Canon PowerShot S95 – Sample Photos PaS

Bringing the Canon PowerShot S95 with me to do some after Christmas shopping I snapped some samples of Christmas Tree Decorations and other things – in one of our local shops.

This was to test the Real World Point-and-Shoot (PaS) abilities of the Canon S95. Handheld and only available light used – but it was a very well-lit shop as you can see! Think of the feat this camera does – you just going into a shop and get almost studio-like photos with no preparation or set up at all – no tripod – no flash – no lights – just point-and-shoot!

Going for the multicoloured Christmas Tree Decorations first I would like to point out the there was a cellophane wrapping around the boxes giving some reflections and also some misting effects.

This is where the fast f 2.0 lens really comes in handy and helps achieve better pictures – both keeping the ISO value lower and keeping the shutter times shorter! In a few of the samples the ISO value was kept as low as 80-100! That combined with an effective image stabilization really helps the sharpness!

As always all of these samples are full size and have not been edited in any way – except changing the filenames! Just click on the photos to see them full-size! Having the camera set up with “P” Program Setting , Automatic White Balance and “Auto ISO” I let the camera pick what it considered the best compromise for each photo. True point-and-shoot! For some of the photos I have added small 100% crops of center and corner for a quick and easy comparison for you – but best is of course to check out the full sample!


Starting out with the picture above I used the widest angle (28 mm equiv) and the camera picked ISO 80 – giving a shutter time of 1/30 sec and f2.0.

Looking at it full screen it looks close to perfect just out of the camera – good enough for most of us! Adding a little more saturation and contrast – to counteract the misting from the cellophane wrapping would make it perfect. And this in the shops flourescent lighting! Maybe I should check with them for some good studio lighting perhaps … 😉

Looking at it at 100% I notice – what I think is – some slight corner softness. Not very disturbing – but it is there! (See the rightmost 100% corner crop above.)

The noise is virtually non-existent  and you can not even see it in the out of focus areas.


Continuing with the next picture I again used the widest angle (28 mm equiv) and the camera picked a higher value this time – ISO 250 – giving a shutter time of 1/30 sec and f2.0.

Looking at it full screen it looks good just out of the camera – again good enough for most of us! But as before – adding a little more saturation and contrast would make it even better. Looking at it at 100% – there is some corner softness evident. Note that I have gone much closer so the relatively short depth of field (DOF) when using f 2.0 exaggerates the corner softness. Not very disturbing – but it is there! (See the rightmost 100% corner crop above – and also the picture below using f 2.8.)

The noise is very controlled and even if you can see it in the blurry – out of focus – areas – it is very “kind” noise and quite easily accepted. See the rightmost 100% corner crop above where the noise is visible in the top of the crop.


One more close up of the lovely Christmas Tree Decorations – once again with 28 mm equiv – and the camera chose – ISO 100 – giving a shutter time of 1/30 sec and f2.8.

Looking at it full screen it looks close to perfect just out of the camera – more than good enough for most of us! But to make it really dazzle – upping the saturation and contrast a little would make it perfect!

Looking at it at 100% – there is no longer any corner softness! This seems to be just because of the slightly smaller aperture of  f 2.8 for this photo. (Compare to the f 2.0 pictures above.) Both edge and corner crops show a good sharpness.

The noise is virtually non-existent  and you can not even see it in the out of focus areas.


In the above samples – more Christmas Decorations – the tinsel was taken with 28 mm,  ISO 200,  1/30 sec and f2.0 – and the Santas with 28 mm,  ISO 80,  1/30 sec and f2.8.

In the tinsel (originally strands of silver – invented around 1610!) you can once again see the soft corners and some very slight noise – but once again not very annoying!

In the Santas picture we have the benefit of both lower ISO value (80) and slightly smaller aperture (f2.8) which gives a visibly very calm picture with few disturbances. In short a really good picture – technically at least! 😉


Last two samples – straw goats and artificial flowers. The straw goats were taken  with 28 mm,  ISO 80,  1/30 sec and f2.5. The artificial flowers with 28 mm,  ISO 100,  1/30 sec and f2.0.

Both turned out as really good PaS pictures with no obvious faults! Have you noticed that I like wide-angle shots? 😉


The white balance worked perfectly for this type of flourescent light. The light was also quite strong – for ordinary shop lighting! That in combination with the fast (f 2.0) lens made it quite easy to take well exposed and sharp pictures with good colours and little noise. The slight corner softness – I think – can easily be accepted because it increases the “artistic” freedom! Also one could very easily have added a little more “punch” to the pictures by one of the different colour, contrast and sharpness settings. The above is how they came out of the camera with Canon factory settings! To get the absolute best results keeping the ISO as low as possible and stopping down a little – to f 2.8 – is the ideal – and also a no-brainer as this in practical photography goes for all cameras!
(I stress that the pictures looks really good as it is – and I am talking about adding a just a little more saturation and contrast – just to get that extra “wow” effect! This is something you would only bother with for a few pictures that you want to do something extra with – calendars, presents, give away pictures … etc. For ordinary usage you would probably not bother …)
In short: Very good pictures – very easy!

Hope you liked the Christmas samples!

After this will be a post on the depth of field for the Canon S95 and after that it will be a post in which I dig into the abilities of RAW versus JPG! Is RAW really that much better? Is there really a reason to use RAW – if you are a reasonable person and not a pixel-peeper? What can you do with the JPGs – and not? I do not know the answers yet – but I intend to find out!

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  1. #1 by Matti on December 30, 2010 - 09:07

    I really like your blog! I like your personal writing style, the nice pictures (which looks very cosy to me!), and the content of blog entries.

    I stumbled into this blog, since I’ve been thinking about to acquire a new compact camera. I’d like it to be easily carried around, be as good as possible in low light, and with lots of control over the camera. Also, as my wife would be using it quite a lot, it should have a good auto-mode, so that she wouldn’t have to try to change settings…

    Based on this wish-list of mine I found out S95 and WB3000. There’s quite scarcely information about WB3000 but, based on your writing, I think it’s not a camera for me because of two imporant things: not so good AWB (as well as saturation) and the missing orientation sensor! Both of those issues are already nuicances with my dSLR and I don’t want to have another camera like that!

    So, my question is: how well S95 manages to handle automatic white balance in your opinion? And also, how good the auto mode is compared to other normal compacts, are there any clear flaws with that?

    What’s by the way the shallowest depth of field you can get out of the camera when shooting human-size subjects? I guess the bright lens help that a little, although the small sensor is the problem always.

    Keep up the good work! I’ll be following your blog also in the future.

    • #2 by sfennl on December 30, 2010 - 12:59

      Thank you for your kind comments!
      The S95 AWB works quite well I think. Daylight is handled – as it should – perfectly! Flourescent light is usually no problem at all. Tungsten light is rendered slightly on the warm/yellow side – as most (all?) cameras do. The extremely yellow natrium light – that is sometimes used as street lighting – also is rendered sligtly yellow – not very disturbing but I choose to use custom WB when faced with this (rather uncommon) light.
      The Auto mode is at least as good as any other camera! Most pictures turn out very pleasant!
      About the depth of field – it is a little bit more shallow then other compacts when you are using the full f2.0 aperture.
      Because of your kind comments I will do a post on the subject of S95 depth of field with sample pictures in just a few days!

    • #3 by sfennl on January 1, 2011 - 20:18

      Hello Matti!
      Now the post on depth of field and blurry background is up! Go have a look!
      Hope it answers your question.

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