Canon S90/ S95, Canon S100, Canon G11/ G12 Underwater Settings

Settings for these popular cameras, and also the Canon S110 and Canon G15
By Scott Gietler

Recently I taught an underwater photography class where I was able to use a Canon S90 and a Canon G11 underwater for some time. Afterwards I did quite a few dives using Recsea & Ikelite Canon S95 housings, with Ikelite & Dyron macro & UWL-04 wide-angle lenses.


Here my recommended Canon S90 , Canon S95, Canon S100, Canon S110 and Canon G10 / G11 / G12 / G15 underwater settings, if you are using an external strobe or flash:


Canon S90/ S95 / S100, Canon G11/ G12 settings for Macro

  • Manual mode, F6.3, 1/500th, ISO 100; 

  • Zoom in half-way

  • Macro mode, auto white balance, flash on forced flash mode

  • Turn internal flash to it's lowest power setting

  • Strobe on manual power; adjust strobe power as needed

  • These cameras also have a great focus check feature

Further reading: Taking great underwater macro with a Canon G12


When using a diopter like the Dyron 67mm or Subsee macro lens

  • Zoom all the way in

  • Shoot at F8 for maximum depth of field

  • Keep macro mode on

  • Use a good focus light to help the camera focus


Canon S90/ S95 / S100, Canon G11/ G12 settings for wide-angle & fish

  • Manual mode, F6.3, 1/125th, ISO 100

  • Zoom out

  • ** Adjust shutter speed as needed to control background exposure

  • Auto white balance, flash on forced flash mode

  • Strobe on manual power; adjust strobe power as needed

  • Turn internal flash to it's lowest power setting

  • If you are using a fisheye lens or dome port, turn macro mode on


If you don't have an external strobe / flash

You are shooting with the internal flash. In manual mode, the camera won't set the exposure of the flash automatically, you'll have to set the flash power yourself, which is no fun. To get that capability, which is basically TTL with the internal flash, use Av Mode, F5.6. In bright conditions, use Av Mode, F8.


Shooting the Canon S90, S95 or S100 in RAW mode

I like shooting RAW, and I definitely recommend it especially when shooting ambient light photos underwater (flash off) with a Canon compact camera.


The Canon S90 lens has some severe barrel distortion when shot at it's widest setting. This is automatically correct in the LCD, jpeg files, and Raw files when using Canon's DPP program.


However, you'll see the barrel distortion if you open up a Canon RAW file in another RAW editor like Adobe photoshop. There it must be correctly manually (Image / Filter / Distort / Lens Correction). If you own a Canon S90 here's some more great reading.


Canon S90/ S95 / S100 Battery advice

If you are using the Canon supplied batteries, the battery life indicator is not accurate. Always change batteries after 2 dives.


Advanced Settings

Our compact camera moderators posted some of their favorite underwater camera settings for the Canon S90/ S95 in this thread


Got questions about using the Canon S90, Canon S95, Canon S100, Canon G11 or Canon G12 underwater?

Post a question in our forums, in the compact camera corner, or call the Canon experts at our sister site Bluewater Photo & Video.


Further Reading


Scott Gietler is the owner of Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel, and the Underwater Photography Guide. Bluewater Photo, based in Culver City, CA is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious underwater camera stores, serving many thousands of customers each year, where nothing is more important than customer service. The Underwater Photography Guide is the world’s first website to feature free tutorials on underwater photography, and has become the most trafficked resource on underwater photography worldwide. Bluewater Travel is a full-service dive travel wholesaler sending groups and individuals on the world’s best dive vacations. 

Scott is also an avid diver, underwater photographer, and budding marine biologist, having created the online guide to the underwater flora and fauna of Southern California. He is the past vice-president of the Los Angeles Underwater Photographic Society, has volunteered extensively at the Santa Monica aquarium, and is the creator of the Ocean Art underwater photo competition, one of the largest underwater international photo competitions ever held in terms of value of prizes. He lives in California with his wife, newborn girl and scuba-diving, photo taking 4 year old son.

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