Not Martha

what I want for Christmas, a point and shoot camera

Canon S90 point and shoot camera

I keep seeing recommendations for the Canon S90 point and shoot camera. And, as luck would have it, I’ll be headed to Paris in a few months (yay!!!) and could use a camera with remarkable picture quality that takes up a lot less space than my DSLR. It shoots well in low light, it shoots in RAW, it has controls a DSLR user will appreciate, it makes me drool a bit.

Panasonic Lumix LX3

But then, somewhere in my research of the Canon S90 I came across a mention of this Panasonic Lumix LX3. It’s cool looking, sports a Leica lens and HD video recording.

Canon G11 camera

And then I came across the Canon G11, which has an articulating display screen. It also shoots in RAW and has the same low light performance as the S90. I used to have a Canon with one of these flippy, rotate-y screens which I loved until the day it refused to take pictures anymore.

I’ve already worked my way through the Stages Of Justification and decided I need one of these but I just cannot decide. Which one? Which?

(Earlier this year Scott and I bought a teeny tiny Nikon point and shoot the day before we went to Vegas. It was inexpensive and lightweight and fit in my wedding purse and took pictures that were just fine in the Vegas sun. However it’s really not good in the Seattle winter. Lesson re-learned, you get what you pay for.)

· comments [53] · 12-9-2009 · categories:shopping ·

53 responses so far ↓

  • 1 shanalee // Dec 9, 2009 at 7:22 am

    i have a lumix and LOVE it. its a seriously amazing camera.

  • 2 Carolyn // Dec 9, 2009 at 7:32 am

    I have a Canon G9 and I love it! I can’t imagine the G11 is that much different. I’m happy with the picture quality, although I still lust over a DSLR. And while it’s on the small size, it’s kind of heavy.(Pro: durable, Con: Not exactly easiest for going out on the town)

    I would definitely recommend it however. Good luck!

  • 3 dewimarie // Dec 9, 2009 at 7:42 am

    i just happened upon this cos i was craft blog hopping. im not gonna go technical on you but i went camera hunting the other day. for the g11, when i was telling a friend that “hey, the new canon is out”, the salesman was quick to point out that the g10 was better in terms of sensor and quality. im not sure, i havent tested it out but i have friends with the g10 and they are pleased with it and take great photos with it. same with the lumix. not sure bout the s90 though.
    for me though few months ago i traded my nikon d70 to a d40, i wanted a smaller camera for travels but without having to forego picture quality by bringing a compact camera. if i had the cash though, id have bought the lumix in an instant.

    i hope though this helps a little.

    oh i got here thru that handmade nation book i borrowed form the library.

  • 4 Jill // Dec 9, 2009 at 7:47 am

    I have the Panasonic and love it! I bought it specifically because it has the Leica lens (and I couldn’t afford a Leica). However, I have friends that have those other two cameras and they love them as well. I live in a city in Michigan that’s ranked up there with Seattle in number of cloudy days….

  • 5 Jude // Dec 9, 2009 at 7:48 am

    I was in the same quandary recently and I settled on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3. For my dSLR ‘companion’ camera portability and picture quality were more important than RAW capture – and this thing takes great photos. I decided against the same Canon S90 because of the fact that the flash comes up automatically when the camera comes on – it seemed like it would get in my way. My ZS3 is a little slow in low light situations, but overall I’ve been very happy with it.

  • 6 joan // Dec 9, 2009 at 7:53 am

    i’m in the same spot: love my DSLR but have been wanting a point & shoot to have on me at all times. thanks for the camera recommendations, i’ll add them to my list!

  • 7 megan // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Thanks so much for all these opinions! Right now I’m leaning back towards the S90 because of the small size and weight, but I’ll have to go hold some of these before I decide.

  • 8 Lindsey // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:14 am

    I absolutely adore my Canon G9. However, it is my primary camera, one that I own in lieu of a DSL. It fits in a large coat pocket and my purse, but just barely, and it is quite heavy. At that time, it was the best for picture quality and control over my photos. I know nothing about the S90, but if it has similar picture quality (which I’m sure it does) I would go for it in a heartbeat due to the portability factor.

