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Canon ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS Ken McMahon, Nov 2011
 
   
 

Canon ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS verdict

The Canon ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS is a 12.1 Megapixel super-slim compact with an 8x optical zoom lens and a 3 inch LCD screen. Measuring 96 x 57 x 22mm and weighing 140g with card and battery it isn't the slimmest or lightest IXUS ever produced, but it's close, and for a camera that packs an 8x zoom and a 3 inch screen that's a remarkable feat of miniaturisation.

With an 8x optical zoom in a very compact body stability could be a problem, but Canon has upgraded its optical IS system making it more versatile as well as easier to use. Panning in both landscape and portrait orientations is automatically detected and there's a new Powered IS option for additional stability at the telephoto end of the zoom range while shooting movies.

The ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS 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. It can shoot 1080p HD video at 24 frames per second and also has Super Slow Motion and Miniature mode options. Now let's see how it compares to other models in the Canon range.

   

 

Compared to Canon ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 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 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS also has a smaller 2.7 inch screen and a slighlty different control layout, with the same buttons in different places, but appearance and handling-wise they're very similar.

The ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS lacks the new Intelligent IS system (though it does have the older optical image stabilizer) and it doesn't have Powered IS for movies, though arguably doesn't need it with a shorter telephoto range. You might also 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 longer zoom range and stabilization features to go with it.

Many will however be satisfied by the shorter range of the ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS and the lower price given it's been out for around six months longer. Indeed at the time of writing, it was one of the best-selling point-and-shoot compacts around.

For more details, see my upcoming Canon ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS review.

 

Compared to Canon ELPH 510 HS / IXUS 1100 HS

     
 
 
     

The ELPH 510 HS / IXUS 1100 HS is a step up from the ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS in a number of ways. For starters, its 3.2 inch 16:9 touch-screen makes it a very different camera in handling terms to the ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS.

Then there's the 12x zoom lens which starts at the same 28mm wide angle as the ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS, but extends all the way to the equivalent of 336mm. The bigger screen and longer zoom mean that the ELPH 510 HS / IXUS 1100 HS is a slightly bigger and significantly heavier compact than the ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS, but it's still not what you'd call bulky and in fact is one of the slimmest compacts on the market with a zoom in this range.

These two models share the same sensor and Digic 4 processor and the features are very similar. They both offer Smart Auto mode with scene detection, face detect AF, Smart shutter functions and Creative Filter Effects. Of course the touch screen on the ELPH 510 HS / IXUS 1100 HS provides it with the more intuitive touch-to-focus feature.

The video modes are identical with a best quality setting of 1080p24 along with super slow motion and miniature effect modes. Both also offer Canon's new Intelligent IS stabilisation with Powered IS for added stability when shooting movies at the full telephoto reach of their respective lenses.

The touch screen technology and extended zoom capabilities carry a significant price premium, but if you like the idea of touch screen control and a powerful zoom in an ultra compact format the ELPH 510 HS / IXUS 1100 HS is worth considering.

For more details see my upcoming Canon ELPH 510 HS / IXUS 1100 HS review.

 

Canon ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS verdict

The Canon ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 HS sits more or less in the middle of the ELPH / IXUS range in terms of price and features. The stand-out features it offers are an excellent zoom range and versatile movie shooting options packed into a slim and attractive body. Added to these it has 'Intelligent' optical image stabilsation which makes it easier to get steady shots when shooting hand-held. It lacks any kind of manual or semi-auto exposure control and is really aimed at point and shoot photographers looking for a longer than average zoom without the added bulk and complication that often entails.

The ELPH 310 HS / IXUS 230 IS includes all of the ease of use and creative features you'd expect to find in a premium compact from Canon and is especially strong on movie features with its innovative Movie Digest mode, Super Slow Motion and Miniature modes and of course a best quality mode of 1080p24. Being in the middle of the range, there are compelling alternatives in both directions; the cheaper ELPH 300 HS / IXUS 220 HS with a shorter zoom range and slightly smaller screen, and the touch-screen 12x ELPH 510 HS / IXUS 1100 HS. But if you're looking for a classy point-and-shoot with excellent video features and a longer than average zoom it's a pretty compelling proposition in its own right.

 



Good points
8x zoom with intelligent optical stabiliser.
Super-slim stylish compact design.
1080p24 movie mode.
Creative filter effects.

Bad points
Lens suffers from chromatic aberration.
Lengthy linear exposure mode menu.
Poor audio quality on movies.




Scores

(relative to 2011 compacts)

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

Overall:

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

85%


   

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