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Lunch » Tags » Digital Cameras » Reviews » Canon PowerShot Pro Series S5 IS 8.0MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom » User review

Solid, versatile camera, but don't confuse it with a DSLR

  • Jun 12, 2008
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The Canon PowerShot Pro S5 IS is a solid camera, but do not confuse it with a real DSLR like its big brothers in the Canon line or competitors such as the Nikon D60, D80 or D300.

The S5, despite it's mini-DSLR style, is still a point 'n shoot camera, albeit one that is of very high build quality and loaded with features.

Major shortcomings first: images are noisier than in some competitors down to ISO 100. This is, frankly, unexpected at this price and in this brand. Start-up and shot-to-shot recycling times are still on the slightly slow side. Expect to miss a lot of critical moments as you would with any other point 'n shooter. The camera is a bit on the heavy side, though this is consistent with the build quality (I think) and the use of AA batteries. On the whole, not a long list and nothing serious.

On the plus side, there several features I consider outstanding and unique. The video quality (with stereo microphones) is nothing less than astounding. A friend of mine has been making videos for YouTube of music club performances, handheld with harsh club lighting and they are surprisingly good. I have been very impressed with the videos I've made under a variety of conditions. I suspect many people like having a video capability in their still camera. I know I do and appreciate that I don't have to carry a separate device. The zoom range is terrific, the Image Stabilization (IS) works while in video mode, which is very welcome and very important and you can zoom while in video mode. All in all, if you appreciate having a video capability, a good reason to buy the camera.

The Canon LCD display can be set in many positions, with its unique hinging system. You can hold the camera overhead or ground level. You can flip it over for use as a monitor when doing photos or videos of yourself. (A particularly handy gadget to use when you're on vacation or otherwise want to include yourself in images is the Quik Pod Pro-Plus Extendable Handheld Tripod (18-inch) with Accessory Kit - for Canon Powershot, Casio, Epson, Fuji Finepix, HP, Kodak Easyshare, Minolta, Nikon Coolpix, Olympus Stylus, Panasonic, Pentax Optio & Sony Cybershot Digital Point & Shoot Cameras.) There is also an optical viewfinder. I find this combination in many Canon cameras an unbeatable feature.

There is, unusually for a camera of this class, a hotshoe for external flashes. Adding an external flash will provide tremendous improvement to the range and versatility of your camera in almost all photographic situations. Ever wonder why the pros always use and external flash? It's because it helps them turn out better photos. Even a low power external flash will work wonders and the S5 is one of the few cameras in this range to permit you to use one.

The S5 uses AA batteries. Many will argue that this is an old-fashioned approach. Not me. On too many occasions (one is actually one too many), I have had run out of juice with lithium ion battery powered cameras. Nothing is more frustrating then a camera that is without power. AA batteries are available worldwide, are relatively inexpensive and relatively lightweight. Again, I consider the use of AA batteries in the S5 to be an advantage and a reason to buy the camera. A set will last for 150 -200 shots.

In terms of general features, image quality is excellent, with ISO available up to 1600. Noise starts at ISO 100 and becomes progressively worse at higher ISOs. This is normal for this kind of camera.

Color rendition is excellent. I haven't yet notice any purple fringing which is relatively common in cameras of this kind.

There are more than 20 pre-set shooting parameters, more frankly than you will ever be likely to use or even remember. There is - bless Canon - full manual control available. This is a real camera!

The controls are well laid out and, even with my large hands, I had no difficulty manipulating any of the controls. Menus are intelligently done and easy to navigate. There is a separate button for video which is a nice, but necessary, touch.

Focus at all ranges is pretty quick, though I have encountered some occasional hunting.

Lens range is typical for a 12x. Be nicer if the bottom end were the equivalent of a 28mm, not 35mm.

There is competition in this price and feature range. Panasonic offers the Lumix FZ18 which offers an 18x zoom with a 28mm equivalent bottom range. It is worth considering, but lacks the Canon swivel display and video zoom capabilities.

Overall the Canon S5 is an undeniably fine camera for its price range. It is absolutely not a DSLR and anyone wanting the feel of a traditional 35mm SLR and the ability to grab instant pictures should seriously consider spending far more and buying a DSLR. Within its limitations, however, the Canon S5, in my opinion, sits at the top of its class and should be seriously considered.


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Jerry Saperstein ()
Ranked #194
I am an e-discovery strategist, computer forensics specialist and testifying expert witness - and an avid reader.      Aside from technology books, I love thrillers, suspense, mystery, … more
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The ultimate zoom and a whole lot more.

The ultra-powerful 12x optical zoom on the PowerShot S5 IS means you’ll get the shot you want with no compromise, yet that’s only the beginning of what makes this camera so exciting. The S5 IS is loaded with many of Canon’s latest advanced technologies, including the DIGIC III Image Processor, so both still images and movies are rendered with fine detail and luminous clarity. And now ambitious photographers have even greater creative latitude thanks to an included hot shoe adapter that allows you to attach Canon Speedlite EX Series external flashes.

PowerShot Pro Series S5 IS Highlights

Full-featured, compact 8.0-megapixel digital camera with a 12x optical zoom The PowerShot S5 IS is compact and portable, with streamlined controls and a sure, steady grip. And you’ll want to take it everywhere, because inside is a level of photographic power that’s truly impressive. 8 megapixels ensure deeply detailed images -- giving you complete freedom to enlarge an image or any section of an image and crop to your exact specifications. The 12x optical zoom brings this compact digital camera into the realm of serious photography. It has the power to take you right up onto the stage and into the end zone for the shot you really want. Zooming is fast and silent thanks to the ultrasonic motor drive.

Canon Optical Image Stabilizer Technology and ISO 1600 for steady shooting Life doesn’t give you second chances to capture ...

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