However, while maintaining the essential principle of Canon’s ultra-compact IXY DIGITAL series, the Canon IXY DIGITAL 320 provides enhanced resolution in response to consumer requests.
The IXY DIGITAL 320, which has a newly designed high-resolution 1/2.7′′ 3.2-megapixel CCD sensor, employs high-precision double-sided CSP mounting technology to achieve the world’s lowest body size for a 3-megapixel class camera, according to the manufacturer.
Additionally, the unit includes advanced features befitting a 3-megapixel IXY DIGITAL, such as a compact high-performance 2x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 35-70 mm in 35 mm format); the ability to record video with sound in VGA (640 x 480 pixels) at 15 frames per second continuously for up to 30 seconds, or up to 3 minutes at lower resolutions; and a 9-point AiAF system.
The PowerShot S230 is identical in size to the PowerShot S200, making it somewhat more compact than the PowerShot S300 and PowerShot S330, while having a CCD with twice as many pixels as its predecessor. The sturdy body of the S230 can resist more than its fair share of knocks, and the retractable lens with a built-in lens cover makes it possible to swiftly stow the camera away in a pocket or handbag without worrying about it getting damaged.
(The models in the ELPH range are, in my opinion, some of the subcompact cameras available that have the greatest overall construction.) The S230 has dimensions of 3.4 inches by 2.2 inches by 1.1 inches (87 millimeters by 57 millimeters by 27 millimeters), and it weighs just 6.4 ounces (180 grams) when neither the battery nor the media are included.
The viewfinder, flash, and focus-assist illuminator windows are all located just above the lens on the front of the S230, which features the characteristic ELPH style on its front end. Immediately below the flash is where you’ll find the microphone that may be used to record sound for movies. When the camera is shut off, the telescopic lens swiftly goes into place within the camera to preserve a flat profile, and when the camera is powered on, the lens extends forth from within the camera to take its full position. A feature that is well appreciated, the focus-assist light consists of a powerful LED that has a bluish-white color and assists the camera in focusing in dim light.
Although the included wrist strap and the recessed thumb grip on the camera’s rear assist create a more comfortable feel, the only finger grip that is supplied on the front of the camera is a tiny, round Canon logo. (Using the wrist strap is something I strongly encourage. Although the S230 is a hard machine, there’s no use in testing the limits of its durability.
On top of the camera is where you’ll find the Shutter button, the Zoom lever, and the Power button. These controls barely protrude above the smooth, flat display.
The attachment for the wrist strap can be found on the right side of the camera (when viewed from the back), and the slot for the CompactFlash card can be found on the same side. The slot is protected by a plastic lid that locks into place.
The connection for the dual-purpose USB and A/V output is located on the other side of the camera and is shielded by a tight rubber cover. This cover seems to do a fair job of covering the port, although it protrudes a little on the otherwise extremely elegant case, and I also have some concerns about flexible flaps like this one failing over time. Despite my reservations, the cover appears to be effective.
The rear panel of the camera has all of the camera’s remaining controls, as well as both the optical and LCD viewfinders. When shooting with one hand, a slight thumb grip is provided by a small depression on the right side of the camera. This feature also reinforces the finger grip on the front of the camera. The S230 was surprisingly comfortable to use in my bigger-than-normal hands, despite its little size; nevertheless, those with very large fingers may find that the controls are a bit cramped together. In particular, I discovered that activating the autoexposure lock function was a challenge for me, despite the fact that this is a feature that is rarely utilized.
The four-way arrow pad may be found directly to the right of the LCD monitor’s set, menu, display, and exposure compensation / white balance/photo effect buttons. These buttons are arranged in a row below the LCD monitor. The switch for the Mode is located in the top right corner, and the door to the CompactFlash slot may be opened by sliding a latch on the right side.
I am always thankful when a device has a large number of external control buttons since this reduces the amount of time that is spent fishing through the LCD menu displays while making adjustments to the settings. In spite of its compact size, the S230 is capable of performing admirably in this regard. Two light-emitting diodes (LED) lamps are located adjacent to the viewfinder. These lamps light up to signal when the focus is set (or not set, depending on the circumstances) or when the flash is completely charged.
The metal tripod mount and the battery compartment are both housed in the S230’s bottom panel, which is sleek and flat and has a great design. Although I appreciate Canon for using metal for the tripod socket, I find it unfortunate that the tripod mount is positioned so far to one side of the camera. As a consequence of the camera’s off-center tripod mount, the socket is subjected to additional pressure, and some tripod heads are unable to support the camera in a level position. Certainly not a major issue, but I can’t help but point out this insignificant design flaw.
