S90 RIP - thoughts on replacement (also second-hand)

My S90 has succumbed to the dreaded Canon 'lens error'. Not related to its latter flying career, just old-age I think.

I bought it used six years ago, so it's had a good run.

Looking at replacements, particularly on the used camera market. Any pointers or ideas at what I should be looking at?

I'm looking at a Ricoh GR APS-C and a Canon S120 at the moment (both second-hand). I shot most everything at wide-angle on the Canon anyway so fine with a prime lens.


  • If it were me rather than the Canon s120 I'd go with a used s110 or s100 (my s100 is still going fine). Both have gps and are supported by CHDK, which makes autokap and shutter triggering much easier as well as allowing use of WaterWingz KAPUAV script which automatically adjusts exposure, shutter speed and ISO for the best photos. The s120 has a later and different OS (DIGIC 6) and CHDK has not yet been ported (and might never be).
  • Agree with Dave.

    I have had good success with the S100 and CHDK.

  • The Canon PowerShot S series cameras are excellent - I've owned an S95 and S100 myself. If you upgrade to the S120 then you are still open to a lens bump and subsequent error. Mine are both dead through lens errors.

    My suggestion would be to source a Sony A5000 with the 16-50mm kit lens. I bought one in 2014 and it produces excellent pictures - jpeg and arw (Sony's raw) - and you can download an interval timer add-on for it from the Sony website (check the situation on this as it may not be an option any more).

    It is a very robust camera as I haven't always looked after it, tending just to throw it in my kite bag after use and not put it in a protective case. The rear screen bares all the scars of this ill treatment!
  • Good call, I had just assumed the S120 was supported by CHDK. I had been using the excellent KAP-UAV script with the S90.

    In fact by the time the CHDK issue had got through my thick skull I had already purchased the S120 locally. Happy with it for ground crew duties though, the 'bang for the buck' is immense with used Powershots.

    For the time being I have found an old (CHDK-supported) A3000 IS in our junk drawer, I can resurrect that with a cheap aftermarket battery for pennies and test as a dedicated KAP camera if it works out. It's pretty dinky and very light.

    Still kind of hankering after a Ricoh GR though. My how I used to fancy the 35mm GR in the 90s.
  • Oops, sorry for the delayed reply.....I am not KAPing these days, so only come by to browse every few weeks.

    I think the Ricoh GR and others in the Ricoh GR series with APS-C sensors are the ideal cameras for KAP, BAP, and PAP. I have also shot with several of the Sony mirrorless cameras, and while they are excellent cameras, I much prefer the Ricoh when weight is an issue. If a fixed 28mm equivalent lens works for you, the image quality, compactness, and reduced weight of the Ricohs simply cannot be beat.
  • edited May 2020
    The market for (used) KAP cameras has become a difficult playground during the last years. Camera that are lightweight, deliver good image quality (me speaking from a photographers POV), can shoot interval and are not too expensive (in case of a loss) are difficult to find. Or start dying from old age like your S90.

    The A3000 will probably disappoint you in terms of image quality if you are used to a S90, but it is better than nothing. Last year I was able to buy a S100 from German eBay for under 40€. It was not in perfect state (memory card has a hard time staying in the tray but manageable), but the lens is working flawlessly. You should be able to find something similar with a bit of time. This is already my second one, as the first became a battery eater (100->0 in under 1,5hrs of shooting - hardly enough for KAP) after I replaced the lens for I think the second time after it fell from the sky and showed the lens error twice.

    Ricoh GR is the best in terms of weight/image quality ratio, but even a GR I is still around 300€, thus something rather expensive to fall from the sky or get destroyed in a hard/wet landing (GRII is more expensive). GR III is heavier but with approx. 700€ an expensive gamble to fly. The Canon S- and G-Series with their great image quality have become heavier and heavier and - most important - don't support CHDK anymore after the S110. In my eyes the Sony RX100s (not all models shoot interval) are also too heavy compared to a Canon S90/100.
    Compromises seem to be the Lumix GM1 with 14mm (Micro 4/3) and the Fuji XF10 (APS-C like Ricoh GR and a bit cheaper 2nd hand), both around 275g but with large sensors (and interval shooting). Or the Sony RX0, small and lightweight and yet a 1" sensor, but also expensive (but in a robust housing - should be a manageable risk to fly), but I haven't tried this model yet and cannot tell about it's interval capabilities.
  • I was just curious to see what Ebay UK has to offer right now based on my previous and current ownership.

    Sony A5000 secondhand values appear quite strong (which I think is deserved) - not many inexpensive ones to be found.

    The Canon S100 PowerShot has less availability but prices are tempting! If I were able to get one for GBP75 then I'd be happy.

    The only potential bargain I can find right now is here. Canon S95 starting at GBP 22.50 or 'make an offer'. It doesn't have as a wide a lens as the S100 but the picture quality is equally as good.
  • edited May 2020
    Great information, thank you all!

    I flew the old Canon A3000 on Sunday, running Waterwingz' foolproof KAP-UAV script. Punchy, well exposed and sharp pics, but not quite the detail on the ground that the S90's bigger sensor brought out. Happy to keep it in the kite bag as a 'low-stakes' camera though.

    I sold on the S120 and put the funds towards a GR. First tests on the ground with the GR have already led to a few pics of pretty stunning quality (and a lot of duds TBH - the learning curve is a little steeper than with a Canon PAS).

    The GR flew yesterday, up to 80m in gusty winds at the edge of comfort for the little Kapfoil, but took no pics - I think the cable tie I used to secure the camera must have jogged the wrong button :(

    Used GR (first APS-C model) and A5000 seem to start in the low 200-Euro range here, with most Canon S100/110 around 100 Euros.
    Not many of those Canons on the market though, I imagine most folk keep them if they still work.
  • edited May 2020
    I have several Canon S100's with "Lens Error". Don't know how to fix them, hate to throw them away.
    If someone could figure out a simple solution, maybe mine, and other sitting in drawers, could be revived...
    As I recall, the fault was supposedly in a gear. A work around ....?
  • edited May 2020

    First flight test for the GR, backyard camping. Happy with the results :)
  • Not surprised you are pleased - very crisp photo!
  • Happy Campers !
    May I ask which GR, and which lens, you are using ?
  • It's the 2013 model GR (the first of the GR line with APS-C sensor). The lens is fixed 28mm equivalent.
    I tried to replicate the settings I had used with my previous shots using the KAP-UAV script on the Canons, so f4.0 and 1/1000s.
  • KapKev: Congratulations on catching a GR! The picture quality looks great indeed.

    Paul: A little while ago, replacement lens-sensor-units for the S100 were available for 20-40$ on eBay. Unfortunately, they seem to have been all sold now. And they were kind of a PITA to install, but it was manageable for me to perform this surgery twice. You could try if you find a replacement lens, Video tutorials are available on YouTube.
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