Canon PowerShot S110 vs Sony RX100 Comparison

October 15, 2012

Canon PowerShot S110 and Sony RX100 cameras

In this article I will be comparing, what I believe, the two beast digital cameras on the market. The first one is the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 with its large 1-inch Exmore CMOS sensor and F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens. The second is the Canon PowerShot S110, a pocket-sized high-end compact with 1/1.7-inch sensor and f/2 lens. Those two cameras may look simple, but they are far away from being ones. Two high-end pocktable compact camera for advanced photographers who don’t compromise on quality and results!

 

Overview

As mobile phone cameras already are a well-worthy replacement for a simple P&S camera for most people, sill they can’t completely replace a high quality camera and its all features. Mobile phone cameras like the one on the Nokia 808 PureView does reach to very high levels and certainly a threat to high-end compact camera. I personally think that luckily for Sony and Canon that (for now) not all mobile phones have this type of camera (bit smaller than 1-inch sensor, f/2.8 Carl-Zeiss lens.), but still high-end compacts are more advanced than this one. Advanced photographer might prefer a dedicated camera, that for the time being, does an all-around better job than the PureView. For example: the camera can shoot at 3.6x zoom, but that’s with a reduced of resolution, at 3MP. With the  Sony RX100 for example, you get the same zoom but without needing to sacrifice image resolution.

Remember, it’s all about the creative options that those cameras bring. they should be very compact, so they can easily be carries in your pocket and advanced enough to satisfy the demands enthusiasts. For the time being, high-end compact camera like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 and Canon PowerShot S110 certainly serve a better dish and very well worth your attention.

I had a chance to shoot with many high-end compacts in the past, including the Canon S100 as well as the Nokia 808 PureView, high-end compacts are certainly a head of the alternatives. It’s enjoyable to use, provide plenty of features, employs the best of technology innovation that Sony and Canon has to offer and result in very high image quality.

If you are searching to buy an advanced pocketable / portable compact camera with a fixed lens, look no further, the RX100 and the S110 are among the best you can find, and that’s why I put them head-to-head in this comparison. So Let’s begin and see which one you should get?

I will start with a short into about each digital camera, so you can get familiar with the cameras a bit more.In the next section I will compare the RX100 vs the S110 in order for you to comprehend the differences, understand the cons & pros of each camera and hopefully help you decide on which camera to buy this year. Holiday seasons are coming and that’s the perfect time to pamper yourself with a great new gadget!

 

 

Canon PowerShot S110

Canon PowerShot S110The S110 replaces the S100 that was announced last year. The S90 started a new line of premium slim compact camera that proven to be an excellent choice for anyone searching for a pocket camera with lots of manual controls.  Canon controlled this market for many years but at recent years it does has its rough competition from large-sensor compacts that threaten its dominant position in the high-end compact camera’s market. Canon want to keep leading this market and the S110 is certainly a good statement saying: “We are year, and we are going to nail it down this year too!” (well, Canon didn’t actually say that, it’s just me).

The Canon PowerShot S110 features a 12MP 1/1.7-inch sensor, Digic 5 image processor and a 24-120mm F2 aperture lens. A good start point, but ads mobile-like feature to it like a multi-touch capacitive screen and Wi-Fi connectivity.  This certainly hints that Canon certainly understand that it has a tough competition from the mobile phone industry and it’s time to bring some of those feature to the S110. Other than that, the S110 have full manual control over the exposure, can shoot RAW with multi-aspect, record Full HD videos with stereo sound.

 

It seems that what’s missing is just a GPS to make it mobile-like featured  camera (ok, maybe apps too), but although the S110 doesn’t come with a built-in GPS receiver for auto image geotagging,  it’s easy to do it by using the Canon CameraWindow app that wirelessly send location data from the phone to the camera and the S110 automatically embeds that location data onto the images in real-time. That’s pretty neat feature, because most of you already have a mobile phone with a GPS so it’s just a matter of downloading this app, cool!

The S110 is virtually the same size as its predecessor, but has a more clean and stylish look and the overall design and button placements are almost identical between the two cameras.  All in all, the Canon PowerShot S110 hosts some great features that will certainly attract new comers. The S110 has the same sensor size as the Panasonic LX7, but it’s smaller than the Fujifilm XF1/X10 sensor (2/3″) and even much smaller than the Sony RX100 (1-inch).