(Of course, the silver lining to all of this is that the majority of tripod heads won’t interfere with the battery compartment lid, which is crucial for utilizing the optional power adapter with the camera when it is attached to a tripod.) The cover for the battery compartment can be opened with a click, and then it slides all the way outwards. There is a little rubber flap in the middle of the entrance to the battery compartment.
This flap conceals a hole in the battery compartment lid that was made to provide access to the connection jack that is included within the “dummy battery” that is utilized in the AC adapter kit. (Similar to the AC adapter that comes with many other Canon digital cameras, the one that comes with the S230 goes into the battery compartment and serves as a plug for the cable that comes with the AC power converter.)
The user interface of the S230 is quite easy to understand and not overly hard to operate, despite the fact that the numerous controls found on the device’s exterior may at first appear to be intimidating. The buttons located on the top and back panels of the camera are used to manage the majority of the device’s capabilities. However, the LCD-based Record menu is used to make adjustments to settings such as image size and quality as well as other choices that are visited less frequently. You no longer have to flip through pages in order to navigate the menu on the new LCD screen that debuted on the S200 and S330. Instead, you can scroll through the menu items directly on the screen.
In addition, regardless of the mode in which the camera is operating, the Setup menu may always be accessed (by clicking the tab at the top of the menu screens). Even when the LCD monitor is turned off, activating the display by pressing one of the control buttons on the back panel (such as the buttons for Exposure Compensation or Flash) causes the display to become active momentarily. Because of this, you can conserve battery power by turning the LCD monitor off for the majority of the time. The intuitive organization of the S230’s menus and the camera’s effective use of its external controls combine to make it a relatively easy camera to use. If the user has access to the appropriate instruction manual, it should take them no more than an hour to get familiar with the product’s many features and capabilities.
Color: Much like previous Digital ELPH digital camera models that I’ve evaluated, the S230 offered typically great color, despite the broad diversity of shooting settings that it was exposed to. It handled the extremely challenging blues of the flower bouquet with aplomb in the outdoor portrait test, when it was put to the test, and did a wonderful job with skin tones, which it accomplished both indoors and outdoors.
Although the colors were accurate in terms of hue and had a good level of saturation overall, the 230 had a tendency to oversaturate the bright reds and blues. The automated white balance feature of the 230 struggled when used indoors with the incandescent illumination often seen in homes, however, the incandescent and custom white balance settings functioned really well in this environment. Overall, it’s a beautiful shade to work with.
Exposure: The S230 did a good job of exposing most of the test images, but the shot of the Davebox came out a touch on the dark side. The strong sunshine caused the photographs taken outside to have a high contrast, which led to the loss of part of the information in the shadows and highlights.
The restricted dynamic range of the S230 was most noticeable in the outside photo of the house, but the camera was still able to capture some detail in the brilliant, white bay window trim. The camera did a good job of recognizing the subtle tone fluctuations of the Davebox, which is something that many digital cameras struggle with. Good exposure all around, despite some difficulties brought on by extremely dark and light areas of the scene.
In terms of resolution and sharpness, the S230 digital camera captures approximately the same amount of detail as any other 3-megapixel digicam on the market today; nevertheless, its photographs may seem somewhat softer onscreen. This is because Canon uses in-camera picture sharpening extremely conservatively, which has the benefit of preserving fine detail but comes at the expense of giving photographs a somewhat softer appearance as soon as they are extracted from the camera.
The benefit of using this technique, on the other hand, is that the photographs captured by the S230 are particularly amenable to having unsharp masking applied to them after the fact in Photoshop or other applications that manipulate images. During the resolution test conducted in the laboratory, the S230 demonstrated “strong detail” up to about 1050 lines per image height. (However, because of the margin of error associated with that measurement, it might be more accurate to simply state that the resolution of the S230 falls somewhere between 1000 and 1100 lines.)
The performance at the macro level was about par for the course. The S230 was able to record an area that was at least 3.47 by 2.61 inches (88 x 66 millimeters). The resolution was really good, and the level of detail was great. The flash on the camera failed not to adjust its output sufficiently for the macro setting, which resulted in an overexposed image.
