Canon PowerShot Pro Series S3 IS 6MP vs. S2 IS 5MP

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by TechnoPagan, Mar 31, 2006.

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  1. TechnoPagan macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2006
    My beloved Olympus C740 has suffered a tragic battery door accident (as in, i broke the battery door and now I have to tape it shut). So i find myself in the market for a new camera.

    I've lurked around these boards enough to know that people are either very loyal to Canon or Nikon. The Canon Powershot S2 IS 5MP seems to be getting decent reviews on Amazon. I did notice that a S3 6MP camera is being released on May 31st, so now I'm wondering if I should wait.

    I'm very much on the amateur end of amateur photography. I rarely develop pictures up beyond 8x10". I have a pretty decent eye for shots, but I've never sat down to learn the ins and outs of my Olympus. I'm hoping to be able to play with whatever needs playing with so I can take a few nighttime shots and cityscapes. (This time I'll read the manual--promise).

    So my question: Will I notice 1MP? The cameras don't seem to be that different, other than the 1MP and $125 price difference. Oh, and waiting another two months.

    Thanks for any ideas.
  2. atari1356 macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2004
    If you can afford the extra cost, then wait. The S3 has a better sensor, and should be better for the nighttime/low light shots you want to take.

    The S2 had ISO settings up to ISO 400, while the S3 will go to ISO 800... although, ISO 400 on the S2 was so noisy that it was nearly unusable, and I suspect that ISO 800 on the S3 will be unusable also. Still, it's a needed improvement.

    The S3 also has a live histogram - so you can basically see if you're letting too much light in (or not enough) while you're taking the picture.

    The LCD screen is slightly larger with the S3.

    The extra megapixel isn't a huge upgrade, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have it.

    Plus the S3 is grey/black, and just looks better. :D

    If you need to save money though, the S2 is still a very good camera - and extremely versatile since it has the swivel LCD, excellent macro shooting abilities, big zoom range, and good video shooting capabilities as well.
  3. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2006
    Nassau, Bahamas
    Why don't you also consider the Sony DSC-H1 (or the H2 and H5 that are being released this summer)? I have the H1, and I absolutely love it. I tested both the S2 and the H1, and the H1 just felt sturdier, better made and with a better interface. Still, either way, make sure that you physically test each camera you're considering before you buy it.
  4. TechnoPagan thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2006
    The H5 isn't being released until June 20th, which is about 9 days too late for my next trip to Yosemite.

    I played around with the S2 and the H1 last night at Best Buy. The Sony was fun, but I'm still drawn to the Canon. And I would definitely play with the S3 in-store before I plunk down the $500.
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I would think a new battery door would be cheaper than a new camera. Why not have the door replaced?

    Almost certainly not. The way to compare fairly is to look at the number of pixels along the long edge of the frame. Say one camera does 3000x2000 and another does 3300x2200. the first cameras would be 6MP and the second 7.3MP but resolution and print size is determined by "pixels per inch" so the second camera was only 10% more resolution, allowing 10% larger prints. ("megapixel" is a marketing-speek word)

    What matters more is the quality of the optics. The prints will only be as sharp as the image that the lens projects onto the CCD sensor. If the two camera use the same lens thenthey will have very close results
  6. Ryan T. macrumors 6502a

    Ryan T.

    Jun 13, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    FWIW I just bought the S2 IS and I love it.

    You can also get it for $284 from, shipped.

    To me, there's no way the S3 IS is worth a $200+ premium.
  7. TechnoPagan thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2006
    I went to a camera shop with this exact question. Apparently, it would cost $150-$200 to fix the battery door. I broke it on the body side of the door rather than the door side, if that makes any sense. So a huge chunk of the body would have to be replaced. At $200, I'm at least halfway to a new camera. Plus the C740 is 3MP and the movie function doesn't record sound--it is, after all, a three year old camera.

    Not that I use the movie function very often. But it's a nice option in a pinch. And would be nicer with sound. Noiseless videos are just weird.

    People seem very loyal to the S2 IS, as well as the Sony DSC-H1, if Amazon reviews and MacForum reviews are anything to go by. But--and this is like the PB v MBP coversations that go on in the other parts of this forum--if I'm going to end up with Canon, shouldn't I just wait to get the newest so I'm not paying for old technology?

    atari1356 seems to think that the sensor will be better, which might let me take those full-moonlight shots of the Yosemite Valley I've been trying for for the last 10 years on my various cheaper cameras.

    FWIW, I just bought the little Canon Powershot SD500 after having a remarkably dissatisfying experience with the Olympus Stylus 710 (which is going back to Amazon tomorrow). I'm going to NYC within the week and it looks like I'll have fun playing with that for a while. The SD500 is my first Canon, and I can see where the customer enthusiasm comes from. And since I'm actually reading the instruction manual this time (!), wouldn't the transition to the Canon--S2 or S3--be that much easier?

    By the way, can i just say you guys are all vastly nicer (and more knowledgeable) than the employees at the various electronic stores I've been going to? Thanks so much!
  8. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    Something I just found out a month or so ago... Canon has an amazing "repair" or trade-in program!
    That was taken from, link to that thread here.
  9. atari1356 macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2004
    I should qualify that statement with a disclaimer... while the sensor in the S3 is better than the one in the S2, you should still wait for reviews and try the camera out for yourself before deciding on it.

    Also keep in mind that with just moonlight, you'll be required to use long exposure times - which could introduce some noise in your images. If taking nighttime shots is your primary goal, then you might want to consider investing in a DSLR camera.

    Although I was very happy with the quality of these fireworks shots taken with the S2, it's a bit different than taking shots in near darkness with just moonlight.


  10. amin macrumors 6502a


    Aug 17, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Dell had amazing deals on the S2 IS immediately after its release, even on pre-order IIRC. With Dell coupons, I will be very surprised if the S3 IS can't be had for under $400 soon after release.

    I use two Canons, a Rebel XT and an SD400. Personally, I think the most exciting compact camera just around the corner is the Fuji F30, but then again low-light capability is much more important to me than zoom.
  11. TechnoPagan thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2006
    Maybe in a year or so--I'd want to take a photography course or something before opening myself up to all of those options. I'm just beyond point & shoot, but not by much. A dSLR would be like giving a kid who just got a driver's license the keys to the Lamborghini. Too much car--or in this case camera--for me. I wouldn't have a clue as to what I was doing yet. The S2 or the S3 or even one of the Sonys still have a lot of automaticity to them. Not quite training wheels, but enough to keep chunks of my shots idiot proof.

    Full moon in Yosemite Valley though, isn't quite near darkness. The granite is a very reflective surface.

    Your fireworks shots are fantastic! I hate fireworks--the noise, the smell, and the crowd that generallys gathers--but those shots are awfully pretty.

    Ah, Ryan T. & amin, one of my favorite sites--I live in hope that they'll list an awesome coupon code for Dell or somesuch. There's more than one reason I haven't pre-ordered the camera.
  12. dllavaneras macrumors 68000


    Feb 12, 2005
    Caracas, Venezuela
    You can see an in-depth review of the S2 here:

    A review of the Sony H1 can be found here:

    Personally, I have the S1 IS (the first version of the S2) and it's amazing. I've taken some really awesome pics, although my main use of the camera is for Macrophotography, not night shots. I've played with my dad's S2 and it's a really cool cam :)
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