  • 9 Martha // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:18 am

    I am going for the S90 myself for its size. Many of the reviews I’ve read have said it’s better than the larger G11. The choice is… buy before Christmas and have AT Christmas… or hope for Amazon gift cards and buy after??

  • 10 Bess // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:31 am

    I got a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX55 last year, and I really love it.

  • 11 greta // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:43 am

    fwiw, i have a slightly older lumix… can’t remember the model number off hand… i love it outdoors, it takes great pictures in high and low light and has many dslr features. however, it’s flash is totally lame and annoying, and it takes terrible pictures with flash. my indoor photos almost always end up looking grainy, while my outdoor photos look crisp and fresh. however, i don’t know how to use all its features and mostly use it in “auto” mode, so perhaps if i were smarter about cameras i could fix this. you might want to see if you can test them out in-store before you buy, just to make sure that it suits your own needs best.

  • 12 greta // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:44 am

    i should add – the indoor photos look grainy without the flash. with the flash, they are totally washed out, and while fiddling with the brightness etc on my editing software helps, it’s just not the same.

  • 13 Erin // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:51 am

    My brother has a G9 – I love it. I steal it ever change I get. The G11 is on my wishlist too. Check Laurence Kim’s very helpful reviews too.

  • 14 Sara // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I have the same DSLR that you do I believe (the xsi) and I have the G9 as well. I love my DSLR but I know what you mean about wanting something smaller and portable, and I have my G9 for exactly that. I even went a little nuts and bought a Canon ELPH as well, the 780IS. It takes great video and fits right in my coin purse so I am able to take it everywhere I would rather not carry the other two. Good luck, I can’t wait to see which one you do get and read your review of it!

  • 15 Amy P // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:54 am

    I don’t have any personal experience, but I can tell you that Scott Bourne can’t stop raving about the G11. Good luck with your research and shopping — it’s always fun to get a new camera!

  • 16 Marsha // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:59 am

    I’m shopping for a point-and-shoot camera myself, mostly to carry with my at all times so I can take spontaneous pictures when I’m not schlepping the DSLR and officially in a “picture-taking mood.” I will be interested to see what you end up with.

    FYI, there is some controversy about the Panasonic cameras–specifically their batteries. Consumerist covered it a few months ago:

  • 17 Emily // Dec 9, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I bought the Canon G10 about three weeks before they announced the G11 (natch) and I am still in love with it – I highly highly highly recommend it!

  • 18 James Moes // Dec 9, 2009 at 10:05 am

    FYI. I have a G9. It’s pretty fun. The G11 is even better in low light, which you will like – but, as someone in the comments says, it’s not tiny, only small.

  • 19 Megan // Dec 9, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I don’t know about the Canons but a friend has the Panasonic and loves it except for the low zooming ability.

  • 20 AA // Dec 9, 2009 at 10:31 am

    If at all possible see if you can buy from a camera store with a good return policy and test them out!

    I did this with the Lumix and ended up just not liking the photos. While it does a good job at picking up details instead of fuzzing them out, I found this made my photos appear grainy.

    dpreview has sample shots and really helped when I was looking. I ended up with a Canon that I love.

    For travel photos, since you often can’t get close, you may want to investigate the superzooms. Best of luck!

  • 21 megan // Dec 9, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Thanks so much to everybody for the further information!

  • 22 melissa // Dec 9, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I have had a G9, and A Lumix LX3. My husband has the Canon S90. If I were you, I’d buy the S90.

    The LX3 is a great camera, but the zoom is not very zoomy (very technical there). The G11 is awesome, but the S90 is more compact – if you’re traveling, get the S90.

  • 23 chez shoes // Dec 9, 2009 at 11:44 am

    The S90 is still kinda bulky it seems. My (non-photographer) friend has the Lumix and I’ve been pretty impressed with the P&S shots she’s taken with it. It’s especially good for wide angle stuff like shooting architecture or city streets – perfect for a trip abroad. The biggest downside I’ve noticed is that it’s low-light capability is less than stellar. But that’s the trade-off when opting for a non-DSLR.

    I’ve also been impressed by the Olympus Pen, but dang, that thing costs more than my DSLR did!

