Canon PowerShot S80
Features and functionality in a compact, well built, high resolution camera, although a few enthusiast functions are limited or absent.For a compact digicam, Canon’s elegant PowerShot S80 provides lots of user-adjustable controls. Although not strictly shirt-pocketable, the S80 is slim enough to slip into a jacket pocket or purse and its retracting 3.6x zoom lens is well protected behind the sliding lens cover/on-off switch. Its sturdy metal body contains an 8-megapixel CCD sensor plus Canon’s DiG!C II image processor and excellent ergonomics make the S80 a satisfying camera to use. . . [more]
For a compact digicam, Canon’s elegant PowerShot S80 provides lots of user-adjustable controls. Although not strictly shirt-pocketable, the S80 is slim enough to slip into a jacket pocket or purse and its retracting 3.6x zoom lens is well protected behind the sliding lens cover/on-off switch. Its sturdy metal body contains an 8-megapixel CCD sensor plus Canon’s DiG!C II image processor, and excellent ergonomics make the S80 a satisfying camera to use.
Much of the rear panel is occupied by a 2.5-inch LCD screen, which has a small optical viewfinder above it. Canon has taken an innovative approach to control design, replacing the standard four-way arrow pad with a ring that moves in four directions and also rotates for adjusting settings and navigating the menu. It’s unusual, but works extremely well. The mode dial is also atypical, being located on the side of the camera body, where it’s easy to turn with your right thumb. (Fortunately not too easy!)
Frequently-used functions such as flash mode, display mode, macro mode, manual focus, ISO setting and exposure compensation are controlled via individual buttons arranged around the navigation ring, or as secondary functions of the ring itself. The standard auto, P, A, S and M settings are provided. The zoom control is a rocker that sits under your thumb. Unfortunately, it’s easy to bump accidentally and change the zoom setting.
Sliding the lens cover open powers up the camera in less than a second, which is extremely quick. The nine-point autofocus system is also fast, locking on quickly even in low light, thanks to the built-in AF illuminator. In daylight it is almost instantaneous – as well as accurate – and the.FlexiZone AF allows the focus point to be set almost anywhere in the field of view. The camera also provides a real-time histogram, three metering options and nine white balance settings plus 11 scene modes (including underwater). Our only gripe is that the zoom control relies on a lever left of the mode dial, instead of a rotating ring around the shutter button.
All these functions would make the S80 a good second camera for a DSLR enthusiast, although the lack of a RAW capture option could deter many serious photographers. However, the quality of the JPEG files is good enough for printing to A3 size, especially when shots are taken in low-contrast lighting.
Video capture is a strong feature of the S80, which offers a high-resolution XGA (1024 x 768 pixel) movie setting as well as the standard VGA, QVGA and QQVGA sizes. However, XGA clips are recorded at 15 frames/second, with 30 frames/second only available in VGA and QVGA modes. The S80 also supports time-lapse photography, with an intervalometer that can be set to record up to 100 shots at intervals between one and 60 seconds.
The test camera produced images that were sharp and well resolved, although some corner softening was detected with maximum aperture at the wide lens setting. Slightly elevated contrast and a minor bias towards over-exposure meant that highlights tended to be clipped in shots taken in bright sunlight, but most shadow detail was retained. Setting the exposure compensation to -0.3EV produced a marginal improvement without totally eliminating highlight clipping.
Image files were generally clean and artefact free. Colour accuracy was well above average and saturation was only slightly elevated. Slight chromatic aberration was detected but it would be unlikely to produce noticeable loss of picture quality.
The white balance controls performed impeccably in the manual and custom modes, although the auto setting failed to correct the orange cast of incandescent lighting. However, it handled fluorescent lights well. Close-up capabilities were uninspiring, but the digital zoom produced sharp, though slightly grainy pictures. Low light shots were clean and sharp at ISO 100 but ISO 400 shots were noise affected. Flash performance was good at ISO settings above 100.
We measured an average capture lag of 0.8 seconds, which reduced to 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. It took less than half a second to process each shot, regardless of image size, and shot-to-shot times averaged just under 2 seconds, which is pretty fast. The burst mode recorded images at 0.6 seconds intervals to the capacity of the memory card, and files are processed as they are shot. 
Image sensor: 7.18 x 5.32mm CCD with 8.3 million photosites (8.0 megapixels effective)
Lens: 5.8-20.7mm f2.8-5.3 zoom lens (28-100mm in 35mm format)
Zoom ratio: 3.6x optical, 4x digital
Dimensions (wxhxd): 104.0 x 38.8 x 57.0mm
Weight: Approx. 225g (without battery and card)
Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif 2.2); Movies – Motion JPEG/AVI/WAV (XGA, VGA, QVGA, QQVGA at 15fps)
Shutter speed range: 15-1/2000 second
Focus system/range: TTL autofocus with 9-point AiAF/1-point AF (Flexizone or centre-fixed); range 44 cm to infinity; macro 4-44cm
Exposure metering/control: Evaluative, centre-weighted and spot metering; P, A, S and M shooting modes plus 11 scene settings
White balance: Auto, Pre-set Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent (x2) Flash, Underwater), Custom
Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, On, Off (Red-eye reduction is available); range 55 cm – 4.2 m
ISO range: Auto, ISO 50, 100, 200, 400.
Sequence shooting: 4 high-resolution images at 1.8fps
Storage Media: 32MB SD card; holds 8 high-resolution images or up to 265 VGA shots
Viewfinder: Real-image optical zoom
LCD monitor: 2.5-inch Low-temperature polycrystalline silicon TFT colour LCD
Power supply: NB-2LH rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
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Rating (out of 10):
- Build: 9
- Ease of use: 8.5
- Image quality: 8
- OVERALL: 8.5