The control layout is also typical of this type of camera. The 2.5-in, 153k monitor screen takes up quite a lot of space on the back, but leaves enough room for the limited number of buttons and a small area to rest your thumb. The monitor itself, while not the sharpest thing ever is at least nice and bright, and has an excellent anti-glare coating. It is also slightly recessed, which should make it a little less vulnerable to scratches and finger marks. The zoom control is a rocker switch on the back, which is easy enough to operate, and the zoom action is stepped with six increments between wide and telephoto. Handling can be an issue with very small digital cameras, but the S200 manages to avoid any major problems.
It has the usual four-way D-pad for menu navigation, with flash mode, exposure compensation, macro mode and self-timer as secondary functions. The Mode button gives access to a small menu containing, not surprisingly, the main shooting modes, which are auto, portrait mode (with instant face detection), high-ISO mode for low-light situations, movie mode (VGA, 30fps), sound recording and scene mode, which offers 15 scene programs including all the usual ones, such as landscape, night portrait, fireworks, panorama assist etc.
The S200 is a fairly simple camera, offering only the basic functions of a point-and-shoot compact, but it does have one unusual feature in the shape of electronic vibration reduction. At first I thought this was just another of those annoying high-ISO functions with a fancy name, sacrificing picture quality for a faster shutter speed, but in fact it is more than that. It also uses a combination of electronic image stabilisation and in-camera automatic post-processing to reduce the effects of camera shake on low-speed shots. If you take a photo in VR mode at a low shutter speed, the camera uses information from motion sensors and attempts to process out any motion blur from the resulting image. I tried it under a variety of conditions, and I found it was able to cope with camera-shake blur from shutter speeds as low as 1/20th of a second, but even lower speeds proved to be too much for it. As an anti-shake system it’s certainly better than simply boosting the ISO gain, but it’s not as effective as a genuine optical image stabilisation.
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