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Canon IXUS 300 HS - Design and Features

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

As you'd be right to expect for such an inflated price, the build quality is superb and the overall design is stylish but functional. The body is all aluminium, and is available in either the rugged matt black seen here or in a sandblasted silver, glossy white or high gloss red finish. I've criticised some previous IXUS cameras for being slippery and difficult to hold, but the high-friction surface of the matt black version provides a very secure grip. Will the same be true of the red and white versions?

Canon IXUS 300 HS back

The shape of the body is quite complex, with both rounded and bevelled edges, but it has no protrusions and slips easily into a shirt pocket. It's quite small, measuring 100 x 54.1 x 23.6mm, although at 175g including battery and card it is quite heavy for its size. My only real criticism of the design is that the rounded shape and very small bottom panel make it tricky to balance the camera on a surface for self-timer shots.

The control layout is very simple and elegant. The top panel carries the shutter button with a rotary bezel for zoom control, the on/off button and a three-position slider switch to select video, standard shooting or easy auto modes. On the back there are only two buttons, one for the main menu and the other for playback mode, and a D-pad with a central function button and a rotating bezel. This is used to navigate the very attractively designed sidebar menu that controls all of the camera's main shooting options, of which there are plenty.

Unusually for a pocket compact the IXUS 300 HS offers aperture priority and shutter priority shooting modes, as well as the usual program auto. It also has a wide range of scene modes and colour effects, and some fun filters, such as fish-eye effect and a “miniature” effect, previously seen on the PowerShot SX210 IS (and shamelessly nicked from the Ricoh CX3).

Canon IXUS 300 HS side

One stand-out feature is the video mode, which can shoot in 720p HD with stereo sound and full optical zoom. In video mode the zoom action slows down, making it quieter and smoother. Since the 300 HS has a CMOS sensor I was expecting it to suffer from the infamous “Jello effect” when shooting video, but it appears to avoid it somehow. It also has a high speed video mode which shoots at 240fps but plays back at 30fps, for an 8x slow motion effect.

CV

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.

GerryD

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.

MrGodfrey

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. :)

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