Canon's PowerShot S90 has been a favourite of ours since last year, so we were eager to see its replacement.
The S95 is slightly slimmer and a little heavier than the S90. Canon has also added a tactile coating, which helps the camera feel more secure in your hands. The controls are much the same though, with a mode dial for manual adjustments, and a selection ring on the lens barrel.
Improvements include a 720p HD video mode, which records in H.264 with autofocus and optical zoom disabled, and an in-camera HDR scene mode.
The S95 is the first PowerShot to include Canon's Hybrid IS technology, which compensates for both angular and shift camera shake, and is particularly useful for macro photography. It's built into the 4x optical zoom lens, which does suffer from minor barrel distortion, but produces crisp images with little evidence of chromatic aberration.
The S95's modest 10-megapixel 1/1.7in CCD sensor is of the High Sensitivity (HS) variety, which helps it to perform remarkably well in poorly lit conditions. It can record images in RAW and JPEG format, and supports ISOs from 80 to 3200 in 1/3 stop increments.
We found it produced usable images at up to ISO 1600 in both RAW and JPEG modes. Colours start to shift a little at ISO 1600, but fine details remain crisp, and banding is well controlled - it isn't until ISO 2000 and above that the S95's noise reduction kicks into overdrive. In RAW files, the detail is there at ISO 2000 and above, but images look muddy.
The price and features mean the S95 is aimed at serious photographers who want a compact that doesn't hamper creativity. It's robust and produces great images; if size matters, it's a great choice. But Panasonic's bulkier DMC-LX5 offers more flexibility with its 24mm wide-angle lens and more advanced HD video mode.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk