Canon Ixus 300 HS

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

      The first Ixus with a high-sensitivity backlit CMOS sensor plus Av and Tv shooting modes.Just as Canon is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Ixus range, a new model, the Ixus 300 HS is iintroduced as the flagship in the line-up. Coming in with an RRP $100 more than the previous top model, the 300 HS features a new 10-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, DiG!C 4 image processor and 3.8x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilisation. It’s also the first camera in the Ixus range to support separate aperture and shutter speed adjustment. . . [more]

      Full review


      Just as Canon is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Ixus range, a new model, the Ixus 300 HS is iintroduced as the flagship in the line-up. Coming in with an RRP $100 more than the previous top model, the 300 HS features a new 10-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, DiG!C 4 image processor and 3.8x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilisation. It’s also the first camera in the Ixus range to support separate aperture and shutter speed adjustment.

      Aperture and shutter speed adjustments are only available when the mode switch on the top panel is set to the Shooting Mode position (indicated by a camera icon). Because there’s no Manual shooting mode that lets users adjust aperture and shutter speed settings independently, we can’t classify the Ixus 300 HS as an Advanced digicam. Nevertheless, it’s the first Ixus model to step beyond the point-and-shoot control system.

      Build and Ergonomics
      Ixus cameras have earned a solid reputation for being small, stylish and solidly-built – and the new model is no exception. Its body is made from aluminium alloy and it’s available nation-wide in matte black or silver. A high-gloss red version of the Ixus 300 HS will be offered exclusively through Teds Camera Stores.

      In line with the Ixus tradition, the body of the Ixus 300 HS has rounded corners and there are no protrusions to prevent it from slipping easily into (and out of) a shirt pocket. But the bevelled edges on the base plate don’t sit as firmly on a flat surface as cameras with squarer bases so it’s advisable to use a tripod for self-timer shots and long exposures.

      The front panel of the camera has the traditional Ixus styling, with a recessed lens just off the centre of the panel. When the camera is switched off, the lens lies almost flush with the rest of the front panel; powered-up it protrudes approximately 20 mm, extending about 3 mm more at full optical zoom.


      Angled front view of the Ixus 300 HS with the lens set at 4.9mm. (Source: Canon.)

      Just above the lens is a tiny LED that doubles as an AF-Assist lamp and self-timer indicator. Beside it is a narrow flash tube. Two tiny microphone holes are located, one on each side of the lens surround.

      An eyelet for the wrist strap is located on the side panel, left of the Canon logo. Partly surrounding it is a lift-up cover made of shiny black plastic, under which lie the HDMI and A/V-Out/USB terminals. We have some reservations about the tether to this cover, which is plastic and doesn’t appear particularly durable.

      Most of the rear panel is covered by the LCD monitor, a widescreen (16:9) 3.0-inch PureColour II panel with a relatively low resolution of 230,000 dots. No viewfinder is provided. Right of the monitor is the control dial, which doubles as an arrow pad. The FUNC./SET button sits at its centre.


      Back view of the Ixus 300 HS in playback mode. (Source: Canon.)

      Pressing the left side of the control dial opens the focus sub-menu, which has three settings: Macro, Normal and Infinity. The right side accesses the flash settings while the top and bottom sides control exposure compensation and display settings respectively. Above the control dial is the Playback button, while below it is the Menu button.
      A slider switch on the top panel enables users to move between the Movie, Shooting and Auto modes. Beside this switch is a tiny on/off button that lies flush with the top panel. To its right is the shutter button, a shiny circle that sits slightly proud of the top panel. Surrounding it is a small zoom lever.


      Top view of the Ixus 300 HS, powered-up ready for shooting.


      Top view of the Ixus 300 HS with power switched off.

      The lens on the Ixus 300 HS is noteworthy for its large maximum aperture – but otherwise unexceptional. Covering a focal length range of 4.9mm to18.6mm, it provides angles of view equivalent to 28-105mm in 35mm format. The camera’s autofocusing range spans from 3 cm to infinity, cutting back to 3-50 cm in Macro mode. Lens-shift stabilisation provides up to three f-stops of shutter speed advantage and up to 4x digital zoom is supported.

      Lens apertures range from f/2-f/5.3, depending on the focal length setting. While the f/2 wide maximum aperture should be great for low-light photography (since it will allow more light to reach the sensor), as you zoom in, the maximum aperture is rapidly reduced. By 8.6mm it’s down to f/3.5, contracting further to f/5 at 13.1mm and f/5.3 at full optical zoom (18.6mm), which is not particularly fast.

