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Box Photo

Along with the Canon S110 body, you'll find the following accessories in the box:

• battery pack NB-5L

• battery charger CB-2LX

• wrist strap WS-DC11

• USB interface cable IFC-400PCU

• digital camera solution CD

The Canon S110 provides a 5x optical zoom lens with a fast f/2.0 maximum aperture. Unfortunately, that aperture closes down significantly as you take advantage of that 5x zoom, with a maximum of just f/5.9 when zoomed in. While f/2.0 is great for wide angle and macro shots, it's not nearly as impressive if you use the zoom frequently. With competing cameras like the Olympus XZ-1 (4x optical zoom) featuring an f/1.8 lens that closes down to just f/2.8 zoomed in, the S-series is lagging behind the times.

The Canon S110 utilizes a 12.1-megapixel 1/1.7-inch image sensor that is the same size and resolution as last year's S100. The sensor is about 50% larger than the typical 1/2.3-inch sensors that you find in most common point-and-shoots these days. When Canon released the S90, that was a bigger deal than it is today. Large sensor cameras are quite common now, though those cameras are generally slightly larger and more expensive than the S110.

The Canon S110 uses a 3-inch, 461k-dot rear touchscreen LCD. It's practically identical to the one found in the S100, save for the touchscreen operation. Unlike with the recently released Canon EOS M or the Rebel T4i, the menu system on the S110 doesn't particularly facilitate touch operation. In our time shooting with the camera we frequently forgot about the touch functionality. While Canon earns points for making the touchscreen as unobtrusive as possible, in our opinion it isn't of great benefit.

The Canon S110 has a pop-up flash built into the left side of the top plate of the camera—something else that, you guessed it, the S100 also had—that pops up when needed. It's motorized, with no physical catch to release it when the camera is powered off. That's good, as it prevents the flash from releasing accidentally when you've got it stowed in a bag. The flash has a guide number of 7 meters on the wide end, which is fairly typical for a compact camera.

Flash Photo

The flash emitter pops up from the top of the body via a mechanical release.

Once you've captured your images you can hook the camera up to either a computer or television via the standard mini-USB or mini-HDMI ports located behind a small plastic port. The camera comes with a USB cable (though you've probably already got a mini-USB cable kicking around somewhere), though HDMI cables are sold separately.

The PowerShot S110's use of WiFi is more refined than we've seen in many previous cameras, with the ability to connect to a smartphone, computer, printer, another Canon camera, or the web directly. The antenna isn't great, but it's functional when need be. The biggest issue we found with it was the fact that it requires significant setup time to get each of the features working, usually requiring you to download an app or install a program to receive images and adjust settings. Given the dearth of high-quality WiFi on cameras this is par for the course, but a seamless, smartphone-esque experience should not be expected.

The Canon S110 uses a standard NB-5L rechargeable, Lithium-ion battery. It has a capacity of 1050mAh, which works out to around 200 shots per charge by CIPA standards. That's about what we got out of it, but 200 shots only worked out to about two days of heavy use before needing a charge.

Battery Photo

The S110 uses a standard SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card. The card slot is located in the battery compartment on the bottom of the camera, and as a result it's blocked by most tripod plate designs.

Memory Photo

The K2000 accepts inexpensive, easy to find SD cards.

Media Photo

The Canon S110 performed well in our image quality tests, with very good color accuracy, exceptional (software-assisted) sharpness, and a very good noise score. The camera's image processing took over in most cases, we found, employing effective—though not overbearing—noise reduction to keep the grain down and preserve some details. Overall we were quite impressed, and the S110 lives up to the S-series' reputation of great image quality from a compact camera.

In our lab testing we found the Canon S110 produced very sharp images, though they suffered from severe haloing as the camera turned up the processing. Most point-and-shoot cameras make details pop out more by increasing contrast near the edges of your subject.

We saw a great deal of this in the test shots, with the S110 creating white outlines around each section. A little of this makes images look better, but the Canon S110 takes it to extreme levels, especially at the wide angle. Otherwise the S110 performed like most other point-and-shoots, with sharp images in the center and very soft details in the corner of the frame. More on how we test sharpness.

The Canon S110 held its own quite well in our color accuracy tests, though we found turning off the "My Colors" mode resulted in the most accurate colors overall. With the S110 set that way the camera managed an error of just 2.58, which is right on par with most cameras in its class and above. More on how we test color.

