A Night With Britney and the Canon Powershot S95

As promised I'm back to do a second look at the Canon Powershot S95 that I first talked about here. As a reminder I'm a Nikon shooter and use Nikon DSLRs. However, for a small point and shoot (pocket size) that shoots RAW I turned to the popular Canon Powershot S95. My main use for this camera will be for those times when DSLRs are NOT ALLOWED and I want something better than the camera on my phone. For me that will be mostly concerts. I'm not a huge Britney Spears fan, but I got the chance to go to her concert with a friend. Otherwise this event would not have been on my radar (get it? Radar). I looked at this as the perfect opportunity to give the Canon Powershot S95 a good test during a live concert.


Great little RAW performer

I'm speaking of the S95 of course! What did you think I meant? As I suspected, anyone in the audience that even attempted to raise a DSLR and shoot was immediately tackled by security and asked to put it away. However, if you have a point and shoot or camera phone they didn't say a word.

The only time security approached me was when (I guess) they mistakenly thought that my flashing battery warning was the video record indicator and he said "no video recording." I assured him that I wasn't shooting video and I was able to continue shooting uninterrupted. 


What I learned


The S95 has the basic modes you'd expect in a higher end P&S including Program mode, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual. The S95 also has a specific low light mode and when I tried this mode it was as I suspected that with the dark backgrounds and bright concert lights the camera was ofter confused and over exposing areas of the shot.


This was especially the case when the subjects were dressed in white, wearing white wigs and against a white backlight. This is where I was glad that it had a Manual mode as I was able to dial in the settings I wanted. 


As with most point and shoots you are limited by the small glass in the lens. This was no different and unless you're reasonably close to the subject, you just won't get the clarity that you are used to from a DSLR. However, with that said I was impressed with what I got from such a small camera.

It was MUCH BETTER than the shots I took with my iPhone 4 (as I would expect it to be). 


The other thing I learned was that there is a definite lag from the time you press the shutter, see the resulting shot and are ready to shoot again. While you can probably cut this time down by turning off the display of the shot you just took, it would be challenging to use this in a fast paced shooting scenario. I'm sure I missed a few good shots with the time it took the camera to be ready for the next shot. It's not the end of the world, it just takes some getting used to.

I will definitely be ordering a second battery. While I had tons of room left on my memory card, the one battery gave out after about 3 hours of continuous shooting/reviewing. 





I will always prefer working with my Nikon DSLRs and great Nikkor lenses. I will always carry my smartphone and use it in a pinch to capture the moment when I don't have my DSLR. However, when I know that I'm going into a situation where DSLRs are not permitted and the smartphone camera isn't going to be good enough, the Canon Powershot S95 will be in my pocket.


You can get the Canon Powershot S95 for $399.95 here from B&H and for $393 here from Amazon (note: prices fluctuate on Amazon)

17 Replies to “A Night With Britney and the Canon Powershot S95”

  1. Thanks for the pics! Good to see we have the same taste in cameras: Nikon DSLR, Canon point and shoot, and iPhone woohoo!

  2. Hi Terryl,

    Firstly keep doing what you do, fantastic.
    I’m a nikon guy is there anything that you seen or tried on the nikon point & shot range that matches the canon s95.

    Rgds Mark

    1. The P7000 would be my choice but it’s not as small as the S95. If any of the Coolpix cameras did RAW I’d certainly check them out.

  3. My friend brought his S95 to a U2 concert we went to a week ago. I’d rather see U2 in concert than Britney :-). I was impressed by the S95. I especially like how you can use the ring in the front of the camera to set app, shutter, or ISO settings. I’m definitely thinking of getting it as my point in shoot when I can’t use the DSLR. Not a bad price for what you get.

  4. It’s probably worth noting that the S95 was announced August 2010 and its predecessor the S90 was announced in August the year before. Since August 2011 is right around the corner, I’d wait and see if a new model is announced before I run out to buy the S95.

  5. Ehh, not to impressed with the samples Terry. I did own a S90/95 and loved it – although now that I own the X100 the S90/95 got the boot.

    I did produce some great images with the S90/95 but found it to be the best P&S but at the end of the day it was still a P&S..

    Remember the S95 would be as good as a camera phone if you had seats farther away—-

  6. Terry, you must have been REALLY close to the stage. Row 10? Anyway, I’m a Canon girl and love the shots!

  7. T Why not try the Fuji S2950 ….. $170.00 ….. it is a bridge between DLSR & P&S. It shoots excellent pictures, video, macro, zoom, and has many options. L

  8. T This is not meant to to ‘challenge or debate’ ….just trying to clarify a purchase. But: Isn’t RAW unimportant to “non-professionals.” I use editor Picassa which uses lossless editing. In terms of JPEGs, this matters because you are never doing any repeat edit-save-edit-save operations on your JPEG photos, which is what degrades the quality. In lossless editing, all changes are logged to a file, and any time you view, print or edit the photo again, the changes are applied mathematically; the original is never touched. Would appreciate your thoughts. L

    1. I guess most photographers that visit this site is above average interested in photography. I’m by no means a pro and would rather place myself in the enthusiast or advanced amature category. I have always used RAW except for a few P&S I’ve owned. I like how much more you can get out of the photo when you edit it. Fix exposure etc. RAW all the way! šŸ™‚

  9. Larry- your editing may be lossless, BUT if you set the wrong color balance the jpeg processor will delete a lot of captured info in camera, and you will be stuck with an image with the wrong color balance and no pixels to replace the missing ones. That is why RAW is a preferred file-it saves everything the sensor saw.

  10. I position the Nikon P7000 against the Canon G12. I bought the S95 for my daughter since it had the same sensor as the G12 and added the little handle that someone else posted about. Like you Terry, I’m a Nikon DSLR guy, but have never been impressed w/ Nikon’s P&S line.

    It’s also interesting that the S95 has held its price, usually these things start to get discounted shortly after launch.

  11. hello! those r some really great shots…i have an S95 myself but i’m still getting the hang of it. i took it with me to a bon jovi concert a few weeks ago & was disappointed by the quality of the pics, they were nothing like the ones u posted, nowhere near! i used the low light mode because i haven’t gotten used to the manual, & was also disappointed by the low resolution. u mentioned u took these on manual mode…can u give me the settings so i can try it out sometime?

  12. Terry, I enjoyed the post/sample concert pics. I purchased the S95 for the very same reasons. I was wondering if you could share what settings/shooting modes that you were using for the images posted. I am trying to establish a baseline for my first concert outing with the camera. Thanks again!

  13. Hi, Nice shots, what setting you used for shooting these in manual mode ? Please share as I also have a s95 bought few days ago… Did you later used photoshop or did you shot these in RAW Format ?

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