JR's s90 Journal - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.
Canon s90 Accessory Reviews

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Accessory Reviews

Reviews is what this page is all about. Reviews of accessories mostly, in the beginning. I hope other gizmos will eventually also become available and apparently useful enough to try out and report on — an optical viewfinder perhaps, together with some sort of flap over the LCD might help make this a killer camera for on-stage productions. This page is updated often.


S90 with Custom Grip - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Richard Franiec's S90 Custom Grip makes the s90 attractive and easy to hold in one hand.
Photos of my S90 shot with a Canon SD780.

The first S90 accessory I attempted was Richard Franiec's S90 Custom Grip that helps keep my fingers off the too-loose wheel on the back of the camera (See How to Fix below), and apparently it fits in many s90 compatible bags, although I usually park it in my pocket or dangle it from my neck.

Blue-tape Special - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blue Tape Special to insure correct placement

When I finally got brave enough to attempt semi-permanent attachment, I made several dry run placements — as Freniec suggests — before I peeled the backing off his glue. And each time, I managed to put it in a slightly different place. In the end, I put it exactly where it belonged pre-glue and taped it into place with blue painter's tape a couple inches along the inside, sloped edge (above), where I lifted and placed it back down several more times to make sure it settled into the exact same place every time. It did.

SD780 shot of Rubber-band Wound S90 - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Franiec does not suggest using this many rubber bands, but
my insecurity kept telling me nothing exceeds like excess.


Then, leaving my blue tape in place but with the grip folded back, I peeled both glue covers off the camera-side of the grip and settled it down exactly where I wanted it, pressing in all possible places much longer than Franiec suggest, all while holding the entire grip firmly to the s90 body.

Then I thoroughly wrapped it with my strongest rubber bands (above), where it stayed well past long enough to bond permanently. He suggests overnight. I, in my slight paranoia, left it nearly 20 hours. Before I attached the grip, it felt so small and insubstantial. I even worried about losing it.

Now the grip feels like it belonged there all along. Looks like it, too. Not at all sure why Canon didn't put one there, but Franiec's works fine. With the grip, the s90 is closer to a perfect, little Point+Shoot camera, and the grip's design seems to fit aesthetically with the shape of the camera

It feels smallish in my small hands. Big hands may find it too small. I'd wouldn't mind if it protruded foreward more, but then it would be forward of the retracted lens in the types of tight cases I'll probably never use.


LCD Hoods

The Hoodman HD300 attempt

Hoodman HD300  HoodMan HD300 Video

Even though Hoodman's HD200 was designed for video camera's with articulating side-mounted LCDs like the one in this grayed-out image, I thought it might be a good-enough fit for the s90. I thought it was only going to cost $20 to try it out, but then Calumet saddled me with a riddiculous $8 shipping fee.

I tried it several ways. It folds flat (easily fits into a pocket with the camera), attaches with elastic bands, provides a much longer light tunnel than the pop-up hoods, but the eye opening may still be too large. Some sort of plastic or cardboard frame might hold it in place, and provide even more LCD-darkening.

The elastic bands fits on each side of the lens, but it doesn't hold its rectangular shape and keeps wanting to flatten out. So it needs some sort of framework, and it wouldn't hurt if that partially obscurred all but the center of the eye-hole, but I haven't figured out how to do that, yet. The elastic bands come off, but I'd rather they were permanent.

X Stress - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cross-lens Tugability

The body areas on either side of the s90 are short of providing enough purchase for the elastic bands. My solution was to X them on the bottom, so they each tugged across the bottom of the Hood, holding it more firmly against either side of the lens protrusion without letting the bands slip off the front of the camera.

However, the rectangularity of the box does not stay in place. The Velcro that closes the rectangle never folds square. It wants to compress into a rhomboid, though it may straighten up after being pressed down by something heavy and flat for a couple weeks — maybe I should park my car on it.

It's not a great solution. It kept flexing back to rhomboid, and no matter how I stretched the straps, and they were always in the way of something important — the on/off switch or the shutter button — or both of those and/or the lens ring. As attached to my s90, the HoodMan always obscured important info on the LCD, like shooting aperture and shutter speeds, although I could see most of the LCD — better than if the sun were shining into it.

