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Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS Ken McMahon, Dec 2011
 
 

Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS review

The Canon ELPH 100 HS is a 12.1 Megapixel slim compact with a 4x stabilised zoom and a 3in screen. Announced in February 2011, it's the entry-level model in this year's ELPH / IXUS line-up and is known outside North America as the IXUS 115 HS. From now on I'll refer to it as the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS.

The first thing to be sacrificed on low-end models is usually the best quality video mode, but not so on the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS which shares the same 1080p24 best quality video mode of the other models in the 2011 range. It also has the same Super Slow Motion modes and can record movies using some scene presets including the faux tilt-shift Miniature mode.

The 28-112mm zoom lens is optically stabilised and, like all other HS models, the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS includes the Handheld Night Shot scene mode which combines three shots taken in quick succession to produce a single composite shot.

As you'd expect on an entry-level ELPH / IXUS, there's Smart Auto exposure mode with scene detection, face detect autofocus and a range of scene modes including what used to be known as Creative effects and Smart shutter with smile and wink self timer modes. With so much to offer does the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS add up to the best value for money choice in the range, or might you better off paying a little more? The ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS has proved a hugely popular model and the ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS provides an 8x zoom in a similar slim and stylish ELPH / IXUS body. Read our full review to see which of these three models has the best range of features for your budget.

   
 

Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS Design and controls

Measuring 93 x 56 x 20mm and weighing 140 grams including card and battery, the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS is pretty much the exact same weight, dimensions and shape as the next two models in the range - the ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS and ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS. The finishing is a little less luxurious, our silver review model had a gray plastic strip running along the top and down both sides, but the build quality is up to the usual ELPH / IXUS high standards and there's certainly nothing about it that says 'budget'. It's available in a range of colours including silver, grey and pink and with the optional WP-DC39 waterproof casing you can dive to a depth of 40 metres. If you don't want to go that deep, there's a less expensive WP-DC310L casing that's waterproof to a depth of three metres.

 
 

The 3 inch Purecolor II G LCD screen on the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS has 230k pixels and, though not as detailed as the 460k pixel screen of the ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS, provides a bright, contrasty view that's visible at most angles and in most conditions, with the usual exception of direct sunlight.

Like all 2011 IXUS models, the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS has a two way mode switch for selecting Smart Auto or the currently selected alternate shooting mode, be it Program Auto or one of the many scene modes. On the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS the mode switch is situated on the top panel next to the on/off button. The rear panel control layout is simple, with just the four-way controller, dedicated record, menu and playback buttons.

 
 
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The built-in flash is located on the extreme top left corner of the front panel and you need to take care to keep your fingers clear of it, though you soon get used to this. It has a maximum range of 4 Metres at the wide angle focal length. As well as Auto mode the flash can be forced on or off and has a slow synchro more for lighting foreground subjects while making the most of natural lighting. The ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS is also compatible with the HF-DC1 external flash.

There's a combined USB / AV out port and a mini HDMI connector under a flap on the right side of the body and you get a cable to connect the camera to your PC or a standard definition TV. The combined battery and card compartment is on the bottom panel. The ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS takes SD (HC and XC variants) and MMC (MMCplus and HCMMCplus variants) cards; Canon recommends Class 6 or faster to support the HD movies.

 

Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS lens and stabilisation

The 4x optical zoom on the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS ranges from 28-112mm. It's the narrowest zoom range on any ELPH / IXUS model in the current line-up and wins no prizes either for extreme wide angle view or telephoto reach, but at least you do get 28mm wide angle which was lacking from earlier Canon compacts, especially at the budget end of the range.

In use it's an excellent general purpose lens. The 28mm wide angle may not provide the super-wide field of view of the 24 - 120mm lens on the ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS, neither does it have the reach of the ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS' 28-224mm lens, but it's fine for general purpose shooting and perfectly adequate for everything from interiors, groups, and landscapes to portraits and pets. At f2.8 (when zoomed-out) it's reasonably fast too, allowing you to capture shots with faster shutter speeds and lower ISO settings than models with longer zooms and smaller maximum apertures.

ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS coverage wide
ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS coverage tele
5-20mm at 5mm (28mm equivalent)
  5-20mm at 20mm (112mm equivalent)

The ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS has Canon's Optical image stabilisation which has four positions: Off, Continuous, Shoot Only and Panning. To test the stabilisation on the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS I took a series of hand-held shots at different shutter speeds with the lens set to its maximum zoom setting of 112mm (equivalent), both with IS set to Continuous and turned off. The crops below are from shots taken at 1/8 with the IS turned off (left) and on Continuous (right). As you can see, the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS is capable of about 4 stops of stabilisation, an impressive performance

ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS 5-20mm f2.8-5.9 IS Off/On (Continuous)
100% crop, 5-20mm at 20mm, 400 ISO 1/8, IS off.
 
