Introducing the Canon Powershot S100

Today, Canon launched a replacement for the rather spiffing S95. Say hello to the Canon Powershot S100!

The reason why I've been recommending the S95 to everybody, is that it's a mighty awesome piece of kit. It's got a wide-angle lens, a wide maximum aperture, an effective image stabiliser, can shoot in RAW format, has a fantastic 3-inch display, and full manual settings if you want 'em.

Most importantly - in compact camera terms, the imaging sensor is enormous. How big is 'enormous'? Well, it's 1/1.7" (7.49 x 5.52 mm). That's a very big deal indeed, because the bigger sensor means that the pixels are less close together; that means better depth of field, better high-ISO performance, and more bragging rights too, I suppose.

What's updated?

The S100 ups the megapixel count from 10 to 12.1, adds the brand new Digic 5 image processing chip, and adds a couple of new ISO levels; you can now turn it all the way to 11; or rather: 6400. The lens has been improved, too: From the already lovely 28-105mm zoom range, the Powershot S100 has a 24-120mm equivalent zoom, and a closer minimum distance for macro shots (30mm instead of 50mm).

The longer focal range comes at a cost, of course, if you zoom all the way in, your maximum aperture drops to f/5.9. Not super impressive, perhaps, but that's life - and it's usually a good idea not to zoom in all that far on compact cameras anyway. The widest aperture when you're fully zoomed out stays at f/2.0 - rather juicy indeed.

The biggest update on the video front is that the S100 shoots in full HD - 1920 x 1080 pixels at 24 frames per second, whereas the S95 'only' shoots 1280 x 720.

Finally, the S100 adds a built-in GPS receiver, to help you geocode your images as you take them. Presumably, it would also be used to set the clock.

Despite all the new goodies, the S100 is only 4 grams heavier than the S95, whilst keeping roughly the same size otherwise.

So, do I want one? Well, if you already have a Powershot S95, then there doesn't seem to be quite enough of a benefit to upgrade to the new camera - unless you're itching for a spot of GPS action, or if high-def video is a dealbreaker for you. Apart from those two things, the S100 seems to be a solid evolution of an already absolutely rock-solid camera.

Very impressive indeed.