Canon is no stranger to the super-zooming camera. The digicam giant can be regularly found at zoos, trying to get perfect shots of distant wildlife using its favourite Powershot. And now it’s ready to take its photography up a notch with this new 12x optical zoomer.       

The Powershot S3 IS has got a 6MP sensor, image stabiliser and all the photographic controls a keen photographer could want alongside a big-zooming lens. And it’s all squeezed into a package not much larger than an everyday compact.

Battery park

The camera runs on AA batteries, and four of the blighters are generously supplied in the box. You’ll get around 110 shots from a single set, but we’d recommend investing a four NiMH cells and a charger – you’ll get a lot a more photos from a charge and it’ll be cheaper in the long run.   

The pseudo-SLR styling in a camera so small looks a bit strange, but the S3 handles surprisingly well and the startup, zooming and focusing are all quick. Indeed, the only downside in terms of setup is the size of the bundled SD card, which is a pathetic 16MB. Gee, thanks Canon.

Punching above its megapixels

Luckily, the S3 more than compensates with picture quality. So what if it’s only got six million pixels? Its real-life definition is almost on a par with 10MP foes like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50, and across its ISO range its performance is actually better, with much less noise and smudging at higher ISOs.


Even when using the full extent of the zoom, the image stabiliser ensures shake-free shots, and the controls are impressive too. Not only are they big and chunky, but the matt finish and rubberised grip makes it less slippery than some, rendering it less likely to plop into a puddle.

Which would be a terrible end for such an accomplished camera. It may only have a 6MP sensor, but the excellent image quality and extreme zooming should see it top the wish lists of beginner and expert photographers alike. 

Stuff says... 

Canon PowerShot S3 IS review

A pint-sized camera that packs a punch, with consistently good performance in all conditions