Canon PowerShot S100 Gordon Laing, November 2011

Canon PowerShot S100 vs PowerShot S95 vs Nikon 1 V1 image quality

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To compare real-life performance, I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot S100 and S95, along with the Nikon 1 V within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings and default options.

The lenses on each camera were adjusted to deliver the same field of view and all three cameras were set to aperture values previously tested to deliver the optimum results: f4 on the two PowerShots and f5.6 on the V1.

The sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting on each camera: 80 ISO on both PowerShots and 100 ISO on the V1.

  Canon S100 results
1 Canon S100 Resolution
2 Canon S100 RAW vs JPEG
3 Canon S100 Noise vs S95
4 Canon S100 Noise vs V1 vs G3
5 Canon S100 Noise Reduction
6 Canon S100 Handheld Night Scene
7 Canon S100 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot S100 with the lens set to 9mm (41mm equivalent) and the aperture set to f4 in Aperture Priority mode. I shot this scene at all aperture values and found f4 delivered the best result on the S100, so that's what I've used for both it and the S95 for a level playing field. I also tested the Nikon 1 V1 at all aperture settings and found f5.6 delivered the best result, so again that's what I've used below.

Note the lenses were adjusted to deliver the same vertical field of view. Since the Nikon 1 V1 records slightly wider 3:2 aspect ratio images, we're effectively only using a 4:3 crop from the middle and ignoring thin strips on either side. As such when matching the vertical field of view with a camera sporting a 4:3 aspect ratio, we're only using approximately 9 of the 10 total Megapixels on the Nikon frame. As such the Nikon 1 V1 has the lowest resolution of the three cameras tested here, which means its crops below show a slightly larger area when cropped to the same size and viewed at 1:1. Next comes the older PowerShot S95 with 10 Megapixels, followed by the latest S100 with 12 Megapixels.

The first thing to note from the top row of crops is the S100 doesn't seem to suffer from the coloured fringing that's seen on areas of high contrast on the earlier S95. This isn't down to any kind of optical superiority, but digital removal of coloured fringing on the S100's in-camera JPEGs. You can see this by taking a RAW file and switching off chromatic aberration corrections. Canon has offered corrections via Digital Photo Professional on RAW files for a long time, but this is the first time I've seen them correcting in-camera JPEGs. It's a very welcome enhancement I hope we'll see on all Canon models going forward, especially since Nikon and Panasonic have been doing it for several generations now.

Moving on, the next thing you notice is the difference in processing style between the S100 and the earlier S95. The S100's crops appear relatively soft and laid-back compared to the punchier output from the S95 when both are using their default JPEG settings. This is similar to other comparisons we've seen when a camera switches from a CCD to a CMOS sensor.

Now the S100 can be made to deliver very similar results to the S95 if you simply boost the contrast and sharpening, either in-camera, or better still on RAW files, and I'll show you an example of that on the next page, but for now it's worth noting the S100's images will appear slightly softer than those from the S95 without modification.

As for real-life detail, it's essentially a draw between the three cameras here at their lowest sensitivities. Pixel-peepers might convince themselves there's fractionally more fine detail on the 12 Megapixel S100 compared to the 9 Megapixels of the V1 we're comparing here, but really there's nothing decisive. Indeed the V1 crops, while also lacking the punchiness of the S95, have a slightly crisper and more satisfying look to them than the S100, especially on the final row.

But again I'd call this one a draw overall, and the only thing I'd take away from the comparison is the S100's JPEGs are a little softer than those from the S95 with the default settings. Of course the great advantage of all the cameras here is their ability to shoot in RAW, so on the S100 RAW vs JPEG page I'll see how the same image looks with the contrast and sharpening boosted. Alternatively if you're ready for some high ISO action, check out my S100 noise results, or skip to my S100 sample images or straight to the S100 verdict.


Canon PowerShot S100
Canon PowerShot S95
Nikon 1 V1
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Canon S100 results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise vs S95
/ Noise vs V1 / Noise Reduction / Handheld Night Scene

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