Canon PowerShot S60 5 Megapixels And Abundant Controls Page 2

The "native" ISO of the S60 is ISO 50, which might seem slow but actually delivers the best quality image files. You can go up as high as ISO 400 if you don't want to use flash indoors, but keeping it at the native rated speed will reap the best rewards. While you're setting ISO toggle through the other options for some pleasant surprises, such as the ability to set the camera flash sync at first or second curtain (the latter firing the flash right at the end of the exposure, giving the most natural motion/flash effects). Panorama also has options, including the usual vertical and horizontal, but there's an added twist with "clockwise," which allows you to shoot four quadrants of a scene or copy and then stitch them together for a larger file, thus print. Macro options include the ability to shoot as close as 1.4" at the wide end of the zoom range.

The 28mm equivalent angle of view on the S60 gets you a bit wider than most digicams in this class, finally allowing users to get a bit more of the scene inside the frame.

Although there's a movie mode it's not up to par with some of the latest models we've seen, with 15 fps at quite low resolution being the maximum available. But you can shoot with sound, and there's indication of the time left according to the size and remaining amount of memory left on your CompactFlash card. Power is provided by a rechargeable lithium ion cell, which gave us power to spare in tests we ran with the camera.

Raw mode allows you to make all sorts of image adjustments after you take the picture, equaling many of those you might have set in the camera. Here, exposure compensation (+1) and increased saturation were used on this street scene made in raw mode outside New York's Madison Square Garden.

Those who want a bit more control over image effects will appreciate the ability to set aperture and shutter speed with this camera via the aperture-priority and shutter-priority exposure modes. This is a nice surprise on a camera built like this and, when combined with the sharp Canon zoom lens makes you feel as if you're carrying around a high quality compact camera that may become your constant companion.

Any gripes? Those who like to compose with the viewfinder and not the LCD to save power will only be shown 80 percent of the scene the camera records. This means you have to compensate every time you shoot to avoid cropping to get your original vision later. And the LCD, which can be adjusted in two levels of brightness, is quite tough to see in bright light. This makes changing Function settings in the field a bit tough, as there are no indications of any settings in the optical finder. Unfortunately, viewing is the Achilles' heel of this camera. The supplied ZoomBrowser software is fine, but not up to other basic image-editing programs we've used.

While the optical zoom is a modest 3.6x, brave souls can use the digital zoom to get an impressive 15x. This set shows the widest setting and maxed out digital zoom. I shot handheld, and used shutter-priority set at 1/1000 sec to help steady the image, but a tripod would have been even better. Not great, but not too bad either.

But the wealth of controls, and the sharp, crisp images the S60 delivers, can overcome these objections, as does the attractive software bundle Canon supplies. Priced at about $499, the S60 reminds us of a high-end point-and-shoot film camera of days of yore, the kind you'd pack in your bag for hikes and travels on which your SLR would be a burden.

Canon U.S.A. Inc.
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