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Sweetest of the Mega-Zooms
Nov 06, 2008 12:03 AM 7197 Views

Picture Quality:

User friendly:

Value for Money:

Shutter Speed:

Battery life:

In a sentence, this is a great camera and I am thrilled with it. Most everything has been covered in the other reviews, so I will stick to some items that stood out for me.

The Good:

All of the automation makes it a great point and shoot camera for "standard" pictures. Set it to auto mode and have at it. The results are great. What is nice, is all the optional settings available for "special" situations when you are so inclined.

I use the view finder most of the time and it is nice and bright. I wasn't that excited about the vari-angle display before getting the camera, but now I am happy to have it. I like the idea that I can keep it "closed" to protect the screen from scratches and dirt during most of my shooting when using the view finder, yet use it for reviewing pictures and making menu changes. I also like the large size and the quality of the display.

The biggest surprise was the quality of the sound when using the movie mode. It takes a nice quality video and is so simple to use. Just push the dedicated button to start, then again to stop. (I have not found a way to "pause" the video, so each cycle created a new file.) A big plus for the Canon is the ability to zoom while capturing the video. This was the main selling point for me when trying do decide between the Canon and Panasonic.

Finally, the camera has a good overall feel. The button layout makes sense for the most part, and considering the complexity, it is fairly intuitive.

Not so Good:

The only problem I have had so far is that the date/time function has reset itself to zeroes on three occasions. It appears to happen after I remove the SD card to transfer the files to my computer via a card reader. What is strange is it does not happen all of the time. I am trying to figure out the pattern.

Build Quality

I read a lot of reviews and played with the camera at some local stores. It feels nice, is substantial without being too heavy or big (though, it really is too big to be considered a "point and shoot;" it is too big for most pockets), and seems well built. I read reviews on the Canon S3, which is very similar to the S5, but even though it was available at a good price since it is an earlier version, the layout of the buttons and the ease at which a button could be hit inadvertently (and thus ruin an image), plus the smaller video file capacity on the S3 led us to the S5.


*One of the big things for us was the ability to take DVD quality video with decent sound. We really wanted to only have to carry one camera with us. The S5 consistently was reviewed as excelling at this and I think the reviews were about right. The video definitely is DVD quality and the sound is excellent, but our dedicated Panasonic digital video recorder takes a little better quality video. I think to some extent, though, this is kind of like comparing two stereos or televisions at a store. If you took either home you would be happy and probably forget the differences you saw or heard at the store. What are the differences? Basically, the S5 is a little more vulnerable to lower light video (like in a home or on a cloudy day). Also, sometimes nearer objects may appear dimmer than farther away objects that have more light on them--like someone facing you, but not directly illuminated. The dedicated digital video camera we have appears a little brighter in lower light situations. The difference, though, is not that much. And, you can work around it to some extent by being a bit more mindful of setting up your shot. Also, moving the camera (i.e., panning from side to side) produces just noticeable choppiness compared with our Panasonic digital video camera. Again, you can work around this by zooming out a bit and/or not quickly panning the camera around. The zoom, by the way, is great and very quiet. It works perfectly in video mode and I have not been able to hear any zoom motor in the videos we have made. In the end, these are really fairly minor complaints re the video quality. Technology is so powerful today that the differences between newer models of computers and cameras often is more nuanced than significant. For our family of 3 young boys, the video is great and the ability to record straight to a flash card, which I then can zip right into our computer is super convenient (I use a cable and not a card reader--so the issue of the battery compartment holding the batteries and card is not an issue for us).

*Picture Quality

*The picture quality is excellent, though so was our A80, so there was not much of an improvement, but that is really more of a compliment to how good Cannon optics are. Plus, at this price level to be able to have a 12x optical zoom with image stabilization (i.e., more complicated electronics and glass) take such great pictures really is amazing.

Lens cap

The lens cap issue is real (it falls off far too easily). This is one of those annoying design flaws that makes you scratch your head and wonder why such a great camera has to have an annoying fault. Kind of like every rose has its thorn. The issue can be corrected, though, with an extension adapter. This allows you to add a UV lens (which really is just a lens protector) and later add a wide angle lens or additional zoom lens if you want to. Like others, I chose the Lensmate adapter (52mm). Lensmate was great to work with. I ordered the adapter and a matching lens cap and it works perfectly (just note, when you receive the adapter and lens cap from Lensmate, it comes with no instructions or even receipt; luckily, the Cannon manual basically covers things--it assumes you purchased the Canon version of the adapter).


The manual is not the best, but I was familiar with the A80 and the operation of the S5 is similar. Plus, the camera is pretty intuitive to use.

Battery Life

Our first batch of pictures used the included batteries from Canon. They lasted for approximately 20 minutes of video, a little bit of playing around with the camera, and maybe 75 or so shots. I now use rechargeable AAs and battery life is better than with the alkaline batteries, plus I can just recharge when I need to and always have the convenience of being able to get AA batteries pretty much anywhere.

Other Comments:

You can remove the trim ring off the front of the lens and add an adaptor tube for a teleconverter, wide angle, or filter lens. Canon only shows 58mm accessories, but 52mm also works. I went with the after market Lensmate Online adaptor in 52mm to keep the size down. (If I weren't interested in small size and low weight, I would have bought a DSLR.)

As pointed out in many of the professional reviews, the downside of a super zoom point and shoot like the S5, compared to a DSLR, is more "noise" in low light situations, slower lens (f stop setting), and lack of optional lens. However for most of us taking pictures of vacations, birthdays, camping trips, etc, these are non issues. The S5 will meet most all of our requirements without the size, weight and cost of a DSLR.

In conclusion, I really like this camera!

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