September 2010

PowerShot S95

The latest PowerShot model pushes the envelope of thinness and ease of use

Photo 1: PowerShot S95

Photo 1: PowerShot S95

This month’s technical report brings you an overview and summary of the features of the PowerShot S95, which went on sale in August 2010. It is equipped with a 10.0-megapixel, high-sensitivity sensor and 3.8x zoom lens with a lens-shift image stabilizer (35mm-film equivalent focal length range: 28 – 105 mm).

Development objectives

The PowerShot S series has won wide acceptance in the market for pairing, in a compact body design, top-class image quality and sophisticated photographic functions that satisfy both commercial applications and advanced amateurs.

The PowerShot S95 (Photo 1) was designed as the successor to the PowerShot S90. It maintains the S90’s body styling with an even thinner profile. The S95 provides wrist strap mounts for improved handling. The following statement summarizes the development aim for this camera.

Design a digital camera that stresses “the fun of photography” and “mature excellence” while continuing the PowerShot S series tradition of excellent image quality and functionality.

Feature 1 — Advanced image quality

Figure 1: HS System

Figure 1: HS System

HS System brings together a 10.0-megapixel, high-sensitivity sensor and the DIGIC 4 image processor

The PowerShot S95 uses the S90’s 10.0-megapixel, high-sensitivity imaging sensor but with many added improvements, including the ability to take high-definition movies. The camera also comes with the HS System (Figure 1), which combines the high sensitivity sensor and the DIGIC 4 image processor to allow users to capture beautiful, low-noise photos even in poorly lit scenes, which have always been problematic with previous digital cameras.

High-quality 3.8x zoom lens with a lens-shift image stabilizer

The camera uses the same lens as the PowerShot S90 — an f/2.0 (wide) – f/4.9 (tale) 3.8x zoom lens with a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 28 – 105 mm. The lens is constructed with seven elements in six groups, including one double-sided aspherical UA lens element. The inclusion of high refraction and high dispersion glass achieves superb aberration correction.

The PowerShot S95 is particularly good at shooting blur-free photos in low-light situations because of its fast f/2.0 lens at the wide-angle end.

Figure 2: Angular shake versus lateral shake

Figure 2: Angular shake versus lateral shake

Figure 3: Effect of angular and lateral shake versus shooting magnification

Figure 3: Effect of angular and lateral shake versus shooting magnification

Photo 2

Photo 2

Hybrid IS

The S95 is the first compact camera to feature Hybrid IS, which minimizes the impact of camera shake on image quality. There are two types of camera shake: angular shake and lateral shake. Lateral shake (Figure 2) occurs when the camera moves in parallel with the subject. The effects of lateral shake cannot be ignored in macro photography (Figure 3). Conventional stabilization units, however, have not been able to correct lateral shake because a separate sensor is required to detect lateral shake.

The PowerShot S95’s Hybrid IS stabilizes both types of camera shake by using a dedicated acceleration sensor to detect lateral shake. Because Hybrid IS is effective in reducing noticeable lateral shake at short shooting distances (where shooting magnification is high), the camera is able to greatly stabilize images at all shooting distances.

Improved i-Contrast function

The PowerShot S95 boasts more advanced i-Contrast, a feature that applies image correction based on an analysis, made during the signal processing stage, of the exposure, dynamic range, and other characteristics of the image. Specifically, we made it possible to set the shadow correction and dynamic range correction independently and we added a sensitivity correction setting. By doing so, we addressed request by high-end model owners who wanted to tailor the shadow correction and dynamic range correction separately for each scene.

We also retuned the control algorithms to raise the scene detection accuracy and to apply dynamic range correction more precisely.

High Dynamic Range shooting mode

The High Dynamic Range shooting mode takes three consecutive shots — one underexposed, one at normal exposure, and one overexposed — and then automatically combines the shots into one image. The camera expands the final image’s dynamic range by selectively using the overexposed shot for dark areas and the underexposed shot for bright areas. This mode can reduce blown highlights and lost shadow detail in high contrast scenes (Photo 2).

High-precision AE and AWB using iSAPS technology
RAW support

Feature 2 — Sophisticated functionality

Tracking AF

Tracking AF is a function that can track and shoot a specific subject. To set the subject to be tracked, the user positions the subject in a frame in the center of the screen and pushes the appropriate button. Because Tracking AF functions in coordination with Servo AF, the subject can be tracked until the instant before the shot even when the shutter button is held down halfway.