The other color modes were slightly less accurate, but intentionally so. Modes like neutral, vivid, sepia, monochrome, and positive film are mostly designed to push color in fun, creative ways. If you're shooting portraits we recommend turning these modes off to get the most accurate color, but otherwise experimenting is definitely encouraged.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.

Canon offers color modes under its "My Colors" setting, which can be applied before shooting or in the playback menu. The camera includes options for neutral, vivid, sepia tone, monochrome, positive film, lighter skin tone, darker skin tone, vivid blue, vivid red, vivid green, and a custom color mode. The custom mode lets you adjust color, saturation, sharpness, skin tone, red, green, and blue on a +/- scale, saving the choice for use later.

There are also some color-specific modes to be found in the digital effects setting on the mode dial. Here is where you'll find Canon's color accent, color swap, and super vivid modes. Super vivid should be self-explanatory, with color swap letting you change one color to another. Color accent is always a popular mode, letting you shoot black and white photos with a single color kept saturated.

The S110 performed well in white balance testing, with an accurate auto mode and an easy to use custom white balance. We found that the automatic white balance struggled under one specific light condition, though it did as well (or better) than the custom white balance under the others.

Automatic White Balance ()

The automatic white balance setting was able to handle daylight and compact white fluorescent light extremely well, with an average color error of less than 120 kelvins in both conditions. For all intents and purposes that's right on the money. The one area the camera struggled was under incandescent lighting, which is very warm. In that test the camera had a color temperature error of over 2000 kelvin. This isn't out of the ordinary at all, as almost every camera we test produces at least this much error in this test.

Custom White Balance ()

The custom results were better, but not perfect. In the same three lighting conditions we found the S110, when taking a custom white balance, had an average temperature error of less than 200 kelvins. This is pretty good, though with the automatic white balance performing so well, the only time it's really worth it is under warm indoor lighting.

The S110 includes a number of white balance presets in addition to the automatic and custom modes. These can all be accessed through the on-screen "function set" menu. Setting a custom white balance is very easy, as you can do it with a single press of the button from this menu. There are two custom options that can be saved at any one time, and all the white balance settings can be adjusted on a standard amber/blue/green/magenta scale to shift them as needed.

The Canon S110 keeps noise to an absolute minimum through most of its ISO range, with three noise reduction settings available to stem the tide against digital grain. We found all three were quite effective at keeping noise down, with even the "low" setting showing some detail loss by ISO 1600.

The normal and high noise reduction settings were less lenient, each beginning to trim noise from the image right from the base ISO of 80. The Canon S110's sensor is not particularly noisy for a point-and-shoot, with noise reaching just 0.67% at ISO 80 with noise reduction on low. It doesn't go up much from there, however, as Canon only allows you to capture shots without noise reduction if you're shooting in RAW (which we don't do for point-and-shoot testing as of this time). More on how we test noise.

Detail loss is fairly significant with the Canon S110 at higher ISOs. The high noise reduction setting, in particular, begins to draw down on both noise and detail dramatically beginning at ISO 400. It's not noticeable if you are just posting snapshots to the web, but looking at large prints or full size images on a monitor and most of the fine detail (hair, texture, grass, etc.) is gone by ISO 1600, with ISO 12800 looking like it was taken in a sauna.

The Canon S110 offers an ISO range that extends from 80 to 12800. The ISO speed is set via the function menu, brought up on screen by pressing the "FUNC. SET" button in the center of the rear control dial/pad. You also have access to an auto ISO function that lets the camera decide, with the ability to set caps on just how high the auto ISO is allowed to go.

The Canon S110's lens no doubt creates a fair amount of chromatic aberration, but the camera corrects for it very well. We found little evidence of lateral fringing in the corners of most of our resolution test images, though the images appeared to soften in the same ways. It's likely the camera is merely correcting for the color fringing that usually pops up around high contrast edges, leaving just a slightly defocused edge instead.

The S110 is equally adept at controlling for distortion due to its lens, as well. We found that the 5x optical zoom still showed a 1.42% barrel distortion at the wide end. That shrunk to just a 0.78% barrel distortion at the midpoint of the zoom range, with the telephoto end showing zero distortion according to our testing software.

It's probably an understatement to say that we were pleasantly surprised by the video performance we saw from the Canon S110. Both it and the Canon G15 were capable of some very sharp, very smooth video in our test labs. Our motion rig, in particular, looked great in bright light, with very little image degradation. More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.

