The SX230 is JPEG-only with no scope to record images as lossless Raw files. Given that competitor models like the Fujifilm F550 EXR do offer the option to record in Raw, it strikes us as something of an oversight on the part of Canon. That said, there is still plenty of scope to tinker with the way the SX230 records JPEGs - from compression levels to colour profiles.
While there are two levels of compression – Fine and Normal – the SX230 also offers a choice of four output sizes for each aspect ratio – Large, Medium1, Medium2 and Small. Used at maximum settings in its default aspect ratio of 4:3, the SX230 outputs at 4000 x 3000 pixels. It’s also possible to record in 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1 although these options all take a crop from the sensor, thereby reducing maximum output at the largest file size to 4000 x 2664 at 3:2, 4000 x 2248 at 16:9 and 2992 x 2992 at 1:1. For a full list of output sizes please refer to the specifications page of this review.
Colour profiles are chosen via the My Colours menu accessed via the FUNC button. Once in the My Colours sub-menu there are 12 individual colour profile settings to choose from: Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, B&W, Positive, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, plus Custom and Off options.
Choosing the right My Colour option is very much a matter of taste, and will also depend very much on the scene to be photographed, although all the options do produce quite markedly different results and what suits one particular scene might not suit another. For our part, we took a bit of a shine to the Vivid and Positive settings that both deliver a bit of extra punch to images without over-saturating things.
High definition movie recording is well catered for with a choice of either 1920 x 1080 Full HD at 24fps or 1280 x 720 HD at 30fps. In addition the SX230 can also be set to record 640 x 480 VGA and 320 x 240 QVGA movies, both at 30fps. Sound is recorded in stereo through two built-in microphones located to either side of the lens. Movies are recorded in the .MOV (.H264) format.
Those interested in capturing high-speed footage for slow-motion playback will be pleased to learn that the SX230 also features a Super Slow-Motion Movie recording feature that does exactly that, capturing the action at either 120fps at VGA quality or 240fps for QVGA movies.