Join ePHOTOzine, the friendliest photography community.
Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more for free!
|Canon Ixus 300 HS: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.|
Canon's Ixus range of compact digital cameras have long offered a simple to use, yet high quality route into digital photography. The Ixus 300 HS builds on this by offering a 10 megapixel sensor which promises to perform well in low light, a bright f/2.0 aperture lens with a 28mm equivalent angle of view and creative controls such as aperture and shutter priority. Costing £319 and sitting at the top of Canon's Ixus range, the camera promises to offer a compact solution for those either looking for a great quality compact camera, or for more demanding users looking for a truly pocketable camera to compliment their existing kit. This camera promises to be quite a tasty product indeed, but the proof in the pudding is in the eating. Gary Wolstenholme tucks in to see if Canon's latest compact offering really is as sweet as it looks.
Canon Ixus 300 HS: Features
Although a 3.8x zoom range may be modest by today's standards of superzoom compacts, the 28mm equivalent wide angle will be very useful when faced with shooting in a tight spot. The bright f/2.0 aperture should mean it will be possible to take pictures at ISO sensitivities a full stop lower than equivalent lenses with an aperture of f/2.8, which should mean less noise in low light conditions, and greater flash range. Canon's optical image stabilisation system should also mean there is less chance of camera shake ruining your shots.
By keeping the pixel count fairly modest at 10 megapixels, using back-illuminated CMOS sensor technology the new DIGIC 4 processing engine, this camera can take full resolution images up to ISO3200. This should be very useful for capturing images indoors under natural light, or even after dark.
High speed continuous shooting is possible at a speed of 3.7 frames per second, which is quite impressive for a compact of this class. If the resolution is dropped to 2.5Mp, then action stopping performance of up to 8.4 frames per second is possible, which may not seem that impressive, but this resolution is plenty enough for standard print sizes at a high street lab or for sharing on the web.
A 3inch Purecolor LCD 16:9 ratio screen dominates the rear, which is bright, clear and very easy to see, even in bright sunlight. The 16:9 ratio is great for video HD video recording, but less so for shooting at full resolution, as much of the screen is lost to black bars at either side of the screen, reducing the usable viewing area.
As well as sporting plenty of creative controls, such as aperture and shutter priority for more demanding photographers, there is also a smart auto mode to cater for those who wish to simply point and shoot. This mode uses scene detection technology to ensure the correct exposure and colour tone is applied. In use I found it worked well, enabling face detection where needed and adding a good amount of contrast to landscape images.
Canon Ixus 300 HS: Handling
The curved stainless steel body feels very solid indeed and the textured finish applied to the surface allow for a good grip of the camera. For it's size the Ixus 300HS is quite heavy, at 175g including the battery, which adds to the quality feel.
The only flat surfaces on this Ixus is the LCD screen and a slim section at the base. I found the curves of the body fit my hand very well indeed. The only drawback I found with this design is that the base is too slim for the camera to stand up when placed on a flat surface when the lens is extended, which may mean that self-timer holiday shot you were hoping to take isn't possible without a support.
The handling of this camera is great, with all the controls well spaced out and easy to operate, even with my fat fingers. A small jog wheel is used to scroll through menus and it can be pressed in the direction of your choice if that is your preferred method of navigation. Overall I found the menus system to be very simple and straightforward. Owners of previous Canon compacts, whether they be Ixus or Powershot, will feel right at home with this camera.
Canon Ixus 300 HS: Performance
For the past couple of years, almost every Canon Ixus I've had the pleasure of trying out has been a a very responsive camera and a joy to use. This Ixus is no exception, starting up quickly and rapidly attaining focus. The face detection system works well when your subject is facing the camera as well. Even in lowish light conditions, the AF performs well, thanks in part to the bright aperture lens and the bright orange AF assist illuminator. In fact the orange light is so bright that people would be forgiven for thinking your were stealing people's souls with a death ray of some kind on a night out, but at least it works well.
A wide range of subjects are dealt with capably by the exposure system, so much so that I rarely found myself wanting to use exposure compensation at all, even in fairly high contrast situations. Even in quite low light conditions this Ixus is capable of striking an excellent balance between falsh and ambient exposures, making it perfect for night-time snapshots, even if you've had a few glasses of pop.
Despite the reserved pixel count, images display an excellent amount of detail, with excellent sharpness, contrast and dynamic range for a compact. Skin tones are rendered particularly well, with the camera holding back a little of the colour saturation, without leaving images looking flat.