The sharpness results were also quite promising, with 650 line widths per picture height of vertical sharpness and 625 horizontal. When perfectly still the camera could exceed that, but any movement and the image tended to suffer from increased moire and artifacting, limiting sharpness. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.

In low light the S110's sharpness performance dipped slightly horizontally, though it stayed at 650 lw/ph horizontal sharpness. The biggest issue seemed to be the increased noise due to the auto ISO kicking up, which reduced sharpness significantly. We did note that moire was practically nonexistant in low light, however.

Rather surprisingly, the Canon S110 produced exceptional results in our low light sensitivity test. We found it was able to produce an image reaching 50 IRE on a waveform monitor (a standard broadcast measure of brightness) with a target illuminated to just 4 lux of light. That's territory typically reserved for DSLRs with much larger image sensors, and it's quite impressive given how compact the S110 is.

With full manual control, customizable buttons, and aperture- and shutter-priority modes, the S110 can be a pretty complex camera. Despite all this, the S110 is actually very simple to operate. Its menu and controls are precisely the same as Canon's cheapest compact cameras and anyone who has used a basic point-and-shoot should be able to pick up the S110 in no time at all.

The S110 features a variety of automatic modes, with both a "program" auto and a full automatic mode. The program mode allows the user to finely tune most major settings, while the full automatic mode makes most of the decisions for the user. The full automatic mode just requires the user to select if they want a self-timer, if they want to shoot continuously, and what size and image quality level the shots will be saved as.

The S110's physical design is very well refined, with most of the buttons and dials being tailored just right for the user. The camera has two main control dials, one around the lens and one on the back that also functions as a four-way directional pad. The ring dial is fantastic, as it has been on all the recent S-series cameras, while the control dial has been tightened up just a bit to prevent errant adjustments.

The Canon S110 features several effects, scene modes, and filters for you to mess around with. Most are pretty common modes relegated to the "SCN" position on the dial, though some of the wilder effects are located in a separate setting on the dial.

For just adjusting color you can take advantage of Canon's "My Colors" mode. There are 10 color modes in total, including vivid, neutral, sepia, black & white, and some less common modes. We found in our testing that leaving these modes off yielded the best color accuracy, but each is useful in its own right.

The effects position offers some of the wilder digital filters available in the camera, including fish-eye conversion, miniature effect, toy camera, etc. You'll also find the popular "color accent" mode here, letting you turn the entire image black and white save for a user-selected color.

The menu on the Canon S110 is designed into two broad types: the on-screen "Function" menu and the main menu. The function menu is brought up on-screen by pressing the "FUNC. SET" button in the center of the rear control dial. This includes your basic shooting settings such as self-timer, drive mode, metering type, ISO (when available), and image quality/size. The main menu is brought up by pressing the "MENU" key. The actual main menu is devoid of these basic shooting settings, and is mostly centered around system settings and basic setup functions.

While there's no default overlap between the two menu systems, you can put just about any setting you like into Canon's "My Menu." In this custom menu you can select what options appear, accessible through the main menu. It's not as quick as making changes with the function menu, but it lets you customize a bit.

The Canon S110 includes a quick start guide and a digital version of the full user's manual on the included CD-ROM. The quick start guide is more extensive than we usually see with other cameras, largely because of the S110's built-in WiFi antenna. The added connectivity can require some troubleshooting, so Canon included a slightly beefier guide than normal to get you on your way.

The Canon S-series has always had one specific reason for existing: your pockets are only so big. The S110 is no different than previous S-series cameras in this regard, with a tightly designed body that easily slips in and out of a pocket or small bag. While the end result is more or less the same, we're disappointed to see that some of the rubber touches on the S100 have been eliminated. The small rubber inlay on the front of the S100 is no longer there, while the rear rubber thumb rest has also been replaced by a small plastic ridge to push against.

Handling Photo 1

The coating on the S110 provided a bit of tack when we were shooting with the camera, and bare handed we never felt like it would slip out of our hands. The matte paint also helps prevent finger prints, though the top plate is still a glossy plastic that can get marked up. Overall we found the camera to be adequate for shooting during the day, and it's easy enough to stow in your jacket pocket and forget about when you don't need it.

Handling Photo 2
Handling Photo 3

The S110's physical design is very well refined, with most of the buttons and dials being tailored just right for the user. The camera has two main control dials, one around the lens and one on the back that also functions as a four-way directional pad. The ring dial is fantastic, as it has been on all the recent S-series cameras, while the control dial has been tightened up just a bit to prevent errant adjustments.

