If smartphones really are threatening the compact camera market, it stands to reason that the higher-end point-and-shoots will be the last models standing. Canon's had more success than most in this arena, and today is announcing updates to its most capable PowerShot compacts ahead of Photokina. The company promises across-the-board improvements in autofocus performance and shutter lag, and has reshuffled its lineup to give it more focus. There's a lot more difference between the S and G series than in previous years, for example, making the decision on which to buy come down to more than just the figurative or literal size of your pockets.
A bit disappointing next to the RX100The S110 is the follow-up to last year's S100 and the latest entrant in the company's popular S series of enthusiast compacts. There are two main advances in the S110: touchscreen control and Wi-Fi support that uses Canon's Camera Window apps for iOS and Android. The physical design has undergone a minor evolution, too, with the S100's grip excised in favor of slightly tapered edges. Otherwise it's the same combination of a 24-120mm equivalent f/2.0-5.9 lens and 12.1-megapixel 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, which is a little disappointing in light of Sony's recent compact champion, the RX100. You'll be paying around $200 less for the S110, mind you — it'll be available in black or white next month for $449.99. And for fans of point-and-shoots with even larger sensors, bodies, and price tags than the RX100, it's worth noting that Canon still offers the $799.99 G1 X.
A big leap over the G12's optics
The G series has always offered similar specs to the S series in a bulkier frame with more physical controls, and the new G15 is no different. Switching to the same 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5 image processor as the S100, the G15's main improvement over the previous G12 is a significantly faster 28-140mm equivalent lens that opens up to f/1.8 at the wide end and maintains a still-impressive f/2.8 at telephoto. You're not getting any extra zoom range, but that's a big leap over the G12's f/2.8-4.5 optics that should hopefully make the G15's new ISO range of up to 12800 more usable. The screen has also gotten a bump to 3 inches and 922k dots, though there's a tradeoff - it's a fixed, non-flexing display, which Canon says helped to shave 8.2mm off the camera's thickness. Finally, the G15 is now able to capture 1080p video. It's out next month for $499.99.
Superzooms like the SX50 are an increasingly niche product
Lastly, the SX50 HS superzoom should help photographers reach the most distant of targets. It has a 50x 24-1200mm equivalent lens, a big leap over the SX40's 35x 24-840mm, though to achieve this Canon's had to make some aperture sacrifices - the longer lens only opens to f/3.4-6.5, down from f/2.7-5.8. Elsewhere the screen is a little bigger and sharper at 2.8 inches and 461k dots, and you're now able to shoot in RAW mode. Bridge superzooms like the SX50 are an increasingly niche product, and that's reflected in the $479.99 pricing here. If you're in that niche, however, you'll be able to get your hands on the SX50 next month.