Canon is dipping its toes into the whirlpool of Wi-Fi sharing with the 12.1MP PowerShot S110, which adds a touchscreen as well as additional connectivity to the fantastic S100, the aging PowerShot that’s sat right near the top of our best compact cameras list for most of 2012. So is it worth grabbing a bargain with the older S100 model or splashing out on the next-gen S110?
S100 in disguise
Well you certainly wouldn’t spend the extra on the S110 for looks, as it’s identical to the older S100. That means it’s still a bit slippy, with almost no grip on the front, but also very compact and classy. The textured lens ring and D-pad are particularly nice details, not to mention very easy to use, with the former offering manual focus.
This PowerShot S110 is still one of the smallest and easiest to navigate compact cams we’ve ever used. Images look just as crisp and grain-free as the S100, too, which is no surprise considering Canon has used the same sensor, Digic 5 processor and 24-120mm lens. The spec sheet isn’t as impressive as it was when the S100 landed – what with Sony’s RX100 sporting a 1in, 20.2MP sensor – but taking price into consideration, the Canon is still one of our favourites.
There’s RAW shooting, an excellent Auto mode and if you really want to geo-tag your shots you can still do so – via your phone’s GPS. Autofocus is seriously speedy while smooth 1080p video at 24fps is impressive, even when shooting moving objects in low light.
So if it looks the same and takes essentially the same shots as the S100, why upgrade? Well, the touchscreen on the S110 turns out to be a welcome addition – not just for swiping through snaps in playback but also when using the Canon’s touch shutter function – perfect for those shutterbugs used to phone photography. It’s also handy for setting up and using the Wi-Fi functions – without it, entering text or deciding how to share your photos would be even more of a pain.
The Wi-Fi itself is less impressive than the S110’s image abilities and intuitive combination of touchscreen and recognisable manual controls. In theory you can share to other Canon cameras, hook the S110 up to your smartphone or post to the web. In reality, it’s truly painful to set-up with various pieces of software to install and registrations to complete. Even then, though it's easy to access on the camera it’s limited once you get going, with social network hiccups and annoying decisions like emails including a link rather than the photo.
Then again, it’s not costing you any extra, it may save time at home and Wi-Fi is something that not all pro compacts offer. Not to mention the fact that Wi-Fi-laden cams from the likes of Samsung are often disappointing in the image stakes. Let’s hope Canon keeps an eye on app camera developments and seriously streamlines its Wi-Fi plans for the next PowerShot.
Superb image quality at most ISO settings, manual controls and a new touchscreen are enough to keep this truly compact snapper in the No.3 spot of our best compact cameras list. And if the S110’s attempt at Wi-Fi sharing to phones, laptops and the web isn’t as seamless as we’d like, at least Canon’s made a start.