* Automatic focus (MF turned off) = 5cm (about 2 inches)
* Manual focus (MF turned on) = 10cm (about 4 inches)
The distances measured are from the subject to the front of the lens.
Automatic focus gets twice as close as manual focus! This is an interesting find, because I would tend to use manual focus to ensure that the object is in focus. Macro photography has a very short depth-of-field, and it is too easy to take out-of-focus photos. One of my frustrations with digital cameras is the lack of the split-image focusing aid found in SLR film cameras.
...macro photos, such as the crocus in spring snow (click image above to see larger photo).
One work-around is the Canon S1iS' Focus Bracketing, where it takes three photos: one closer, one on target, and one further away. (You can find that setting by pressing Func, scrolling down to BKT-Off, scrolling over to Focus-BKT, and then pressing SET.)
Meanwhile, Canon paints its Rebel DSLR camera black, and makes a big fuss over it.