Visit our Business Solutions website >>

Canon PowerShot S3 IS

alaTest has collected and analyzed 1786 reviews from magazines and websites. Reviewers really like the image quality and performance. The value for money and usability are also mentioned favorably. Opinions about the storage and memory are mixed. Many are negative about the features and sensor.

portability, usability, value for money, performance, image quality

focus, viewfinder, low-light, sensor, features

We analyzed user and expert ratings, product age and more factors. Compared to other Digital Compact Cameras the Canon PowerShot S3 IS is awarded an overall alaScore™ of 87/100 = Very good quality.

See all Canon Digital Compact Cameras

Review analysis

(Based on 1786 reviews)

Expert Reviews  

User Reviews  

Showing 705 review(s)

Expert Reviews User Reviews
Showing 1 - 10 of 705 Show Reviews: in English | in other languages (509)

Expert review by:

Powershot S3 IS Digital Camera


The 6-megapixel Canon PowerShot S3 IS ($500 as of August 25, 2006) offers a lot of features for the price. Among the most attractive of these are its optical image stabilization, 12X optical zoom, fast maximum shutter speed, and swiveling 2-inch LCD...

Swiveling LCD, many control buttons 12X optical zoom, image stabilization

Low battery life

In our lab tests, the S3 IS delivered impressive overall image quality, its best attributes being color and exposure accuracy. The camera's scores for distortion and sharpness, however, were below average. In my informal shots, the S3 IS generally...

Expert review by:

Canon PowerShot S3 IS


No shutter lag. Articulating LCD. Powerful feature set. Very good video.

Smallish 2-inch LCD. Mediocre recycle time. Expensive.

There's a lot to like about the 12X optical, 6-megapixel Canon PowerShot S3 IS superzoom, but the price is steep.

Expert review by:

Canon Powershot S3 IS


The PowerShot S3 IS is the successor to last year's 5-megapixel PowerShot S2 IS digital camera. The PowerShot S3 IS enhancements include a newly designed 6-megapixel image sensor that together with Canon's proprietary DIGIC II image processor...

Like its predecessor the S2, the PowerShot S3 IS is a very capable entrant in the megazoom digicam market. With 6-megapixels of resolution, a high-quality image-stabilized 36-432mm zoom lens, very good image quality and industry-leading support for...


Expert review by:

Canon PowerShot S3 IS


Like the S2 IS before it (and for that matter the original S1 IS), the latest version of Canon's flagship Image stabilized Ultra zoom PowerShot has been one of the most popular cameras on dpreview (measured by clicks) since the day it was announced....

Good resolution ; Good color, good exposure, generally accurate focus ; 12x zoom offers excellent 36-432mm range ; Image stabilization works well (and can be used in movie mode) ; Packed with features ; Very quiet ; Solid construction and good handling...

Occasional focus hunting at the telephoto end of the zoom in low light ; ISO 800 mode is too noisy to be really useful ; ISO 200 noise reduction too strong ; No rechargeable batteries supplied in the box ; Occasional highlight clipping due to over...

Where the S2 IS offered a huge performance leap over its predecessor, the S3 IS is in reality a minor upgrade, and with good reason; there was a lot less that needed improvement. Aside from the newer sensor, the welcome addition of a direct ISO button,...

Expert review by:

Canon PowerShot S3 IS


The Canon PowerShot S3 IS's aesthetic seems to be a cross between those of a classic Volkswagen Beetle and a Busy Box. Granted, it's the same body as its predecessor's, but the silver bits stand out more against the current version's iridescent, dark...

Fast and responsive; comfortable design; decent movie capture; flip and twist LCD; fast, high-quality lens with effective optical image stabilization.

Tiny LCD; lacks raw support; faux wide-screen capture.

A very well-executed megazoom camera, the Canon PowerShot S3 IS reminds you why dSLRs still have competition for photo enthusiasts' hearts.

Expert review by:

Canon PowerShot S3 IS reviewed


Digital Camera Resource got their mits on the Canon PowerShot S3 IS recently and were kind enough to post a detailed review for our perusal. While the S3 isn't exactly "an exciting upgrade" over its S2 IS predecessor, the reviewer still found it to be...

