Canon Powershot S5 IS Reviews

First published on: Thursday, 5 July 2007

Here’s a collection of reviews on the Canon S5 IS digital camera, as written by professional testers, plus user feedback posted on forums.

Links to tests, ratings, opinions and conclusions are also collected.

User Reviews

Alan has an excellent S5 IS review posted up at his blog
This piece is written from the perspective of a digital SLR owner who’s also into biking and hiking.

Tigadee’s S5 IS “Quick Review”
Along with his review, he’s posted many pictures of the camera taken from various angles — nice touch!. Here’s my summary of the review:
• Fast and quiet AF (autofocus) even in dim lighting conditions. The AF assist lamp is green in color and has a fantastic range.
• Brisk lens zooming action. The S5 IS is operationally a very fast camera, taking only 1 second to start up, and provides near instantaneous response when switching from record / capture mode to review mode, and back to record / capture mode again.
• Excellent battery life from the 4 pieces of normal alkaline batteries that is supplied with the camera. Tigadee managed to take 500-plus shots, and even with a lot of image reviews on the LCD and extensive use of autofocusing, the EVF (electronic viewfinder), LCD and switched-on IS, there was still power left in the batteries (in my opinion, this matches what you’d get from most digital SLR cameras!).
• Video capture quality is commendable at 640 x 480, 30 fps (frames per second)
• The EVF is big and bright, and is extremely useful in bright sunlight where the image on the LCD might not be visible enough.
• The large tilt and swivel LCD works well.
• Flash TTL hotshoe — this is a welcome feature for anyone who wants to experiment with using external flash units with the S5 IS. The hotshoe is a feature not found in competing cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8, or the older Powershot S3 IS.
• Build quality and overall body construction is excellent.
• Like most modern digital cameras with high resolution on small-sized sensors, image noise levels are high if you shoot above ISO 100.
• If you’re going to peep at each image pixel at 100% magnification on your computer screen, you will notice NR (noise reduction) smudging artifacts. These artifacts are visible even for images shot at ISO 80.
• Stephen McDonald adds that he finds the image quality from the S5 IS to be superior to any of the other competing ultra-zoom digicams, saying that the high bit rates in Superfine mode ensures that you get large file sizes from the S5 IS (as large as 7.33 MB), vs. the Sony Cybershot DSC-H9 which only manages 2.83 MB (note that both models are 8 MP cameras). This means that you won’t get overly harsh NR on low contrast backgrounds with the Powershot S5.
• Face detection in Portrait mode works as advertised.
• The IS (Image Stabilization) feature isn’t as effective as image-stabilized lenses that mount on digital SLR cameras, but seems to perform as well as sensor-based shake reduction systems found in a number of digital SLR cameras. Lee Jay has a different opinion, whose tests with the Powershot S3 IS showed that the effectiveness of the shake reduction rivals that of his EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens

Robb’s brief comparisons of the S5 IS vs Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50
• The FZ50 has RAW capability. Those who prefer to post process their images for maximum quality (nature photographers, for instance) would appreciate this feature.
• The S5 IS produces pictures with more vibrant colors and punch without any need for editing. This makes the S5 IS the preferred choice for photographers who would like to print directly from the camera. The FZ50’s images are comparatively rather flat and dull.
• The S5 IS is the better camera for people snaps, aided by the Face Detection feature and producing very good flash exposures plus has lower noise in its images.
• The FZ50 has a more sturdy construction, and the non-extending lens barrel means that there is less likelihood of snapping or breaking parts.

Powershot S5 IS review at

Here are the most interesting bits from the review — the camera image quality comparisons:

  1. S5 IS vs Canon PowerShot S3 IS at ISO 80 and ISO 800

  2. S5 IS vs Olympus SP-550 UZ at ISO 80 and ISO 50 respectively, at ISO 400 and ISO 800.

  3. S5 IS vs Sony CyberShot DSC-H9 at ISO 80, ISO 400 and ISO 800.

  4. S5 IS vs Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 at ISO 80 and ISO 400

Miscellaneous impressions and opinions

  1. MikeTJ finds the video mode on the S5 to be good enough that he sold off his Sony Handycam MiniDV camcorder on eBay
  2. Powershot S5 IS review at Luminous Landscape
  3. Pete Perry was very surprised by the effectiveness of the IS (image stabilization) on the S5 IS — he thinks it is one stop better than the other digicams with shake reduction that he has tried in the past.
  4. Here’s why Matt would keep his S5 IS vs. the Powershot G7 if he had to make a choice.
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