      A metal-lined tripod socket is located just off-centre from the optical axis of the lens in the base of the camera. Beside it is the battery/card compartment. In line with Ixus tradition, the 300 HS uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which is CIPA rated for approximately 250 shots/charge. Interestingly, no internal memory is provided.

      The memory card slot accepts SD, SDHC and the new SDXC memory cards. According to the user manual, the Ixus 300HS also supports Eye-Fi cards. However to the best of our knowledge these cards are neither sold nor supported in Australia.

      Canon has done an excellent job of incorporating aperture adjustments into the menu system on the Ixus 300 HS by adding a Shooting Mode section to the Function menu that is accessed via the FUNC./SET button. This sub-menu contains settings for Av (aperture-priority), Tv (shutter priority) and P (Program AE) modes as well as all of the camera’s 13 Scene-pre-sets – plus the Colour Accent, Colour Swap and Stitch Assist modes.

      Users who opt for the Auto mode will find the control suite in the Ixus 300 HS is pretty basic. The only adjustments supported are the image size and resolution and the self-timer. Canon’s Smart Auto with Scene Detection Technology will automatically select the appropriate settings for the type of scene detected from a database of 22 pre-sets. An icon for the selected scene type is displayed on the touch screen. Smart Flash Exposure also controls flash levels in this mode, based on shooting conditions.

      The Scene pre-sets include the latest additions: Fish-eye Effect and Miniature Effect plus a Smart Shutter portrait mode that uses Face Detection Technology to enable users to trigger the shutter using a smile or a wink. Face self-timer sets the camera to detect when the photographer has entered the frame and fire the shutter two seconds later.

      With the Shooting Mode setting, pressing the FUNC./SET button enables manual control of functions like image size and quality, ISO, white balance, drive mode (single shot or continuous shooting), metering (evaluative, centre weighted or spot) and the self-timer. Canon’s ‘My Colors’ sub-menu is also provided, with settings that provide vivid colour, neutral, sepia, black and white, positive film, lighter skin tone, darker skin tone, vivid blue, vivid green or vivid red adjustments plus a Custom Colour mode that supports five levels of adjustment for contrast, sharpness, saturation, red, green, blue and skin tones.

      Four settings are provided in the self-timer sub-menu: off, 10-seconds delay, 2-seconds delay and a Custom setting that lets you adjust the delay time between 0 and 30 seconds and set the number of shots from one to 10. Two settings are provided in the drive sub-menu: single shot and continuous.

      Pressing the Menu button opens two banks of settings, covering shooting/playback and camera settings. Accessible functions depend on the selected shooting mode. In the shooting mode bank this is where you select the AF frame and mode settings, switch on the digital zoom, select the grid overlay guides and engage face and blink detection.

      The setup bank covers card formatting, date/time settings and LCD brightness adjustment. You can also turn the digital zoom, grid overlay and hints and tips on or off, adjust the sound levels, select start-up pictures and sound and re-set the camera to the factory defaults.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      Back-illuminated sensors are being used increasingly in high-end digicams since Sony introduced the first one in its TX1 and WX1 Cyber-shots last August. Since then, they have appeared in the Ricoh CX3, Nikon Coolpix P100, Fujifilm FinePix HS10 and Sony’s HX5V and TX5 Cyber-shots. Ricoh will also use one in the coming P10 28-300 mm f/3.5-5.6 VC camera module for its GXR system.

      Most of these cameras have effective resolutions of around 10 megapixels, allowing the manufacturers to capitalise on the improved light-gathering capabilities of the new sensor technology. Back-illuminated sensors are significantly faster than standard CCD or CMOS chips and this enables camera manufacturers to include some interesting high-speed shooting modes.

      In Canon’s case, the emphasis has been placed on high-speed stills and video capture. Full-resolution stills can be recorded at up to 3.7 frames/second right up to card capacity. There’s also a High-speed Burst mode among the Scene pre-sets that records 2.5-megapixel images at 8.4 frames/second – again to card capacity.

      Among its video modes, the Ixus 300 HS boasts a ‘Super Slow Motion Movie’ mode with a frame rate if 240 frames/second. Resolution is reduced to QVGA (320 x 240 pixels) and you can only record for about 30 seconds – without audio. But when played back, up to four minutes of slow-motion playback is available.

      Aside from the new CMOS chip, the rest of the Ixus 300 HS’s imaging chain is standard for most Canon digicams. The DiG!C 4 image processor is part of Canon’s TruCapture technology, where it combines with the Intelligent Auto shooting mode and Optical Image Stabiliser to ensure a high percentage of ‘keeper’ shots for novice photographers.

      It also underpins features like automatic noise-reduction, face recognition and smile shutter functions and continuous shooting modes. Like other models in the Ixus range, the Ixus 300 HS is a JPEG-only camera with two compression ratios and six image sizes. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.

      Camera setting






      3648 x 2736




      2816 x 2112




      2272 x 1704




      1600 x 1200




      640 x 480




      3648 x 2048



      Video clips can be recorded in 720p quality (not Full High Definition but, at 1280×720 pixels, good enough to display on a widescreen HD TV set). Unlike other Ixus models, the audio tracks are Linear PCM Stereo. A frame rate of 30 frames/second ensures smooth capture of moving subjects and use of the H.264 video compression standard provides greater recording times for memory capacities. Typical recording capacities are shown in the table below.


      Frame rate

      Recording time on a 4GB memory card

      1280 x 720 pixels

      30 fps

      20 minutes, 43 seconds

      640 x 480 pixels

      30 fps

      43 minutes, 43 seconds

      320 x 240 pixels

      30 fps

      1 hour 58 minutes, 19 seconds

      Super Slow Motion (QVGA)

      240 fps

      Max. clip length is 30 seconds

      Playback and Software
      Playback options are essentially unchanged from previous Ixus cameras and include single and index displays, searching by scrolling, up to 10x playback zoom and advancing and reversing through magnified images. Filtered playback, in which you can search images by date, category, file type or Favourites tagging, is also supported.
      Slideshow playback is also available with a non-adjustable display time of roughly three seconds per image. You can choose from six transition effects in slideshow mode or three with single-image playback. Smart Shuffle playback is also supported.

      The supplied stereo AV cable lets you view images and SD video clips on a standard-definition TV set. To view them on an HDTV set you need a separate HDMI cable (not supplied), which will cost you around $50.

      The software disk contains Version 66.0 of the standard Canon Digital Camera Solution Disk, 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.

      Still pictures straight from the camera appeared to be very slightly soft – but this was easily (and effectively) corrected with post-capture editing. You can boost the sharpness levels in the camera via a setting in the My Colours sub-menu but it tends to produce more sharpening artefacts than post-capture sharpening.

      Colours were accurately reproduced in most shooting situations, although with the slightly elevated saturation that characterises most small-sensor digicams. The dynamic range in our test shots was wider than average, although exposures were positioned to favour highlights slightly more than shadows and shadows often blocked up.

      Autofocusing was fast enough to ‘stop’ rapidly-moving subjects in bright outdoor lighting and generally accurate under these conditions. We noticed a slight slowing in low light levels, and also when subjects were strongly backlit and the lens tended to flare.

      Imatest showed the review camera to be capable of the resolution expected from a 10-megapixel camera. Best results were obtained at wider apertures (especially one stop down) but edge softening was evident at shorter focal lengths. The graph below shows the results of our tests.


      Because shutter speeds can be set down to 15 seconds, the Ixus 300 HS is suitable for night photography. Low light performance was above average in our Imatest tests – but only for ISO settings from 125 to 800 (inclusive). Resolution plummeted at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200. Noise was visible in both long exposures and flash shots at these sensitivity settings and sharpness and saturation were noticeable reduced. The graph below shows the result of our Imatest tests.


      Lateral chromatic aberration was mostly in the ‘moderate band’, dropping occasionally into the upper end of the low band at the 8.6mm and 18.6mm focal length settings. In the graph below, the red line marks the boundary between ‘negligible’ and low lateral chromatic aberration and the green line separates ‘low’ from ‘moderate’ CA.


      Coloured fringing was comparatively rare in our test shots, although it was very visible in some areas close to the edges of images where contrast differences were high. However, no fringing could be seen in other parts of the same image. An example is shown below.


      18.6mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/2489 second at f/5.3.


      100% crop from the above image showing coloured fringing in a high-contrast area.


      100% crop from a different part of the same image with lower contrast showing no coloured fringing.

      The built-in flash performed well indoors and was capable of illuminating an average-sized room at ISO 200 and above. Flash exposures were evenly balanced from ISO 200 to ISO 3200. The review camera’s auto white balance was similar to most digicams we’ve tested. It was unable to correct the orange cast of incandescent lighting but came close to neutral colour rendition with fluorescent lighting. Acceptable corrections were provided by the pre-sets, while Custom measurement removed both colour casts.

      The image stabilisation system proved effective, enabling us to use shutter speeds as slow as 1/15 second and get more than 75% of shots acceptably sharp. Video quality was generally good for 720p clips and the stereo soundtracks had better ‘presence’ than we expected from the small microphones on this camera. You can use the zoom lens when shooting video clips but it moves much more slowly than for shooting stills (which could be a good feature).

      The Super Slow Motion video mode is more of a novelty than a genuinely useful feature, although some sports people could find it handy for motion analysis. However its resolution is too low to be pleasing to watch on a normal TV or computer screen (although it looks quite good on the camera’s LCD).

      We used a SanDisk Ultra 4GB SDHC memory card to test the review camera’s response times, which were about average for recent Ixus models. The test camera powered up ready for shooting in approximately one second and we measured an average capture lag of 0.4 seconds, which was reduced to a consistent 0.1 second lag when shots were pre-focused. Shot-to-shot times averaged 2.3 seconds. High-resolution images took an average of 2.8 seconds to process.

      The continuous shooting mode recorded 10 shots at full resolution in 3.8 seconds, which is close to specifications. Image processing appeared to be on-the-fly as it took 3.8 seconds to process this burst. With the High-Speed Burst mode, the camera recorded 20 2.5-megapixel frames in 2.6 seconds, which is also close to specifications. It took 2.9 seconds to process this burst.

      Buy this camera if:
      – You’re looking for a slim, shirt-pocketable digicam with a wide screen monitor plus aperture and shutter speed adjustments.
      – You’d like a digicam that can record 720p widescreen high-definition video clips with stereo soundtracks.
      – You want effective image stabilisation.
      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You want the ability to capture raw files.
      – You require an optical viewfinder.





      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      4.9mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/636 second at f/6.3. Av shooting mode.


      18.6mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/403 second at f/6.3. Av shooting mode.


      2.1x digital zoom; 18.6mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/250 second at f/6.3.


      Close-up; 4.9mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/1244 second at f/2.8.


      Indoor close-up in Auto mode; 15.5mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/60 second at f/5.


      ISO 125, 15 second exposure at f/5; 8.4mm focal length.


      ISO 800, 4 second exposure at f/5; 8.4mm focal length.


      ISO 3200, 1/6 second exposure at f/5; 8.4mm focal length.


      Flash exposure; ISO 125, 1/60 second at f/5.3; 18.6mm focal length.


      Flash exposure; ISO 800, 1/60 second at f/5.3; 18.6mm focal length.


      Flash exposure; ISO 3200, 1/60 second at f/5.3; 18.6mm focal length.


      AF performance test with fast-moving subject; P shooting mode, 4.9mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/1614 second at f/2.8.


      Hand-held shot with no stabilisation; 18.6mm focal length, ISO 1250, 1/20 second at f/5.3.


      Hand-held shot with stabilisation; 18.6mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/15 second at f/5.3.


      Flare in backlit shots; 4.9mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/1244 second at f/3.5. Auto shooting mode.


      4.9mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/30 second at f/2.2.


      Still frame from HD video clip.


      Still frame from VGA video clip.


      Still frame from QVGA video clip captured in the Super Slow Motion mode.




      Image sensor: 6.16 x 4.62 mm back-illuminated CMOS sensor with 10.6 million photosites (10.1 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 4.9-18.6mm, f/2.0-5.3 zoom lens (28-105mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 3.8x optical, up to 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif 2.2); Movies – MOV (Image Data: H.264; Audio Data: Linear PCM Stereo)
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3648 x 2736, 3648 x 2048, 2816 x 2112, 2272 x 1704, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480, 320 x 240; Movies – 1280 x 720, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 (all at 30 fps), 320 x 240 at 240 fps
      Shutter speed range: 15 to 1/2500 second
      Self-timer: Approx. 10 sec or 2 sec delay, Custom, Face Self-Timer, Wink Self-Timer
      Image Stabilisation: Optical (Lens Shift Type), approx 3 stops
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3EV steps
      Focus system/range: Contrast-based TTL AF; range 30 cm to infinity; macro to 3 cm
      Exposure metering/control: TTL metering with Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Spot modes
      Shooting modes: Intelligent Auto (with Scene Detection), P, Av, Tv, Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Smart Shutter, High-speed Burst, Low Light, Colour Accent, Colour Swap, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Beach, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, Stitch Assist; Movie (Standard, Super Slow Motion, Colour Accent, Colour Swap)
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 125, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, on, off, Auto Red Eye Correction, Red Eye Reduction, Face Detect, Slow Synchro, FE Lock; range – 50 cm to 3.5 m
      Sequence shooting: Normal – 3.7 frames/second; High-speed burst – approx. 8.4 fps
      Storage Media: SD/SDHC/SDXC and MMC cards
      Viewfinder: No
      LCD monitor: 3.0-inch Wide PureColour II LCD screen with 230,000 dots
      Power supply: NB-6L rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 250 shots/charge
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 100.0 x 54.1 x 23.6 mm
      Weight: Approx. 150 grams (without battery and card)





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