Figure 4: ISO rates of change

Figure 4: ISO rates of change

Figure 5: Comparison of different aspect ratios

Figure 5: Comparison of different aspect ratios

The maximum ISO speed and the rate of change can be configured for the ISO Auto mode

Canon made it possible to set the maximum ISO speed between 400 and 1600 in 1/3-step intervals for the ISO Auto mode to better reflect the shooting scene and user preferences. It is also possible now to set how fast the camera changes the ISO speed up to the upper ISO speed. Users can set the rate of change to Slow, Standard, or Fast (Figure 4).

Shoot at multiple aspect ratios

The PowerShot S95 can shoot at 3:2, 1:1, and 4:5 aspect ratios as well as the conventional 4:3 and 16:9 ratios (Figure 5). This makes it easier for photographers to obtain results that match their creative impulses or fit the ultimate display environment. It is possible to take pictures with different aspect ratios at the same focal length. The LCD monitor displays the image at the ratio that will be used.

Advanced Smart Auto mode

In the Auto shooting mode, the camera automatically detects the type of scene, such as people or landscapes, and selects the most appropriate settings for the shot. The PowerShot S95 has been designed to detect two new scenes: spotlights and people with strong facial shadows. Table 1 lists the detection scenes and their icons. The camera can detect 28 different types of scenes


Subjects often turn out overexposed when shooting in theaters or other dark locations because of spotlights. When it detects scenes where spotlights are present, the camera exposes for the brightest area in the frame to limit overexposing the subject.

People with strong facial shadows

Large differences in contrast often form across facial areas when a person is lit from above or at an angle. When it detects this kind of scene, the camera determines the overall brightness of the face while accounting for the color temperature of ambient light and adjusts the flash strength to prevent strong facial shadows.

Table 1: Detection scenes and their screen icons

Table 1: Detection scenes and their screen icons
*Appears when the scene is dark and the camera is attached to a tripod.
*Note that some icons may differ from the actual icon depending on the scene.

Smart Flash Exposure

A new function for our 2010 models, Smart Flash Exposure controls flash levels and camera settings according to the shooting conditions, providing the right amount of flash to ensure naturally exposed shots. This mode uses the face detection function and scene detection function to decide whether people are present as well as to accurately gauge the distance to the main subject and the subject’s reflectance. The fastest flash synchro shutter speed has been increased from 1/500 of a second to 1/1600 of a second. This faster speed prevents underexposing the main subject, which tends to occure with daytime synchro shooting, by limiting the f-number at maximum aperture.

More scene modes

Our 2010 cameras add a number of new scene modes, including Smart Shutter, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Fish-eye Effect, and Miniature Effect, to the PowerShot S90’s versatile shooting modes.

Low Light shooting mode with manual control over exposure compensation, white balance, and ISO speed

The PowerShot S90 introduced the new Low Light shooting modethat boosts the maximum ISO speed to 12,800 to accommodate a wide range of shooting conditions from low-light scenes to normally lit scenes. Now, the PowerShot S95 adds manual control over the exposure compensation, white balance, and ISO speed to the Low Light mode. These added settings give the mode much better usability and the feel of manual control. This allows users to capture high quality images that match their intentions in more shooting situations than before.

Photo 3: Miniature Effect applied to a movie

Photo 3: Miniature Effect applied to a movie

Figure 6: RGB histogram in the detail information display mode

Figure 6: RGB histogram in the detail information display mode

Movie shooting with even more functionality

The PowerShot S95 can shoot movies in high definition (1280 x 720 pixels) and record audio in stereo. The Miniature Effect can also be applied while shooting movies (Photo 3). This effect makes the subject look like a moving miniature model by changing the frame rate while blurring the top and bottom (or the left and right sides) of the frame. The user can select from three playback speeds and three blurring regions.

Real-time RGB histogram

The PowerShot S95 will display an RGB histogram (Figure 6) that indicates the distribution of reds, greens, and blues in an image at the press of a button in the Detail Information Display mode. The full brightness range extends along the horizontal axis, and the vertical axis indicates how much of each color is present at each brightness level. The RGB histogram enables users to check the color balance of their photos.

Step Zoom
ISO speeds adjustable in 1/3-step intervals
White balance fine-tuning control
Nostalgic scene mode
Selectable first or second-curtain flash synchronization
Focus bracketing/AE bracketing

Feature 3 — More comfortable operation

Operate the camera with an HDMI device’s remote control

The HDMI standard defines CEC (consumer electronics control), a method of transmitting device control signals along with audio and video signals. This means that when the camera is connected by an HDMI cable to a TV that supports the HDMI-CEC standard, the TV’s remote controller can be used to control playback from the camera.

The PowerShot S95 includes and expands upon the following features of the PowerShot S90.