  • 24 Eleanor // Dec 9, 2009 at 11:50 am

    I just got a G11 and I LOVE it! It takes great quality pictures, even on the auto setting. I HIGHLY recommend it.

  • 25 Lauren // Dec 9, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Ha! “Stages of justification” – I am totally stealing that.

  • 26 homodachi // Dec 9, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Just wondering, what about the Seattle weather affected the Nikon? Something about the low lighting or moisture?

    (Is this a dumb question?)

  • 27 Lane // Dec 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Pentax has a series of compact digital cameras. I’ve had an Optio for years and been very happy with it. It will fit inside an Altoids box–closed! The newer models have even larger megapixel capacity. They are now slightly larger for larger screen viewing but very slim and easy to carry around. Mine was bought at a professional camera shop so they had a got a lot of good advice about it–and I’ve been really pleased with it.

  • 28 megan // Dec 9, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Homodachi – It’s because of the lack of light in the winters here. Not a dumb question!

  • 29 Steph // Dec 9, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    It really depends on what you’re looking for. I can only speak about the Canons here, because that’s the brand I stick to. I have an S90 (and love it): it’s very pocketable, and it shoots amazingly under low-light conditions. However, it’s a slow shooter (around 0.9 frames per second). The G11 has the same sensor as the S90, but it’s a little bit bigger, and it shoots faster.

  • 30 ~~Melissa // Dec 9, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I have a G9 too. Excellent photos. Excellent movies. Fits in my purse pocket. (I’d go for a G9, 10 or 11).

  • 31 Chia // Dec 9, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I have a DSLR, but I just can’t take it everywhere. I’ve been checking out both cameras, but I am probably going to get a S90. It’s smaller and has the same photo quality as the G11. If you are looking for a take everywhere camera, then the G11 isn’t for you. It’s too big.

  • 32 girlrobot // Dec 9, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    have you looked into the gx1 or ep1 pen at all?

  • 33 Courtney // Dec 10, 2009 at 3:59 am

    I have the Panasonic and I LOVE it. You can email me if you want more specifics.

  • 34 shauna // Dec 10, 2009 at 5:49 am

    I have the same low light issue here in dreary scotland. i made the mistake of buying my last camera while visiting my family in retina-bursting australia! the s90 looks fab… will you let us know which one you go with? :)

  • 35 regan // Dec 10, 2009 at 8:08 am

    I want to hug you for posting this since I’m debating these same cameras. I want the g11, but the size and weight really are a turn off.

    And we also have a Nikon point and shoot that I’m not happy with. I’ve decided that I like Nikon for dslr’s and Canons for p&s’s.

  • 36 Amanda // Dec 10, 2009 at 9:34 am

    The G11 is on my Christmas list. I couldn’t live without the flippy screen.

  • 37 megan // Dec 10, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Thanks again everybody! These comments have been very helpful. I’m still leaning towards the S90, but I want to get myself to a real camera store to hold these things in my hands. I was definitely delusional and hoping that the G11 was small enough but I think it’ll be too large.

  • 38 Malinda // Dec 10, 2009 at 11:54 am

    I have a Canon G9 and I love it – the G11 is an improved version of the G9. These are basically the professional photographer’s point and shoot. I have seen many photogs using these as preview cameras as well.

  • 39 Malinda // Dec 10, 2009 at 11:55 am

    the G11 is not very heavy at all – it’s just heavy in comparison to the other cameras.

  • 40 Erin // Dec 10, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    I have the same dilemma going on and I one thing that puts me off about the S90 is that from what I can tell the macro focus range is 5 cm compared to 1 cm with the other 2 you have listed. I have an old camera that is 4 cm and for close up macro shots it can be really annoying.

  • 41 megan // Dec 10, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Malinda – Good point about the weight.

    Erin – This is something I should keep in mind since mostly I like to photograph things like food, and I like to get up close. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • 42 jeannene // Dec 10, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Going to paris??? LUCKY! How cool! Buisness or pleasure or both?
    and I vote for the G11 if you haven’t already purchsed
    AND I SWEAR I am sending a disc with photos! Got backed up this fall!!!

