Canon Adds New High-End PowerShot Cameras

The PowerShot S90 is our top-rated fixed-lens camera of 2010 thus far, but Canon has already one-upped it with the just-announced PowerShot S95.

One of three Canon point-and-shoot cameras announced today, the PowerShot S95 trumps the S90 with a new stabilization system for macro photography, 720p video recording, and a handful of new shooting modes.

Canon PowerShot S95: More Pocketable Power

The 10-megapixel, CCD-sensor PowerShot S95 looks nearly identical to the S90, and although it represents an incremental upgrade, it sweetens the deal significantly when compared with its predecessor. Like the S90, the S95 offers a f2.0, 3.8X-optical-zoom lens (28mm to 106mm), as well as manual exposure controls, bracketing modes, and a ring-around-the-lens click wheel.

New to its arsenal is the ability to shoot 720p high-definition video at 30 frames per second, along with a "Hybrid IS" stabilization system that Canon says is designed for shooting in macro mode. According to the company, the new image-stabilization feature compensates for the entire camera body moving, not just subtle lens movement.

The S95 also shares the S90's exposure- and focus-bracketing features, but adds in-camera HDR (high dynamic range) processing to automatically combine exposure-bracketed shots. New as well is the expanded Smart Auto mode, which chooses from 28 scene-mode presets to optimize the in-camera settings for each shot. The updated Smart Auto mode is available when you're shooting stills or video.

Other new features include a spotlight-detection feature for live performances, which recognizes when a subject is in a spotlight and adjusts exposure levels accordingly. The Miniature Mode and Fisheye Mode found in Canon's recent Digital Elph point-and-shoot cameras are among the PowerShot S95's scene selections, too, and both are available when you're shooting video with the camera.

The PowerShot S95 is due to be available by the end of August for $400. It will join the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and the Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR as one of the more enticing pocketable fixed-lens options of late 2010.

Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS: 1080p-Shooting Pocket Megazoom

On the high end of Canon's Digital Elph line is the PowerShot SD4500 IS, which offers a 10X-optical-zoom lens (36mm to 360mm) in front of a backside-illuminated, 10-megapixel CMOS sensor that's optimized for low-light shooting. The SD4500 IS also shoots 1080p high-definition video at a filmlike 24 frames per second.

Notable too are the SD4500's shooting modes, which borrow tricks we've seen from Casio, Nikon, and Sony cameras.

Best Image Selection mode works similarly to Nikon's Best Shot Selector setting: It snaps several images in rapid succession at different exposure levels, and then saves the best shot of the bunch. Handheld Night Scene mode, like Sony's Handheld Twilight mode, uses exposure bracketing to combine images at different exposure settings to create crisp low-light shots. And similar to Casio's High-Speed Exilim cameras, the SD4500 IS can shoot up to 240 frames per second at reduced resolution to capture very fast action; the camera also has an 8-fps burst mode at full 10-megapixel resolution.

Available in early September, the PowerShot SD4500 IS is priced at $350.

Canon PowerShot SX130 IS: AA-Powered Zoomer

The third of today's Canon announcements is the 12X-optical-zoom (28mm to 336mm) PowerShot SX130 IS, which also shoots 720p high-definition video at 30 frames per second. The SX130 IS runs on AA batteries, but doesn't offer the same low-light-optimized sensor as the one found in the SD4500 IS.

Due in late August, the PowerShot SX130 IS has a price tag of $250.

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