NO PRINTED MANUAL
After hours and hours of research, and talking and trying out half a dozen brands in this and close-by categories, I am confident I chose the camera I want. One of the key items on my wishlist was manual operations -- in hopes of reducing the shutter lag that apparently every digital camera this side of a high-end DSLR must suffer. Also important was the ability to quickly make manual settings by way of actual buttons. This is a good camera for that reason, too.
Now if only I could figure out how to use those buttons. NO PRINTED MANUAL? Canon, what are you thinking? Apparently Canon once planned to print it, because it is laid out in a totally non-printer-friendly format (about 9x5, each page having two columns), and comes to 216 pages -- divisible by 4, as a printed booklet would probably be. Even using a popular PC printer utility and an automatic duplex printer, I am unable to get this down to a smaller size. Printed on average-weight paper, it is heavier and four times larger than the camera! What is the point of a pocketable camera when its manual requires a briefcase?
So, I've tried accessing it on my smartphone. Not that much more convenient. Because it’s a PDF, not formatted for the phone, it’s hard to read. The internal links (cross references to related pages) which work on my computer do not seem to work on my phone. And to get to the other end of its 212 pages, I guess you have to scroll manually? Canon, what are you thinking? You put all this effort into wi-fi capability, yet you have no doc app? No Kindle/Nook version? At least give us an RTF version in standard page-size format, so users can reformat according to their needs. But we’ll never be able to print on paper as thin as you can, and compact binding will still be a hassle for most people. I realize the camera’s price point is an important mark you must hit. So, if nothing else, include a self-liquidating coupon offer. I’d willingly pay US $5 to get a pocketable copy.
And, while an electronic version is not a perfect substitute, why not take full advantage of e-versions capabilities? I mean, this camera is often referred to as the Pro’s pocketable, yet terms “fill flash,” “computer,” and “focal length” do not appear in the index. Doubtless they are covered, but it’s a guessing-game to figure out where. And while the instructions are reasonably intelligible, the discussion of most topics is VERY terse. There’s a reasonable argument for not overwhelming the consumer, but again, since this camera is virtually in Pro territory, there’s no reason the electronic manual can’t be even half again as robust. (And I'll add that a reproducible electronic version would still be appreciated, in case the printed one gets destroyed.)
The camera does come with a compact “Getting Started” guide. At about 140 pages (70pp per language, English and Spanish), it measures roughly 4x6 inches, 3/16 inch thick. Its first half will get you set up to shoot, take you through shooting your first photos, looking at them on camera’s screen, and erasing them. The second half is on setting up the wi-fi, including even how to send photos to another camera, and how to download photos to your computer USING WI-FI. There Is NO coverage of how to download photos over a (not included) USB cable. In fact, even in the PDF, that isn't covered till page 174, in the “Accessories” section. (Don’t confuse this “Saving images to a computer” to the discussion having the same name in the wi-fi section.) Both these discussions assume you have downloaded Canon’s software, which is discussed at the start of the wi-fi section.
All this focus on wi-fi, wi-fi, WI-FI, and yet no wi-fi remote-control capability (which some reviews have erroneously reported)?
Canon, what are you thinking?
Partly as a result of the camera’s extensive options and capabilities, partly as a result of Canon’s crippling our ability to learn them, I’m a long way from getting to know the S120 well enough for a comprehensive review. But it may help some users if I mention these stumbling blocks, which are easy to get past if you’re aware of them.
* Read the first 20 pages of the manual, to be sure you understand which buttons and dials the manual’s symbols refer to.
* One way to print the manual (so far the most compact way I've found) is to center the page on an 8.5x11 sheet (so that duplex printing will print both sides in register), allowing about an inch for binding (do a test sheet). If your printer doesn't do two-sided printing automatically, be VERY careful that it does not skip a sheet (manual feeding might be advisable). Print the cover and last page on heavier paper if you can. Trim to size, allowing generous binding margin. Clamp using binder clips. Work some glue into the binding (I brushed on some contact cement). If you have a heavy-duty stapler, drive 1/2-inch staples generously from both sides (they won't fold, but should hold for some time). After drying, cover the staples with good quality duct, shipping or fabric tape. You might find it easier to carry by rolling it up -- comes to about the size of a 35mm-format 135mm lens. (Ironic, eh? You're looking at a pocketable camera in order to avoid that bulk!) That will induce some wear-and-tear (especially), but rejoice, you can always produce it again. Other binding alternatives are: binder clips; punch and use binding posts. It will be about ½-inch thick.
