"Excellent camera with MANY useful features and great software"5.0 starson by Peter Sanders
Pros: 12x zoom, excellent features, TWAIN driver for pc control
Cons: manual activation of flash, smallish LCD display
Summary: Let's be realistic here. The opinions and reviews comparing this Canon S3 IS to the Sony H5, are too much of a "mine's better than yours" foray.
As a previous owner of the Sony H1, I was about to gravitate, somewhat automatically to its successor the H2. Seeing that the H2's LCD display dropped from 2.5" to 2", that put me off. I handled the H2 as a preview to purchase but found the whole camera as well as the LCD display to be too small. I noticed and rread the review of the H5. This I thought would be the camera for me! The LCD display was 3", the sensor at 7.2mp were both a boost over the H1. I was "sold", or so I thought.
I clicked on a link to a Canon S3 IS review. I read the review, hmmm? sounds impressive this S3. I investigated the S3 a little more.
Now for most people that usually have 6x4 prints, anything with 3mp or more is adequate. So the H5's 7.2mp or the H2's and the S3's 6mp is more than sufficient.
All three of these cameras are magnificent in their capabilities. Each will produce excellent images. Sure there may be a minor advantage of one over the other for high ISO noise levesl, but hey, we should know that in this price bracket and camera level there will always be a compromise.
I must prefix much of the following review with the fact that I am and have been a Sony fanatic for as long as I can remember. It is with some disappointment then that I have to say that I chose the Canon S3 above the other two Sony models. The images I took with the 5mp Sony H1 are excellent. I expect any of these three cameras to do just as good or maybe slightly better (the 7.2mp would be nice).
I, like other reviewers here, looked at other cameras before deciding on the S3. The choice is not the easiest. I contemplated the following (amongst a few others), Sony H2, H5, Sony R1, Canon 350DS, Panasonic FZ7 and the Canon S3 IS.
As I said before each have their own pros and cons. The Sony R1 is a GREAT camera however as a fixed lens camera, for me a 5x zoom was not enough if I'm going to carry its 2 plus pounds weight. The 10mp and BIG APS sensor were very compelling features. The 350DS almost got my money. The optical viewfinder the solid feel, the fast continous capture capability and the interchangeable lenses are superb. However the interchangeable lenses were (foe me) also its downfall. I have for years prior to owning the Sony H1, been an SLR user. I sold my whole Pentax "kit" and moved on to an auto Pentax SLR - oh the convenience of point and shoot after years of lens changing exposure setting etc, etc.
So (for me) the DSLR's are out. They are all good - some better than others, BUT to get the capabities of 12x zoom, the lens cost can easily outweigh the cost of the camera.
So my choice came down to the Sony H5 and the Canon S3 IS. Do I want the extra 1.2mp and that extra 1" on the LCD display (hmmm? I do like that viewfinder)? Do I want better quality movies WITH STEREO SOUND, an intervalometer for picture sequences, a TWAIN driver to allow a computer to capture images a really "macro" macro capability a flexible LCD display and MANY great and useful camera options?
Well, the larger LCD display IS nice but I normally use the EVF for TAKING photo's the LCD display is used for just that, a display, to show images to others of the images taken. The Canons S3 LCD though smaller, is useful and it can be foded away for screen protection. The extra 1.2mp is of marginal benefit for most photo's offering only a slight improvement on enlarged images.
The intevalometer and the TWAIN driver to allow pc control of the S3 is something I find advantageous - though this is not for everybody.
The ability to take excellent movie clips is something very useful. There is of course a limit of 8 minutes at 640x48 at 30fps on a 1gb SD memory but most movie shots are far less than that anyway. A thirty second movie clip of the same scene seems a VERY long scene. So for holiday makers and quick home movie scenes this can be a very useful feature.
So as it turns out, the Canon S3 IS does it for me. This is not so much because "it's better" than the Sony et al, but because it offers the features and 12x zoom convenience that *I* want at a great price bracket.
On a featture by feature basis after lengthy reviews, I think the S3 has the advantage, but that 3" screen would have been nice.