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Canon ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS Ken McMahon, Dec 2011
 
   
 

Canon ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS verdict

The ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS has become the best-selling point-and-shoot camera in Canon's 2011 range for good reason. It delivers a canny balance of a decent lens range in a slim package at an affordable price. Yes there are models with longer zooms, but they're more expensive and typically larger too.

But don't let the price fool you. The 5x optical zoom delivers a useful equivalent range of 24-120mm, which starts wider than many of the more expensive models in the current Canon lineup. Behind the lens lies a 12 Megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor which forms the backbone of the 2011 ELPH / IXUS range. Other headline features include a 2.7 inch screen and 1080p24 HD video as well as Super Slow Motion and Miniature mode movie options. It also includes many of Canon's ease of use and creative features including Scene detection in Smart Auto exposure mode, Smart shutter mode with smile shutter and face self-timer options and Creative Effect filters.

Only 20mm thick, the 300 HS / 220 HS is also one of the smallest models in the ELPH / IXUS range and capitalises on their reputation for good looks with an all-over textured surface. It offers a very compelling range of features at an attractive price, but by spending a little more you can go for the 8x ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS or, for a little less there's the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS which offers a very similar range of features with a 4x zoom. Let's see how they compare.

   
 

 

Compared to Canon ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS

     
 
 
     
     

The ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS and ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS are, on the surface, remarkably similar looking, but there are some very important differences.

The ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS, released earlier in 2011, has a 5x zoom lens, but though it lacks the telephoto reach of the 8x optical zoom on the ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS, it starts at a wider 24mm equivalent focal length. The ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS has a bigger 3 inch screen and a slighlty unorthodox control layout, with the menu and mode switch on the right side of the camera, but appearance and handling-wise they're very similar.

The ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS has Canon's new Intelligent IS system with Powered IS for movies, though, arguably, with a shorter telephoto range these aren't necessary on the ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS. You might expect the less expensive ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS to lack some of the ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS' movie modes, but it matches it frame for frame with 1080p24, iFrame format and the Super Slow Motion and Miniature modes. Essentially what the ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS offers above the ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS are the bigger screen, longer zoom range and stabilization features to go with it. One other thing to consider is that the picture quality of the ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS is slightly better than the ELPH 330 HS / IXUS 220 HS and, finally, there's the question of size. On paper it doesn't look like there's a great deal of difference in the dimensions of these two models, in your hand though, the ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS feels much more compact.

See my Canon ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS review for more details.

 

Compared to Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS

     
 
 
     

The ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS is the entry level ELPH IXUS from 2011. Only the 2010 PowerShot SD1300 / IXUS 105 sits below it in the current ELPH / IXUS line-up.

As such, you might expect to have to make a few compromises for this lower priced model, but as it turns out, aside from a slightly smaller 4x zoom range and fewer movie features (like no optical zoom during movie recording and a mono mic), the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS actually offers most of what the ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS does.

There's even a bigger 3 inch screen squeezed into a form that's the exact same size and weight as the ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS. So if you're happy to sacrifice the 24mm wide angle, stereo audio, movie zoom, Smart Auto video mode and iFrame encoding, (you get to keep the most important video feature - 1080p24 HD), the ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS is a bargain buy.

See my Canon ELPH 100 HS / IXUS 115 HS review for more details.

 

Canon ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS final verdict

The Canon ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS is a gorgeous little camera that seems to strike the perfect balance between size, features and ease of use. It's 2mm thinner than the ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS and slightly smaller in the other dimensions, and although that doesn't sound a lot, it makes a world of a difference in your hand, where it nestles snugly and feels rather nice too thanks to an all-over texture coating. This is a camera you really have to feel in your hand to appreciate.

But what about those features? The 5x optical zoom doesn't break any records, but its 24-120 range is extremely useful and wider than many other compacts this size offer. 1080p24 HD video is great, and the ability to shoot in Miniature and other scene modes plus Super Slow motion video, good quality audio, and iFrame editing options make this a very attractive model for those who value video as much or more than stills.

Throw in other ease of use and creative features like scene detect auto exposure, Smart Shutter modes, Movie digest and excellent image stabilisation it's hard to think of a reason not to like this stylish super-slim compact. There are a couple of negatives though. The 2.7 inch screen looks and feels a bit small on a compact that excels in so many other respects. And we've complained before about Canon's extended exposure mode menu that has everything arranged in one long long list, making some scene modes difficult to track down. Despite that, the ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS remains a beautifully designed and extremely capable compact and we have no hesitation in granting it our Highly Recommended award.

 



Good points
Super-slim stylish compact design.
24mm equivalent wide angle.
1080p24 movie mode.
Scene mode movies and super slo mo.
Excellent image quality.

Bad points
Relatively small 2.7inch screen.
Lengthy linear exposure mode menu.





Scores

(relative to 2011 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:
Handling:
Specification:
Value:

Overall:

18 / 20
18 / 20
16 / 20
17 / 20
17 / 20

86%


   

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