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Canon Powershot S3 IS Review

Review Summary
Reader Score: 8.35 (out of 10)
Head to Head: "Consumers with somewhere upwards of $400 or $500 to spend on a compact camera can get plenty of great features – long telephoto zooms, movie capability, and 6-to-7-megapixel files. We looked at three leading cameras in this category: the Canon PowerShot S3 IS, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H5, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7. We found similarities and differences. All three cameras are capable, but the differences are significant enough that most users will have a clear favorite.

The Canon PowerShot S3 IS, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H5 are closely matched in terms of image quality and performance. Their lenses have identical focal length ranges and very similar apertures. Their dimensions are close, and they are equally portable. For their target market, snapshooters who want some extra capabilities, all of the cameras are acceptable. However, there are clearly areas where each excels. While a clear winner is tough to distinguish, the cameras do differ substantially, with each offering advantages in certain types of situations."

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Other Reviews For This Model

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Trusted Reviews 9.00  01-27-07 Read Full Review
Review: "In Canon's compact camera range, two models vie for top billing. One is the 10-megapixel PowerShot G7 that I reviewed just over a month ago, and the other one is this, the PowerShot S3 IS. While the G7 might have the advantage in resolution over the 6-megapixel S3, the latter features an impressive f/2.7 ? f/3.5, 12x zoom lens (36 - 432mm equiv.) with Canon's acclaimed optical image stabilization system and ultrasonic focusing motor, as well as a wide range of other features that make it one of the most versatile cameras on the market.

The Canon PowerShot S3 IS is arguably the best value super-zoom camera currently available. It combines great handling, ultra-fast performance and real photographic versatility with superior image quality and one of the best zoom lenses I've seen on a compact. It may look like a bag of spanners, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
DPReview 8.56  05-19-06 Read Full Review
Review: "Like the S2 IS before it (and for that matter the original S1 IS), the latest version of Canon's flagship Image stabilized Ultra zoom PowerShot has been one of the most popular cameras on dpreview (measured by clicks) since the day it was announced. Unlike the S2, the PowerShot S3 IS is a relatively minor upgrade to it's predecessor, much more of an evolutionary change than a wholesale reinvention.

...ultimately, like the models that came before it, the appeal of the S3 IS goes beyond simple pixel-peeping; it has a class-leading feature set, a very reliable image stabilization system (the benefits of which cannot be overstated) and superb handling. It's well-priced, incredibly versatile and - above all - highly enjoyable to use."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Luminous-Landscape 8.50  07-24-06 Read Full Review
Review: "The rapid drop in price of entry level DSRLs (now as low as under $500 with kit lens) has rung the death knell for many digicam models. Pocket digicams are selling well, but models such as the Canon Pro1, Konica Minolta A1, and the Sony 828, each of which were popular a couple of years ago because they offered lower cost than DSLRs, have now all bitten the dust.

The Canon S3's strength lies in its small size and long zoom reach, combined with Image Stabilization. While not a pocket digicam, it is coat pocket size, and therefore quite inconspicuous and portable. The use of AA batteries adds to the versatility, and a very high quality movie mode with a dedicated activation button are icing on the cake. At under US $500 retail this camera is a relative bargain."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Megapixel 8.43  10-10-06 Read Full Review
Review: "The Canon PowerShot S3 IS, this year's new version of the PowerShot S2 IS, brings the inevitable increase in resolution, adding another million pixels that makes the S3 IS a 6-megapixel camera, but has only minor changes otherwise.

One of the major changes the S3 IS brings in comparison with the S2 IS, is a change in its ISO range. The S3 IS starts at 80 ISO, and extends up to 800 ISO, and even offers an Auto High ISO that seems to be equivalent to 1600 ISO, although it is undocumented in the EXIF data, just like the Auto ISO mode."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
PC Magazine 8.29  07-21-06 Read Full Review
Review: "Although Canon has flooded the market with numerous ultracompacts, compacts, and digital SLRs, the company sells just one superzoom digital camera: the 6-megapixel PowerShot S3 IS, this year's update to last year's 5MP PowerShot S2 IS. Although not a complete overhaul, the many small improvements made to the S3 IS make it a very desirable superzoom. But at $499.95, these tweaks don't justify the price premium.

I found that the S3 had less shutter lag and better image sharpness that the current Editors' Choice, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7. Like the FZ7, the S3 IS has a 12X optical zoom with a 6mm-to-72mm range (equivalent to a 35mm lens with a 36mm-to-432mm zoom)."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Digital Camera Review 8.25  07-11-06 Read Full Review
Review: "The new Canon Powershot S3 IS is the successor to Canon's best selling Powershot S1 IS and S2 IS digital cameras. The S2 IS was last year's most popular ultra-zoom digital camera because its 12X image-stabilized USM zoom, excellent movie mode, compact SLR style body, and full manual controls nicely met the needs and expectations of the savvy consumers who make up the rapidly expanding prosumer digital camera market niche.

