The Canon PowerShot S3 IS digital camera will be used by both the inexperienced and the advanced photographer. As a result, the camera needs to be kept as simple as possible, whilst also offering sufficient setting options. Canon have managed to find the right balance between these two opposites. The green mode and the pictograms enable the less experienced photographer to quickly familiarise himself with the camera. Those who are looking to enhance their photographic skills and abilities through use of the camera, or are already more experienced, will thoroughly enjoy the semi-automatic functions, such as aperture priority. If you wish to get the absolute best from your camera, it would be wise to invest a little extra time in the user manual. The Canon PowerShot S3 IS paves the way for virtually endless creativity! Do, however, allow yourself some time to find your way around the camera.
Canon PowerShot S3 IS - Colour rendition
It should be said that the default settings that have been programmed in the factory already produce excellent results. The colour rendition is more than satisfactory and the contrast enjoyable. The exposure metering handles most situations as it should. There are only few occasions that require a switch to the spot or centre weighted metering. For a camera in this class, the Canon S3 IS features a considerable dynamic range. The automatic white balance functions well in most cases, although we would recommend creating your own white balance when working in fluorescent light. The flash on the Canon S3 IS may be small, yet does perform quite decently; there is in fact no sign of vignetting.
Canon S3 IS - Higher sensitivity range
Canon have converted the strategy of more pixels to one of better pixels. Consequently, the Canon PowerShot S3 IS features a higher sensitivity range. Even at ISO 800, the camera manages to produce a more than acceptable image. The ISO values up to ISO 400 can all easily be used. Although ISO 800 does show noise, it is far from disturbing. An exceptional performance, undoubtedly the result of the DIGIC II processor, which we also see in Canon's professional digital SLR cameras.
Canon PowerShot S3 IS - 9 point AiAF
The Canon PowerShot S3 IS experiences next to no trouble with focussing, even when working in low-light conditions. The 9-point AiAF performs excellently. The only limitation is formed by moving subjects; these require a little advance anticipation as to where the focus is supposed to be. After the photo is taken, the image has to be written onto the Secure Digital memory card. This does take the camera a little bit of time. In most cases, however, it does not cause any hindrance or problems. It is only when you wish to capture several images sequentially that you will need to wait a few moments until the image has disappeared from the LCD monitor. However, the user also has the option to shoot continuously; in this case the exposure and sharpness will be the same for every image.
Canon PowerShot S3 IS - Super macro mode
Those who are keen on capturing images of small animals or flowers will be pleased with the options the Canon S3 IS provides. Besides the normal macro mode, the Canon PowerShot S3 IS digital camera also offers a super macro, which enables you to be virtually on top of your subject. In super macro, the focal point is restricted to the wide-angle. Generally, the sharpness is of decent quality along the entire range. Even in super macro the corners remain reasonably sharp; as a result, it is a not a necessity to use the aperture. You can, however, opt to use it to control the depth of field. It has to be said it's a pity the smallest aperture is f/8. Although, with a compact camera, the depth of field is already considerably larger than with a digital SLR camera, because of the smaller sensor. If you require only a little depth of field, you will mainly need to zoom in to a great extend. The distortion remains limited in both the wide-angle and tele mode. The wide-angle does show a barrel distortion, although it is not as noticeable as with many of the camera's rivals. Colour fringing is in fact negligible.
Canon S3 IS digital camera - My Color
To enable the user to experiment with colours, the Canon PowerShot S3 IS features My Colors, which we recognise from other Canon compact cameras. My Colors allows you to increase the saturation. Although this can be done with all colours, you also have the option to limited it to, for instance, the red, green or blue tones. Besides this, the camera offers settings for light and dark skin tones, which show a subtle difference. Naturally, black-and-white and sepia are also present. In addition, you can also choose to create your own MyColor. This allows you to set the saturation, sharpening and contrast to your own preference. However, in most cases I found the default setting much to my liking.