by Shawn Barnett and Zig Weidelich Review Date: 12/07/09 Long a leader in digital cameras, Canon has been playing catch-up of late, moving swiftly to match other manufacturers' recent moves in the digital camera space.It used to be that they grappled primarily with the electronics powerhouse Sony on the consumer side, but that's changed to the massive electronics manufacturer, Panasonic, a company whose digital cameras are in such high demand that people are paying full price and more for cameras like the LX3, TS1, and ZS3, even a year after their introduction.
The S designation marks the return of the semi-pro moniker, last used by the S5 IS, but more importantly by the S40 through S80, very popular cameras among enthusiasts in their day.
More remarkable than that, though, is that Canon, the digital camera marketplace leader, is the first to take a step back in the megapixel race with both the G11 and Canon S90. We've all watched with concern as megapixel counts continued to rise in even the smallest cameras -- driven by perceived consumer demand.
Last year's G10 had a 14-megapixel sensor, and most of Canon's pocket cameras have 12-megapixels. Our tests show quite clearly, though, that most of these cameras have more trouble with blurring that comes from the noise suppression necessary at such small pixel sizes.
Worse, these lovely high-resolution sensors reveal more flaws in the optics, which requires camera companies to somehow mass-produce very high quality glass to go with these tiny, tell-all sensors, encased in cameras whose prices continue to fall.
In short, the digital camera industry has fallen prey to the law of diminishing returns. Now we can get back to the pursuit of photographic excellence, rather than the continued "bigger is better" contest.
In theory, the Canon S90's specs should deliver better image quality in low light.
The Canon Power Shot S90 has a retail price of US0, but is available from some online retailers for less.
by Shawn Barnett To quite a few of us, an everywhere camera should be small.
Hence the very positive response to the Olympus E-P1 and Panasonic GF1. I still carry a pocket digital camera for everywhere photography, and the Canon S90's major competition looks more like the Panasonic LX3 than the E-P1 or GF1.
The Canon S90 seems to answer the call quite well, with an all-black body evoking the spirit of the company's EOS cameras, combined with a relatively pocketable profile.
As I suspected in the Preview, the Canon S90 actually isn't thicker than the Panasonic LX3, coming in at 1.2 inches thick, compared to the LX3's 1.5-inch thickness.