Canon PowerShot S110

    Photo Review 8.5
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    Canon PowerShot S110

      In summary

      Buy this camera if:
       - You want a camera that can record raw files, which is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket.
       - You'd like the ability to shoot Full HD (1080p) video clips.
       - You want most of the controls and functions offered in serious DSLR cameras.
       - You require high resolution and low noise levels at high ISO settings.
       - You require high burst speeds plus adequate buffer capacity

      Don't buy this camera if:
       - You have large hands or fingers or limited dexterity.
       - You need fast cycle times for processing shots.
       - You need a powerful flash.

      Full review

      Canon's PowerShot S110 is a relatively minor update to the PowerShot S100 with a slightly redesigned body plus the addition of a touch screen monitor and Wi-Fi connectivity. The sensor resolution is unchanged at 12.1 megapixels but ISO settings have been boosted up to 12800 and the new camera costs $50 more than its predecessor. It is also being offered in white as well as black.

      The two colour options for the PowerShot S110. (Source: Canon.)

      As in the past, the S110 has the same sensor and contrast-detection autofocus system as the flagship model in the G-series of PowerShots, which is currently the G15. They also share the same DIGIC 5 image processor. A built-in ND filter provides control over exposure levels in very bright lighting.

      Build and Ergonomics
       The S110 is actually slightly smaller than its predecessor and about 25 grams lighter, continuing Canon's pocketable tradition for this camera series. Like the S100 it's the smallest RAW-enabled camera on the market.

      Most changes to the camera body have been relatively minor and features like the 5x optical zoom lens, battery and SD card support are unchanged. The customisable control ring around the lens (a favourite feature with many users) is also retained for adjusting key camera settings.

      Front view of the PowerShot S110 in black. (Source: Canon.)

      As in the S100, the retracting zoom lens dominates the front panel. With maximum apertures of f/2-5.9, the lens is not particularly fast for a 5x optical zoom and you lose two and a third f-stops by zooming from the wide to tele position.

      Unfortunately, the grip bar on the front panel is gone, replaced by a slick-surfaced sticker promoting the camera's HS System and Wi-Fi capabilities. Although the front panel has a textured surface, it isn't rubber coated but is not quite as slippery as the S90's. This makes the camera slightly easier to grip than the S95 – but not much.

      The rear thumb rest has a similar surface to the front panel and is shaped to provide some leverage. But we feel many users will find the camera tricky to hold, particularly if their hands are large. Small, closely-spaced buttons that sit flush with the body panels aggravate the problem.

      Back view of the PowerShot S110 in black. (Source: Canon.)

      The S110 improves the S100's 3-inch TFT LCD  monitor with the addition of a touch screen. This screen supports the usual smart-phone like touch controls for focusing and triggering the shutter plus a limited range of configuration settings. Its 461,000-dot resolution is comparatively low for a modern digicam and, like most LCDs, it's difficult to read in bright sunlight.

      Otherwise, the rear and side panels are unchanged from the S100. Digital (A/V out plus USB) and HDMI terminals are located below a lift-up cover on the right hand side panel.

      The camera is supplied with the same NB-5L rechargeable lithium-ion battery as the S100. It shares a compartment in the base of the camera with the memory card slot and is CIPA rated for approximately 200 shots/charge. The metal-lined tripod socket is positioned in line with the optical axis of the lens.

      Aside from the touch screen controls, Wi-Fi connectivity will be the main reason for users to upgrade to the S110.  But like all wireless interfaces, it's slow and a bit clunky and comes at the expense of the GPS receiver (see footnote).  

      The primary role of the Wi-Fi interface is to connect to the Canon Image Gateway service, which allows you to access social networks and upload images and movies to an online album. Canon provides 10GB of free online storage for members and users can register several cameras when they set up an account. Accounts are password protected.

      The first step towards using Wi-Fi involves registering a camera nickname via the Wireless LAN Settings facility in the set-up menu. Select Change Device Nickname in the sub-menu and enter a new nickname using the on-screen QWERTY keyboard.

      Registering a camera nickname.

      The next step is to install the dedicated CameraWindow application from the software CD. As part of this process, you'll be asked to register with the Canon Image Gateway service for your country of residence.

      Installing CameraWindow.

      We were unable to go any further as the S110 is not included in the drop-down list of supported products (circled in red in the screen grab below) on Canon's local website. This should have changed once the camera is widely available.

      Our attempt to register with the Canon Image Gateway service.

      Once  registered, users with Windows computers will be able to connect wirelessly to the service and use CameraWindow to transfer files. You can select which web services to use and save them to the list in the camera's wireless LAN menu.

      All the most popular social networks are available and up to 20 email addresses can be registered to the camera for emailing images. The camera's menu also allows you to connect to various access points, including smart-phones and tablets. ( The free CameraWindow must be pre-installed in each device to support the connection.) Images can also be sent wirelessly to designated printers.

