Canon S110 Review: The Best Camera You Can Fit In Your Pocket

Canon S110 Review: The Best Camera You Can Fit In Your Pocket


What Is It?

Like the S100 last year, the S110 is a tiny $599 camera with a 12.1-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch image sensor. The S110 trades in the S100’s lame GPS for built-in Wi-Fi and a new touchscreen.

Who’s It For?

Beginner photographers who want more control. Advanced photographers who want something that fits in a pocket and doesn’t suck.

Design

Like the S-series cameras before it, the S110 is a bit smaller than a deck of cards. This version has the sturdiest build yet. The camera’s control layout remains basically unchanged.

Using It

For such a small camera, the Canon S110 sure offers a lot of control, and it just makes it easy to get the shot you want. The S-series always had a wonderful control ring around the lens, and combined with the click wheel and rear buttons, you can quickly adjust settings to make all kinds of changes. Touch autofocus and Wi-Fi transfers are useful, timesaving additions.

The Best Part

Big image quality in a little camera. Tiny, actually. It fits in your pocket. Not your parka pocket — your skinny jeans pocket.

Tragic Flaw

Despite nice responsiveness, you can’t do much with the touchscreen.

This Is Weird…

Old-school Canon fans will recall that this isn’t, technically speaking, the first PowerShot S110. There was a two-megapixel Canon Powershot ELPH S110 back in 2001. The current camera doesn’t have much in common with that.

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Test Notes

  • We carried this camera in our pocket everywhere we went for a week.
  • From a usability point of view, the fact that you can take the S110 everywhere sets it apart from its more fully-featured competitors. The Panasonic LX7, and the supposed S-series vanquisher, the fabulous Sony RX100, have comparable controls and slightly superior image quality. But this is the only completely pocketable box.
  • As before, between the manual capabilities and built-in settings, it’s almost always possible the get a great image. The S110’s performance is just as fast as the S100’s.
  • We haven’t yet found perfectly designed Wi-Fi camera (and we tested two good ones). Like those, the S110 easily uploads to social media and quickly transfers files between a camera and a phone/tablet/computer. Canon’s Camera Window app makes sending photos to mobile devices easy. But the rest of the Wi-Fi functions are too much trouble.
  • The camera’s top ISO setting has been bumped one stop to 12,800. (Don’t ever shoot that high, or your photos will come out horribly.) Like all S-series cameras, the S110’s handheld night scene setting is a lifesaver. It uses processing and noise reduction to cobble together a usable shot without flash.
  • The S100 does perform well at some high ISOs. Even in the trickiest conditions, ISO 1600 shots are very clean, and photos taken at ISO 3200 are relatively noise-free. Very impressive for a camera this size.
  • It’s pretty ridiculous that it can only shoot at a maximum shutter speed of one second.
  • One way to make the most of the quick adjustments: Just walk around and shoot automatic until something doesn’t look right, and then go and and make changes. This camera doesn’t require you to be a camera whiz shooting full manual everywhere you go.
  • One detail we miss from the S100 is the narrow strip of rubber that made the minuscule camera significantly easier to hang onto.
  • As before, the camera’s tiny size means a smaller battery. One charge with the 1200-mAh battery got us 135 photos, two minutes of video, and about 10 minutes of Wi-Fi.
  • The camera’s touchscreen is nice and responsive, but we wish you could control more of the camera’s settings on the screen (the way you can with the Canon T4i).
  • The camera shoots at 1920 x 1080 HD video, but you can’t take full-manual control of it.
  • What’s the point of having touch autofocus if you can’t use it in movie mode?

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Should You Buy It?

Yes, with caveats. If you’re buying into the S series, now, you may be considering the S100, which is about $50 cheaper. But the additions in the S110 are substantial enough that you should get the newer camera. As for upgrading — if you’re coming from the S90, it’s a yes. From the S95, maybe. It depends on how much the Digic 5 processor’s improved noise-reduction and autofocus matter to you.

As far as its competitors — the LX7 and the RX100 — the S110 beats them all on portability, but not necessarily on image quality. Look, if what you really want is the best images from a camera roughly this size, then Sony’s RX100, released a few months ago, is the one to get. It set a new standard for image quality on point-and-shoots, and its 1-inch sensor blows away the 1/1.7 chip in the S110.

But for a lower price — and a profile that can slip into a slender pants pocket — the S110 packs in more quality per square inch of camera than any other point-and-shoot on the market today.

Canon Powershot S110

• Price: $599 RRP in Australia
• Sensor: 12.1-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor.
• Lens: 5x optical zoom, f/2.0-5.9/8.0
• Max ISO: 12,800
• Image: Up to 4000 x 3000 pixels
• Video: 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps
• Screen: 921,000 dot, 3-inch touch LCD
• Weight: 198g
• Gizrank: 4