DP Review: Canon PowerShot S3 IS

Canon S3 IS

DP Review has just published an in-depth report on the tantalizing new Canon PowerShot S3 IS. The one feature that catches everyone's eye is the 12X optical zoom... and it's a good one too. Canon has bundled image stabilization with this high magnification creating a terrific "long range" shooter in a compact body.

The swing out "tilt n swivel" screen is great for capturing at a variety of angles, and is a plus for movie mode. Another great feature, in my opinion, is that the camera is powered by 4 AA NiMH cells instead of a proprietary Lithium battery. In an emergency on the road, you can always substitute regular AAs if your NiMHs run out of gas. Canon does not, however, provide batteries with the camera, so add this to your budget.

On the downside, there's no RAW shooting mode. I'm disappointed by this omission. This is a top quality camera that could be used for assignment. The sensor provides 6 megapixels of resolution, which is plenty for most situations. The lack of a RAW mode hamstrings the S3's potential.

That complaint aside, this is an amazing camera that is bound to draw lustful glances from any serious amateur. You can purchase the S3 IS for about $460. That's a lot of camera for the money... especially in such a handsome, compact, rugged body.

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Fellow Digital camera researchers,

I recently got a Powershot S3 and quite happy with it overall, but as an astronomer who desires astrophotography with it - it falls a bit short. More on that later.

I researched the digital world extensively, desiring to upgrade from my trusty Kodak DX 3215, as it was quite limited and I needed something more robust. I looked into obtaining a strict DSLR, but the prices are in the high hundreds and low thousands...out of my price range. And I wanted the capability of shooting video. The S3 had everytning I desired...and more. The movie feature is quite nice, even at it's lowest settings.

Baseline prices were averaging around $399.00, with small variations. On-line deals were slightly better, but not much, and...I prefer to pick up my electronics in person to examine the product. I saw an ad from OfficeMax offering the S3 for $369.00 - with an instant $30.00 in-store rebate. They threw in a free 512mb SD card and the option to purchase a $100.00 Canon photo printer for $30.00. I took the offer, but declined the extended warrenty of $79.00 for two years. I could have waited till the prices came down some more, most likely after Christmas, but I liked the deal offered. I am happy with the purchase.

It has plenty of zoom (12x), takes very good images, and the sharpness of the images are quite good. I have plenty of experience with my old 35mm Nikon film camera, and the S3 exceeds it in many areas. I do not miss at all lugging around various lenses and accessories, and this camera has plenty of features to satisfy the photographer.

The 4 AA batteries it takes instead of an odd shaped and expensive battery was a big plus. The batteries last quite awhile, and using rechargables, it coasts practically nothing to run.

I have experimented with the manual controls and find them exceptional, with real time results. And as an additional benefit, everybody who has seen it, has complimented me on the purchase...even die hard strict DSLR users. I will look into aftermarket Lens hoods and tele-converters to enhance the performance.


I needed a camera for astrophotography, and I hope this one will serve well, but one nagging observation...

It's remarkable that I have been able to record stars, constellations and nebulae with just the camera lens, but I find it bothersome that I cannot focus stars down to pin points, it just stops short. I don't know if this is inherent to all digital cameras, but maybe it's just mine.

There are examples of my practice begining astrophotography efforts with the Powershot S3 here:


and here


Other than the difficulties of obtaining pin point stars, I highly recommend this camera.


Chicago Astronomer Joe

Nice site actually. Gone to my favourites. Thanks for creation.

Fellow S3 Owners,

I recently obtained accessories for the S3, and a full narrative with pics can be found here:


Among the items are: Two lens adapters, filters, Hood and other goodies.

The S3 has proven to be a great little Camera.


Chicago Astronomer Joe

Well, this is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!