Expert review by:

Powershot S3 IS


The hybrid Canon PowerShot S3 IS was introduced at the Photo Marketing Association Trade Show in February 2006. It replaces last year's S2, which succeeded the previous year's S1. All of these models come with image stabilization as their headlining...

Super macro focuses at 0 inches ; Good flash coverage and options ; Image stabilization ; Frequently used scenes on dial ; 12x lens with USM ; Good movie mode

Poor viewfinder resolution ; 1 GB limit on movies ; Eats alkaline AA batteries ; LCD solarizes easily ; Included 16 MB card too small ; Power switch too stiff

Expert review by:

Canon PowerShot S3 IS



12x zoom with image stabilization ; Useable 4x digital zoom (for 48x scope-like range) ; Auto Hi and ISO 800 sensitivity settings ; Very responsive shutter speed ; Fast startup/shutdown time ; Good color accuracy ; Powerful built-in flash ; Very...

High noise at high sensitivity settings ; Rather contrasty default tone curve ; Higher than average chromatic aberration at all focal lengths ; Fast shutter speeds not available at all apertures, which is not uncommon ; Movie files restricted to 1 GB...

The Canon S3 IS bumps resolution up to 6.0 megapixels (for 2,816 x 2,112 pixel images up from 2,592 x 1,944), increases the sensitivity range to ISO 800, features a slightly larger LCD (2.0 inches vs. 1.8), includes a Movie button available in any...

Expert review by:

Canon PowerShot S3 IS


Everything else is the same as on the PowerShot S2. That means that the S3 has a 12X optical zoom lens, optical image stabilizer, rotating LCD, full manual controls, and enhanced movie mode

Very good photo quality; low noise levels for a 6MP camera ; 12X zoom lens with optical image stabilization ; Full manual controls ; Excellent movie mode: VGA resolution (30 fps), stereo sound, zoom ability, wind screen, selectable audio quality/level...

Redeye ; Movie mode file size limit arrives quickly ; Electronic viewfinder resolution could be better ; Plastic tripod mount ; RAW format support would've been nice ; Tiny memory card and throwaway batteries included; lens cap isn't great

Overall, I really like the PowerShot S3, and it earns my enthusiastic recommendation. Yes, it has a few flaws, but doesn't everything? For people wanting a solid and capable ultra zoom camera, this one should be high on your list. If you yearn for a...

Expert review by:

Canon Powershot S3 IS


The 6.1-megapixel Canon PowerShot S3 IS has a 12x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization. Pictures come out nice and clear, and the S3 takes great video, too. It arrived on the scene in spring 2006 and has since been outdone by the Canon...