  • 43 megan // Dec 10, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Hi Jeannene! We’re going for pleasure, we found inexpensive plane tickets and decided to do it. And, yes, photos would be good, my poor mom is asking about them :)

  • 44 Lane // Dec 11, 2009 at 10:22 am

    The Canon G11 weighs 12.5 oz. That’s 3/4 of a pound! It’s 4.4 x 3 x 1.9 inches. The Pentax Optio P80 is 3.3 x 2 x .8 inches and weighs 4.2 oz. A third of what the Canon weighs. I think you will find the operations similar and it’s so light-weight you will take it with you all the time.

  • 45 Jami // Dec 14, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Are you working on a list of crafting shops & restaurants to hit in Paris? And if so, I hope you will share! I’m currently obsessed with planning a trip for May and reading the french foodie blogs.

  • 46 megan // Dec 14, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Jami – Not really, I’ll be going with friends who know the city better than I and the various French blogs and city books by bloggers will probably be my guides as well.

  • 47 Amy Lu // Dec 15, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Hello! Oh, can I please convince you to go with the G11? I had the G9 for years, and loved it. I couldn’t believe everything that little camera could do! I did just replace it with the G11 about a month ago. The G11 does have a lower megapixel, but *the sensor is larger*. The pics are crisp!

    What sold me on the difference between the two: the G11 has a hot shoe for an external flash (I have the 270EX speedlite – teeny tiny but oh so nice), the articulating screen (the only thing I wish my G9 would have had), the zoom is just a little better and it has a usable view finder.

    I wouldn’t say that it feels heavier than other cameras, to me it feels *sturdier*. It fits very nicely in my hand, and fits in my purse easily!

    When deciding I liked this review:

    Happy shopping!

  • 48 Maura // Dec 15, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I am going to Paris in march and I couldn’t be more excited! I am getting the Sxi for Christmas and I can’t wait to take pictures there:)

  • 49 Spiffy // Dec 15, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents about the awesomeness of the Panasonic Lumix. I used to have an old version of the Lumix DMC- something…don’t remember the number.

    Mine was just a simple model – built in flash, only 3ish megapixels. The pictures came out incredible. The color saturation was fantastic. It was very easy and straightforward to use.

    These aren’t the best of the bunch (which I keep in a separate account) but most of these were taken with the Lumix:

    You can also do a Flickr search for the camera model you’re interested in and get pictures that were taken with that particular camera. I realize a lot of them might be corrected ones, but at least you get a general idea of the picture quality.

    Lumix for the win!

  • 50 jessie // Dec 17, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I would go with the S90IS because of the image stabilization and the lower f/stop lens. The S90 is f/2.0 and the G11 is f/2.8. I know it doesn’t seem like much difference but in low light it could actually make a big difference (you really should get that 50mm f/1.8 lens on your wishlist). I am a Canon fan and only buy Canons because I’m familiar with their menus (they’re all pretty much the same) and when trying to select the right settings quickly so I don’t miss a shot, similarity between the cameras that I use counts for a lot. Since you have a Rebel for your dSLR, I think sticking with Canon over the Lumix might be a good idea.

    Actually, I’m adding this to my Amazon wishlist because it would be awesome to have a P&S that shoots in RAW! :)

  • 51 Rachel // Dec 17, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    My husband is a photographer – has his own Canon 5D….after doing much research he bought me the Lumix. The video feature is AMAZING! and the pictures are good too.

  • 52 Jason // Dec 18, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I am in the same predicament. I shoot mostly with a big heavy DSLR and want something to carry around at all times, that is good in low light. I initially bought the G11 but found it too bulky. So I returned it and am going for the S90 now. It has the same sensor and a slightly faster lens which should make it great for when you don’t want to use flash.

  • 53 Doug // Dec 20, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    If you already own a DSLR, and have a few lenses to go with it, you should look into a Four Thirds camera. There are only a few on the market, but they’re produced by the most respectable brands.

    Four Thirds cameras are slightly larger than a typical P&S, have a larger sensor than a P&S, and take pictures on-par with a DSLR. The real winner feature, in my mind, is they have interchangeable lenses. For a good starting point, check out the article at

    Also a few other reviews of the cameras you mentioned in your post:–pro-point+and+shoot-yes-pleeeeease

    Good luck with your search!

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