Canon PowerShot E1 IS

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

      A chic little digicam offered in three pastel colours with features and ease of use to satisfy everyday snapshooters.Offered in pastel pink, aqua and cream, and only available from ‘Duty Free’ outlets, Canon’s PowerShot E1 IS is the first model in a new series of digicams that are designed for fashion-conscious snapshooters who want competent performance and easy operation in a smart looking compact digicam. With its 10-megapixel (effective) sensor and stabilised 4x optical zoom lens, the E1 IS provides 17 different shooting modes to choose from. . . [more]

      Full review


      Offered in pastel pink, aqua and cream, and only available from ‘Duty Free’ outlets, Canon’s PowerShot E1 IS is the first model in a new series of digicams that are designed for fashion-conscious snapshooters who want competent performance and easy operation in a smart looking compact digicam. With its 10-megapixel (effective) sensor and stabilised 4x optical zoom lens, the E1 IS provides 17 different shooting modes to choose from.
      Like other PowerShot models, the E1 IS runs on two AA batteries. Fresh batteries provide enough power for approximately 220 shots (based on the CIPA standard when the LCD monitor is on). Unlike many entry-level digicams, the E1 has a small optical viewfinder. It also records to SD/SDHC memory cards and is compatible with all varieties of MMC cards. No internal memory is provided.


      The three colour options available for the PowerShot E1 IS.

      The E1 IS has numerous other PowerShot characteristics, including a chunkier form factor than the Ixus range and a top-mounted mode dial. On the E1 IS this dial has 10 settings: P, Auto, Easy, Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Kids&Pets, Indoor, Scene Modeand Movie. Eight settings are available in the Scene sub-menu: Night Scene, Sunset, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium and ISO 3200.
      The control layout is similar to other PowerShot models. The top panel carries the mode dial plus a small on/off button and a generous shutter button, the latter surrounded by the zoom lever. The front of the camera is simple, with a retracting lens, narrow electronic flash tube, viewfinder, AF-assist lamp and microphone grille. The right side of the front panel is contoured to provide a handgrip, allowing users to shoot single-handed.


      Front and back views of the pink model.

      Built to a price, the E1 IS differs from the entry-level Ixus models in having a lower-quality LCD screen with roughly half the resolution. The camera ships with a sheet of protective plastic covering the LCD. This should be removed before use as it dramatically reduces the quality of the view the screen provides, turning a very average display into one that looks quite washed-out.
      Above the LCD is the viewfinder eyepiece, which is flush with the camera body. The viewfinder is very small and cramped but usable for taking shots. Two indicator LEDs right of the viewfinder alert users when the camera is starting up and ready for use, provide a camera shake warning, indicate when macro and AF lock modes are in use and show when focus can’t be achieved. The green light also blinks when data is being recorded, read or erased from the memory card or images are being transferred to a computer.
      Right of the LCD is a standard arrow pad plus five button controls covering playback, Face Detect activation, print/share, Display and Menu. Buttons on the arrow pad provide direct access to ISO, flash, drive and self-timer and autofocus settings. The latter has three options: macro, normal and infinity. All buttons sit slightly proud of the rear panel and are large enough to be operated with normal-sized fingers.
      The normal AF range starts at 50 cm but you can shoot as close as 3cm in macro mode. The infinity setting restricts close focusing to three metres, while the Kids & Pets mode goes from one metre to infinity. In Easy mode, the entire 3 cm to infinity range is covered. Manual focusing is not supported.
      The DIGIC III image processor is not the latest technology, although it supports some genuinely useful automated functions for ensuring sharp, correctly-exposed pictures, including Face Detection & Selection, Motion Detection and in-camera red-eye correction. However, DIGIC 4 functions like Face Select & Track, Face Self-timer and i-Contrast adjustment are not provided.
      Shutter speeds range from 15 to 1/16000 second, with the auto range starting at 1/60 second. Slower shutter speeds – ranging from one to 15 seconds – can only be set by pressing the Function button, selecting exposure compensation and hitting the Display button (which toggles this setting on and off).
      The 4x optical zoom lens covers a focal length range equivalent to 35-140mm (35mm format) with apertures ranging from f/2.7 at the wide end to f/5.6 for tele. Up to 4x digital zoom can be applied. Lens-shift stabilisation is included and provides a couple of f-stops of shutter speed advantage (although Canon makes no claims about how much). Three IS modes are available: continuous, shoot only and panning. Only one continuous shooting speed is available but the camera can record shots as long as the memory card allows.
      Being designed mainly for point-and-shooters, the E1 IS comes with the mode dial pre-set to the Easy mode, which allows only the flash settings to be changed – and, even then the sole options are on and off.


