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Canon PowerShot S300 Review

The PowerShot S300 Digital ELPH is Canon’s second ultra-compact digital camera, following the PowerShot S100 Digital ELPH. In addition to its high-resolution and retractable 3x zoom lens, the S300 includes a number of new and improved features, such as direct printing capabilities from the new Canon Card Photo Printer CP-10; 20 frame-per-second movie clips with audio at selectable resolutions up to 640480 pixels; shutter speeds ranging from 1 second to 1/1500 seconds; an adaptive primary color filter for improved color reproduction; a choice of nine image quality modes; and automatic exposure sensitivity adjustment (for a variety of situations

PowerShot S300 cameras have a new digital signal processing integrated circuit (DSPI) that allows for high-speed picture processing and data transfer over the cameras’ USB ports. A Direct Print mode on the PowerShot S300 makes use of this capability by allowing users to print hard-copy photographs using Canon’s new CP-10 dye-sublimation printer, which is included with the camera. Because the camera’s LCD panel allows users to manage all print settings directly from the camera, printing from digital files is both straightforward and enjoyable with the CP-10.

The data from the printer is then sent directly to the CP-10 using a special interface wire that is provided. Beautiful 300 x 300 dpi credit card-sized color prints are produced by the new, ultra-compact printer in as little as 56 seconds using the printer’s high-resolution printing technology. On one sticker sheet of eight tiny reproductions of the same image, the CP-10 may be utilized to create a whole new level of entertainment for everyone who utilizes it. Each sticker has a size of roughly 0.9′′ x 0.7′′ in diameter.

It is possible to record video clips with audio at a rate of 20 frames per second with the Canon PowerShot S300 is one of three resolution modes: 640480, 320240, or 160120 pixels. PowerShot S300 movie clips are stored as QuickTime AVI files, with the picture data saved in the Motion JPEG format and the sound data saved in the WAVE format, and the video data saved in the Motion JPEG format.

It is possible to watch the video section of the PowerShot S300 movies on the LCD monitor included inside the camera. Using a connected TV monitor or a compatible PC, you may enjoy full audio-video playback when the download is complete. The supplied software for the PowerShot S300 allows you to edit, store, and send movie clips to others through e-mail after they have been downloaded.

More: Best Memory Cards for Canon PowerShot S300 | Best Point and Shoot Camera | Best Point and Shoot Camera for Travel | Best Point and Shoot Camera Under 300

The PowerShot S300 has an exquisite stainless-steel body design that is based on the successful PowerShot S100. However, the S300 has a new 3X (equal to 35-105mm in the 35mm format) f/2.7-4.7 lens with aspherical lens elements that are comparable to 35-105mm in the 35mm format. The PowerShot S300’s physical dimensions and weight are somewhat greater than those of the S100, at 3.7 x 2.5 x 1.2 inches and 8.5 ounces, respectively, but it is still the world’s smallest 2.1-megapixel digital camera with a 3X zoom lens, according to Canon.

The Digital ELPH is equipped with a 0.37-inch, 2.1-megapixel CCD sensor that can capture full-color or black-and-white photographs with a resolution of up to 16001200 pixels when the camera is switched to the Large mode. When the camera is in the Middle or Small modes, it also provides extra resolutions of 1024768 and 640480, which are perfect for on-screen applications such as Web sites and CD-ROMs and enable more photographs to be captured on a single CompactFlash memory card. A CompactFlash card of 8MB capacity will be included with the purchase of the new camera, which is compatible with Type I CompactFlash cards.

In addition to ArcSoft PhotoImpression and VideoImpression software, the PowerShot S300 comes with Apple QuickTime 4.1, Canon RemoteCapture 1.3, and PhotoStitch 3.1 software for both Macintosh and Windows, as well as Canon ZoomBrowser EX 2.6, PhotoRecord 1.2, WIA and TWAIN software for Windows, and ImageBrowser 1.6 and a Photoshop-compatible plug-in software for the Mac.

The PowerShot S Included in both ZoomBrowser EX 2.6 and ImageBrowser 1.6 are TimeTunnel and SlideShowMaker, which may be used to create slideshows of images. In ZoomBrowser EX 2.6 and ImageBrowser 1.6, customers have access to enhanced capabilities such as auto-layout printing, full-screen slide shows that run automatically, and automated processing of photos for use as e-mail attachments. ZoomBrowser EX and Image Browser streamlines the process of emailing images by automatically compressing the image and launching the email software when the photo is sent.

