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Canon Ixus 300 HS review

Canon IXUS 300 HS
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £304
inc VAT

Great looks and operational simplicity, plus image quality to rival enthusiast-oriented compacts – it’s a little on the pricey side though.


1/2.3in 10.0-megapixel sensor, 3.8x zoom (28-105mm equivalent), 175g

Ixus cameras are undeniably sleek, but comparisons with Canon’s own PowerShot range risks exposing them as an exercise in style over substance. This latest model aims to quell such aspersions with generous helpings of both. It’s a little heavier than other Ixus cameras but it looks and feels extremely luxurious. The LCD is a 3in widescreen and there’s an HDMI socket for HD playback. We particularly like the matt black paint job, although it did pick up a few scratches during testing.

Inside, there’s a 10-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor and wide-aperture lens, both of which should help reduce image noise in low light. Meanwhile, the HS suffix comes from the fact that this sensor is much faster than the CCDs used in other Canon compacts. This allows the camera to capture video at 240fps, playing back at 30fps to give 1/8-speed slow motion. Compressing 240fps video to AVC format is hard work, though, which explains why these clips are limited to a tiny 320×240-pixel resolution. The standard video mode is much better, capturing attractive 1280×720-pixel footage at 30fps with stereo sound.

It’s not particularly quick at taking photos. We measured 2.4 seconds to switch on and shoot and 2.5 seconds between shots. The autofocus was the main culprit, taking around a second to lock onto subjects. Flash photography was better, with gaps of under six seconds between shots with the flash at full power. The 2.6fps continuous mode is excellent but we couldn’t reproduce the claimed 3.7fps speed.

While the 300 HS has the credentials to compete with enthusiasts’ compact cameras such as the Canon PowerShot S90, operationally it’s very much a point-and-shoot model. The mode switch has just three options – Auto, Program and Video. The navigation pad doubles as a dial for adjusting settings but almost all photographic options require a trip to the menu.

It’s disappointing that the pad isn’t labelled. Clicking its top, bottom or sides accesses exposure compensation, macro, flash and display options, but the temporary on-screen graphic to advertise these functions is no substitute for proper labels. There’s a reasonable amount of photographic control including aperture- and shutter-priority modes, but no manual exposure or focus options. That’s no problem for casual snappers but this really isn’t a camera for those who like to tweak settings regularly.

Fortunately, the 300 HS took some beautiful photos on automatic settings. Colours were lush and a touch warmer than usual, especially in flash-lit skin tones, but the results were consistently flattering. Tricky lighting conditions such as high-contrast scenes and backlit portraits were handled elegantly, and there were hardly any duds in our hundreds of test shots.

Unlike other cameras we’ve seen with back-illuminated CMOS sensors, there was no discernable noise in brightly lit shots taken at the base ISO speed. Details weren’t as crisp as from other cameras at this price, such as the PowerShot S90, but the difference was pretty small. In low light, the back-illuminated sensor and wide aperture kept noise impressively low, but details were softer still – a side effect of noise-reduction processing.

These photos were better than those from most point-and-shoot cameras, but the difference wasn’t as big as we’d hoped. That’s partly because the Canon’s wide f/2 aperture is only available for wide-angle shots. Zoomed in, it narrows to f/5.3, which isn’t so remarkable. We also found that the automatic mode was overly cautious in its efforts to avoid blur, picking unnecessarily fast shutter and ISO speeds in low light.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ***
CCD effective megapixels 10.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.3in
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 230,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 3.8x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 28-105mm
Image stabilisation optical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution 3,648×2,736
Maximum movie resolution 1280×720
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 250 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material aluminium
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 175g
Size 54x100x24mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £304

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority
Shutter speed 15 to 1/2,000 seconds
Aperture range f/2-8 (wide), f/5.3-8 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 125 to 3200
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 5 presets, manual
Additional image controls none
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 3cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, face detect
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, smile detect