      Users can still geotag images and movies with latitude, longitude and elevation data, although only via a smart-phone or tablet. You can use the camera's touch-screen to add multiple smart-phones and other cameras and configure privacy settings.

      When you plan to email or transmit multiple images and bandwidth is limited, you may prefer to down-sample them. The Sending Images screen provides two options: M2  and S plus a 'No' setting that send the images at their original size.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      Although the sensor is new, it has the same effective resolution of 12.1 megapixels as the S100 and the new camera uses the same DIGIC 5 processor, which is getting a bit long in the tooth. Nevertheless, Canon has been able to boost the continuous shooting capabilities in the new camera, which can support rates of up to 10 frames/second (fps) in the High-speed Burst HQ mode, although only for 10 frames. The normal frame rate in P mode is 2.1 fps for all file formats.

      ISO sensitivity has also been extended to ISO 12800. As in the S100, the slowest shutter speed available is 15 seconds and you can't use shutter speeds longer than one second with settings above ISO 80. This limits the value of this camera for taking shots after dark and in dimly-lit environments.

      An enhanced 'Zoom Plus' digital zoom uses content-aware up-sampling to extend the normal zoom range. It's similar to Sony's  'Clear Image Zoom' setting and provides 2x magnification for JPEG shots.

      The S110 offers the same raw file and RAW+JPEG capture options as its predecessor, along with the same range of image aspect ratios. Two levels of JPEG compression are also provided. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.

      Aspect Ratio

      Image size







      4000 x 3000



      4000 x 3000


      L (Large)

      4000 x 3000



      M1 (Medium 1)

      2816 x 2112



      M2 (Medium 2)

      1600 x 1200



      S (Small)

      640 x 480




      L (Large)

      4000 x 2664



      M1 (Medium 1)

      2816 x 1880



      M2 (Medium 2)

      1600 x 1064



      S (Small)

      640 x 424




      L (Large)

      4000 x 2248



      M1 (Medium 1)

      2816 x 1584



      M2 (Medium 2)

      1920 x 1080



      S (Small)

      640 x 360




      L (Large)

      2992 x 2992



      M1 (Medium 1)

      2112 x 2112



      M2 (Medium 2)

      1200 x 1200



      S (Small)

      480 x 480




      L (Large)

      2400 x 3000



      M1 (Medium 1)

      1696 x 2112



      M2 (Medium 2)

      960 x 1200



      S (Small)

      384 x 480



      Movie settings are accessed by selecting the movie mode on the mode dial. Standard recording modes have been simplified and there are now only three settings: Full HD, HD and VGA. These are accessed via the FUNC/SET button.

       iFrame movies can be recorded at HD resolution (1280 x 720 pixels) and you can record slow-motion movies in two resolutions and speeds: 120 fps with VGA resolution and 240 fps at 320 x 240 pixels. Playback time for a 30-second clip shot with these settings is approximately two minutes for the former or four minutes for the latter.

      The table below shows typical recording times for the standard movie settings.

      Recording pixels

      Frame rate

      8GB card capacity

      Max. clip length/playback time

      1920 x 1080

      24 fps

      29 minutes 39 seconds

      29 minutes 59 seconds

      1280 x 720

      30 fps

      42 minutes 11 seconds

      640 x 480

      1 hr 28 mins 59 sec

      The now ubiquitous Movie Digest function is available via a setting on the mode dial. In this mode the camera will automatically record a short movie clip of the scene when the shutter button is half-pressed.

      At the end of the day, these clips are combined in the camera to produce a short movie of the day's events. It's saved as an iFrame movie and can be viewed by date. Individual clips (chapters) can be edited.

      Playback and Software
       Image playback is essentially unchanged  and covered in our review of the PowerShot S90. The software bundle contains the standard Canon applications: ImageBrowser, Digital Photo Professional and PhotoStitch plus CameraWindow and PDF versions of the Camera User Manual and Software Manual.

       Despite the new sensor, we saw only modest changes to overall image quality in the new camera. Colours were, in the main, accurately recorded and even though shots taken in bright outdoor lighting often contained blown-out highlights, there was enough detail in shadows and saturation was well contained. Traditionally difficult-to-capture colours like bluish purples were handled capably.

      Subjectively, we judged autofocusing to be slightly faster that the S100's, particularly in movie mode. Metering was just as accurate as the S100's and image stabilisation was equally proficient.

      We noticed no improvements to the HDR mode, which was introduced in the S95. Tripod mounting is still required and subjects should be static to avoid blurring while the three shots that make up the image are recorded. Even in bright lighting, you can't be sure the images will combine precisely, as shown in the image below.

      A hand-held shot taken with the multi-frame HDR mode; 5.2mm focal length, ISO 80, max shutter speed 1/500 second at f/8.