 

 

Sony Cyber-shot RX100

Sony RX100There are many reasons to buy the Sony RX100. The RX100 is around $200 more expensive than the Canon s110, but in my opinion is certainly a great alternative to those who want a high-end compact and willing to pay extra to get one of the best, if not The best compact digital camera on the market today. I’ve already compared the Sony RX100 vs Canon S100, so if you read it, you know that I think both cameras are amazing, but it’s just very hard to ignore the RX100 performance.  some of you might think that it be more fair to compare the Sony RX100 vs Canon G1 X, and I agree. But at the same time I know that there are many people who are debating between the two, wanting to know if it’s worth paying the higher price for the RX100 and know that get much in return. How much exactly? – this is why I’m writing this comparison, to find out and reveal my finding here in this article.

The Sony RX100 belongs to the large-sensor compact camera‘s category. A relatively new breed of compact camera that features a relatively large sensor (vs 35mm). There are large-sensor compacts with a full frame sensor like the Sony RX1 for example. Large-sensor compacts are by its definition have a fixed lens instead of an option to mount interchangeable lenses like with Compact System Cameras (CSC), some of you know those cameras by their name, Mirrorless cameras, or Mirrorless Interchangeable lens cameras (MILC).

The Sony RX100 was aimed towards enthusiast photographers who know how to appreciate its features. It comes equipped with a 20.2MP  1-inch (13.2 x 8.8 mm) sensor. It’s body construction is made with aluminum, so it’s very durable but still lightweight. The camera is equipped with a 28-100mm (35mm equiv.) f/1.8-4.9  3.6x optical zoom lens with lens-shift image stabilization. At the rear you can find a 3-inch fixed 1228K-dots high resolution LCD, one of the best screens on the market today. The camera can shoot Full HD videos at 60p, has 25-point AF system, offers great high ISO performance, have great battery life and already proven to be a remarkably popular camera.

Images out of this camera looks stunning, sharp with natural brilliant color rendering and it’s low-light performance is just amazing. It’s hard to find any pitfalls with this camera.  The RX100 certainly be at the top of your list.

 

As you can see, two high-quality class-leading compact cameras, with the S110 being the more affordable option and an update to the already very popular S100. The RX100 already got gazillion positive reviews all-across camera reviews website. Dpreview reports excellent image quality and class-leading movie features and quality, but the list is way to long to put it hear.  The larger sensor size of the Syber-shot DSC-RX100 does put it a head of the competition when it comes to image quality, but that’s comes for a price.

Both those digital cameras can be as an alternative for a DSLR for some people, for others they might serve as a walk-around pocketable camera alongside a DSLR camera. I don’t think that those who bought a Compact System Camera will get the RX100 or S110, but at the same time I can not ignore that possibility altogether.

The best thing about those cameras is that you can take them everywhere you go, and get home with very high quality stills and videos. Who have imagined a few years ago that you can take a compact camera in your pocket, one that can shoot full HD videos with great IQ, just amazing.

OK, now that you tasted a bit of the RX100 and S110, it’s time to move on to the comparison..

 

Specs Comparison

In the side by side comparison table below I compared the specs of both the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 vs Canon PowerShot S110 and the older model, the S100. Take a look..

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100Canon PowerShot S100Canon PowerShot S110
AnnouncedJune 6, 2012September 15, 2011September 17, 2012
Sensor20.2MP
13.2 x 8.8 mm
12.1 Megapixels
7.44 x 5.58 mm
12.1MP
7.44 x 5.58 mm
ISO100 - 25600 (inc. boost)160 - 6400 (inc. boost)80 - 12800 (inc. boost)
Lens28-100mm f/1.8-4.9
3.6x optical zoom
+ image stabilization (also Active Mode)
24-120 mm f/2.0-5.9
5x optical zoom

+ intelligent image stabilization
24-120 mm f/2-5.9
5x optical zoom

+ intelligent image stabilization
Can shoot RawYesYesYes (12-bit)
Macro focus range5 cm3 cm3 cm
AF points2599
Body ConstructionMetalMetalMetal
LCD3-inch
1228K-dots
WhiteMagic TFT LCD
Fixed
3-inch
461,000 dots
Fixed
3-inch
461,000 dots
Fixed

TFT PureColor II G Touch Screen
eye-Level ViewfinderNoNoNo
Shutter speed30 - 1/2000 sec15 - 1/2000 sec15 - 1/2000 sec
Built-in FlashYes, pop upYes, pop upYes, pop up
Continuous shooting (at max resolution)10 fpsapprox. 2.3 fps (P mode)
approx 9.6 fps (High-Speed burst HQ - maximum of 8 continuous shots per burst)
approx. 2.1 fps (in P mode)
Approx. 10 fps (in High-Speed Burst HQ - maximum of 10 continuous shots per burst)
Exposure compensation±3 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)±3 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)±3 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)
Video1920 x 1080 (60 fps, 60i and 60p), 1440 x 1080 (30 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)