Night Shots: The S230’s partly manual settings give you the ability to alter the shutter speed anywhere from one to fifteen seconds, making it an excellent choice for photographing in low light. The camera took bright pictures all the way to 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) from ISO 100 to ISO 400, and at ISO 50, photos were bright to around 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux). The auto-white balance produced a warm color, although there was only a little amount of noise.
Given that the amount of light produced by an ordinary city street at night is around one foot-candle (11 lux), the S230 should have no issue capturing even darker images. (The brilliant autofocus-assist illuminator is an extra plus for low-light shooting since it assists the camera in focusing accurately even in extremely dim settings.)
Accuracy of the Viewfinder The S230’s optical viewfinder was quite small, revealing just 82-83% of the final frame regardless of the focal length of the lens being used (wide angle or telephoto). However, the LCD panel displayed approximately one hundred percent of the final image regardless of whether it was set to wide angle or telephoto mode.
In light of the fact that I prefer LCD monitors to have an accuracy that is as close to one hundred percent as is humanly feasible, the S230 performs rather admirably in this respect; but, I would really want to see improved performance from its optical viewfinder.
Optical Distortion: The optical distortion on the S230 is a little bit lower than usual at a wide angle, where I recorded a barrel distortion of 0.6 percent. This is in comparison to the typical optical distortion of 1.3 percent. (My opinion is that although being well above par, the amount is still excessive.) Even at telephoto, it performs quite well, with only 0.2 percent of pincushion distortion, which is a value that is lower than the average for distortion. Chromatic aberration was likewise better than normal, although there was a noticeable level of softness in the pictures’ corners, especially around the edges of the frame.
Battery Life: Because Canon did not send me an AC adapter for the S230, I was unable to measure the power drain of the camera. As a result, the only option I had was to time how long the camera ran in capture mode with the LCD turned on. This was the only way I could determine the camera’s battery life.
Even though this method is not as accurate as my usual direct measurements of the power consumption of the camera, it does provide at least some insight into the kind of battery life you may anticipate from the S230. On the basis of this information, I came to the conclusion that a battery that had just been fully recharged should be able to power the S230 in its mode with the highest potential power drain for well over 90 minutes, which is better than the average performance of the subcompact cameras that I’ve tested.
Canon PowerShot S230 Specs
|Max resolution||2048 x 1536|
|Other resolutions||1600 x 1200, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480|
|Image ratio w:h||4:3|
|Effective pixels||3 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||3 megapixels|
|Sensor size||1/2.7″ (5.312 x 3.984 mm)|
|ISO||Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400|
|White balance presets||6|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|JPEG quality levels||Super-Fine, Fine, Normal|
|Focal length (equiv.)||35–70 mm|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaSingleLive View|
|Digital zoom||Yes (3.2 x)|
|Normal focus range||47 cm (18.5″)|
|Macro focus range||10 cm (3.94″)|
|Number of focus points||9|
|Viewfinder type||Optical (tunnel)|
|Minimum shutter speed||15 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/1500 sec|
|Flash range||3.00 m|
|Flash modes||Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Off|
|Continuous drive||2.0 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2 or 10 sec)|
|Exposure compensation||±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|Resolutions||max 14/44/118 sec, audio|
|Storage types||Compact Flash (Type I)|
|Storage included||16 MB CompactFlash|
|USB||USB 1.0 (1.5 Mbit/sec)|
|Battery description||Canon Lithium-Ion & charger|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||250 g (0.55 lb / 8.82 oz)|
|Dimensions||87 x 57 x 27 mm (3.43 x 2.24 x 1.06″)|
The Digital ELPH series from Canon has, without fail, provided outstanding construction quality, robust feature sets, and wonderful picture quality. The S230 is a pleasant and deserving travel companion because of its little size and durable build, both of which follow very closely in the footsteps of that heritage.
Even though the camera’s exposure management is completely automated, the fact that ISO, White Balance, and exposure compensation may be adjusted manually, in addition to the camera’s ability to access longer shutter times, significantly expands the camera’s shooting range. I have grown to anticipate superb image quality and outstanding color from devices manufactured by Canon, and the 3.2-megapixel CCD and sharp lens deliver on those promises.
Canon’s ELPH S230 is the company’s first model to provide three megapixels, so it’s a fair bet that the company will sell a lot of these cameras. If you want a subcompact digital camera with superb image quality, you should give the PowerShot S230 a serious look if you’re interested in purchasing one.
Pros & Cons
- Image quality
- Massive focal range
- Ease of use
- No finger grip
- No ability to record Raw files
- GPS is a drain on the battery