Product Specifications

PowerShot S3 IS is equipped with an approximately 6.0 million camera effective pixel 1/2.5-inch Charge Coupled Device (CCD). Also, with DIGIC II, higher resolution and high-speed processing were achieved and the startup time and response time were shortened. This camera is equipped with a 12x optical zoom lens, which covers a 35mm film equivalent focal length ranging from 36 mm (Wide Angle) to 432 mm (Telephoto), and has an f/2.7 (Wide Angle) - f/3.5 (Telephoto) aperture. By incorporating a UD (Ultra Low Dispersion) lens into the lens element, the chromatic aberration has been reduced. This model incorporates an image stabilizer, which reduces the effects of camera shake while shooting. In addition, the zoom lens's super-smooth, super-fast ultra sonic motor (USM) provides all the zooming speed you need. This camera can take VGA (640 x 480 pixels) movies with exceptional image quality at a full 30 frames per second. Furthermore, it can shoot movies even in the still image shooting modes and vice versa. Also, a new mode to take very smooth QVGA (320 x 240 pixels) movies at 60 frames per second has been newly added. Moreover, digital zoom and manual focus are available as well as adjusting the zoom or exposure, or locking the AF or exposure while shooting a movie. Movies can be taken continuously (depending on the storage capacity of the recording media) until the clip size reaches 1GB or the clip length reaches 1 hour. The recording pixels include a "Widescreen" feature that has the same aspect ratio as 16:9 widescreen TVs for shooting wide images. Adding ISO [800] has resulted in a faster shutter speed even when shooting in dark environments. Also, [High ISO Auto] that has a program diagram with a higher ISO speed setting has been added to the ISO speed position. Featuring "Sports" as a shooting mode has resulted in better focusing of moving subjects, which is especially useful when shooting sporting events. A "My Colors" mode that changes image colors when shooting has been added to the FUNC. Menu of the PowerShot S3 IS. Macro mode is used to record subjects at close range, and Super Macro is used when the distance from the front of the lens to the subject is in the range of 0 to 10 cm (0 to 3.9 in.). This camera is equipped with an upgraded 2.0-inch Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). Information display on the LCD monitor and LCD viewfinder when shooting can be customized. The function (shooting mode: P/Tv/Av/M) to display the histogram when shooting was added and Grid lines can be displayed for easier photo composition. Also, this camera shows the possible shooting range within which auto-focusing at the current zoom position. As the recording quality is set up to 16 bit, 44.100 k Hz with the stereo microphone, high quality recording is possible when shooting movies. In addition, "Sound Recorder" can record sound only, without images. Using My Colors, effects can be added to images that have already been shot (still images only). The functions to create a folder to store recorded images by shooting date or shooting month, and to jump to the first image of each shooting date or to a movie and play have been newly added. Transition effects can be applied while transitioning between scenes or on slide shows. A Print/Share button has also been equipped, letting you easily print your images by connecting the camera directly to a direct print compatible printer and then simply pressing this button. When the camera is connected to a computer, pressing the Print/Share button lets you easily download images directly from the camera to the computer.

Audio Input

Microphone Operation Mode:Stereo


Battery Form Factor:Standard form factor
Supported Battery Form Factor:AA

Camera Flash

Red Eye Reduction: Yes
Type:Pop-up flash

Digital Camera

Supported Flash Memory:MultiMediaCard / SD Memory Card

Dimensions & Weight


Display (Projector)

Diagonal Size:2in
Diagonal Size (metric):5.1cm
Display Form Factor:Rotating
Technology:TFT active matrix
Type:LCD display

Exposure Parameters

Shooting Programs:Beach / Fireworks / Foliage / Indoor / Landscape / Night scene / Night snapshot / Portrait mode / Snow / Sports mode / Stitch assist/Beach / Fireworks / Foliage / Indoor / Landscape / Night scene / Night snapshot / Portrait mode / Snow / Stitch assist

Flash Memory

Form Factor:SD Memory Card
Storage Capacity:16MB


Model:S3 IS
Packaged Quantity:1
Product Line:Canon PowerShot

Lens System

Lens Aperture:F/2.7-3.5
Max Focal Length:72mm
Min Focal Length:6mm
Optical Zoom:12
Type:Zoom lens

Optical Sensor

Optical Sensor Size:1/2.5"
Optical Sensor Size (metric):10.2 mm ( 1/2.5 ) / 10.2 mm ( 1/2.5" )
Optical Sensor Type:CCD
Sensor Resolution:6Megapixel

Optical System

Built-in Optical Image Stabilizer: Yes
Image Stabilizer:Optical

Storage Floppy Drive

Type: None

Video Input

Digital Video Format:AVI
Digital Zoom:4
ISO (Max):800
Light Sensitivity:ISO 100 / ISO 200 / ISO 400 / ISO 80 / ISO 800 / ISO auto
Shooting Modes:Frame movie mode
Special Effects:Black & White / Color Accent / Color Swap / Darker Skin Tone / Lighter Skin Tone / My Colors / Neutral / Positive / Sepia / Vivid / Vivid Blue / Vivid Green / Vivid Red/Black & White / Contrast compensation / Custom Effect / Darker Skin Tone / Lighter Skin Tone / Low Sharpening / Neutral / Positive / Sepia / Vivid / Vivid Blue / Vivid Green / Vivid Red
Still Image Format:JPEG
Type:Digital camera


Viewfinder Color Support:Color
Viewfinder Type:Electronic