Canon S95: An Incredible Machine

I ordered a Canon S95 recently, to replace my S90 whose manufacturing and design defects resulted in its return back in August of this year (2010). Many thanks to Ken Rockwell for his excellent review. If you buy an S95, use one of his links to do so so he can continue to create great reviews.

While ordering my S95, I came across the Panasonic LUMIX LX5. On paper, the LUMIX seemed incredible:

  • Not too much bigger than the S95 (and I carry the S95 in my messenger bag, not in my pocket)
  • Wider and longer focal range
  • Faster across the focal range range
  • Zoom in/out while recording video (what I bought my Casio EX-V8 for)

I received the S95 this week, on 8 December. I received the Panasonic the next day, 9 December. It took me about thirty seconds to know the LX5 was not for me, though I gave it a full ten minutes of use to be sure. The photos were cold (too much blue) and just, well, disappointing. The whole thing felt like running Windows: Sure, you can get anything done you want, but it won’t be fun.

The S95 stays and the LX5 goes back.

To end on a positive note, here are my initial impressions of the S95 compared to those with the S90:

  • Incredible, grippy matte finish
  • Top buttons much improved. I can now find the shutter button by feel, the on/off button is in the right place and shaped to distinguish it from the button next to it. Three S90 design defects handled.
  • The rear wheel has a ridge around it that really helps to keep it from getting accidentally knocked. S90 design defect handled.
  • Lanyard slot on both sides. Did the S90 have this? I love the idea of having two instead of one.

Heavens, my S95 is just a pleasure to use. Every inch of it screams quality design and execution. A few ways I’d like to improve the S95, in this order:

  • Wider lens
  • Put the Video mode adjacent to P mode on the wheel.
  • Faster lens at the long end
  • Longer lens