      Imatest showed JPEG resolution almost able to meet expectations for a 12-megapixel camera, while raw files processed with Digital Photo Professional just tipped the expectations boundary at low sensitivity settings. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests at different ISO settings for both JPEG and raw files.

       The effects of image noise became visible in shots as slight softening from about  ISO 800 on, due to automatic noise-reduction processing. Night exposures of one second showed noticeable softening by ISO 1600. Interestingly, available light exposures of 1/200 second or faster, showed much less softening than one-second exposures and shots taken with higher sensitivity levels were usable at small output sizes (maximum 15 x 10 cm), although by ISO 12800 noise had become evident.

      Flash exposures fared slightly better than available-light shots. However, in P mode the flash had insufficient power to provide correct exposures at the 26mm focal length (which has a maximum aperture of f/5.9) with ISO settings below 200. Exposure levels were well controlled at higher sensitivities, although images became softer from about ISO 1600 on.

      Lens performance was variable, with the highest resolution in our tests achieved at wider apertures around the middle of the zoom range. However, although the lens opens to f/2 at the 5.2mm focal length, the aperture at its highest resolution was a relatively slow f/3.5. And, with the minimum aperture of f/8 at all focal lengths, you quickly run out of aperture settings as focal length is increased. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.

       Lateral chromatic aberration was negligible at all but the longest focal length settings and we could find no evidence of coloured fringing in shots of high-contrast subjects. In the graph below, the red line marks the border between ‘negligible' and ‘low' CA, the green line separates ‘low' and ‘moderate' CA.


      Close-up performance was competent, although the lens will only focus down to 3 cm at the 5.2mm focal length. At full zoom extension, the minimum focusing distance is around 50 cm. Digital zoom shots were sharper and less artefact-affected than we normally see.

      Auto white balance performance was similar to the S100. Shots taken under incandescent lighting retained a slight colour cast while shots taken in fluorescent lighting were colour-neutral. The presets produced neutral colours with both lighting types.

      Video clips were good, although not outstanding and some camera noises were recorded in movie soundtracks. They were particularly noticeable when shooting in quiet environments. Colours were bright, saturation was slightly elevated and detail was generally well recorded. The AF system was fast enough to cope with moderate zooming and panning. The slow-motion video modes tended to be hampered by low resolution but could be worthwhile for motion analysis.

      Our timing tests were carried out with a SanDisk 32GB Extreme Pro SDHC UHS1 card. Operating times for the review camera were slightly faster than we found with the S100.

      It took just under two seconds to power the camera up and just over a second to shut it down again. Shot-to-shot times averaged 1.7 seconds for high-resolution JPEGs without flash and 6.6 seconds when flash was used.

      We measured an average capture lag of 0.4 seconds, which reduced to a consistent 0.1 seconds when shots were pre-focused. It took 1.2 seconds, on average, to process and store each Large/Fine JPEG file, 2.3 seconds for each raw file and 2.8 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair.

      In the continuous shooting mode, the review camera recorded 10 JPEG frames in 3.7 seconds. Processing appeared to be on-the-fly and was completed approximately 2.5 seconds after the last shot was taken.

      In the High-Speed Burst HQ mode (one of the Scene pre-sets), the camera recorded ten high-resolution JPEGs in one second, which met specifications. It took approximately four seconds to process this burst. (The High-Speed Burst HQ mode is not available for shooting raw files or RAW+JPEG pairs.)

      FOOTNOTE: Canon has advised us that GPS is still supported in the S110 but it differs  from the S100. To quote: To conserve battery power the S110 itself does not tag and log GPS data since it does not have a GPS sensor. Instead, the S110 has a function called GPS Data Acquisition which is linked to a smartphone with GPS logging ability. Through the app CameraWindow for iOS and soon for Android wirelessly, the photos taken by S110 can be tagged with GPS data transmitted from the smartphone. This leaves battery power for taking photos. - You want a camera that can record raw files, which is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket.

      Buy this camera if: 
      - You'd like the ability to shoot Full HD (1080p) video clips.
       - You want most of the controls and functions offered in serious DSLR cameras.
       - You require high resolution and low noise levels at high ISO settings.
       - You require high burst speeds plus adequate buffer capacity

      Don't buy this camera if:
       - You have large hands or fingers or limited dexterity.
       - You need fast cycle times for processing shots.
       - You need a powerful flash.


      Image sensor: 7.6 x  5.7 mm High Sensitivity CMOS sensor with  million photosites (12.1 megapixels effective)
       Image processor: DIGIC 5
       Lens:  5.2-26mm f/2-5.9 zoom lens (24-120mm in 35 mm format)
       Zoom ratio: 5x optical, up to 20x digital
       Image formats: Stills - JPEG  (DCF / Exif 2.3), RAW (12-bit, CR2; Movies - MOV (Image data: H.264; Audio data: Linear PCM Stereo)
       Image Sizes: Stills - 4:3 Aspect: 4000 x 3000, 2816 x 2112, 1600 x 1200, 620 x 480; 3:2 Aspect: 4000 x 2664, 2816 x 1880, 1600 x 1064, 640 x 424; 16:9 Aspect:4000 x 2448, 2816 x 1584, 1920 x 1080,640 x 360; 1:1 Aspect: 2992 x 2992, 2112 x 2112, 1200 x 1200,480 x 480; 4:5 Aspect: 2400 x 3000, 1696 x 2112, 960 x 1200,384 x 480; Movies - 1920 x 1080 at 24 fps, 1280 x 720, 640 x 480 at 30 fps; iFrame: 1280 x 720 30fps  
       Shutter speed range: 15-1/2000 seconds (in Tv and M modes)
       Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay plus Custom, Smile Shutter, Wink Self-Timer, Face Self-Timer
       Image Stabilisation: Optical (Lens Shift Type), approx. 4 steps
       Exposure Compensation: +/- 3EV in 1/3EV steps
       Focus system/range: Contrast-based AF with Continuous, Servo AF, Manual Focus, Touch AF modes; Face AiAF, Fixed, Touch AF areas; range: 3 cm to infinity; macro 3 cm to 50 cm
       Exposure metering/control: Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Spot metering
       Shooting modes: Auto, P (Program), Tv (Shutter Priority), Av (Aperture Priority), M (Manual), C1 (Custom 1), SCN (Portrait, Smooth Skin, Smart Shutter, High-speed Burst HQ, Handheld NightScene, Underwater, Snow, Fireworks, Stitch Assist), Creative Filters (High Dynamic Range, Nostalgic, Fisheye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Soft Focus, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Colour Accent, Colour Swap; Movie: Standard,  iFrame, Super Slow Motion, Movie Digest, Movie
       ISO range: Auto, ISO 80-12800
       White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Flash, Underwater, Custom 1, Custom 2
       Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, on, off, Slow Synchro, Red Eye Correction, Red Eye Reduction, Second Curtain Synchro, FE Lock, Safety FE, Manual Flash Output; range: 50 cm to 7 m
       Sequence shooting: Approx 2.1 shots/sec (P mode) / Approx 10 shots/sec (High-speed Burst HQ mode)
       Storage Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC memory cards
       Wi-Fi Technology: Yes, Wireless LAN (IEEE802.11b/g/n*) *2.4GHz band only. Infrastructure /Ad-hoc modes
       Viewfinder: n.a.
       LCD monitor: 3-inch TFT LCD touch screen with approx. 461,000 dots; 4:3 aspect ratio
       Power supply:  NB-5L  rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 200 shots/charge
       Dimensions (wxhxd): 98.9 x 59.0 x  26.9 mm
      Weight: Approx. 173 grams (without battery and memory card)


      For JPEG files.




      For CR2.RAW files processed with Digital Photo Professional.





       Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.

       Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.

      5.2mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/400 second at f/5.

      26mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/5.9.

      2x Digital zoom; 26mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/5.9. 

      Macro mode; 5.2mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/1250 second at f/5.

      15-second exposure at ISO 80; 7mm focal length, f/2.2.

      1-second exposure at ISO 1600; 7mm focal length, f/2.8. 

      1-second exposure at ISO 6400; 7mm focal length, f/5.6.

      1-second exposure at ISO 12800; 7mm focal length, f/8.

      Flash exposure at ISO 80; 26mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.9.

      Flash exposure at ISO 1600; 26mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.9.

      Flash exposure at ISO 6400; 26mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.9.

      Flash exposure at ISO 12800; 26mm focal length, 1/100 second at f/5.9.

      Strong backlighting; 5.2mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/500 second at f/8.

       Crop from the above image enlarged to 100% showing no coloured fringing.

      Indoor hand-held exposure at ISO 800; 10mm focal length, 1/20 second at f/6.3.

      Indoor hand-held exposure at ISO 12800; 15mm focal length, 1/1250 second at f/5.

      Blown-out highlights in a subject with a wide brightness range: 5.2mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/400 second at f/5.

      26mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/200 second at f/6.3.

       0118: Close-up of subject with difficult to record colours; 5.2mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/50 second at f/2.

       Still frame from Full HD video clip recorded at 1920 x 1080 pixels.

       Still frame from HD video clip recorded at 1280 x 720 pixels.

       Still frame from VGA video clip recorded at 30 fps.

       Still frame from Super Slow Motion video clip recorded at 120 fps.

       Still frame from Super Slow Motion video clip recorded at 240 fps.



      RRP:  AU$599; US$450

      • Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Autofocusing: 8.8
      • Image quality JPEG: 8.5
      • Image quality RAW: 8.5
      • Video quality: 8.5