100% crop, 5-20mm at 20mm, 400 ISO 1/8, IS on.

Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS shooting modes

The ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS offers the same shooting modes as most other models in the IXUS Line-up, including the top of the range ELPH 510 HS / IXUS 1100 HS. With the mode switch set to Smart Auto the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS uses scene detection to determine the optimum exposure. The Digic 4 processor first determines whether there are people in the frame and if they are moving, then what the lighting conditions are and finally whether the camera is mounted on a tripod. It's quick and almost always accurate.

Program mode provides control over ISO sensitivity, white balance, colour rendering and some other settings but beyond exposure compensation there's no semi-automatic or manual control over exposure settings.

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The Creative filter effects include Monochrome, Toy Camera, Fish-eye, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Colour Accent, Colour Swap and Miniature. The ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS has a Handheld Night Scene mode which takes three shots in quick succession and composites them to produce a single image. Best Image Selection mode takes five shots in rapid succession and chooses the best one, which generally means the one with least camera shake and subject blur, and saves it to the card. It's useful in situations where the light means you can't be confident of getting a good shot, but the fact that it's limited to 3M resolution is somewhat disappointing.

The Smart Shutter scene mode is included which can fire the shutter up to 10 times when a smile is detected, and includes Face, Smile, and Wink self-timer functions so that you can include yourself in a group photo without dashing around like a lunatic. There's also Canon's innovative movie digest mode which saves a buffered movie clip of the action a few seconds prior to each still shot and combines them all into single movie.

 

Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS movie modes

The ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS has a best quality movie mode of 1080p24. That's right, the entry level ELPH / IXUS model has the same quality video as the top of the range ELPH 510 HS / IXUS 1100 HS that costs well over twice the price. Not many entry level compacts can boast progressive Full HD video, let alone the 24 frames per second variant so-beloved of movie makers for its 'film' look.

The ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS also includes the same Super Slow Motion and Miniature mode video options as on other ELPH / IXUS models, but there are some omissions. Probably the most significant is the absence of Smart Auto mode with scene detection for movie shooting. The ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS also lacks the editing-friendly iFrame format. On the hardware side, there's a mono mic instead of the twin stereo mics on higher end ELPH / IXUS models and sadly the optical zoom is disabled during movie shooting.

The maximum single clip length is 10 minutes in HD modes and just under an hour in standard resolution modes and Canon recommends using a Class 6 card or faster.


Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS sample video 1: outdoors, sunny, handheld pan with optical zoom
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Great quality in 1080p24 mode on the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS, but the thing that's conspicuous by its absence is the optical zoom. The 4x digital zoom is really no substitute.

 
Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS sample video 2: outdoors, sunny, tripod pan with optical zoom
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On this tripod-mounted panning shot above, the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS auto exposure is responsive and the CMOS sensor copes well with the bright highlights.

 
Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS sample video 3: indoors, low-light, handheld pan
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A little bit of stepping is evident in this interior hand-held panning shot above as the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS adjusts exposure. Audio quality from the mono mic is good.

 
Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS sample video 4: Miniature effect
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Like all the current ELPH / IXUS models, the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS can shoot in miniature mode at 720p resolution if you set the still photo aspect ratio to 16:9 first that is, otherwise it defaults to VGA (640 x 480). This clip was shot in the 10x speed mode.

 

Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS handling

Once you've pressed the on/off button the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS is ready to take a shot in two seconds, which is about average for a compact in this class. The single speed zoom covers the 4x optical range swiftly and smoothly and has good nudge control for precise framing.

     
     

The menu button activates a two-tab screen for shooting settings and camera settings; the former for changing things like the Autofocus, digital zoom, red-eye correction and IS mode and the latter for date and time settings, card formatting and power saving among other things. From here you can also turn the menu hints and tips off when you no longer feel the need of their assistance.

All the shooting modes are now on the Func menu, activated by pressing the centre button on the four-way controller. This is now standard on the ELPH / IXUS range, but I think it's a retrograde step. With more than twenty shooting modes to scroll through, including High Speed burst, Super Slow Motion Movie and what used to be a separate Creative Effects category it can take a while to locate the one you want.

In continuous shooting drive mode the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS managed a sustained rate of 2.3 frames per second, some way short of the 3.4fps claimed. In High-speed Burst mode our review model managed 6.4fps, again, short of the published rate of 8.2fps.

The ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS has a 12.1 Megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor which produces 4:3 still images with a maximum size of 4000 x 3000 pixels and has two JPEG compression quality settings. On the best quality fine setting image file size around 3MB. The sensitivity range is 100 to 3200 ISO and the shutter speed range is 15 seconds to 1/1500.

To see how the quality of the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS measures-up in practice, take a look at our real-life resolution and high ISO noise results pages, browse the sample images gallery, or skip to the chase and head straight for our verdict.


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