      The Easy mode.

      Otherwise, the camera’s menu system is much the same as other Canon digicams. It relies on two button controls: the dedicated Menu button and the Func./Set button in the centre of the arrow pad. Pressing the Menu button accesses two pages of settings. The Camera menu covers functions like AF frame selection (FaceDetect, AiAF or Centre), Digital Zoom, flash and self-timer settings, quick review playback time and switching Auto Category off and on. The Tools menu covers date/time settings, power management, start-up image selection, audio volume and formatting.
      Pressing the Function menu button lets you adjust exposure compensation, white balance, metering pattern and image size and quality. You can also apply My Colours adjustments. If Scene is selected on the mode dial, you can select the Scene mode but the only other adjustments available are image size and quality and exposure compensation.


      Function menu adjustments in Scene mode.

      Unlike other PowerShots, the E1 IS comes with a brief 36-page ‘Getting Started’ guide. The more comprehensive 148-page user manual is only provided in PDF form on the software CD, along with an 83-page Software Starter Guide (covering Windows and Mac) and an 83-page Direct Print User Guide. All three PDF guides are well laid out, although we suspect few purchasers of this camera will look at them.
      The software bundle contains the standard Canon applications ZoomBrowser EX/ImageBrowser and PhotoStitch. The Direct Print User Guide provides detailed instructions for printing images with Canon’s Pixma and Selphy printers as well as printers from other manufacturers. Topics covered include printing multiple images on a sheet of paper and making prints from movie sequences and single frames.

      Note: The Canon ES1 IS can only be purchased from Sydney Airport Tax and Duty Free, Downtown Duty Free, First Tax & Duty Free.

      Image Capture
      Image files can only be stored as JPEGs and the camera supports five resolution settings with a 4:3 aspect ratio plus a Widescreen setting that records images at 3648 x 2048 pixel resolution. There’s also a Date Stamp mode that captures 1600 x 1200 pixel images with Fine compression and embeds a date stamp in the image that appears on snapshot-sized prints. Three compression levels are provided: Superfine, Fine and Normal. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.








      3648 x 2736





      2816 x 2112





      2272 x 1704





      1600 x 1200





      640 x 480




      Date Stamp

      1600 x 1200





      3648 x 2048




      Three resolution settings are provided for movie clip recording: VGA, QVGA and QQVGA. VGA clips can be recorded in either SP or LP mode, the latter having lower quality but offering roughly twice the recording time. Two frame rates are supported (30 frames/second for VGA and QVGA and 15 fps for QQVGA.


      Movie mode settings.

      Typical recording times for a 1GB memory card are shown in the table below.

      Movie mode

      Recorded pixels

      Frame rate

      Recording time with 1 GB card

      Standard (SP)

      640 x 480

      30 fps

      8 minutes 23 seconds

      Standard (LP)

      640 x 480

      30 fps

      16 minutes 31 seconds


      320 x 240

      30 fps

      23 minutes 16 seconds


      160 x 120

      15 fps

      1 hr. 54 minutes 17 seconds

      Maximum length of video clips is one hour and recording will stop when the file size reaches 4GB. Use of SDHC cards with speed class of 4 or higher is recommended. No support is provided for widescreen or HD video.

      Pressing the Playback button on the rear panel displays the last image taken. Playback options are pretty standard and include playback zoom of up to 10x plus a Focus Check display that lets you magnify faces in group shots taken with Face Detection to ensure their eyes are open and their expressions are as desired. Slideshow playback is also supported with each image displayed for approximately three seconds. You can also choose from three transition effects.
      You can view images in sets of nine thumbnails and use the zoom lever to search though shots nine at a time. Alternatively, by pressing the upper section of the arrow pad you can move into Jump mode, which lets you choose from six Jump options by pressing the horizontal parts of the arrow pad. Options include jumping by 10 or 100 images, jumping by date, to a Category or Folder or to a Movie.
      In-camera red-eye correction is provided and sound bites up to a minute log can be attached to still images. The camera comes with an AV cable for displaying images and video clips on a TV set. However, HDTV playback is not supported.

