The Canon S100 is the company’s brand new high end pocket camera, replacing the much-admired S95. In fact, the two look so alike that you might assume Canon have stuffed in a few new features (like GPS) and left it at that. But you’d be so, so wrong: the S100 comes with a triple whammy of major changes: new lens, new sensor and new DIGIC 5 processor.
These are arguably the three most important aspects of a compact camera – at least where image quality is concerned – and here they work together to produce utterly fantastic shots. Photos at ISO 800 and below are so vivid, clear and grain-free that it's hard to believe they came out of something that’s marginally bigger than a fag packet. Even above this ISO setting noise is controlled better than on most rivals. The new processor also allows high speed stills photography, with up to eight full size photos captured in under a second.
Oh, and it shoots excellent quality 1080p video, too, at a cinematic 24fps; you can also capture video at 120fps or 240fps for smooth slo-mo playback, although this requires a sacrifice on the resolution front.
Being aimed at enthusiasts, the S100 comes with the option to shoot in RAW so that you can process shots yourself, plus a full range of manual controls. But noobs need not fear: Canon’s user interface is incredibly fast and simple, making adjustments a cinch – and there’s always the option to flip the mode dial to automatic and let the camera’s electro-brain choose the settings it thinks best for any particular situation.
The lens ring, carried over from the S95, makes adjusting settings particularly straightforward: you can set it to a particular criterion (ISO, focal length, white balance etc.) and then twist to tweak. You don’t even have to take your eye off the screen.
There’s also a full range of scene mode presets and a nice selection of Instagram-style filters to round things off, plus the aforementioned GPS for geo-tagging shots and a neutral density filter to help you take long exposures during the day. All in all, this is probably the best all-round ultra-compact we’ve ever used.