The front of the Canon S95


The back of the S95


The left side of the S95


The top of the S95


The bottom of the S95


Ease of Use

The Canon S95 looks to be a very easy camera to use, with a straightforward design and control layout. SLR users will particularly appreciate the control ring around the lens, which can be set to control several features, such as the zoom, ISO and exposure values.


Size & Handling

The S95 is a small camera, but it fits well into the hand, with the index finger falling right over the shutter and zoom control. Our only major complaint is that the lack of a raised ridge on the front of the camera body means that there is little to hold onto, so the grip can be a little loose. Canon has also moved a few buttons around from the S90, swapping the positions of the ring control and power buttons. The control dial on the back around the directional control pad has also been changed and tightened, as the S90 was a little easy to accidentally twist around.



Auto Mode

The S95 offers a range of modes, from the full auto mode of the Auto setting on the mode dial to the full manual mode. Between these two extremes are the P (Program), A (Aperture) and S (Shutter priority) modes. A number of other modes are also on offer from the 9 spots on the mode dial, including a dedicated low light mode, movie mode and a C (Custom) mode which is user defined. All in all, that is a very good selection of modes that should cover everything from pressing the button and taking the photo, to manual tweaking of every setting. 

There are a couple of new shooting modes on offer: a HDR (High Dynamic Range) shooting mode takes two images at different exposure settings and combines them to produce images with wider dynamic range, and the

Movie Mode


One of the major upgrades from the S90 is the addition of high def movie capture: the S95 can capture videos at resolutions of up to 1280 by 720 (equivalent to 720p HDTV resolution). The frame rate maxes out there at 24 frames per second, though; the S95 cannot manage the 30 or 60fps that some other camera can. Video files also include mono sound from the built-in microphone (no external microphone can be attached) and are saved as .MOV Quicktime files.


Playback Mode

A standard selection of playback features are on offer: images can be shown as slideshows or sorted by date and category. Images can be viewed as thumbnails or zoomed in to show fine details. 

Custom Image Presets


The C (Custom) setting on the mode dial allows the user to create and quickly select a custom mode, which is based on any of the other modes with customized settings applied.

Drive/Burst Mode

The S95 offers three drive modes: single shot, continuous and continuous AF, where the camera focuses between shots. Canon claims that it can shoot at about 1.9 frames per second. That's only a slight improvement from the S90, which we found could only manage about 1.1 fps.



Manual Controls

As you would expect from a high-end compact camera, the S95 offers a lot of manual controls. The full manual mode allows you to set both aperture and shutter settings directly using the combination of the control ring around the lens and the control dial on the rear of the camera. The control ring around the lens can also be set to control the zoom lens, the ISO, and exposure compensation.


We found that the auto focus of the S95 was generally quick and responsive. A focus bracketing mode is also offered, which takes 3 shots at slightly different focus points.


The S95 has a very wide ISO range, going from 100 right up to 3200 at the full resolution of the camera. If you don't mind reducing the resolution to 2 megapixels, you can increase this to an impressive maximum of 12800.


Aperture & Shutter Speed

The aperture and shutter speed range of the S95 is very respectable, with the lens offering a aperture range of f/2 to f/8 at the wide angle setting and f/4.9 to f/8 at the telephoto end. The shutter speed in most modes is from 1 to 1/1600 of a second, although this can be expanded out to 15 seconds in some scene modes.

White Balance

The S95 offers 8 white balance presets, as well as a custom mode that measures the color temperature from a captured image.

Exposure & Metering

The usual exposure modes are on offer: you can set the camera to evaluate the scene, use center weighted or spot metering. 

Image Stabilization


The S95 offers optical image stabilization, where an element of the lens shifts to compensate for camera shake. On the S90, we found this to be moderately effective, but we have not yet tested it on the S95.

Picture Quality & Size Options

The S95 offers image sizes from the 10 megapixel maximum (3648 by 2736 pixels) down to 640 by 480 pixels. Two options for image quality are offered: fine and normal.

Picture Effects

The S95 offers a range of picture effects that alter the colors and textures of images: 11 in all. These are unchanged from the S90.

LCD & Viewfinder

The S95 includes a 3-inch, 460k pixel screen. This is unchanged from the S90, but we found that this screen produces sharp, clear previews of images.




The S95 includes a small built-in, pop-up flash above the lens. This automatically pops up and slides down when required, as determined by the flash mode. Because the body of the S95 is thinner than the S90, the flash is thinner too, but Canon claims the same power and range. We haven't been able to test this claim yet, though.

Lens & Sensor


The S95 is built around a 3.8x zoom lens, with a focal length range of 6 to 22.5mm, which is equivalent to a 28 to 105mm zoom length on a 35mm film camera. That's a decent length (and the wide angle is wider than most), but the telephoto won't get you that close into the action. Behind the lens is the sensor, a 1/11.7-inch CCD chip that captures 10.2 megapixel images.



Jacks, Ports & Plugs


There are two ports on this camera beneath a small rubber panel on the left side of the camera body: one USB and one HDMI port. 



The S95 is powered by a small NB-6L Lithium Ion battery that fits into a cavity at the bottom of the camera body. Canon claims a battery life of around 200 shots for this battery.



Images and video are stored on SDHC cards that fit into a slot alongside the battery. The S95 also supports the newer SDXC memory card format, which allows for cards that can hold up to 2TB of data. At the moment, cards that hold up to 32GB are available.

Meet the tester

Richard Baguley

Richard Baguley



Richard Baguley is a valued contributor to the family of sites.

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