      Pictures taken with the test camera were brighter and more colourful and ‘punchy’ that they appeared on the camera’s LCD, either before capture or in playback mode. Exposures were generally well balanced and the image stabiliser was effective under most shooting conditions. We estimate it provided up to three f-stops of shutter speed advantage in optimal conditions.
      Test shots taken out-of-doors had slightly elevated contrast and saturation and blown-out highlights were quite common. Shadowed areas also tended to block up in sunny conditions, as shown in the illustration below.


      Imatest confirmed Photo Review’s subjective assessments and showed the test camera’s colour accuracy to be above average. Colour saturation was also modest for a compact digicam. Resolution was at the level you would expect from a 10-megapixel camera up to (and including) the ISO 400 setting. Thereafter it declined sharply, as shown in the graph below.


      Lateral chromatic aberration was generally negligible or low but we detected some coloured fringing in shots taken in bright, contrasty lighting (as shown below). The test camera’s lens suffered from noticeable corner softening, along with slight edge softening.


      Close-up shots were competently handled, although the test camera often had difficulties finding focus on subjects between three and 10 centimetres from the lens. However, backlit subjects presented few problems and we found no evidence of flare or ghosting unless the sun was shining directly into the lens. Digital zoom shots were also slightly better than average for a compact digicam.
      The test camera’s auto white balance setting had the usual problems with incandescent lighting but produced neutral colours with fluorescent lights. Both the tungsten and fluorescent pre-sets also delivered neutral colours, as did the manual measurement system. The flash required an ISO setting of 200 before it could illuminate an average-sized room. Flash exposures were generally well balanced but noise was evident in flash shots at ISO 800 and above.
      The test camera powered-up and shut down in approximately half a second. We measured an average capture log of 0.65 seconds, which reduced to just over 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. However, since it took 3.4 seconds to process each shot, shot-to-shot times averaged 3.65 seconds.
      In the continuous shooting mode, the camera was able to record shots at intervals of just over 0.7 seconds. A burst of 10 shots was captured in 7.1 seconds. As the ES1 IS appears to process each shot in a burst on the fly, it took only 4.2 seconds to process this burst.






      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.




      Digital zoom.




      15-second exposure at ISO 400.


      2-second exposure at ISO 1600.


      6.2mm focal length (wide), 1/160 second at f/8, ISO 80.


      24.8mm focal length (tele), 1/320 second at f/5.6, ISO 80.




      Image sensor: 6.16 x 4.62 mm CCD sensor with 10.3 million photosites (10.0 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 6.2-24.8mm f/2.7-5.6 zoom (35-140mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 4x optical, up to 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.2); Movies ““ AVI (Motion JPEG/WAV)
      Image Sizes: Stills ““ 3648 x 2736, 2816 x 2112, 2272 x 1704, 1600 x 1200 (Date Stamp), 640 x 480, 3456 x 2048 (Widescreen); Movies ““ VGA (SP/LP), QVGA at 30 fps; QQVGA at 15 fps
      Shutter speed range: 15″“1/1600 sec.
      Image Stabilisation: Lens-shift type
      Exposure Compensation: ±2 stops in 1/3-stop increments
      Focus system/range: TTL autofocus with Face Detect/AiAF (9 points); range 50 cm to infinity; macro 3-50 cm
      Exposure metering/control: Evaluative, Center-weighted average or Spot metering; Shooting modes – P, Auto, Easy, Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Scene Mode(Night Scene, Sunset, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, ISO 3200), Movie
      ISO range: Auto, High ISO Auto, ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      White balance: Auto, Day Light, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H or Custom
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, on, off; range 0.3 to 4.0 m
      Sequence shooting: Approx. 1.3 shots/sec. (in Large/Fine mode)
      Storage Media: SD/SDHC/MMC
      Viewfinder: Real-image optical zoom
      LCD monitor: 2.5-inch, TFT colour LCD (wide viewing angle type), approx. 115,000 dots (Picture coverage 100%)
      Power supply: 2 AA-size alkaline, lithium or NiMH batteries
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 101.2 x 63.8 x 31.4 mm
      Weight: Approx. 160 grams (without battery and card)





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