Pros: Great in low-light conditions.
Cons: Slow focus; too bright flash.
Canon’s latest Ixus camera is somewhat confusingly named. The HS doesn’t stand for either ‘high speed’ or ‘high sensitivity’, yet the device does support high-speed video and has a high-sensitivity lens for taking photos in very low light.
At £270, this sits near the top of the price range for 10 megapixel compacts. It is easy to grip in the hand and, at 177g, is reassuringly solid. A large flash strip bulb is embedded front left; other than that this version is all-black, bar splashes of colour denoting Smart Auto, playback and zoom functions.
A big selling point is the Canon’s ability to cope with low-light conditions. We found the flash tended to overcompensate here, but got great results after switching to the dedicated low-light setting. Subtly lit but well-balanced photos that captured the atmosphere were the order of the day.
These low-light abilities extend to the Canon’s video recording. Activated by a simple slider, it captures 720p video and has an option to play back memorable footage in slow-mo.
The 3.8x optical zoom is another asset. The zoom mechanism is smooth and quiet, but autofocus can be slow.
Canon hasn’t gone overboard on settings and special effects for stills. A scrollable list of manual settings is accessible via the Func Set button, while ISO, compression and so on can be adjusted from the Menu button.
Some blistering recent weather resulted in brightly coloured outdoor shots of sunny London worthy of a tourist brochure. Colours jumped out of the three-inch LCD screen and translated just as well to computer. On overcast days greys, blues and off-whites were still pleasingly reproduced, with good tonal range.
Importantly, we saw no sign of battery fatigue after three days.
The Canon Ixus 300 HS delivers beautiful images and video footage across a range of shooting and light conditions. It allows you to experiment with photography styles, but doesn’t sacrifice optics quality or manual functions for the sake of gimmicky extras.