Summary

Our Score

8/10

User Score

Review Price £244.99

A press of the power button and, provided date and time have already been set, at just over a second the camera is ready for action. A half press of the shutter release button and, after the briefest of pauses, focus and exposure are determined, the camera signalling the fact with a cheery bleep. A neat feature is the ability to tap an object on screen for the camera to bias focus toward. If you subsequently alter your framing and move the camera in doing so, the AF point will perform a little dance across the screen as it attempts to keep tabs on the object you originally selected. Take the shot and a maximum resolution JPEG is committed to memory in two to three seconds.

Like most of its rivals, when it comes to making function selections, it takes a while to get used to the responsiveness of the Canon's touch screen. Sometimes it is tricky to avoid shooting past the setting you want, whilst conversely at times you have to stroke the screen several times to prompt it to move a little faster, particularly with regards to the function toolbar. At points this made us wish for a dedicated shooting mode dial purely as a time saver, or a Quick Menu button to jump to key settings, as on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX77. Whilst doing away with most physical controls can make for a cool design and a minimalist appearance, when you're in a hurry to find the setting you want it can be a little frustrating.

The main talking point of the touch screen is further user-customisation in that icons for various camera settings can be arranged in the order of the user's preference if the default settings don't suit. Touch Actions and Tap Control functionality also allow captured images to be flicked through with a finger swipe; the screen responding nigh instantly. That said, when stroking a finger down a side bar it is sometimes tricky to reach the option you wanted without inadvertently selecting something else on the way.

Thanks to the expected inclusion of a Smart Auto mode which recognises common scenes and subjects matches them up with 32 presets for optimal results, it really is point and shoot all the way with this camera, as is the case with all Canon IXUS's, which are typically as much about form as function. Canon's technology proves as consistently reliable as any other intelligent Auto option, so use of the IXUS really is a no brainer. The 'Smart' feature also works when shooting video, the camera again automatically making its adjustments. Though we wouldn't expect much in the way of manual control from an IXUS, the 310 HS does feature limited control over the likes of shutter speed and aperture, again located among the shooting mode icons which are sufficiently large to prevent selecting the one adjacent to the one you actually wanted.

In terms of image quality the IXUS 310 HS really impressed us with sharp, detailed images as hopefully our test examples clearly display, though familiar bugbears like pixel fringing do rear their ugly head on occasion, as do leaning verticals when shooting at maximum wideangle - albeit most notably on man made as opposed to natural structures. Video also looks good, with natural, faithful colour rendition. For low light shooting, that combination of a bright f/2.0 maximum aperture and an ISO range that for the most part remains resolutely noise free as you work your way up through the higher settings indicates this camera is rather better than most of your standard point and shoots.

Verdict

You'll already have an opinion on whether a touch screen camera is for you, or if dedicated controls feel more familiar and make for quicker operation. We're slightly torn ourselves. The larger virtual buttons work well, but the smaller ones can actually slow operation down as you have to be quite careful in making a selection. We actually like the approach Panasonic takes on its Lumix pocket compacts, with touch screen buttons being mostly a doubling up of physical buttons alongside the LCD. Some functions are quicker to use with actual buttons - others with a swipe of a finger; but ultimately the user can choose what works best, and quickest for them. As buttons are few and far between on this IXUS, you're more totally reliant on the screen, even with its quirks.

This attention grabbing facet of the camera's design aside, the IXUS 310 HS is fairly future proofed by virtue of shoehorning in most of the latest must haves, even if, probably because Canon doesn't have a vested interest in flogging televisions, we don't get a 3D shooting mode option. Ultimately, by incorporating both fun and creative features alongside its basic point and shoot functionality, and delivering impressive results in both daylight and low light at the press of a button, this IXUS is a no brainer choice for those wanting point and shoot simplicity yet results that are a cut above the norm.