* When using the index, don’t rely on only the instructions found at that page. Some functions are not available in all modes. So, also read the start of that section, for things the manual assumes you already know. (For example, the instructions on adjusting flash intensity assume you know they work only in “P” (Program) mode, not in “Auto.” Not knowing this drove me nuts the other evening!)
* You can reassign the front control ring’s function, but apparently only in P mode? Anyway, apparently not in Auto.
* Might as well read at least the first several pages of each section right away (through Section 5, so you’ll understand the various shooting Modes).
* In Windows 7, at least, you can download images simply by connecting a USB cable and the camera will appear as a drive on your computer. But better to use Canon’s software, because otherwise raw formats, orientation, and many some other aspects might not be retained. (This I am still learning.)
* For the software, the manuals send you to canon.com/icpd. (You’ll need your serial number.) From that address, you’ll have to navigate several levels to reach the S120 section, and then choose the link to downloads. I can only guess why Canon doesn't provide a shortcut, via, say, canon.com/s120 (which currently produces a “page not found”), or with a cryptic character or two if they must.
But no, as with providing more accessible documentation for the camera, that would make it easy.
Incidentally, I've called myself a "Hobbyist/Enthusiast" because although I used Canon SLRs for decades and many other film cameras, my digital camera experience is limited to a couple of relatively early models, both by other makers. I also have experience at writing spec sheets, instructions and product descriptions, so this experience has been especially frustrating.
December 15, 2013
No User's Manual Included, and you really need it
I wanted a very small, compact camera to carry in my purse when I don't want to lug my DSLR with the big, heavy 18-200mm lens. I wanted a camera that takes GREAT snapshots in low light situations. I wanted video capability with auto-focusing. This camera delivers. I am incredibly impressed with the quality of the photos. I had an old PowerShot that really can't even compare. However—there is a manual for Wifi included (totally irrelevant to me), but NO USER'S MANUAL for learning the features of the camera. That is such a stupid move on Canon's part, IMHO. At the very least, Canon should offer the option of PURCHASING a little book/manual. I downloaded all 215 pages of it from their website and printed out the 180 or so most relevant pages, but it's like carrying around a half a ream of paper. C'mon, Canon. A camera needs a User's Manual, even for very experienced photographers.
December 15, 2013
EXCELLENT point and shoot!
We were headed on a trip when it wasn't convenient to take our large Canon Rebel T3i and lenses, so my husband decided to give me my Christmas gift a little early. Can I just say I LOVE THIS CAMERA!!!!! Not only all of the other features mentioned everywhere - my VERY favorite is that in the typical auto mode, at the end of a day, or series of shots, one button merges them into a movie. Not just a slideshow, but there is VIDEO and AUDIO for a couple of seconds BEFORE the photo was snapped!!! I'm making these into QR codes to put on my album pages with the photos - how TOTALLY cool is that? I LOVE this, and have recommended it, already, to all of my photo crazy friends!
December 8, 2013
$$$$ - BUT NO MANUAL & PAYING FOR USELESS FEATURES
This is my third S90+ series. Incredible pocket travel camera. My travel BW blowups are mind boggling. But I really didn't like paying for silly WiFi on a serious photo instrument ... would have much rather have a real manual. With all the capabilities of this camera, having a reference manual that you can tab and yellow marker is almost a must, And if you think you can just print out the .pdf manual, think again -- it's 215 pages! and the .pdf on-screen file does not even allow underlining, yellow marker or cutting and pasting to a Word file. Pretty darn useless and not very thoughtful. What in the world were you thinking? WiFi? Restricted .pdf manual? No manual?
December 1, 2013