Our Score


User Score

Review Price £230.82

A couple of years ago Canon stood as the undisputed leader in virtually all areas of the digital camera market, but it has recently seen that lead disappear under a relentless onslaught from its many determined rivals, particularly Panasonic, Samsung and Sony. Even Canon's prestigious Digital IXUS range, the benchmark of luxury compacts for over a decade, has seen its prices undercut and its position challenged by cameras such as the Panasonic FX60, the Sony WX1, the Samsung WB1000 and even the outstanding Casio EX-Z2000. There are really only two ways that Canon can respond to this; it can either cut its prices, or try to beat the opposition on features, performance and image quality. Typically, Canon has done both. First, it has introduced a couple of relatively affordable entry-level models including the IXUS 105. Second, it has launched a new flagship model for the IXUS range, the 300 HS which I'm looking at today.

Canon IXUS 300 HS front angle

The IXUS 300 HS has a specification which, at least at first glance, doesn't appear to be all that impressive. It has a 10.0-megapixel sensor, a 3.8x zoom lens and a 3.0-inch 230k monitor. However when you look a bit closer at the technical details things start to look a bit more interesting. The sensor is a newly-designed back-illuminated CMOS chip, offering significantly better light-gathering capabilities than conventional designs. The lens has a focal length range equivalent to 28-105mm, but more importantly it has a maximum aperture of an exceptionally fast f/2 at wide angle, again improving the low light performance. Special features include 720p HD video with stereo sound, 240fps high-speed video, 3.7fps full-resolution still shooting and optional manual exposure modes.

Canon IXUS 300 HS front

Of course all that super-fast technology doesn't come cheap, and the newly-launched IXUS 300 HS is currently priced at a whopping £379 from both high street and online retailers. That price will almost certainly drop over the next few months (the IXUS 120 IS was £260 in January and now sells for around £180), but at the moment it is the most expensive pocket compact on the market. It's only £40 less than the PowerShot G11, and there are quite a few digital SLRs that cost less. It's somewhat annoying to note that in America the IXUS 300 HS (known over there as the PowerShot SD4000) is priced at $349, which at the current exchange rate is equivalent to approximately £240. Rip-off Britain, anyone?

Next page


June 7, 2010, 9:32 pm

Isn't this camera basically the S90 without the ability to shoot RAW?

Tony Walker

June 8, 2010, 3:03 am

The very excellent (I bought one!) Panasonic TZ7 can now be had for under £200 which has to be a stonking bargain for a camera which would probably equal or better this one for image quality.


June 8, 2010, 3:27 am

How does the reader interpret the image quality score of 9 for 300 HS vs for thirds vs dslr aps sensor equipped products? Would be useful, in my opinion, to get a relative image score (against other compacts in its class) & also an absolute image quality score.

For example, does the Canon EOS 550D and Canon IXUS 300 HS (both score 9) have identical image quality if you review the output without regard for the device?

The image quality score interpretation will become even more confusing as future cameras do not fit comfortably into the existing categories, e.g. Sony NEX-5.


June 8, 2010, 2:53 pm

GerryD: IMO it would be impossible to have an "absolute" score for image quality; it can only be relative. For example if you were to use digital medium format cameras costing many thousands of pounds as the standard, then even the highest-end full-frame dSLRs would end up with a relatively average IQ score - which would hardly be fair.

Mike 39

June 8, 2010, 3:50 pm

Your review makes for interesting reading. I was looking forward to this review with anticipation, especially as it's the 1st compact Canon have used a CMOS sensor in so was expecting good things. I was disappointed to read the auto focus feature on this model as being 'sluggish' in low light conditions, as this is partly what this model was hailed as by Canon.AlsoI feel ( probably as will most member of the public who are interested in purchasing a compact), that the price this has debued at is just too high to be competative at present.I also feel Canon could have made the zoom more versatile, i.e. zooming in more than 3.8x, the wide angle bit is probably about right to avoid barrel distortion. Maybe they'll introduce a DIGIC 5 processor?!to speed opeartion up. I think these are my main bones of contention and until Canon improve on the overall perfromance of this camera, my money stays where it is! Come on Canon, i want to buy an IXUS with CMOS sensor as they're good, but just no way at this price for that tech spec!

Basil Speaks

June 11, 2010, 7:53 pm

"Isn't this camera basically the S90 without the ability to shoot RAW?"

While I can see why you might think that, it's not. The manual controls aren't as extensive or as accessible as on the S90 and this has HD video as well as a host of other modes made for the ixus user over more technical users. The sensors are also different, this is CMOS (like in SLRs), the S90 is a special CCD made for low light scenarios. Basically - this is for everyone (all be it a rich everyone), the S90 is more prosumer in my opinion.

Having used this out and about, it's stonking at low-light shots.

I've got an S90 and was very interested to see how the CMOS would work out in comparison and it does a great job. Easily one of the best low-light performers I've seen. Yes, it's expensive, but Canon always put a crazy entry price then slash it after not long at all.

I didn't get any lag with focus to be honest though did most of my shooting in a restaurant, so my tests weren't rigorous. It was just great having a pocketable, reasonable megapixeled camera that handles low-light and has stereo HD video. I really liked the size as well - MUCH more pocketable than my S90.

Oh, and having had a TZ7 before - yes, £200 is a good price for it, but this delivers MONUMENTALLY better low-light performance and I found it quite a bit zippier too.

dave 2

August 11, 2010, 11:14 pm

I have had this a month now and found it a excellent point and shoot with just enough to temp you into photography. I think it is awesome for the size. Lacks in the optical Zoom but has everything else, good low light performance and HS means exactly that it is fast. I have never been so excited after buying a product as i have this. I am now looking at photography totally in a differnet way. and have started playing with all the settings. Never been bothered before. This has made me want to get a Super-Zoom camera or even a beginners DSLR. :)

comments powered by Disqus