Buttons Photo 1

The shutter button on the S110 is great, and it's quite easy to find a half-press for focus and exposure lock. The other buttons on the S110 are easy to operate, but they're crowded around the rear control dial. While this placement leaves room for the thumb rest, their location makes the camera slightly harder to operate in dim lighting.

Buttons Photo 2

The Canon S110 uses a 3-inch, 461k-dot rear touchscreen LCD. It's practically identical to the one found in the S100, save for the touchscreen operation. Unlike with the recently released Canon EOS M or the Rebel T4i, the menu system on the S110 doesn't particularly facilitate touch operation. In our time shooting with the camera we frequently forgot about the touch functionality. While Canon earns points for making the touchscreen as unobtrusive as possible, in our opinion it isn't of great benefit.

A standard mode dial adorns the top of the S110, with options for automatic, program, manual, aperture priority, and shutter priority, as well as scene and creative modes. The dial also has a custom mode, a dedicated video setting (though recording can be started in any mode, at any time with the dedicated REC button), and Canon's movie digest mode.

The S110 gives you manual control over both shutter speed and aperture in manual and priority modes, and exposure compensation in the rest. The S110 offers up to 3 stops +/- of adjustment, letting you determine scene brightness if the automatic exposure doesn't get it right. Most of the controls can be adjusted using the rear control dial, with the front control ring offering customizable control as well.

The S110 uses contrast-detection autofocus in order to lock onto subjects, with options for normal autofocus, macro focus, or manual focus. The manual focus can use the front control ring, but it works mostly as a step focus and isn't terribly responsive.

When using the normal autofocus you are given a point in the center for the frame which will turn green when focus is locked on or yellow when it isn't. In our focus test we found that it did great locking on in bright light, with some struggles at the lower 10 lux level.

There isn't much in the way of fine focus control with the S110, beyond switching between normal and macro modes. The normal mode will allow you to focus as close as two inches, while the macro mode shrinks that range to 1.2 inches. It's useful if you want to use the S110 for macro shots of jewelry or small details, but otherwise you can just stick to the normal AF.

The S110 captures images in RAW and JPEG, with both "fine" and "super fine" JPEG compression available. You can shoot at four resolutions in any given aspect ratio, with the largest being the 4:3 12-megapixel. They scale down from there, with the other aspect ratios merely being cropped versions of the 4:3 shots.

Control Ring

The lens control ring is one of the best innovations Canon has put in their compact camera lineup and it's been a hallmark of the S-series compacts since the S90's release. The S110 includes the same ring, with the ring controlling different functions depending on what shooting mode you're in. You can choose to let it remain like that, or assign it specific functions such as white balance, exposure compensation, ISO, or one of several others.

Like most point-and-shoot cameras, the Canon S110 isn't what you'd call particularly speedy. As withe earlier S-series cameras, the S110 isn't the best option for action shooters. Still, the camera does offer some speed when called upon, and a host of self-timer modes give it some flexibility when taking snapshots and group portraits.

Like other Canon point-and-shoots on the market, the S110 features two separate kinds of speed modes. The first are its drive settings, which operate in just about every shooting mode. The other is a special high-speed burst most, which Canon lists as being capable of capturing up to 10 frames in a single second. The special high-speed burst mode is nice, but having that speed limited to one select mode—instead of say, manual or aperture-priority modes—makes it less useful than it could've been.

Canon were right on the money with their 10 frames per second claim, as the high-speed burst mode captures exactly that in one burst. It won't go beyond ten frames, though, and it takes a few seconds for the camera to catch up and write those shots to the memory card.

When you're shooting in other modes using the continuous shooting drive mode the S110 will capture two frames in about half a second, before slowing down to around half that speed from there on out. That's also with exposure and autofocus locked on the first frame, which really limits the camera's ability to capture action, as your moment can easily pass by without getting a proper shot. The S110 does offer a continuous shooting mode that maintains continuous autofocus, but it only fires about one shot per second.

The S110 comes with the standard two- or ten-second self-timer mode, along with a customizable mode that is great if you want a batch of shots (or if you test cameras for a living). The custom mode lets you capture up to 10 shots after a user-specified delay of up to 30 seconds.

The S110 uses contrast-detection autofocus in order to lock onto subjects, with options for normal autofocus, macro focus, or manual focus. The manual focus can use the front control ring, but it works mostly as a step focus and isn't terribly responsive.

