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Designed to resemble a scaled-down SLR camera, the Canon PowerShot S1 IS brings together a lot of advanced features considering its reasonable price tag. You could argue that 3.2 megapixels is not enough for a camera with full manual settings, a fold-out LCD, and the ability to accept accessory telephoto and wide-angle lenses. However, the modest resolution is a necessary compromise required by the physical make-up of a camera with an image-stabilized 10x zoom lens.

The S1 IS has the traditional shape of an advanced model, with a solid hand-grip on the right side and the lens centre-left. Like all long-zoom point-&-shoot digitals, the S1 IS comes with a small LCD for its eye-level viewfinder – and there is a slight but noticeable lag in the viewfinder’s image as you pan the camera.

Aside from that, the S1 IS is a pleasure to operate. A dial on top of the unit lets you select the shooting mode from among six scene-assist modes or one of your own custom settings. Alternatively, you can use the full manual modes, including aperture- and shutter-priority settings. The back of the camera contains a set of buttons that you can reach easily with your right thumb, and a four-way selector works well for navigating the menus. Most digital cameras use the shutter release to start and stop recording video, so it takes a while to get used to the S1 IS’s separate record button.

The S1 IS did better than the average camera when put to the test. It output correct exposures and excellent colour accuracy, especially under daylight-balanced lighting. Colour accuracy and skin tones looked attractive in flash tests, too, though it faltered slightly in capturing sharpness and detail compared to higher-resolution cameras. However, it was on a par with other 3.2-megapixel models.

The S1 IS is power-hungry, though, and depleted its four
AA batteries quickly.