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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.

|  Canon Canon IXUS 310 HS in Compact Cameras
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Canon IXUS 310 HS front lens

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 front

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.

Canon IXUS 310 HS top

Key features:

  • 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
  • Movie Digest
  • iFrame movie
  • Creative modes & manual control
Canon IXUS 310 HS rear

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 battery

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.

Canon IXUS 310 HS wide-angle   Canon IXUS 310 HS optical zoom
Wide-angle, ISO320, 1/1250, f/2.8, 4.3mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)   Full optical zoom, ISO200, 1/400, f/5.8, 18.8mm (35mm equiv: 105mm)
Canon IXUS 310 HS digital zoom   Canon IXUS 310 HS macro
Optical and digital zoom, ISO200, 1/200, f/5.8, 18.8mm (35mm equiv: 105mm)   Macro, ISO100, 1/60, f/2.8, 4.3mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)

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.

Canon IXUS 310 HS ISO100 Canon IXUS 310 HS ISO200 Canon IXUS 310 HS ISO400
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)
Canon IXUS 310 HS ISO800 Canon IXUS 310 HS ISO1600 Canon IXUS 310 HS ISO3200
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.

Canon IXUS 310 HS portrait with flash   Canon IXUS 310 HS landscape mode
Portrait with flash, ISO125, 1/60, f/5, 14mm (35mm equiv: 75mm)   Landscape mode, ISO200, 1/800, f/2.8, 4.3mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)
Canon IXUS 310 HS shutter priority mode   Canon IXUS 310 HS low light
Shutter priority mode, ISO250, 1/1000, f/4.5, 11mm (35mm equiv: 59mm)   Low Light, ISO1600, 1/30, f/2, 4.3mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)

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.

Canon IXUS 310 HS Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting   Canon IXUS 310 HS Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting, ISO100, 1/10, f/4, 8mm (35mm equiv: 45mm)   Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light, ISO100, 1/8, f/4, 8mm (35mm equiv: 45mm)
Canon IXUS 310 HS Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light   Canon IXUS 310 HS Fluorescent White Balance - Fluorescent Light
Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light, ISO100, 1/3, f/4, 8mm (35mm equiv: 45mm)   Fluorescent White Balance - Fluorescent Light, ISO100, 1/3, 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.

Canon IXUS 310 HS monochrome   Canon IXUS 310 HS super vivid
Monochrome, ISO100, 1/1250, f/2.8, 4.3mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)   Super Vivid, ISO100, 1/1600, f/2.8, 4.3mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)
Canon IXUS 310 HS toy camera   Canon IXUS 310 HS miniature
Toy Camera, ISO100, 1/1250, f/2.8, 4.3mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)   Miniature, ISO100, 1/60, f/2.8, 4.3mm (35mm equiv: 24mm)

Video Mode

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

Canon IXUS 310 HS: Cons

Only 4.4x optical zoom
Quite a short battery life


Canon IXUS 310 HS: Specification

Price £244.99
Optical zoom 4.4x optical zoom, 4.3 - 18.8mm (35mm equiv: 24 - 105mm), f/2.0-5.8
Resolution 12.1 megapixel
Sensor size 1/2.3in
Sensor type CMOS
Max image size 4000 x 3000
Aspect ratio 4:3
Focusing system TTL
Focus points AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point), 1-point AF (fixed frame) or Touch AF with Object and Face Select and Track
Focus distance 3cm
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO100 - 3200
Metering system Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre or Touch AF frame)
Exposure compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments
Shutter speed range 15 - 1/1600sec
Frames-per-second Approx. 3.4 shots/sec, High-speed Burst (3.0MP): Approx. 8.0 shots/sec
Image stabilisation Yes (lens shift-type), Approx. 4-stop. Dynamic IS (in Movie)
Movie mode 1080p HD @ 24fps
Monitor 3.2in TFT Touch, 16:9 aspect ratio, approx. 461,000 dots
Media type SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HCMMCplus Memory Card
Interface Hi-Speed USB, HDMI Mini Connector
Power Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-6L
Box Contents Wrist strap, battery charger, battery pack, AV cable, interface cable, software
Size 100.6 x 55.4 x 25.0mm
Weight 185g
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