Vibrant colours are reproduced in a way that has plenty of impact, without being over saturated as many other compacts can sometimes be. This adds to the level of detail apparent in images as primary colours barely ever show evidence of clipping. Again, this kind of behaviour will suit all but the most demanding photographers, who would probably want to be able to shoot RAW anyway.
ISO and noise performance
Overall the noise performance of the Ixus 300HS is quite impressive for a compact. Noise starts to become apparent from ISO800 in the shadows, but it is still very well controlled. By ISO 1600 there is a little more noise, and evidence of fairly aggressive colour noise reduction is evident causing high contrast edges to blur a little, but images are still more than acceptable at this high sensitivity. ISO3200 results in visibly softer images, but again the performance is not bad when compared to other compacts, or even SLR cameras from a few years ago.
|Canon Ixus 300 HS
Outdoor ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
|Canon Ixus 300 HS
Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Under a range of different lighting conditions, the Ixus 300HS Auto White Balance performs reasonably well, often just leaving a trace of a warm cast under incandescent light, and a slight coolness under the warm white fluorescents we have in our studio. The respective presets for each kind of light work well, maybe erring on the cool side a little.
Buffer read/write times
With a decent high speed card installed, such as the class 6 SDHC used in testing, the shot to shot delay in single shot mode is around 1.1 seconds, which is a good performance for a compact of any class. I generally found the camera to be very responsive, displaying the image taken almost instantly, probably thanks to the new DIGIC 4 processor.
Canon have made much of the lens fitted to the Ixus 300HS, mainly due to its bright maximum aperture at the shortest focal length, which should help greatly in low light conditions. Images produced by the camera display excellent levels of sharpness from edge to edge and only a slight hint of barrel distortion is evident at the widest angle.
Even in high contrast situations, I didn't notice any evidence of chromatic aberrations, which is often the bane of compact camera optics.
Canon Ixus 300 HS: Verdict
Sitting at the top of the Ixus range, the 300HS has a premium price tag, which I feel is justified by the performance alone. Hopefully other manufacturers who continue to squeeze as many pixies (sorry, pixels) into their cameras as possible will take note as this approach often isn't the route to best quality.
Besides the excellent image quality, the camera's build quality is superb being made of excellent materials. It feels like it is built to last, and with image quality as good as this it should give those who purchase this camera enjoyment for a long time to come.
The buy cheap, buy twice mantra is certainly applicable in this case. If you can stretch to the £319 required for this camera, it may well be worth it.
|Canon Ixus 300 HS: Pros|
|Excellent image quality for a compact|
|Good dynamic range|
|Bright f/2 aperture|
|Great noise performance for a compact|
|Creative aperture and shutter priority modes|
|Fantastic build quality|
|Canon Ixus 300 HS: Cons
|16:9 screen ratio means only a small portion of the screen is used when shooting at full resolution|
|Slim base means camera topples over|
|No RAW file format|
|What comes in the box||Charger, Li-Ion Battery, USB Cable, Software, Manual|
|Lens||4.9 – 18.6 mm (35 mm equivalent: 28 – 105 mm) 3.8x zoom|
|Maximum Aperture||f/2.0 – f/5.3|
|Sensor size||1/2.3 type|
|Sensor type||Back-illuminated CMOS|
|Max. Image size||3648 x 2736|
|Aspect ratio||4:3, 16:9|
|LCD monitor size||3.0inch|
|Focusing system||Contrast Detection|
|Focusing modes||AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point), 1-point AF (fixed to centre)|
|Metering modes||Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre)|
|White-balance||Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom|
|Exposure compensation||+/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments|
|Shutter speed range||15 – 1/2500 sec|
|Continuous shooting||Approx. 3.7 shots/sec, High-speed Burst (2.5MP): Approx. 8.4 shots/sec.|
|Anti-shake mode||In lens Image Stabiliser|
|Movie mode||(HD) 1280 x 720, 30 fps, (L) 640 x 480, 30 fps, (M) 320 x 240, 30 fps, (Super Slow Motion Movie) 320 x 240, 240 fps|
|Monitor||7.5 cm (3.0”) PureColor II G (TFT), 16:9 aspect ratio, Approx. 230,000 dots|
|Media type||SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HCMMCplus|
|Interface||Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible)|
|Power||Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-6L|
|Size (wxdxl)||100.0 x 54.1 x 23.6 mm|
|Weight (with battery)||175 g|
The Canon Ixus 300 HS costs £319 and is available from Warehouse Express here: