A slimline digicam with a large, high-resolution touch-screen, plenty of manual controls for still photography and support for Full HD video recording.Essentially an update to the Ixus 300 HS, Canon's new 12.1-megapixel Ixus 310 HS provides a slightly higher-resolution sensor, a wider zoom range and a larger LCD monitor with higher resolution and a widescreen aspect ratio. Canon has also improved the new camera's video capabilities by adding Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) recording at 24 fps to the previous model's 720p capabilities. . . [more]
Essentially an update to the Ixus 300 HS, Canon's new 12.1-megapixel Ixus 310 HS provides a slightly higher-resolution sensor, a wider zoom range and a larger LCD monitor with higher resolution and a widescreen aspect ratio. Canon has also improved the new camera's video capabilities by adding Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) recording at 24 fps to the previous model's 720p capabilities.
Build and Ergonomics
In line with other Ixus models, the Ixus 310 HS has a stainless steel and plastic body with a front plate that comes in brushed silver only. The few, relatively minor changes to the overall styling have retained the essential Ixus features of the previous model.
The corners on the Ixus 310 HS are slightly more rounded and the flash is completely integrated into the front panel. But otherwise the overall design is largely unchanged.
Front view of the Ixus 310 HS. (Source: Canon.)
The new camera features the same 461,000-dot touch screen as the Ixus 210 IS Touch. The monitor covers the entire rear panel of the new camera, leaving no space for any button controls, except a prominent Play button that sits by the lower right corner of the screen.
Rear view of the Ixus 310 HS showing the large touch-screen monitor. (Source: Canon.)
As in the Ixus 210 IS, most functions are controlled through the touch panel via three operations: touch, double-tap and drag. However, Canon has added the ability to customise the touch screen interface by arranging the icons to suit the user's convenience. Otherwise, the interface resembles the Ixus 210 IS's.
The top panel of the Ixus 310 HS. (Source: Canon.)
The top panel layout is the same as on the Ixus 300 HS with some minor cosmetic modifications. The zoom lever protrudes upwards instead of forwards and the shapes of the recessed buttons on the top panel are slightly different. The mode switch slider has only two positions (instead of three) and lets you select between the camera manual and auto shooting modes. Movie recording must be accessed via the touch screen.
The 4.4x optical zoom lens retracts into the camera body and has a double barrel that protrudes roughly 21 mm when the camera is switched on, extending by a couple of millimetres when the lens is zoomed right in. The zoom range extends from 4.3mm (equivalent to 24mm in 35mm format) to 18.8mm (equivalent to 105mm in 35mm format). The minimum aperture is f/8 throughout the zoom range.
The Ixus 310 HS and included hardware. (Source: Canon.)
The Ixus 310 HS is supplied with a wrist strap, rechargeable battery and charger, cables and a software disk. The user manual is provided in PDF format on the software disk but a brief 'Getting Started' leaflet is included with the camera.
In camera manual mode you can choose from 14 shooting modes: P, Av, Tv, Movie Digest, Portrait, Kids & Pets, Smart Shutter, High-speed Burst, Best Image Selection, Handheld Night Scene, Low light, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Creative Light Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Colour Accent, Colour Swap, Beach, Underwater, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, iFrame Movie and Super Slow Motion Movie.
The illustrations above show the distortions produced by the Fish-eye effect, which was applied for the lower shot.
New additions include the Movie Digest and iFrame Movie settings. The former enables users to record a short movie of the day by taking still pictures. Each time a shot is taken, a VGA movie clip of between two and four seconds is captured just before the shutter is released. The clips are combined into a single file at the end of the day and can be played back by selecting the date on which the video was recorded.
The iFrame Movie mode is designed to simplify and speed up the process of importing, editing and sharing video clips for users of Apple devices. Clips recorded in this mode are set to 1280 x 720 pixels and you can record for approximately 13 minutes and 35 seconds on a 4GB card. Clips can be edited with iFrame-compatible software, including the ZoomBrowser and ImageBrowser applications supplied with the camera.
The Super Slow Motion Movie provides a choice between two resolutions and frame rates: 120 fps at 320 x 240 pixels and 240fps at 640 x 480 pixels. Maximum clip length is 30 seconds and playback times are two and four minutes respectively.
In Av mode you can set apertures in 1/3EV increments, giving you more precision than most digicams offer. But, you quickly run out of options. At the 4.3mm (wide) focal length, apertures range from f/2 to f/8 but by 18.8mm the maximum aperture closes to f/5.8.
In the Tv mode shutter speeds range from 15 seconds to 1/1000 second in 1/3EV steps, regardless of the zoom setting. Unfortunately, you can't adjust ISO settings for shutter speeds slower than one second, which rather limits the camera's ability to be used for long exposures. The ISO defaults to 100 in such situations, which can lead to under-exposure in low-light situations because of the limited range aperture settings outlined above.
The camera includes a couple of new low-light modes but neither provides much in the way of adjustability. The Low Light mode increases sensitivity while the Handheld Night Scene mode records a rapid sequence of up to six frames and combines them into a single image file, minimising blurring due to camera shake and reducing image noise.
Both settings push sensitivity levels upwards, although the Handheld Night Scene mode can use slower shutter speeds so sensitivity isn't boosted by as much as it is in the Low Light mode. Going by our tests, if ambient lighting is adequate, the resulting images could have minimal apparent noise.
However, Night shots out of doors will usually be noise-affected and will probably appear a little unsharp. In the Handheld Night Scene mode any moving subjects in the sequence of shots is recorded will be blurred.
Another novel addition is the Creative Light Effect, which lets you alter the shapes of points of light in the backgrounds in night shots. Six options are available: star, heart, cross, musical note, double-heart and bird.
In the Best Image Selection mode, the camera will record five frames and automatically select and save the one that looks the best, based on facial expressions, lighting and whether subjects' eyes are open. Image size is fixed at 1984 x 1488 pixels for all shots taken with this mode.
When you use the High-speed Burst mode, the camera will capture shots at up to 8.2 frames/second for as long as you hold the shutter button down. Image size is fixed at 1984 x 1488 pixels and all the shots in each burst are saved as a group, although only the first image in the burst is displayed.
You can play images individually on the camera by dragging left or right across the screen or you can ungroup the images to view and use them individually. Deleting one image in a group, automatically deletes all the others in the same group (unless the burst has been ungrouped).
Other shooting modes have been provided in previous Canon cameras, although the Ixus 310 HS goes a step further than previous models by enabling users to choose between three frame sizes for the area that will be blurred in the Miniature Effect mode. They can also drag the frame up or down the screen with the touch controls and switch between vertical and horizontal orientation for the blurred section of the image.
Sliding the mode switch to the Auto position sets the camera to the Intelligent Auto mode, which includes Scene Detection. In this mode, the camera will automatically select the appropriate settings for the type of scene detected from a database of 32 pre-sets. An icon for the selected scene type is displayed in the top left corner of the touch screen.
Auto image rotation is supported and the camera will re-orientate shots so they display right way up if you turn the screen through 90 degrees. As in previous models, it takes a second or so to sort out which way to rotate shots.
We experienced some problems with the review camera's menu system, which kept switching the date stamp function on, even though it had been off the last time the camera was used. As a consequence, some of the sample images published with this review carry date stamps.
Sensor and Image Processing
The 1/2.3-inch type back-illuminated CMOS sensor appears to be the same sensor as used in the Ixus 115 HS, Ixus 220 HS, PowerShot SX230 HS and PowerShot SX220 HS, all of which were announced on 7 February. Offering an effective resolution of 12.1 megapixels, it is coupled with a DIGIC 4 image processor with iSAPS technology.
Canon's iSAPS technology makes use of a database of photographic information gathered over a number of years using statistical analyses of the correlations between focal length or zoom position, surrounding brightness, and subject-to-camera distance. This database underpins the scene prediction system in the Auto shooting mode. It also applies optimised algorithms when calculating auto exposure and auto white balance settings for each shot, according to the shooting mode selected by the user.
Like other Ixus models, the Ixus 310 HS is a JPEG-only camera. Four image sizes are supported in each of four aspect ratios and users can choose between two compression ratios. Typical sizes for the 4:3 aspect ratio (the default setting) are shown in the table below.
4000 x 3000
2816 x 2112
1600 x 1200
640 x 480
Movie clips are recorded in the easily-edited MOV using H/264 compression. The Ixus 310 HS provides four resolution settings and two frame rates for normal shooting plus the two options for slow motion movies via the shooting modes outlined above.
SD Speed Class 6 or higher memory cards are recommended. Recording ceases when the clip file size reached 4GB or after roughly 10 minutes with the two HD modes or one hour for SD recordings. The table below shows typical recording times for a 4GB memory card.
Recording time on a 4GB card
1920 x 1080
14 minutes 34 seconds
1280 x 720
20 minutes 43 seconds
640 x 480
43 minutes 43 seconds
320 x 240
1 hour, 58 min., 19 sec.
You can use the zoom lens while recording movies, although some sounds may be captured on the soundtrack. Most of the shooting modes can also be used when shooting movies and the Touch AF function can be used to set focus at the start of each clips. The AF Lock will also work in movie mode.
Playback and Software
Nothing much has changed here. Playback options are essentially unchanged from the Ixus 210 IS and include single and index displays, searching by scrolling, up to 10x playback zoom and advancing and reversing through magnified images.
The software disk contains the standard Canon Digital Camera applications, which includes an electronic version of the full user manual in PDF format plus the latest versions of ZoomBrowser EX (Windows) and ImageBrowser (Macintosh) for organising and editing images, movies and slideshows, or creating and printing digital photo albums. A Personal Printing Guide is also provided, along with a software guide plus the PhotoStitch panorama stitching application.
Pictures straight out of the review camera were a little soft but saturation was relatively restrained for a small-sensor digicam. This was confirmed by our Imatest testing, which showed colour accuracy to be better than average for this class of camera. Exposure levels were also consistent and generally correct across a wide variety of subjects.
Imatest showed resolution to be slightly below expectations for a 12-megapixel camera, although edge softening was minimal across all focal lengths. Best overall performance was obtained at the widest apertures for all focal length settings. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.
Low light performance was above average, particularly between ISO 80 and ISO 200. Resolution began to decline at ISO 400 and fell sharply thereafter, although noise wasn't particularly visible in most test shots, except when slow shutter speeds were used.
Dark-frame subtraction noise-reduction processing is applied for exposures longer than about one second. This doubles processing times and can lead to visible softening, particularly with high ISO settings. The graph below shows the results of our tests.
Lateral chromatic aberration was mostly in the ‘low' band but extended into the 'moderate' band at shorter focal lengths. However, very little coloured fringing could be seen when test shots were enlarged to 100%. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.
Close-up performance was impressive, provided the focusing was set to 'macro' and subjects were within the 3 cm focusing limit. The built-in flash had difficulty providing enough light for our test shots at ISO 100 but thereafter delivered well-balanced exposures. Flash shots taken with the highest ISO settings fared slightly better than long exposures but were still a little soft.
The review camera's auto white balance was unable to correct the orange cast of incandescent lighting but produced close-to-natural colours under fluorescent lights. Corrections provided by the pre-sets and Custom measurement produced neutral colours with both lighting types.
Video quality was generally good and at their best, HD clips (both resolution settings) were as sharp as we would have expected on the basis of the still images from the review camera. VGA and QVGA clips were much as you would expect and only suitable for viewing on small screens.
The camera was able to maintain focus during zooming, provided the zoom wasn't fast. Contrast suffered a little at full tele zoom and a few compression artefacts could be seen in some clips. Sound tracks were better than average, although wind noise was picked up in outdoor shots. No wind cut filter is provided.
Our timing tests were conducted with a 32GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC UHS-1card, the fastest card the camera could use. This card probably accounts, at least to some extent, for the faster overall response times we found for the review camera.
The review camera powered up ready for shooting in approximately 0.7 seconds and we measured an average capture lag of 0.2 seconds, which was reduced to less than 0.1 second when shots were pre-focused. Shot-to-shot times averaged 1.7 seconds. High-resolution images took an average of 2.9 seconds to process.
In P mode, the continuous shooting mode recorded 10 shots in 3.6 seconds, which is close to specifications. Image processing appeared to be on-the-fly as it took 3.1 seconds to process this burst. The High Speed Burst mode also performed to specifications, recording 1984 x1488-pixel images at just over eight frames/second.
Buy this camera if:
- You're looking for a slim, pocketable digicam with plenty of adjustable controls and some genuinely useful automatic shooting modes.
- You'd like a digicam with a large monitor screen and touchscreen controls.
- You'd like a digicam that can record widescreen high-definition video clips.
- You want effective image stabilisation.
Don't buy this camera if:
- You want the ability to capture raw files.
- You require an optical viewfinder.
- You want a full range of aperture settings at all zoom ratios.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.
Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
ISO 100;6.6mm focal length, 15 seconds at f/2.8.
ISO 800; 6.6mm focal length, 0.8 second at f/2.8.
ISO 3200; 6.6mm focal length, 0.8 second at f/2.8.
Handheld Night Scene mode; 6.6mm focal length, 1/6 second at f/2, ISO 3200.
Low Light mode; 6.6mm focal length, 1/15 second at f/2, ISO 6400.
Flash exposure at ISO 100; 18.8mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.8.
Flash exposure at ISO 800; 18.8mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.8.
Flash exposure at ISO 3200; 18.8mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/5.8.
4.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/4.
18.8mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/5.8.
Digital zoom; 18.8mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/250 second at f/5.8.
Close-up; 4.3mm focal length, ISO 640, 1/30 second at f/2.
4:3 aspect ratio; 4.3mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/20 second at f/2.
16:9 aspect ratio; 4.3mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/20 second at f/2.
3:2 aspect ratio; 4.3mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/20 second at f/2.
1:1 aspect ratio; 4.3mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/25 second at f/2.
Skin tones; 15mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/20 second at f/5.
Handheld Night Scene mode showing moving elements in the scene; 6mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/13 second at f/3.2.
7mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/60 second at f/3.5.
4.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/3.2.
4.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/2.8.
12mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/5.
Still frame from 1080p HD video clip, recorded with the lens at the 4.3mm position.
Another frame from the same clip with the lens zoomed in to 18.8mm.
Still frame from 720p HD video clip.
Still frame from VGA video clip.
Still frame from QVGA video clip.
Image sensor: 6.16 x 4.62 mm back-illuminated CMOS sensor with 12.1 megapixels effective
Image processor: DiG!C 4
Lens: 4.3-18.8mm f/2.8-5.8 zoom (24-105mm in 35mm format)
Zoom ratio: 4.4x optical, up to 4x digital
Image formats: Stills - JPEG (Exif 2.3); Movies - MOV (Video: H.264, Sound: Linear PCM stereo)
Image Sizes: Stills - 4:3 aspect ratio: 4000 x 3000, 2816 x 2112, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480; 3:2 aspect ratio: 4000 x 2248, 2816 x 1880, 1600 x 1064, 640 x 424; 16:9 aspect ratio: 4000 x 2664, 2816 x 1584, 1920 x 1080, 640 x 360; 1:1 aspect ratio: 2992 x 2992, 2112 x 2112, 1200 x 1200, 480 x 480; Movies: 1920 x 1080 at 24 fps; 1280 x 720 at 30 fps, 640 x 480 at 30 fps; Super Slow Motion Movie - 640 x 480 at 120 fps or 320 x 240 at 240 fps (30 fps during playback)
Shutter speed range: 15-1/1600 second
Self-timer: Approx. 10 sec or 2 sec delay, Custom, Wink self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer
Image Stabilisation: Lens Shift Optical, approx 4 stops
Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3EV increments
Focus system/range: Contrast-detect TTL Autofocus with Touch AF, Face Detect AiAF and Fixed Frame modes; range 40 cm to infinity; macro to 3 cm
Exposure metering/control: TTL metering with Evaluative, Centre-weighted average and Spot modes
Shooting modes: Intelligent Auto (with Scene Detection), P, Av, Tv, Movie Digest, Portrait, Kids & Pets, Smart Shutter, High Speed Burst, Best Image Selection, Handheld Night Scene, Low Light, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Creative Light Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Colour Accent, Colour Swap, Beach, Underwater, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, iFrame Movie, Super Slow Motion Movie
ISO range: Auto, ISO 125, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent (x2), Custom
Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, on, off, Auto Red Eye Correction, Red Eye Reduction, Face Detect, Slow Synchro, FE Lock, Intelligent FE; range 50 cm to 5.0 m
Sequence shooting: Max. 3.4 fps in P mode; 8.2 fps in High Speed Burst mode
Storage Media: SD, SDCH, SDXC or MMC cards
LCD monitor: Wide 3.2-inch LCD Touch screen with 16:9 aspect ratio and approx 461,000 dots
Power supply: MB-6L rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 180 shots
Dimensions (wxhxd): 100.6 x 55.4 x 25.0 mm
Weight: Approx. 165 grams (185 grams with battery and card)
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Rating (out of 10):
- Build: 9.0
- Ease of use: 8.5
- Autofocusing: 9.0
- Image quality: 8.5
- Video Quality: 8.0
- OVERALL: 8.8