So, I compared the sample images of the Canon S95
and the Sony NEX-3/5
The S95 seems to take more...eh...lower quality pictures when you look at the crops below each sample image. They're noisier, not as focused, and look like P&S images that have been merely enhanced. Really, it's the noise. They're noisier than the NEX images. Noise just ruins photographs (funny, but not really: before we went on vacation, I read that turning up your ISO would decrease your shutter speeds so no more blurry photos...so I did it and was so excited to take 1/200s and 1/500s images....except when I got back to the house and it looks liked it was snowing in every single picture.....lol).
The NEX images, however, seem to have the brightness on their images turned up. The S95 has better contrast in almost all of them except the last two indoor shots.
I'm not a professional photographer, but I love taking pictures. I really do! By the end of my time with the SD1100IS, I'd like to say I was pretty decent: I used AE and AF lock, I used Custom White Balance, I used Digital Macro; I knew how to take better pictures. The S95 just seems to be an evolution of my SD1100IS with a few new features: HDR, f/2, 720p video, and more manual control. However, will I be able to take less noisier shots and cooler perspectives (because of bigger aperture)? I don't know. But the NEX-3 gives me all that *and* noticeably better pictures, with less noise and with cooler perspective, if that makes sense. I tried a Rebel XS from my college...black actually looked black! No stupid noise. The NEX-3 should be far closer than the S95, I think, in that respect to the dSLR.
I don't think I'm gonna quit this photography business, so I assume I'd be buying cameras after the S95. But why take 1 step when you can take 3?
So, that's just the superior image quality. But, the NEX-3 has these, too:
2. Alignment in HDR [I individually bracketed 3 exposures, hand-held, and assembled the HDR image on my SD1100IS....came out aight]
3. 720P video with AF, zoom, and now aperture control [the S95 has video, but no manual controls...I recently starred in a mini-series and that was just shot with a dSLR (1080p), but I'm excited for the prospects!]
4. Stronger bokeh [I borrowed a Rebel dSLR from my college for a few days...man, they came out great. You can zoom all the way and no loss of quality...the S95, I fear, won't have that, but the NEX-3 will be far closer to the dSLR quality]
5. Longer battery life [the SD1100is lasted at least 350 shots and around two days of shooting...but the S95 seems to cut that a bit shorter]
6. Better screen (quality and feature-wise)
7. Sweep Panorama [the SD1100IS didn't have in-camera stitching, which was annoying, so this should be HUGE].
OK, maybe I won't realize every single little drop of the NEX-3's potential, but the S95 doesn't seem as big of a leap as I want, especially if I'm gonna be paying $400. Why not pay $150 more and get a really superior camera in every single way? All these premium compacts (S95, LX5, etc.) are better than P&S, but are they really a leap? They seem far closer to the P&S side than the dSLR side. Not true for the NEX-3.