Control ring

The PowerShot S95 improves the usability of the S90’s control ring. Specific improvements include the Custom mode, in which users can assign a different function to the control ring for each shooting mode. The control ring can also be used to change the aspect ratio and set the i-Contrast function. Furthermore, users can directly set the flash exposure compensation or the flash output level with the control ring when the flash dialog is displayed.

Easier-to-use self-timer
Auto pop-up flash
3.0-inch LCD monitor with about 461,000 pixels
Customizable My Menu screen for frequently used shooting options
Shutter sounds linked to the actual shutter speed

Feature 4 — Enhanced printing options and digital communications

Add images to the DPOF print list
Supports PictBridge
Able to enjoy the Canon iMAGE GATEWAY Web site

Feature 5 — Rich assortment of system accessories

Accepts SDXC memory cards

Because the S95 supports the newly standardized SDXC memory cards (with a maximum capacity of 2 TB), it can record very long movies without changing memory cards.

Waterproof case

The WP-DC38 waterproof case (Photo 4) allows the S95 to be used underwater to depths of 40 meters.

Soft case

The special PSC-2900 soft case (Photo 5) is available as an option to protect the camera. The case is made from genuine top-quality leather. The camera comes with a wrist strap that attaches to either end of the camera.

Photo 4: WP-DC38 waterproof case

Photo 4: WP-DC38 waterproof case

Photo 5: PSC-2900 soft case

Photo 5: PSC-2900 soft case

This concludes this month’s look at the PowerShot S95. Table 2 lists the camera’s main specifications. There is no suggested retail price.

PowerShot S95
Imaging sensor (CCD) 1/1.7-inch CCD with ~10.00 effective megapixels (~10.40 total megapixels), high-sensitivity sensor type
Color filter type RGB
Photographic lens [35mm-film equivalent] 28 – 105mm, f/2.0 (wide) – f/4.9 (tele), 3.8x zoom
Digital zoom ~4.0x (~15x max. zoom when combined with the optical zoom)
LCD monitor 3.0-inch (TFT color LCD, about 461,000 pixels, excellent color reproduction and wide viewing angle)
Autofocus Single, Servo, Face Detect/Center Point/Tracking AF
Normal focusing range Auto mode: 5cm to infinity (wide)/30cm to infinity (tele)
Macro focusing range 5 – 50cm (wide), 30 – 50cm (tele)
Shutter Mechanical shutter + electronic shutter
Shutter speeds 1/1600 – 1 sec. (Auto mode), 1/1600 to 15 sec. (total shutter speed range from all shooting modes)
Light metering methods Evaluative, Center-weighted average, Spot (fixed to center)
Exposure compensation ±2 stops in 1/3-stop increments
ISO speeds (Standard Output Sensitivity / Recommended Exposure Index) Auto, ISO 80 – 3200 (in 1/3-step increments)
Extends to 12,800 in Low Light mode
Flash ranges 50cm – 6.5m (wide), 90cm – 3.0m (tele)
White balance Auto, Day Light, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Flash, Underwater, Custom
Shooting modes C, M, Av, Tv, P, Auto, Low Light, SCN*, Movie
*Portrait, Landscape, Kids & Pets, Smart Shutter, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Color Accent, Color Swap, High Dynamic Range, Nostalgic, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Beach, Underwater, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, Stitch Assist
Continuous shooting P mode continuous shooting: ~1.9 shots/sec.
Low Light mode continuous shooting: ~3.9 shots/sec.
Recording pixels (still images) at an aspect ratio of 4:3 Large/RAW: 3648 × 2736, Medium 1: 2816 × 2112, Medium 2: 1600 × 1200, Small: 640 × 480, Fixed at 1824 x 1368 in Low Light mode
Compression ratios (still images) Fine, Normal
Aspect ratios 16:9, 3:2, 4:3, 1:1, 4:5
Movies (recording pixels and frame rates) Frame rates Standard, Color Accent, Color Swap: 1280 x 720 (24 fps), 640 × 480 (30 fps), 320 × 240 (30 fps)
Miniature Effect: 1280 x 720 (6 / 3 / 1.5 fps), 640 × 480 (6 / 3 / 1.5 fps)
File format MOV format
Recording media SD memory card, SDHC memory card, SDXC memory card, MMC card, MMCplus card, HC MMCplus card
Color space Standard (sRGB)
File format Compliant with DCF and DPOF
Power supply Rechargeable lithium-ion battery: NB-6L
AC adapter kit: ACK-DC40 (sold separately)
Dimensions (CIPA compliant) 99.8 × 58.4 × 29.5mm
Weight (CIPA compliant) ~193 grams

Table 2: Specifications of the PowerShot S95