Stereo sound
1920 x 1080 (24 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps) 640 x 480 (120, 30 fps), 320 x 240 (240, 30 fps)1920 x 1080 (24 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps) 640 x 480 (120, 30 fps), 320 x 240 (240, 30 fps)
Battery life (CIPA)330 shots200 shots200 shots
Weight (with batteries)213 g (0.47 lb / 7.51 oz)198 g (0.44 lb / 6.98 oz)198 g (0.44 lb / 6.98 oz)
Dimensions102 x 59 x 36 mm (4.02 x 2.32 x 1.42")98.9 x 59.8 x 26.7 mm
(3.90 x 2.34 x 1.05 inch)
99 x 59 x 27 mm (3.9 x 2.32 x 1.06")

The Canon S110 does add some new features including higher ISO, faster continuous shooting, high quality touch screen and Wireless Wi-Fi connectivity. The camera design was changed a bit and loses the nice grip from the S100.  It seems that cnet editor was really disappointed to see that Canon has decided to get rid of this grip, which was actually really handy and added to the comfortness of this camera. I personally think it’s not big deal, but hey, everyone has its own opinion, so I thought it’s worth mentioning.

The thing is that the difference between the S95 and the S100 was much bigger, Canon moved from a CCD to CMOS sensor and used a wider and longer lens, improved AF speed and overall performance. The S110 doesn’t seem like a big jump in the performance department, but it does have a touch-screen and Wi-Fi connectivity which I’m sure many will find useful.

The RX100 costs 50% more but you get what you paid for, including a much large sensor, higher ISO range, more AF points to boost tracking performance, higher resolution LCD, although not Touch Sensitive, 1080p60 video recording and better battery life. The Canon S110 does offer a 24mm wider angle lens compared to the 28mm of the RX100, which might be significant for certain type of shots (depends on what you love to shoot). The S110 also has a bit better macro capability, and it’s around 30% smaller than the RX100 (RX100 33% thicker, 3% wider and 2% shorter than the S110).  The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 weights 21% more (42g more).

The main selling point of the Sony RX100 is its large sensor with 20MP resolution. You get higher resolution images that will give you more room for cropping and more details. Enthusiast love that because they have more possibilities editing the RX100 output in photo editing software. Both cameras can shoot in RAW file formatn, which also adds to the professionalism of those two cameras.

The RX100 features a f/1.8 lens compared to f/2, 0.3 f-stops advantage. The larger sensor also enjoys another advantage, beings able to better control depth-of-field, get that more shallow depth of field in better degree that what you get on the S110. Another advantage with the RX100 is the ability to shoot longer exposure shots (30 sec vs 15 sec).

Most people certainly be eager to get their hands on the Sony RX100, mainly due to its larger sensor.

 

What all that sensor size stuff, does it make any big difference?

The answer is yes, hell yes.  The sensor has a a significant role in determine the image quality. What matters is actually the pixel density, but large sensor in general produce better results, and by saying better results I mean higher ISO performance / less noise, higher dynamic range and also result in better color accuracy.

Here’s an illustration from camera image sensor website, which will give you a good look about how small or large the RX100 and S110 sensors are compared to 1.5-inch and Full Frame sensor.

sensor size comparison

Canon S110, Sony, RX100, Canon G1 X, Sony RX1

 

Don’t be confused with the RX1 and RX100, the Sony DSC-RX1 is a very expensive camera (~$2800), it’s a 35mm Full Frame compact camera, which offers a F2 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T lens and 14-bit Raw output. You can see that S110 on the far left, and it’s the smallest sensor in this group. The RX100 is larger as you can see, and the Canon G1 X is even much bigger than the Rx100.  The Canon PowerShot G1 X costs about the same as the Rx100, and although not as compact, it’s still an alternative to those two cameras (for more information: Canon PowerShot G1 X vs Sony DSC-RX100 comparison).

Top view, Canon G1 X and Sony RX100

Both cameras from the top

 

The above image is meant to illustrate the difference in size between the G1 X and the RX100, the Rx100 is tiny compare to the G1 X – just consider this before making a choice.

So in general, you should prefer a camera with a larger sensor. This isn’t the only factor, but it’s a major factor that has consequences on image quality performance.

 

Image Quality – High ISO Performance

Talking about the specs is one things, but image quality performance is another thing that many photographers inspect carefully In order to fairly compare image quality between two cameras, the test should be made under a well controlled environment. I use imaging-resource.com cmparometer and dpreview tool to compare and analyze IQ performance between two or more cameras.

