommodate Canon S5 IS’s new 2.5-inch LCD. The LCD’s resolution has also been upgraded from 115,000 to 207,000 pixels. Both are welcome changes and increase the LCD’s usability, especially in bright light and when using manual focus. The Canon S5 IS now sports a hotshoe so users can take advantage of Canon’s powerful Speedlite flash units. The physical changes are rounded out by minor control changes and a new, spring-loaded lens cap in place of the S3’s slip-on design.
Internally, the Canon S5 IS’s processor has been updated to DIGIC III and, not surprisingly, the camera offers Face Detection Autofocus and Auto exposure for more accurate capture of group and single portraits. Maximum ISO has jumped to 1,600 and ISO Shift has been added so you can adjust light sensitivity on the fly if you need a faster shutter speed. Safety FE helps avoid overexposed highlights when using flash and Safety MF allows you to use autofocus to tweak manually focused images.
Other additions to the Canon S5 include the ability to correct red-eye in Playback, and two new Continuous Shooting options: Continuous Autofocus and Live View. The former is self-explanatory; the latter’s name is confusing but it allows you to use a single, manually set focus point when shooting in Continuous mode. Unfortunately, the Canon S5 IS loses the S3’s High Speed Continuous Shooting and, in fact, the new camera’s continuous shooting speed is slower than its predecessor. There’s no Intervalometer mode for time lapse shooting on the Canon S5, although up to 4GB of movie clips can now be recorded (versus the S3’s 1 GB). A new LP (Long Play) option, much like the LP of VHS days, increases recording length in movie mode.
The Canon S5 IS has all the components to attract both experienced shooters who want control over their images and novices who want to hone their digital photography skills, most notably a well-rounded, advanced feature set with a respectable number of bells and whistles, a long zoom, and effective optical image stabilization. The Canon S5 IS is one of the better megazooms on the market, but image quality issues may take it down a notch.