The Canon S110 is the most refined little pocket camera Canon has ever made. The core design of the S110 remains unchanged from previous iterations. But with a little streamlining and some key new features, it's inched one step closer to perfection. Are you looking for the highest quality possible in a small point-and-shoot? Check out your new camera.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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?
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.
• 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