While the S110 remains close to the S100 internally, externally there have been a number of design tweaks, not least the removal of the finger grip and increased bevelling around the edges. The thumb grip on the back is more pronounced too, with a longer ridge running down the side that helps to keep your thumb from slipping off the camera.
Small it might be, but the S110 undoubtedly feels like a serious bit of kit. Improvements have also been made to the three main control points – the mode dial on the top plate, the control ring that surround the base of the lens and the function dial on the camera’s rear all feel sturdier and less prone to accidental nudges than before, with a satisfying ‘click’ as you rotate them.
The pop-up flash that’s housed inside the left-hand shoulder (as you look at the camera from the back) has also been re-engineered. The button that was used to pop the flash up on the S110 has been removed and the flash is now motorised instead and will automatically raise itself with a pleasingly smooth whir when the flash mode ‘on’ position is selected via the D-pad controls, or indeed when the camera is being used in Automatic mode and flash is deemed to be necessary.
As with previous PowerShot S series cameras, build quality is very high indeed with the S110 feeling every inch the premium camera it’s positioned as. Furthermore, certain design elements go beyond the merely cosmetic and actually help to improve the performance – or at least the operation – of the camera too. The best example of this is the front command dial. This rotating wheel is fully user customisable and can be set to control a range of camera functions from basic shooting parameters such as shutter or aperture settings, through to exposure compensation and ISO settings – all of which is exactly the kind of functionality you’d expect from an advanced compact.
In addition to the control wheel, the S110 also sports a new 3in capacitive touchscreen – a first for the PowerShot ‘S’ series. In use the touchscreen proves pleasingly sensitive to your fingers and also offers the same kind of ‘gesture-based’ functionality that smartphone users will be instantly familiar with. This includes the ability to swipe left and right in Playback mode in order to scroll through captured images, as well as pinch-to-zoom functionality and double-tapping to zoom out.
The touch-screen also supports Touch Shutter and Touch AF – two intuitive technologies that can be really useful, especially for spur-of-the-moment candid photography when a point of focus is required quickly. Both function promptly and accurately, allowing you to quickly capture moments that might otherwise be lost while you’re busy fiddling about with buttons and control wheels to put the AF point in the correct place. Autofocus performance in general is pretty good too, with the S110’s 9-point contrast-detect AF system pleasingly zippy when used in adequate light.
Processing fares a little less well and there’s a noticeable delay when the camera is tasked with writing Raw files. It’s not so bad as to impinge on shot to shot speed when the camera is used in Single-shot drive mode however, as invariably the buffer has cleared by the time you’re ready to take the next shot. Switching over to Continuous drive mode, we found the S110 perfectly able to deliver the claimed maximum burst speed of 10fps at full-resolution, however it’s only able to capture 10 consecutive frames in this way before coming to a very swift and sudden halt, which does necessitate the need to time such bursts well.
Looking at Wi-Fi, we had no problems connecting the camera up to an available network and found it to perform perfectly well, although functionality is a little limited – especially compared to what some rival Wi-Fi enabled cameras currently offer. Functionality could certainly be improved through the ability to remotely operate the camera via a smartphone or tablet, or the ability to shoot tethered through the Wi-Fi functionality. Hopefully this is a feature that can be added at a later date.