Canon PowerShot S2 IS
- Big zoom, great optical image stabilisation, strong movie mode; extensive set of photographic features
- You'll need to buy some rechargeable batteries
If you want a carry-around camera capable of handling a wide range of tasks, including good-quality video, the S2IS is well worth a look.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
Big-zoom, image-stabilised cameras are a hot item. While previously we have looked at the Panasonic Lumix FZ5 and the Sony CyberShot H1, this time round it's Canon's latest, the PowerShot S2 IS.
The S2 IS is the successor to the S1 IS which was released in 2004 - a 10x zoom, 3.2 megapixel unit. The S2 upgrades both those main specs, and the camera now has a resolution of 5 megapixels, with a new f2.7-3.5, 12x zoom that's both quite long and wide, with a 35mm-equivalent range of 36-432mm. That's a hefty zoom and, like its competitors, the S2 deals with any camera shake when at full magnification by including image stabilisation (IS), in this case with Canon's tried and tested optical stabilisation technology.
But the S2 isn't content to beef up just a few key features. It has incremental improvements across its feature set. Like most of Canon's new cameras, it uses the DiG!C II processor, which results in a very fast startup time and quick image processing. The ultrasonic motor in the lens improves focusing performance, while the lens itself has a special super-macro mode that will focus from as close as under 1cm for those big-detail shots. The image stabilisation system has been enhanced with two extra modes. Previously, IS was always on. But the new shoot-only mode leaves IS off until you actually press the shutter, which lacks the advantage of having your image preview stabilised but seems to result in a slightly better result. The other new mode, panning, corrects only for vertical shake. Whatever mode you employ, IS works well, letting you use the big zoom at slower shutter speeds or take images indoors at shutter speeds that would certainly blur without IS.
IS can also be used in movie modes and you can even zoom at the same time. Movie modes have been improved, too, with full VGA, 30fps recording supported and stereo sound. Like the S1, the S2 has a separate record button for movies, so you can continue taking still shots while recording a movie, a nifty feature.
While the design of the S2 is broadly similar to the S1, it is slightly larger and heavier. At 405g without batteries, it's a fairly weighty little camera for its size but as a result it feels solid and dependable. It also features an SD card slot instead of CompactFlash and a marginally larger, twist-and-tilt LCD (1.8 inches versus 1.5 inches on the S1). The USB connection is now High Speed USB 2.0.
The S2 IS bumps up the shooting performance, thanks to the DiG!C II processor. You now get continuous shooting at 2.4 frames per second, essentially limited in duration only by available card space; once you start shooting, it will just keep going. Maximum shutter speed is raised to 1/3,200 from 1/2,000, and a bunch of new scene modes have been added, as has an auto-focus illumination lamp to aid focusing in low-light conditions. In general the auto focus on the S2 IS was both fast and accurate; although it did have some difficulty focusing in low light when the zoom was at its maximum.
There are other weak spots. While its ISO range is from 50 to 400, the sensor is fairly noisy at ISO400 - though this is a shortcoming it shares with most of its competition at this price range. And while the camera takes four standard AA-sized batteries, you don't get a set of rechargeables in the box, so you'll have the extra expense of buying rechargeables and a charger.
The S2's image quality is on a par with that of the Sony H1 and Panasonic FZ5; while it's not up to the quality you'll get with a digital SLR you're unlikely to be disappointed. In fact, overall the S2 is very solid product and a more significant upgrade to the range than is first apparent. If you want a carry-around camera capable of handling a wide range of tasks, including good-quality video, it's well worth a look.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 2 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
- 4 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 5 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
Latest News Articles
- Boom: SanDisk just dropped the world's largest SD card
- Camera app makers tap into RAW power with iOS, and look forward to dual lenses
- Google Camera 3.2 lets you snap pictures while recording video
- CES 2016: Top 10 trends
- Sony α7S II aimed film-makers and low light photographers
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- TPSAS DeveloperWA
- CCJava Developer IntegrationQLD
- FTSenior System EngineerNSW
- CCSenior Network Architect l CCNP/CCIE R&S l Cisco ACINSW
- FTSenior Software Engineer - JavaACT
- FTVDI EngineerACT
- TPInfrastructure ArchitectQLD
- CCTechnical Consultant - ITSM/HP Service ManagerQLD
- FTProject Engineer - Newcastle BasedNSW
- CCCitrix SpecialistNSW
- FTSecurity ConsultantVIC
- FTPERMANENT Business AnalystsVIC
- CCPeoplesoft DeveloperACT
- CCChange AnalystQLD
- TPTest and Support AnalystQLD
- CCTibco Integration Specialist l Port MacquarieNSW
- FTSenior Business Analyst, FinanceNSW
- CCTest Capability LeadNSW
- CCTechnical Requirements Architect - NV1ACT
- FTC# DeveloperQLD
- FTSecurity Solutions Manager - Perth BasedNSW
- FTDeveloper / Junior Solution DesignerQLD
- FTICT Contract AnalystWA
- FTPERMANENT Business AnalystsWA