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Canon Powershot S200 review: Camera with a bright lens

Canon Powershot S200 review: Camera with a bright lens

Top Features
1. Good build quality, compact design
2. Lens with big aperture
3. Easy to use

NEW DELHI: The camera industry is facing a serious challenge. Smartphones are getting better at taking pictures. The image sensor inside phones is improving. And so is the quality of images they can shoot. 

Smartphones are also convenient. They are easy to use. You carry them with you all the time. They have photo apps. They connect to the internet, and consequently Facebook, Flickr and Instagram, the websites where you share photos with friends. 

Camera companies are worried. For camera makers, the only way to meet this challenge is to up their game when it comes to image quality and make their devices sexy again by adding a few extra features. 

With Powershot S200, Canon is trying to do exactly the same. But does it succeed? 

F2.0 in a compact body
S200 is a camera that belongs to Canon's premium range of S series cameras. At least, it looks and feels premium. S200 has a body made of glossy plastic but the build quality and finishing is better than what you get in other point-and-shoot (P&S) cameras with a similar price. The flap on the connectivity ports fit snuggle. The buttons in their sockets neither feel loose nor too hard to press. 

S200 is a compact camera and it is possible to carry it in a jeans pocket. The most highlighted part of the camera is the large ring around the lens. By default you can use this ring to control the aperture by rotating left and right while taking pictures. Other than the front ring, the rest of the camera is a standard affair. On the top, there are three buttons - power button, shutter release button and a dial through which you can select between various scenes. On the back you will find usual buttons like menu, play and video recording are placed around a clickable wheel. 

In sum, if you have used a P&S camera before, S200 will feel very familiar. 

The camera has a 3-inch screen on the back. The quality of the screen is very good. It shows punchy colours and is bright enough to be usable during outdoor use, which tends to happen a lot with a camera. 

In terms of specifications, S200 is a cross between high-end and mid-range compact cameras. It packs in a CCD 1/1.7" type image sensor. The key bit to note here is that the size of image sensor is slightly bigger than the average. Most P&S camera have an image sensor (1/2.3") which equates to around 25mm image sensor. S200 has an image sensor that is around 44mm. Theoretically this should allow S200 to click better pictures but the reality is a bit more nuanced. 

Another piece of hardware that stands out in S200 is its lens, which has a wide aperture of F2. Most of the other P&S cameras have an aperture of F3. The bigger aperture (lower values means bigger aperture) in S200 means it can capture more light, which may give better images in low light. 

S200 has a 5X zoom and it covers an effective focal length of 24 - 120mm. This is sufficient for daily shooting but if you want high zoom to click pictures of birds or animals while hiking in hills, S200 is not the good camera to carry. 


S200 supports Wi-Fi which allows you to connect the camera to the CameraWindow app on Android and iOS devices - iPhone and iPad. The app can transfer photos between the camera and connected devices for instant sharing, something that is aims to counter the advantage smartphones offer over traditional cameras. 

Easy to use but no RAW
S200 is incredibly easy to use. In fact, it is meant to be used in auto mode. Not many manual options are exposed or easy to access while taking a photograph. This is a camera aimed at the mainstream crowd. Pick it up, aim and shoot images. 

In scenes where the amount of light is optimum, this works well. This 10.1MP camera takes images that have punchy and pleasant colours. The focus is also sharp. In most of the conditions when the light is good, you will get images that will please you. 

But when you throw in different kind of scenes, especially low light scenes, the image quality takes a beating. There are two issues with the images that S200 tends to produce - the amount of details in pictures and the noise, especially in low light. Images taken with S200 indoors or in low light come out a bit soft. The amount of details that it captures is not enough to make images look crisp. In low light, the camera bumps up ISO to handle the scene better. However, the problem with bumping ISO is that it also increases noise unless the image sensor can handle the high noise. In photos taken with S200 it is apparent that camera can't handle the high ISO of above 1000 all that well. 

One area where S200 score above other cameras in its class is the depth of field (shallow background) it can capture due to its F2 lens. The lower the aperture value (wider lens opening), easier it is to capture shallow background. This helps while clicking macro or portrait photos with S200. 

Overall, we were a bit disappointed with image quality that S200 managed in our tests. It performs well in favourable conditions. But almost all cameras nowadays manage to perform well in bright and sunlit conditions. What separates good cameras from average ones is how they perform in low light.


S200 also lacks ability to capture RAW photos. As we said earlier it is a camera meant to be used by more mainstream users, who don't usually shoot RAW. But the option would have allowed users to get slightly better images, if they wanted. Even a phone - Lumia 1020 - can shoot in RAW nowadays.

Videos are shot in 720P resolution. If you can ignore the lack of FullHD option, S200 is not that a performer when it comes to shooting videos. It captures footage that is clear and doesn't have any focus-related issues. 

Should you buy it?
Other than its good build quality, compact form factor and a bright F2 lens, S200 doesn't have much to show. In a camera, the most important attribute is the quality of images it clicks. On this parameter S200 is not bad. But it is not good either. It is strictly in the average territory. 

This is the primary reason why we don't recommend S200 at its current MRP of Rs 19,995. 

Instead, we recommend Canon Powershot S110. Powershot S110 too features a 1/1.7" image sensor, a F2.0 lens and Wi-Fi. It shoots images in 12MP, supports RAW and can capture videos in FullHD. The overall image quality is slightly better than what S200 can manage. But what really makes us recommend S110 over S200 is that it also costs Rs 2,000 less. Yes, S200 is a newer camera but it offers no advantage over S110. 

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