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Canon Powershot S100 compared to G9

This is a comparison between Canon S100 and Canon G9 (and by no means comprehensive).
UPDATE 11/19/2011: I did a few more tests and updated several sections.

Daylight

Overall quality and resolution is similar but the S100 lens has more corner softness even at same 35mm focal length (especially on the right side). At 24mm there’s also corner softness as expected but relatively speaking good for such wide angle. I found corner softness disappeared mostly at around 96mm but I didn’t do extensive tests for sweet spot.

Second thing I noticed is the amount of sharpness applied to JPGs seems lower than S95/G12 and recent other camera’s but resolution is similar. Shooting RAW with some PP will give better and more similar results (see below).

F2.8 ISO 80 1:1 Comparison with some S100 softness (click to see 1:1):

Low-light / High ISO

At high ISO I found the S100 to be about 1-2 stops better than the G9. In addition the S100 is 1 stop faster at max aperture however this is only achieved at full 24mm wide.

See below 1:1 crop comparison (aperture is same since S100 is little bit zoomed in):

There’s also a handheld night scene setting which I found to be quite impressive: it takes several shots and combines them in 1 image. At 1/10 sec image looks still pretty good and not blurry. Only downside is that min. ISO seems to be 1600 so it’s meant for low-light only.

Here’s 1:1 crop comparison:


RAW

One thing I noticed is bit high contrast and saturation. So I did a comparison for ISO 80 between JPG and RAW with some PP (reduce contrast+sat+incr. unsharp mask). I do think you can get better results with RAW so I’d always shoot JPG+RAW if possible:

Click to see full 1:1 crop:

New Noise Reduction Setting & Custom Color settings

The S100 has a new noise reduction settings for high ISO JPG. It’s really great Canon added this until I found that you can’t change it when shooting RAW+JPG. So still best to just shoot RAW+JPG and then change noise reduction setting of the RAW yourself. The difference is also subtle but I’d always go with low NR (if you’d only shoot JPG).

Second (not new) is ‘Custom Color’ setting where you can adjust contrast, saturation, sharpness  and red,green,blue. This is also unfortunately disabled in RAW+JPG. If I’d shoot only in JPG I probably would shoot with contrast -1 and sharpness+2 (but RAW+JPG will give you lot more options).

ISO 1600 JPG 1:1 comparison normal to low NR setting (click to see 1:1):

Custom color effect comparison for sharpness and contrast (click to see 1:1):

Video

New is 720p at 30fps and 1080p at 24fps (S95/G12 has only 720p 24fps). Video quality is good and looks stable at 24mm. At full zoom rolling shutter issues become visible with movement and best to stay away unless you use a tripod.

Resolution increase is very visible from 720p30 to 1080p24. Downside is that 24p will give you less fluid motion so test first which one you prefer.
I noticed contrast and saturation to be very high causing contrast clipping and you can mitigate that by either using custom colors with contrast + saturation set to -2 or you can use neutral color mode (which has little bit more contrast):
Also video brightness is pretty high and you can change exposure but it will lock the exposure for entire recording.

See here video comparison of several color settings:

Zoom isn’t great: 1. zooming is audible on recording; 2. at max zoom you start to see rolling shutter effect with movement. So I’d stick with zoomed out shots and don’t change zoom too much.


Vimeo video comparison:
Video S100 comparison to HF G10
Canon Powershot S100 1080p sample video

Here is a framegrab comparison between S100 and HF G10 camcorder:

Conclusion

I haven’t been able to do a full comparison but here some pro/cons of the S100:
+ 24mm wide angle has corner softness but relatively speaking decent perf and low artifacts
+ 1080p24 video resolves good resolution and I haven’t see any rolling shutter artifacts (except when zoomed in)
+ Low-light / high ISO performance better than G9
+ More compact than G9
+ Good overal image quality for compact size
+ Handheld night scene works very well and can improve quality by at least 1 stop
+/- No fine JPG. Workaround is RAW but not as convenient and requires extra step (there’s a batch convert though)
+/- JPG lack sharpness (can be mitigated by using RAW and applying PP)
– Video is very bright and there’s no relative exposure adjustment (only locked exposure)
– Corner softness which gradually reduces but still visible at around 85mm
– Some visible shadow noise at ISO80. RAW helps slightly
– Lens aperture drops quickly when zooming in which could cause ISO 800 in daylight images with zoom
– Less zoom than G9 and slower at max zoom
– min. 24mm has more corner softness than G9 35mm and aperture decreases quickly when zooming in
– Several (unnecessary) limitations: Panorama has no 2×2 and no portrait mode anymore (only left/right). Workaround is not to align using screen. But you also can’t change ISO. Also ISO80 only available at > 1 sec shutter time and no NR setting and custom image available for JPG+RAW
– 1080p not available with 30fps for better motion
– Zoom level moves too fast to make small fine adjustments easily

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