The several times I used it, it worked well for awhile, but it was a nuisance. I still carry it for emergency use in bright sunlight when I don't have the Hoodman Loupe taped and rubber banded to the camera [below], but I wish there were a better way. A semi-permanently attached HoodLoup [above] might be a lot better. But mine's for 2.5-inch LCDs and a 3-inch one is $80.

Here are several Hoodman possibilities: Hoodman H-300 $20 + $8 shipping from Calumet; Amazon's image for the Hoodman H300 is not a H300; Nikon HL-E2500 LCD Hood $10; Nikon HL-E5000 LCD Hood; 3-inch LCD Viewfinder Hood at Amazon — $12 — attaches with elastic strap; Hoodman Camcorder Hood for 3-inch LCD at Vistek - $30; and  the LCD4 Video - $12 on Amazon


I've had experience with two possible LCD shade or hood varieties, so far, but I'm still looking for a better one.

Hoodman Professional 3" LCD Screen Luoupe   HoodMan Pro

HoodLoup made of molded plastic, often with a magnifier — $80 — ePHOTOzine review

The loup is almost as big as the camera. Unless you have visual issues, you won't need the magnification, but it doesn't seem to get in the way, seems natural.

I bought a Hoodman's HoodLoupe for the 2.5-inch LCD on my D200 (3 inch here) many years ago and always found it annoying, because it doesn't attach (and if it did, I couldn't get my eye close to the optical viewfinder quickly enough), and I only have two hands, so balancing it on the LCD is a challenge. Originally an outrageous $70, I rarely used it, but got it out from deep storage to try on the s90 for sunshiny days.

If I could attach the old Hoodman with something secure enough — big rubber bands, maybe — and position it so it did not interfere with any of the buttons or dials, the camera might be easier to hold and much more easily viewable in bright light. But where would I store it, when all I wanted was the camera in my hand? The whole idea of a pocket camera is to keep it in a pocket. Hoodman solids don't go in pockets.

Hoodman Kludge - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hoodman Kludge

Story of the Hoodman Kludge

So I began to think how I could modify my s90, so I could. This is what I came up with so far. My Hoodman Pro for my Nikon with a 2.5-inch LCD, attached with rubber bands and wrapped with the plastic cord holding the Hoodman all held slightly more securely with tape grannied all over.

This is the shot of my absurdist adaptation..

s90 - Hoodman Kludge - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hoodman Kludge on S90

Last night we saw the Dallas Black Dance Theatre II dance amazingly. Before the program began, the emcee told the audience that if anyone wanted to photograph the dancers, that would be okay, but we should turn off our flashes. I thought that would be grand fun, until I remembered that I could not turn off the s90's LCD. It would be blazing bright in the darkness of the audience, distracting everyone in sight.

The s90 is rigged for silent running, but in darkness, it's bright. Even I would quietly loathe me for stirring up so much off-axis light. With my new Hooded s90, I might have been able to photograph the performance without annoying everyone. But I still need to darken the bright edges of the 3-inch LCD that glows around my old hood made for a 2.5-inch screen.

This kludge is an ugly start in an attractive direction. Later, maybe taping a dark frame around the edges will delete the rim of light around the hood, and I'll have a camera that can actually be used in bright sunlight. Taking these pix with my untrustworthy SD780, all I could see in its LCD was a gray dark mass. I kept wishing I had a Hoodkludge on it, so I could photo this. Next time I'll clean the hood before I shoot.

Note that the rubber bands do not interfere with any of the buttons — or even the battery / memory card latch. That's a minor miracle. I keep thinking that an s90 with EVF would be great, but then I'd want it to have no lag time and continuously shoot at something higher than 1 fps.



Review: What I've been using is the simple, unpadded ribbon neck-strap that came with my Opteka Premium Reference Cards (set of Black, White and Gray cards to use to correct colors by usint the Levels command in Photoshop). I removed the cards, Magic-Markered out all ten instances of their logo around the too-narrow, unadjustable strap, attached their clip to the s90's wrist strap, which I doubled through and granny-knotted into the strap to keep it in place.

It works adequately, but it is only a temporary solution. It's ugly and inelegant. It holds camera with Franiec's grip down, so it's easy to grab. In places where I'll use it often, I don't have to dangle it from my wrist, which I find a nuissance, and I don't have to stretch it into and out of pants pockets or have it fall out of shirt pockets when I lean over.

It only cost $13, and I still have the cards I bought the package for. But the more I use it, the less I like it. It will do until I figure out which of the many straps available I should get from one of the many strap places online.

So far, I know it needs some sort of padding for my back to distribute the little weight of the s90, but also to hold the strap in place, so it doesn't slide around. The strap should be thick enough not to feel like it is slicing into my flesh. And the length should be adjustable. None of which are true of the Opteka.


Review: The first additional battery I bought was a white Canon one from Amazon. It cost $39.75 and works exactly as well as the dark gray original. DPR Canon Forum regulars recommend SterlingTek's replacement for $20. There are cheaper ones.


Cases & bags


Soft CaseLogic bag

Review: I've only used two variations on the soft, gray Case Logic bags , which I bought for my Canon SD780 (and is here photographed with it) at Office Depot and some similar store. With the s90 in it, it feels bulky in my pocket but probably protects the LCD. It's not particularly easy to get the cam in or out, but it works good enough. Golla Digi Bags for $5 on sale were the cheapest I've seen, and some look about as good as this CaseLogic bag.


Eventually, I expect to try out and review a final-version CHDK [CHDK wiki explains a lot] for the s90, but it's still in beta. I used to beta-test software, and now I don't. I'll wait for further discussion, mostly on DPR, my most trusted forum.

The CHDK Install Guide [page confusingly called "Downloads - CHDK Wiki] helps us find the info we need to choose the right build; and Download [page called "CHDK Download - build 0.0.0, revision 885" and includes many CHDKs for many cameras — maybe all Canons] pages.


The Better, More Objective s90 Reviews Online, so far

Gail Bjork MacWorld  
ByThom (Hogan) NeoCamera
CameraLabs Neutral Day DPPhoto Journal lists reviews
CNET  CNET Asia   CNET UK PCAuthority (short) Digicamhelp
DigitalCameraInfo Photography Bay Thom Hogan
Digital Photography Interface Photography Blog MacWorld
Digital Photography Review PhotoReview Australia  
Enticing the Light Simply Electronics  
Gizmodo Steve's Cameras  
ImageResource TechRadar  
Luminous Landscape Wired.com  

As usual, DPR tells the truth about this not-perfect little camera. Their Final Word: "... It is, above all else, a great walkaround camera, capable of results (particularly at lower ISO settings) that most serious photographers would be more than happy with. The control system encourages photographic experimentation (unlike so many compacts, which simply make it too painful to work manually), but the automatic systems are also reliable — and intelligent — enough to give you great results if you prefer to just 'point and shoot'. The tiny body might not make for particularly good handling, but it's small enough to carry anywhere and the image quality it produces rarely disappoints." The Canon forum regulars are pouting, but even though I haven't read it all yet — and I will learn greatly about it when I do that repeatedly — I agree.

And more and more, I like this camera. Part of that is learning how it works and what it does when I try to make it do things it won't.

Ken Rockwell calls it "the world's best pocket camera", although he said the same thing about the Canon SD780 before I bought that one, and it definitely was not the world's best. Well, when it works, it is truly great. But very often the battery — even seconds after having been fully recharged — reports needing a new battery.


My personal take


s90 PROs

Easily adjustable controls



Too easily adjustable controls. It's easy to hit something while just holding the fool thing.

LCD is big and hi-resolution.

LCD difficult to see in direct sunlight.

The image brightness on the LCD does not necessarily match the resulting image on my monitor.

Image review only works in Auto & Custom modes.

Lots of controls to fiddle with, without dealing with menus Camera hard to hold without accidentally moving something
Wrist strap works pretty well. No lugs to connect to an around-the-neck camera strap
A cool camera That gets warm to the touch when it's used awhile.
The manual says the camera is limited to 8-gig cards. It works fine with my 16gig SDHC, but that's kinda overkill.
It's a great camera. But it's not a perfect camera.

Contact J R Compton via this site's Contact Me page.


 since April 29 2010