Canon has unveiled its latest digital compact camera, the Canon Ixus 300 HS.
This pocket-sized camera has been designed to get better pictures in challenging low light situations – the ‘HS’ in its name stands for ‘high sensitivity’, and Canon claims that the new HS system should deliver an excellent performance in challenging light conditions.
Read our expert Which? reviews of the best digital cameras.
Interestingly, Canon has reduced the resolution on the Ixus 300 HS.
Recent Ixus models have boasted large resolutions of 14Mp or more. The Ixus 300 HS, however, offers a maximum resolution of just 10Mp.
Canon has reduced the resolution with this model in order to boost its low light performance.
Our expert independent testing has found that higher resolutions tend to show up more grainy image noise in low light photos, so Canon’s tactic with the Ixus 300 HS may pay off – we’ll put the camera through its paces as soon as it’s available.
Canon Powershot G11
The last Canon camera to have its resolution reduced in this manner was the high-end compact Powershot G11. This 10Mp camera replaced the 14.7Mp Canon Powershot G10 – the resolution was deliberately reduced in order to help the G11 achieve better low light shots.
Read our Which? review of the Canon Powershot G11.
High resolutions are only truly useful if you are enlarging your prints, or if you are digitally cropping and editing your photos.
For a standard 6×4 inch photo, a resolution of 2.2Mp is all you need.
Large f2.0 aperture
The Ixus 300 HS also boasts a large maximum aperture size of f2.0.
Such a large aperture is relatively unusual for a compact camera, and Canon claims that it will deliver ‘enhanced low light performance and high-speed shooting’.
With a larger aperture, you can shoot in low light while maintaining a faster shutter speed, or a lower ISO setting, delivering clearer shots.
The camera offers manual control over shutter speed and aperture, with dedicated priority modes for both – it’s quite unusual to see this much manual control on offer from a camera this compact.
The Ixus 300 HS offers a maximum ISO of 3200 at full 10Mp resolution. This can be increased to 6200 if you accept a reduced resolution of 2.5Mp.
The Ixus 300 HS has an optical image stabiliser built into its lens. This is designed to minimise motion blur caused by shaky hands, according to Canon.
In theory, a good image stabiliser should help you get better shots in low light, when longer shutter speeds are helpful.
However, our digital camera testing has found that image stabilisers built into small compact cameras rarely deliver the performance you can get from larger image stabilisers built into digital SLRs.
We’ll test the image stabiliser in Ixus 300 HS as soon as the camera is available.
The camera’s lens starts from a decent wide angle of 28mm – this can be handy when you’re trying to fit in a landscape or a group photo, as you shouldn’t have to stand as far back to fit more into your shot.
The Ixus 300 HS also features a large 3-inch LCD screen for composing your shots and viewing your pictures on. There’s no viewfinder, however.
HD video mode
As well as its still photo functions, the Canon Ixus 300 HS offers high definition video capture at a resolution of 720p.
The camera has an HDMI mini-port to allow you to connect directly to an HD TV.
To date, we haven’t seen a digital camera which can take videos to match the quality you can achieve with a proper digital camcorder, but we’ll wait and see if the Ixus 300 HS can buck the trend.
Read our expert Which? reviews of the best HD camcorders, or if you’re looking for something more compact, we have reviews of pocket camcorders.
Which? digital cameras expert, Richard Parris, said: ‘One of the downsides to shooting with a compact camera is the poor performance you’ll encounter in low light – photos can suffer from an unfortunate speckling effect called ‘image noise’. It seems like Canon are pulling out all the stops to get a great low light performance out of a small pocket-sized camera, and we look forward to seeing how the Ixus 300 HS performs in our tests’.
The Canon Ixus 300 HS goes on sale at the end of May, with a launch price of £379.
We’ll have full test results on the Canon Ixus 300 HS once the camera is available to test.
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