Canon IXUS 310 HS Digital Compact Camera Review - Daniel Bell reviews the IXUS 310 HS, a premium digital compact camera from Canon with a fast lens for low light photography and full HD video recording.
The Canon Digital IXUS 310 HS was released in February 2011 as part of Canon's range of premium compact cameras with a lens designed for taking great shots in low-light situations. It is available in silver, gold, brown and pink for £244.00. The Canon Digital IXUS 310 HS is also known as the Canon Powershot ELPH 500 HS in America.
Canon IXUS 310 HS: Features
The HS system helps take pictures in low light without relying on the use of the flash or a tripod. This is also helped by the f/2.0 lens which also increases the chances of taking excellent sharp shots of fast moving subjects. The lens is 4.3mm, 4.4x optical zoom which is a 35mm equivalent of 24 - 105mm. The camera has optical image stabilisation to reduce blur caused by camera shake.
The camera is housed in a stylish metal body and has a large 3.2in LCD touch screen on the rear.
The IXUS 310 HS shoots movies in full 1080p HD which also utilises the optical zoom lens and has dynamic image stabilisation.
Smart Auto selects from 32 scenes and sets the required settings. For extra creativity the camera has aperture and shutter speed priority modes. Other creative modes include Fish-eye, Miniature and Toy Camera Effects. High-speed Burst modes takes photos at up to 8.2fps or to slow down the action, Super Slow Motions Movie mode shoots and at 1/8 of the speed.
HS (High Speed) System
12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor (12.1 MP)
f/2.0, 24mm, 4.4x optical zoom lens
Stainless steel body
3.2in PureColor II touch LCD screen
Full HD with optical zoom and dynamic IS
Smart Auto (32 scenes)
High-speed Burst & Super Slow Motion Movie
Creative modes & manual control
Canon IXUS 310 HS: Handling
The camera is really well made, looks beautiful with its large touch screen on the rear and operating the camera with the screen is easy. Of the few physical buttons on the camera there is a dedicated button to switch the camera into Smart Auto mode. The buttons on the screen are labeled with big logos which are easy to understand and the writing is crisp and clear, making the camera menus easy to navigate.
The CIPA test results suggest the camera is able to take 180 shots on a single charge, this isn't many so it is likely to prove worthwhile investing in a spare battery. The camera is ready to take images within a couple of seconds and is quick from shot-to-shot. Using High-speed Burst mode the camera took 3 megapixel images at 6.5fps, in continuous shooting mode it took 12.1 megapixel images at 1.7fps without the flash and 0.65fps with the flash.
Canon IXUS 310 HS: Performance
When shooting at its widest the IXUS 310 HS produces images which have plenty of detail throughout, although in the example below there is a touch of lens flare and purple fringing in the trees. Detail is also good throughout the images produced when using the camera at its longest length. Using the digital zoom (18x), I was able to capture images which are fine for use on the web, which was also aided by image stabilisation. With a minimum focus distance of 3cm, the macro setting also produces very pleasant images.
There is no issue with noise at ISO100, with an increase seen at ISO200 and ISO400, but this doesn't have much of a negative impact on image quality. Detail starts to break down at ISO800 with a significant impact on the images at ISO1600 worse so at ISO3200. Colour retention is good throughout the high ISOs, there is clearly a loss in detail though.
ISO100, 1/3, f/5.8, 18.8mm (35mm equiv: 105mm)
ISO200, 1/6, f/5.8, 18.8mm (35mm equiv: 105mm)
ISO400, 1/13, f/5.8, 18.8mm (35mm equiv: 105mm)
ISO800, 1/25, f/5.8, 18.8mm (35mm equiv: 105mm)
ISO1600, 1/50, f/5.8, 18.8mm (35mm equiv: 105mm)
ISO3200, 1/100, f/5.8, 18.8mm (35mm equiv: 105mm)
The IXUS 310 HS reproduces colours really well and doesn't struggle in low-light thanks to its f/2.0 lens. The camera also has the ability to set the shutter speed or the aperture, as you can on a DSLR.
Portrait with flash, ISO125, 1/60, f/5, 14mm (35mm equiv: 75mm)
Under our incandescent lights in the studio the auto white-balance setting struggled and the incandescent preset gives a much better image. Under the fluorescent lights, the auto white-balance setting gives excellent results.
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting, ISO100, 1/10, f/4, 8mm (35mm equiv: 45mm)
The IXUS 310 HS has a range of creative modes such as Fish-eye, Miniature, Toy Camera and Creative Light Effects, as well as Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Colour Accent and Colour Swap. Below are examples using some of the modes.
The camera shoots full HD videos and also allows the use of optical (4.4x) and digital (18x) zoom and is supported by dual image stabilisation. Further videos can be seen on the ePHOTOzine YouTube channel.
Value For Money
The IXUS 310 HS is available for £244.99. Other compact cameras with fast lenses to consider are: Sony Cyber-shot WX10, 16.2 megapixel, 7x optical zoom f/2.4 at £249.99; Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX70, 14.1 megapixel, 5x optical zoom, f/2.2 at £223.99 and Nikon Coolpix P300, 12.2 megapixel, 4.2x optical zoom, f/1.8 at £244.99. All of these cameras record videos at full 1080p HD.
Canon IXUS 310 HS: Verdict
Thanks to its wealth of creative modes the IXUS 310 HS is an ideal camera for those who like the compact size but are keen to explore some of the advantages of a DSLR, with its shutter and aperture priority modes. The f/2.0 lens makes shooting in low light easy and delivers sharp images even without the use of flash in many lighting situations. The touch screen is both stylish and easy to use. The only downsides are the relatively short battery life and slightly restrictive 4.4x optical zoom.
The Canon IXUS 310 HS is an ideal camera for those who have a bigger budget and want more from a compact camera.
Canon IXUS 310 HS: Pros
Aperture and shutter priority modes
Full HD movies
Responsive touch screen
Plenty of creative filters
Well built and looks great