When John brought over his new Canon S90 point and shoot camera and was taking amazing photos in my dimly-lit apt without the flash, I was stunned. Quick shots in a low lit room without the blur and noise I get on my Canon SD1100 IS I’ve been using the past year. I ordered one immediately and got it today.

The photos below do have a few Photoshop tweaks, but I know I can get better shots than I did. I’m just learning it. Also note that these photos aren’t the best looking, but you had to be there to see what the real conditions were like. The last two were in super dim rooms. I could barely look at it in real life.

01) Chinese food shot on Auto mode in crappy florescent office lighting. It still looks better shot in natural light, but this is best I’ve seen in my office lighting on a point & shoot.

02) Toys showing the shallow depth of field (one part in focus and everything else gets blurrier), which is the magic to good food porn. You can control the F stop and aperture. I have this on f/2 which lets in a lot of light and gives the shallow depth of field.

03) Salt and Tobasco bottle in super dim living room. The kitchen light is on in the back and the TV is on to the side, but nothing on in the front. I had a hard time seeing the front of the salt and bottle with my own eyes. This is shot at 1000 ISO. Not very noisy at all compared to my older SD1100 IS, which got noisy at around 400. I have one S90 shot at 1600 and that seemed about as noisy as 400 on my old camera.

04) Another low light shot. This one at 640 ISO. This is handheld (as are all the other photos are). It took it pretty quick. About a second, compared to several seconds on the SD1100 IS of waiting around for it to take in or process. I would say the area of around the popcorn was about as dark as most NYC bars (as dark as Lit Lounge) and darker than any low-lit restaurant would ever be.

I’m sure I can do even better with all these shots by setting the aperture higher and ISO lower while propping the camera on something like a tripod. That’s going to take some practice. There is a Low Light (automatic) setting on the S90 that’s not bad, but I think you can do better Manually. As far as quick, non-obtrusive, low lit point and shoot goes, I can’t wait to try this out in a real restaurant and not have my flashes piss other diners or the staff. I always feel like I’m saving my best eating moments for when there is good lighting. Not so much anymore. Food bloggers take notice.

Canon PowerShot S90 on Amazon.com

About The Author

Jason Lam

Food blogger since 2008. Hair model since 2003.

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2 Responses

  1. Madeline

    I use the canon S90 too, but I’m not too savy with the technology. So, it’s hard from me to play with the settings – but yes – I do like the low light setting 🙂


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