Revisiting the Canon PowerShot S80

Mary Love.

Encouraged by fellow photo-blogger Dan James, I carried my Canon PowerShot S80 around with me everywhere for a few weeks. It was my primary camera for a couple years ending in 2010 when I got my PowerShot S95, the camera I’ve used more than any other ever.

The S80 is chunkier than the S95. It seemed giant in my pocket compared to the S95. Funny, because I’d call a film camera this small a marvel of miniaturization and brilliantly pocketable.

The S80 also lacks the S95’s ability to directly dial in common focal lengths like 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and so on. I didn’t realize how much I love that feature of my S95 until I didn’t have it on the S80. It led me to just shoot at the default 28mm most of the time. That leads to stretched proportions on deep subjects like my car.


The S80’s color that impressed me. Even on this dreary day it managed to make what color was present look good.


My poor S80 isn’t without troubles. Just look at all the fringing among the branches at the top of this photograph of the Maker’s Mark distillery. Beneath that sci-fi sky, the S80 captured great color and clarity.

At the Maker's Mark Distillery

Check the upper right of this image — it’s out of focus. I found this on many shots, and I suspect that the lens has become misaligned.

Cluster III

It also happened in this portrait shot of a Bardstown, KY, door. The entire top of the image is soft.

Bardstown, KY

I tried the camera’s built-in black-and-white mode for this photo of construction near where I work. It’s okay.

Duke HQ

Shooting some early spring blooms, I was reminded that the S80’s macro mode struggles to lock focus unless it is at minimum zoom, 28mm.

Bardstown, KY

As with every camera, you just learn to live with its limitations. So when I want macro, I zoom all the way out.

The Mosler Safe Co.

The S80 shone brightest outdoors at middle distances. Its lens is plenty sharp and contrasty.

Bardstown, KY

The S95 is a better camera and the one I’m going to keep reaching for. But even if I didn’t own the S95, my S80’s probable lens misalignment consigns this otherwise decent camera to the bin.

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9 responses to “Revisiting the Canon PowerShot S80”

  1. DougD Avatar

    So, what’s fringing Jim?

      1. DougD Avatar

        Ah, learned something today..

  2. tbm3fan Avatar

    Like you I have tons of film cameras to use but when I need to get a picture up on the web quickly, usually associated with the USS Hornet, I do need a digital. Currently only have two. For just plain shooting I use a Canon Powershot G9 which I got for $20. Really a solid camera in build and more than good enough in resolution if I stay below ISO 200. The other is my Maxxum 7D which happens to use all the Maxxum lenses from my Maxxum 7000 and 9000. Putting on my monster Metz flash I can light up a picture of Hanger 3 or the Fo’c’sle shooting in manual. The G9 is P&S like a Olympic XA all the time. The 7D is manual most of the time because an SLR in my hand makes me think manual by default.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I think your G9 has the same CCD, software, and lens as my S95. I like my S95 fine up to ISO 400. It’s good enough for snapshot sized prints up to 1600 ISO.

  3. Dan James Avatar

    Glad to see how gave the S80 another run. Shame about the misaligned lens, I wonder when this happened?

    Still seems to perform pretty well otherwise. I really like the reds – often reds end up overblown with digital cameras or the colour shifts, too far towards purple or pink. The S80 delivers some great reds!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hard telling when the lens got damaged. Disappointed it happened. But even without that problem shooting this camera again made me realize that, while it’s very good, I don’t really need it.

      1. Dan James Avatar

        Ha, how many times have we both said THAT before!

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          yeah. Too many.

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