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Canon IXUS 310 HS / PowerShot ELPH 500 HS Ken McMahon, June 2011
 
   
 

Canon IXUS 310 HS / PowerShot ELPH 500 HS verdict

The Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS is a 12.1 megapixel compact with a 4.4x zoom lens and a 3.2 inch touch-screen. This latest touch-screen Canon is packed with features that will appeal to both casual snappers with a little extra to spend as well as photo enthusiasts.

The zoom lens provides a 24mm super-wide-angle field of view and has Canon's optical image stabilisation for stills and Dynamic IS for movies. It's optically bright too at f2.0 when zoomed-out.

As well as fully automatic operation with Scene detection and Face AiAF it has Program auto and Aperture and Shutter priority semi-auto modes. Preset modes include Handheld Night Scene, which produces a composite image from a sequence, and a range of creative filter effects. The IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS can also shoot Full HD quality video at 1080p and additionally has a super Slow motion movie mode.

   
 

 

Compared to Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10

     
 
 
     
     

The most striking difference between the Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS and Sony Cyber-shot TX10 is size. At only 18mm thick and weighing significantly less, the Cyber-shot TX10 will confortably sit a shirt or trouser pocket. Being waterproof there are also other places it can go where the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS can't follow. That's not just useful at the seaside or ski-slopes, as you can use it without worrying in a rain shower or dusty environment.

In terms of other features, the two cameras have similar zoom ranges, the wide touch screens are similarly proportioned and both can be used to touch focus and are similar in terms of their tactile response, but I found the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS's bright contrasty screen much easier to see outdoors than the Cyber-shot TX10's

Both cameras have a low light mode that produces a 'stacked' or composite image and both are stuffed with creative features. The Cyber-shot TX10 includes 3D shooting modes and iSweep Panorama compared with the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS's creative filter effects and movie digest. One thing that may make a difference to enthusiasts is that the Cyber-shot TX10 lacks the semi auto exposure modes available on the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS. The latter also provides more versatile movie shooting options via scene modes.

Finally, the Cyber-shot TX10 has a larger 16.2 Megapixel sensor, which means you can make bigger prints. As our image quality tests show though, the higher pixel density on the Cyber-shot TX10's sensor has a negative impact on image quality. When zoomed-out, the Canon can also exploit lower ISO sensitivities thanks to a brighter lens focal ratio, making it the preferred choice in low light overall. But the slim, waterproof body with Sony's trademark styling is certainly very appealing.

See our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10 review.

 

Compared to Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78

     
 
 
     
 

The Panasonic Lumix FX77 / FX78 is, like the Cyber-shot TX10, smaller than the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS, but the difference here isn't so great. Its zoom lens starts at the same 4.3 (24mm equivalent) super-wide angle, but extends a little further at the tele end with 120mm equivalent. When zoomed-out though, the Canon can exploit lower ISO sensitivities thanks to a brighter lens focal ratio, making it preferrable in low light.

Like both the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS and the Cyber-shot TX10 it uses a CMOS sensor, giving it comparaible (albeit slightly more versatile) burst shooting options and it has a low-light composite mode, but at reduced resolution.

Like the Cyber-shot TX10, the Lumix FX77 / FX78 has a 3D shooting mode, but it lacks the range and scope of scene modes and fun creative options provided by the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS. It offers good quality HD video and you can take stills and use the zoom while shooting, plus if offers two encoding modes, AVCHD and MJPEG, which could be useful if you plan on doing a lot of editing, but lacks the versatile video shooting options provided by the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS's scene modes as sell as its semi-auto exposure modes.

See our upcoming Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX77 / FX78 review for more details.



Canon IXUS 310 HS / PowerShot ELPH 500 HS verdict

The Canon IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS is a very capable compact that's bound to attract a dedicated following across the spectrum from casual snappers looking for a stylish compact with top quality video recording, to enthusiasts who want a a little bit of extra control over exposure and focusing along with some neat features that allow for easy experimentation.

One of the best things about it is the lens. Other compacts share the super wide-angle 24mm, but only the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS couples it with a bright f2.0 maximum aperture (at 24mm), making a solid foundation for exceptional low-light performance augmented by features like solid optical image stabilisation, good noise performance and a low light composite mode. The thing you have to remember is under the same conditions, the Canon can simply gather more light than most rivals with its brighter f2 lens (at least when zoomed-out to wide angle), allowing it to select quicker shutter speeds to better avoid shake and or lower ISO sensitivities for better quality. It's an important advantage in low light.

The lack of a physical movie recording button takes a little getting used to, but the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS is in every other respect an excellent video camera with Full HD 1080p resolution at 24fps, Dynamic image stabilisation and the ability to record using many of the still image scene modes.

For those who just want to point-and-shoot, the Auto mode with scene detection and Face AiAF, not to mention the smart shutter mode keep it simple, while a wide range of scene modes provide the opportunity for creative fun without a lot of hassle. All of which goes to make the IXUS 310 HS / ELPH 500 HS an all-round great performer deserving of our Highly Recommended award.

 



Good points
24mm super-wide-angle.
Fast f2.0 aperture (when zoomed-out)
1080p movies at 24fps.
Excellent still and movie quality.

Bad points
Touch screen a little insensitive.
No physical movie record button.
Relatively large and heavy.



Scores

(relative to 2011 compacts)

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

Overall:

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

83%


   

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