Review of the Canon Powershot S3 IS

posted by am-y, Jul 21, 2006 9:42 PM — 4 comments

1) Macro - This is definitely the camera's plus point. It can shoot super-macro up to 0 cm distance! This is actually the main reason why I think you should get this camera - only if you want to shoot extreme close-ups.

2) Optical Zoom - With up to 12x zoom, it's quite powerful. In daylight, I shot a car driving past my house on a road quite far away. The camera actually captured the license plate of the moving car very clearly. I was quite surprised.

3) Manual Mode - You can adjust manually adjust aperture, shutter speed, exposure, ISO level, metering, etc. This is good because it makes you feel that you can control a lot of things. But the bottomline is that the camera lens is not very good. If you want super-sharp or super-smooth images, this is not the camera to get.

4) Auto Mode - There are many presets: landscape, night mode, portrait, sports, beach, snow, etc... There are even some gimmicky things like "colour swap" and "colour accent" that allow you to swop colours within a picture or change it to something else. These are useful if you want to take pictures quickly without having to set anything yourself, but they don't always produce optimal results. E.g. Night mode is quite lousy.

5) Aperture Priority (Av) & Shutter Speed Priority (Tv) - These allow you to control either the aperture or shutter speed. The camera will set the other automatically. It's not much use. You might as well just choose Manual.

6) ISO - On this camera, anything above ISO 100 will give a lot of noise. It's better to just adjust the shutter speed or aperture and leave the ISO alone.

7) Night Shots - This is NOT this camera's plus point, definitely. In low light situations, the camera produces a lot of noise, or else images are not sharp enough, even with a tripod, and a small f-stop and low shutter speed. I think the lens is just not good enough.

8) Day Shots - Photos of objects appear somewhat washed out. Don't expect vibrant colour on this camera.

9) Landscape Shots - I tried shooting some clouds using the auto mode (landscape) and the colours turned out wrong on every single shot (e.g. clouds always looked greyer than they were). I haven't tried the manual mode with landscape shots yet, but I suspect better results might be obtained, using a large aperture value (to increase depth of field) and very slow shutter speed to allow more light in. The camera does not seem to take in enough light on all its shots. They always seem dark.


Overall, I don't like the camera's colours, and photos do not turn out sharp enough for me, but there's always Photoshop I guess.

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1. posted by pbock, Jul 23, 2006 7:15 PM

I have the S2 IS and I have excellent color. Thus I'm puzzled by your experience with washed out colors.

Maybe it's not adjusting for light well enough??

The reason I chose the S2 over the S3 is because the S# is more for making movies and the S2 for pictures.

I agree with you about Av and Tv modes.

2. posted by am-y, Jul 24, 2006 10:21 PM

Oh dear. If you are right, it means I have bought the wrong camera then. Because I'm not interested in making movies. :(

3. posted by frtzw906, Aug 3, 2006 7:20 AM

I have the S2 IS and like it for the continuous fire mode for taking sports action shots... the zoom is awesome; also great for sports photography.

4. posted by am-y, Jan 6, 2007 6:24 AM

Aha... Sports photography is something I haven't tried... maybe I should... experiment with motion...

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