In continuous shooting mode, the S80 can fire off four frames in about 2.5 seconds at the highest resolution setting, and despite the large file size – around 3.5MB per image – it writes them all to the card in just a couple of seconds and is ready to shoot again.
The S80 has a rather unusual movie mode. Many digital cameras can shoot at standard VGA 640 x 480 resolution and 30 frames a second, and the S80 can do this as well, but it also has a high resolution mode which can shoot at XGA 1024 x 768 size and 15 frames a second. This ability is, as far as I know, unique to the S80.
The S80 is loaded with other nice features. As well as manual, aperture and shutter priority, program and auto modes, it also has a user-defined custom mode, for any special exposure settings you might like to use. The lens has a zoom range equivalent to 28-100mm, which is just about perfect for most types of shot, combining a good wide angle for landscapes, and the ideal short telephoto for flattering portraits.
Image quality is, of course, the single biggest criterion for evaluating a digital camera, and it’s here that the S80 really scores. With a combination of a very high quality lens and Canon’s much admired DIGIC II processor, the same as is used on its top professional SLRs, the S80 produces fantastic pictures. Colour rendition is perfect, exposure is spot-on, and the AF system never misses a trick.
The only criticisms I can find are a slight blurring in the extreme corners of the frame at wide-angle, and a hint of over-sharpening on some shots. Despite its wider-than-average short end, the lens does a remarkable job of avoiding barrel distortion. Noise control is excellent at 50 and 100 ISO, and acceptable at 200 ISO. Things do get a bit noisy at 400 ISO, especially on longer exposures, but the results are still usable. All in all, an outstanding performance, and another superb Canon camera.
Although it is scarily expensive, the PowerShot S80 really delivers. It has enough creative options to satisfy any keen photographer, and delivers results that are among the best I’ve seen. Performance, design and build quality are all of the high standard we’ve come to expect from Canon. If you got the money, it’s one of the best compact cameras you can buy.