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joose

March 24, 2011, 4:01 pm

Thanks for improving the iso test subject :)

Brian ONeill

March 24, 2011, 6:45 pm

I got the new Canon IXUS 220 HS. I must admit I love the ultra compact ixus models, they rock.

Metalex

March 24, 2011, 6:53 pm

@joose - +1 :)

Mike 39

March 24, 2011, 11:36 pm

Unless I have missed something in your review, there appears to be no mention of battery life on this camera? How many pictures will it take before requiring a recharge on flash and non flash use? Otherwise Canon at last seem to have produced a compact camera that I will probably go for!

Money

March 25, 2011, 1:10 am

@ Gavin: Yeah, the Photo test is better;
but I would prefer to see less white and more darker color sections,
this way, we can judge the level of image noise for ourselves.
Thanks,
and the reviews are getting better.

Cliff

March 25, 2011, 2:04 am

I don't think this point can be laboured - the improvements to this site come from your feedback. Keep letting us know what you want and we'll aim to please.

dantheman

March 25, 2011, 10:08 pm

I don't understand how this can been seen as such great value compared to the other canon compacts. The 220 HS and the 115 HS have pretty much the same specs (full HD video, HS sensor, image stabiliser) and are much cheaper. A quick pricerunner search reveals the 220 HS at £165 delivered! How does a slightly faster lens and larger lcd justify such a hike in price? This model is not nearly as compact as the other two.

Mike 39

March 27, 2011, 2:41 pm

@dantheman,in theory, I take your point, however, having looked at the two other models you mention on paper and at my local store ( albeit only the 220 & 115 ( as the 310 doesn't appear to be stocked) yet, I think it looks heaps better. Personally I actually prefer the slightly larger/chunkier model of the 310 as compared to the other two as I feel it gives a more (pyschological) feeling of a better build and easier to handle!However if memory serves correctly, the 220 does have a slight edge on the 310 with a slightly more pwoerful zoom on it? Anyway, as mentinoed in my last comment posted, I would be very grateful if TR would kindly 'complete' their review of the 310 and indicate what the battery life is like on this model? i.e. how many shots it manages on a full charge with flash used and without flash. The Canon stated spec is about 180 shots, however, always the realist myself, I seldom take much notice of manufacturers claimed performance ( for obvious reasons) and very much rely on independent reviews form bodies like yoursleves to help make my mind up about a product.

dantheman

March 31, 2011, 4:46 am

ixus 220 compared to the 310;

92x55x19 mm vs 100x55x25 mm

Around 30% smaller
Significantly lighter 141 g vs 185 g

More than 20% lighter
Thinner 0.8" vs 1"

More than 20% thinner
Cheaper £173.99 vs £249.99

I suppose it comes down to the 310 having a touchscreen, a larger, higher res monitor and a slightly faster lens. Personally, a touch screen would put me off buying the more expensive 310. A higher resolution monitor is always nice but for me, its not worth £100 more.
It would be nice if trusted reviews did an in depth review of the 220 hs, i think it will be a massively popular camera.

Mike 39

March 31, 2011, 12:27 pm

@dantheman, I guess it comes down to personal taste! I would prefer the option like Panasonic have done and provided an option to use buttons aswell as a touch screen, but since they haven't...! Still I'll go and look at model at my local shop and go from there!

Mike 39

April 10, 2011, 2:49 pm

Interesting that since emailing TR direct approx 3 weeks ago to mention the lack of review on the battery life on this model, this still is apparently not been done or not shown on here, despite being told that they would contact the reviewer and ask them to include it! I notice that this has been left out for the review for the HS 115 & 220 aswell, is this something that you don't include in your reviews as a matter of course? or has it just been overlooked? As I mentioned previously, surely this is as useful information to be included in your reviews as all the other info? as apart from the manufacturer's stated stats for battery life, what other independent information do we have to go on?

Wilson

August 17, 2013, 5:25 pm

Lots of pictures of the camera but none of pics taken by the camera. Pity.
I have one by the way, it's great but not as shap as the lumix compact it replaced.

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