When using the normal autofocus you are given a point in the center for the frame which will turn green when focus is locked on or yellow when it isn't. In our focus test we found that it did great locking on in bright light, with some struggles at the lower 10 lux level.

There isn't much in the way of fine focus control with the S110, beyond switching between normal and macro modes. The normal mode will allow you to focus as close as two inches, while the macro mode shrinks that range to 1.2 inches. It's useful if you want to use the S110 for macro shots of jewelry or small details, but otherwise you can just stick to the normal AF.

The Canon S110 is an attempt to take a successful model—great image quality in a compact point-and-shoot package—and add in some extra features. While the GPS that found its way into the S100 is long gone, the S110 now features both built-in WiFi and a touchscreen LCD. Neither is particularly convincing as a photographic feature, but they're nice extras to have when you need them. The WiFi is the more useful of the two, but significant setup time makes it a hassle when you're first starting out.

The S110 lets you record video in full HD, standard definition, as well several high-speed video record modes. The camera records videos using H.264 compression, kept in a .MOV container in the same folder as captured still images. When shooting in full HD you can record video for up to 29 minutes and 39 seconds before filling up an 8GB card. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content

There's simply not much in the way of manual control when you're capturing video on the S110. You can set shutter speed and aperture in the manual mode before beginning a recording, but there's no guarantee the exposure settings won't change as soon as you begin recording. You can adjust exposure compensation, but only to adjust brightness in the shot.

Auto Controls

The S110 has a dedicated video record setting on the mode dial, but you can begin recording video in any of the other modes, including scene modes. This lets you capture some creative shots on video, as just about any digital effect or color mode you can apply to a still image can be applied to video capture.

Zoom

One piece of control that is available while recording video is zoom. The lens is engaged with the same zoom toggle that you normally use, and the full 5x optical zoom range can be used when capturing a video.

Focus

Continuous autofocus takes over when using the S110 to capture video, and it's a nice gradual pull when transitioning from different focal points. Our biggest issue here would be that you can't really force the autofocus to pull in or our on a subject, but rather you have to wait for the camera to decide to adjust focus.

The S110 has a built-in stereo microphone, but not much in the way of actual audio control. The only option that even affects audio in the menu is the wind cut filter, with no control over levels available. While the video quality on the S110 is quite good, it's clear Canon didn't intend it for use beyond a few small clips when on the go.

Mic Photo

Since 2009's S90, the Canon S-series compact cameras have been perennial favorites for shoppers looking to get good image quality in a pocketable form factor. With so much success it's clear why Canon hasn't changed the formula much in three years. The PowerShot S110 is the third update since the S90, and it looks almost exactly like its predecessors with touch control and wireless connectivity being the only real additions over last year's PowerShot S100.

The PowerShot S100 is one of our favorite compact cameras, a go-to for anyone looking for a pocket-friendly camera capable of great looking snapshots. The S110 is practically identical, with the same 1/1.7-inch CMOS image sensor, built-in flash, and front control ring.

We're compelled to give Canon points for not messing up the formula, but it's a little dismaying to see such stagnation in their consumer-oriented camera lines over the last few years. Sure the Canon SX260, Rebel T4i, and S110 are solid cameras that offer competitive performance, but they're really just meager evolutionary updates over the SX230, Rebel T3i, and S100. That those older models offer equivalent performance and are generally available at a discount should give any buyer pause when considering a new Canon these days.

In a vacuum, the S110 is still a heck of a camera. Its 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor performs very well in our image quality tests, with plenty of processing done in-camera to make your images come out better. If you prefer the hands-on approach, you can still shoot in RAW and take full control of manual settings, utilizing the camera's front and back control rings to adjust a whole host of options on the fly. It's a great package—just like it was when the S100 arrived on the scene with most of the same features a year ago.

But these days, the high-end compact camera market is far more crowded, and cameras like the Olympus XZ-2, Panasonic LX7, and Sony RX100 present the kind of stiff competition that should drive Canon to innovate. A touchscreen display and built-in WiFi are nice, but they're hardly revolutionary.

The S110 is a perfectly fine high-end compact, but the S100 offers the same performance for less money. It's as simple as that. If you're totally in love with touchscreen technology or you think WiFi will really be a benefit to how you shoot, then by all means go for the S110. Otherwise, grab the S100 for nearly $50 cheaper, or step up to a superior camera like the Sony RX100—you won't be disappointed.

Meet the testers

TJ Donegan

TJ Donegan

Executive Editor

@TJDonegan

TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.

See all of TJ Donegan's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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