One of the S3's major strengths is its ability to produce excellent images at the camera's default settings. Images are consistently well exposed and punchy right out of the camera, although there is a very slight tendency toward over exposure and occasional blown out highlights.

The best in class S3 IS provides serious photographers with a no-nonsense mix of creative capability, technical versatility, and intuitive usability. Sports, action, and nature photographers will benefit most from the extra reach of the S3's long zoom and the Image Stabilization system, but serious shooters looking for a digital imaging tool that handles like an SLR and provides all the convenience of a P&S digital camera are also going to love the S3 IS."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
DCResource 8.15  04-29-06 Read Full Review
Review: "While not exactly an exciting upgrade over its predecessor, the Canon PowerShot S3 is still an excellent ultra zoom camera that earns my recommendation. It offers just about everything you want in a camera, from a big zoom lens to optical image stabilization to manual controls to a fancy movie mode.

Overall, I really like the PowerShot S3, and it earns my enthusiastic recommendation. Yes, it has a few flaws, but doesn't everything? For people wanting a solid and capable ultra zoom camera, this one should be high on your list. If you yearn for a few more controls, external flash support, and manual zoom and focus rings then you'll want to look at the Panasonic FZ30 or the Fuji S9000."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
CNET Reviews 7.87  05-05-06 Read Full Review
Review: "The Canon PowerShot S3 IS's aesthetic seems to be a cross between those of a classic Volkswagen Beetle and a Busy Box. Granted, it's the same body as its predecessor's, but the silver bits stand out more against the current version's iridescent, dark gray plastic than they did against the previous model's silver coloring. As with the S2, there's certainly enough here to keep you busy for a long time, though, and loving every minute of it.

True, a cheap dSLR will provide better performance, and a moderately priced one will deliver better photo quality. But the Canon PowerShot S3 IS's combination of features, performance, and relatively compact design certainly gives megazoomers a compelling alternative."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
LetsGoDigital 7.83  05-12-06 Read Full Review
Review: "The Canon PowerShot S3 IS is one of a truly unique group of digital cameras, and is particularly suitable for photographers that seek functionality, yet not the costs and size of a digital SLR camera. Naturally, the fact that the Canon PowerShot S3 IS allows you to zoom in to a great extend, should be looked upon as an enormous advantage; after all, this means you no longer need to invest in the extremely pricey lenses that the SLR camera requires.

All in all, it didn't take much for the Canon PowerShot S3 IS to convince yours truly. You can get started quickly, and you will be able to capture all your moments with excellent quality in no-time. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Canon PowerShot S3 IS rise instantly to worldwide bestseller fame. It is indeed a unique camera, suitable for everyone. Truly recommended to all that are looking for a high-quality versatile camera! "

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Imaging-Resource 7.08  07-07-06 Read Full Review
Review: "The Canon S3 IS bumps resolution up to 6.0 megapixels (for 2,816 x 2,112 pixel images up from 2,592 x 1,944), increases the sensitivity range to ISO 800, features a slightly larger LCD (2.0 inches vs. 1.8), includes a Movie button available in any Record mode, and adds a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio.

The long-zoom digital camera market is getting pretty crowded these days, so it takes a lot for a product to really stand out. Despite the stiff competition though, the Canon PowerShot S3 IS is indeed a standout product. Building upon the already very popular S2 IS model, the Canon S3 IS shows substantial improvements."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Digital Camera Info 6.90  06-23-06 Read Full Review
Review: "The hybrid Canon PowerShot S3 IS was introduced at the Photo Marketing Association Trade Show in February 2006. It replaces last year’s S2, which succeeded the previous year’s S1. All of these models come with image stabilization as their headlining feature, but pack large zoom lenses as well. The Canon S3 has a 12x optical zoom lens to go with its 6.1-megapixel, 1/2.5-inch CCD and Digic II image processor. This model improves upon its predecessor with a new CCD that is designed to suppress noise and offers ISO sensitivities up to 800. It also comes with a 2-inch LCD screen, which includes the signature camcorder-style monitor that flips outward and rotates.

The Canon PowerShot S3 IS offers hybrid functionality for a retail price of $499. With its 6.1 megapixels, high-quality 12x optical zoom lens, and smooth image stabilization system, it takes great pictures and videos. Users just have to deal with a few physical idiosyncrasies – poor battery life, a constantly solarizing LCD screen, and poor viewfinder resolution - to get those great shots."

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