One of the big plus points of the Canon S95 is the ability to shoot in Canon's raw .CR2 format. This is a great feature, and one that will be appreciated by all serious photographers.
Another high point is the lens. It's nice and bright at f/2.0 and thanks to the inbuilt image stabiliser, even shooting handheld at ISO 80/100 in a dimly-lit church provided usable and mostly steady results.
The Canon S95 doesn't have as many creative options as something like the Panasonic LX5, but the couple that it does have are quite fun. Fish-eye mode does a reasonable job of recreating an ultra wide angle lens, while miniature mode blurs the top and bottom of the frame for a tilt-shift type effect.
'Nostalgia' on the other hand desaturates the image on a sliding scale from slightly to completely greyscale and ups the grain to recreate a filmic look. Unfortunately, you can't shoot in RAW when using the creative modes, which is a shame as you might want to go back and use a normal version of the image at a later date.
It would have been nice to be able to change the autofocus point from the centre, rather than relying on half-press and reframe. This is something you should expect from a camera of this price, and is offered on similar high-end compacts from other manufacturers, such as the Panasonic LX5 and the Sigma DP2, so it's disappointing not to see it here.
Overall image quality is good. Colours are punchy and sharp. The auto white-balance can struggle a little in some conditions, another good reason to shoot in RAW. Distortion at the wide-angle end of the zoom range appears to be at a minimum and we also saw little evidence of fringing.
ISO can be increased in increments ranging from 80-3200. Noise only started to creep in from ISO 640 and was only distractingly noticeable from ISO 800 onwards – a solid performance from a compact.