Here’s my observation results:

  • ISO 100 – RX100 results in punchier colors, sharper image, more contrast and details than the S110. This is very obvious when you look at the photos at 100%, but a bit less when viewing at lower scale. The noise here is not present [Advantage: Sony  RX100]
  • ISO 200 – same as ISO 100 with the S110 start showing some small amount of noise at the shadows, but nothing to be concerned about [Advantage: Sony RX100]
  • ISO 400 – at this ISO we usually start to see differences in many small-sensor cameras. Noise is more evident in mid-tones on the Canon S110 but almost non-evident on the RX100. Both cameras perform very well  [Advantage: Sony RX100]
  • ISO 800 – S110 starting to loose fine details and image looks more on the soft side at 100% scale. RX100 brilliant! – almost can’t tell the difference between ISO400 and this one, wow!  [Advantage: Sony RX100]
  • ISO 1600 – S110 certainly looks quite bad to be honest, but colors are still very well saturated which is good, small prints yes, but I would probably shoot with this camera below ISO1600 to get optimal results. Rx100 certainly evidence of noise in but still excellent usable results – 2nd WOW! [Advantage: Sony RX100]
  • ISO 3200 -  S110 same as ISO1600 but at one degree worse, RX100 details are well maintained, color is excellent, noise is there, but in a certain degree that you can reduce it using noise reduction software and get very usable images. wow for the third time? – Hell yeh! [Advantage: Sony RX100]

 

Conclusion

Let’s put things in perspective. Considering the S110 sensor size, the S110 high ISO performance is very very good. The thing is that it just can’t cope with the Sony RX100 performance due to its larger sensor.  I was REALLY IMPRESSED with the high ISO performance of the RX100, colors, sharpness, dynamic range and details just WOWed me. I can now see why all camera reviews website praises this camera and why it’s one of the most popular cameras in the market.

Does it worth the extra money? – Well, considering all the other features and including the image quality performance, I say yes, it’s worth it and I can tell you exactly why. The Sony RX100 is a kind of camera that you take everywhere you go. You put it in your pocket and pop it out when you need to take a picture or record a video. You may encounter moments that you need to shoot at low light situations, and that’s where the RX100 really shines – Low Light Performance. This makes the RX100 a very versatile camera for every situation. You get with more and better looking photos. You can shoot low-light shots and still make some very usable medium size prints. The S110 is probably best to shoot at below ISO800 and there is a 2EV difference between those two cameras, at least. You won’t have to worry about what happens when it gets dark and that kind of stuff, the RX100 can shoot anywhere anytime!

Video enthusiasts will certainly enjoy the features and framerate options on the RX100, and the RX100 will take better looking videos too.

So it’s all come to your budget. Remember, you are not buying a camera every day, at least not that type of camera. If you love photography and you know you take a lot of images and carry the camera around with you, do yourself a favor and pay extra (if you can) and get the Sony RX100, just a magnificent camera,  a jewel, and image quality is second to none. The S110 still is a great alternative, but you need to know it’s limitations.  It’s maybe not such a fair comparison as I said from the start, but I do believe and you can see that you get that extra value when you pay more, at least when it comes to the Sony Cyber-shot RX100.

I hope that this comparison article helped you out in some degree or another, and hopefully it will help you make a smarter buying decision. Thanks for reading.

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  • Jim

    Hi,

    I go to remote locations to perform jewelry appraisals for insurance purposes. All of my lab equipment is portable and presently I use a Nikon D500 to take pictures of the appraised jewelry. The only problem I have is that the D5000 is quite heavy. Picture color quality and accuracy is a must to be accepted for insurance replacement purposes. I have been looking on line at lightweight point & shoot cameras but I am not a photoghapher and need some guidance. How about the Canon SureShot S110 or the Sony RX100. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Jim.

  • Frank

    I really enjoyed your review, however I wish you had mentioned a few more things associated with the cameras. The first and what I would consider rather important, is the fact that the Sony’s video format is AVCHD. My opinion and many others, are that the AVCHD format is horrible to work with. Have you ever tried to edit an AVCHD video, not an easy task I assure you.

    Also, I wish you stressed the low light performance of the Canon more, as that is a very important feature I look for in this type of camera. If the Canon does a good job with low light, I think the price would be a more convincing argument to get the Canon.

    I would also think that if Image Quality were that critical a factor, one would choose to use a DSLR instead of a P&S. I know that in certain situations you may not have a choice, but if the shots are that important…..well you know.

    Once again thank you for the great article.