The successor to the image-stabilised S1 IS has more than just a slightly expanded waistline. The Canon PowerShot S2 IS boasts an upgrade to a 5-megapixel sensor (from 3.2), a 12x zoom lens (up from 10x), and a 46mm (1.8-inch) LCD (versus 38mm). A Digic II processor and a high-speed USB connection quicken things up. Add a full complement of manual controls, as well as high-quality video with stereo sound, and the S2 IS is sure to find its way into the hands of photo enthusiasts who want to shoot long and print big.
The Canon PowerShot S2 IS is well designed and feels well balanced, even for one-handed shooting. The S2's silver plastic body is well built, although we'd prefer a lens cap that snapped on more securely. It's slightly larger and heavier than its predecessor -- at 513g with four AA batteries and an SD card installed -- but not enough to be noticeable. What users familiar with the S1 will notice is a larger 46mm tilt-and-swivel LCD, a minor step up from 38mm and certainly no match for the Sony DSC-H1's 64mm LCD. However, the ability to rotate the LCD and fold it inward to protect the screen is almost worth putting up with a smaller monitor. The electronic viewfinder (EVF), with its adjustable dioptre, is larger and seems brighter than the Sony DSC-H1's, though.
The variety of buttons, dials and levers are well positioned, although the sound/flash button to the left of the pop-up flash may initially escape your attention. Other standard controls include a small four-way rocker, as well as display and menu buttons. A Function button takes you directly to the most frequently used settings, such as ISO speed, white balance, image size, compression and exposure compensation. You can also customise a separate shortcut button to access a single function.
Canon has improved the operation of the S2's Jump button. You can now scroll through images in multiples of 10 or 100 as well as by date or go directly to a video clip. Furthermore, shooting spontaneous movies doesn't get any easier than this -- there's a single button that will begin recording regardless of your current mode. Keep in mind that you'll need a high-capacity, high-speed SD card (at least 60x) to make the most of this camera's features. Add a set or two of nickel-metal-hydride rechargeables and a charger, too -- the S2 IS comes with alkalines only.