Design

The PowerShot S300 Digital ELPH, just like its predecessor, the PowerShot S100 Digital ELPH, keeps the compact size that has contributed to the success of the ELPH family of digital cameras. The S300 has one of the most portable bodies available, and its all-metal construction and very durable design should allow it to withstand extensive use.

When the camera is turned off, the innovative design of the retractable lens keeps the front of the camera entirely flat. This allows the camera to be stored in even the tiniest pockets, and the automated lens cover ensures that you never have to worry about dirtying the lens or losing the lens cap.

The S300 has dimensions of 3.7 inches by 2.5 inches by 1.2 inches (94.8 millimeters by 62.5 millimeters) and a weight of 8.5 ounces (240 grams) without the battery. This makes it only a tad bit bigger and heavier than the S100 (but not enough to make much of a difference at all). The picture on the right, which is an insert, demonstrates how compact the S300 is: This particular instance has it concealed nearly fully under a regular playing card!

The front of the S300 displays the characteristic ELPH style, with the lens somewhat off-center and angled toward the right. Just above the lens are windows for the viewfinder, flash, and focus-assist illuminator.

The center of the camera is where you’ll find the focus-assist light, which is a bright, bluish-white LED that assists the camera in focusing when there is not enough light. Your fingers will have something to cling to when they wrap around the camera thanks to the raised writing of the Canon logo as well as the little grip.

On the top of the camera is where you’ll find the Mode dial, the Shutter button, and the Power button. Each of these controls has a buried location, which contributes to the S300’s streamlined appearance. In addition to that, there is a very small microphone for capturing sound with the movies.

When looking at the rear panel of the camera, the connection for the wrist strap and the CompactFlash slot are located on the right side of the camera. The slot for the CompactFlash card is hidden safely behind a plastic door that locks.

The plugs for the USB and A/V outputs, which are shielded by a rubber cover, are located on the side of the camera that faces away from the viewfinder. This cover seems to do a decent job of covering the ports, although it protrudes a little on the otherwise extremely elegant casing, and we are also a little concerned about flexible flaps like this one snapping over time. Nevertheless, it appears to be quite effective.

The rear control panel of the camera has all of the remaining camera controls, as well as both the optical and LCD viewfinders. A textured thumb grip that is relatively modest offers a pretty secure grasp on the camera and provides a solid grip for one-handed use of the device (for small to medium hands, those with larger hands may have a little difficulty negotiating the controls, which are a little close together).

The S300 offers a touch more external control than the S100 did, enabling you to modify the white balance and exposure compensation with only the push of a button. This is an improvement over the S300’s predecessor (instead of treating it as a menu option).

As we said before, we believe that the greater accessibility of the exposure compensation and white balance modifications is a considerable enhancement to the user interface: Because, in our experience, these modifications are used rather frequently, we found that removing them from the menu system and placing them on a distinct button on the back panel was a really beneficial change.

The bottom of the S300 is smooth and flat, and it is here that you’ll find the metal tripod mount and the battery compartment. Because the weight of the camera, which is placed off-center on the tripod head, might cause the mount threads to experience excessive stress, we prefer not to have the tripod mount positioned so far over to the side of the camera.

It’s possible that this won’t be an issue given how compact the S300 is and how well the tripod socket is designed (kudos for that!). However, due to the fact that the tripod socket is located so near to the edge of the camera, there is a possibility that the camera will not rest level on some tripod heads.

(Once again, this is a rather unimportant issue given that you can typically just tilt the tripod in order to position the camera in any way that you see fit.) A little rubber flap is located in the middle of the entrance to the battery compartment, and the cover for the battery compartment locks by sliding open and then outwards.

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.

(The AC adapter method for the Canon PowerShot S300 digital camera, like that of many other Canon digital cameras, utilizes a fake battery that fits into the battery compartment and offers a connector for the cable of the AC power converter.)

Optics

The maximum aperture of the S300’s 5.4-16.2mm zoom lens is f/2.8 when the lens is set to its widest angle and f/4.7 when it is set to its most telephoto position. This lens is similar to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera. The AiAF (artificial intelligence autofocus) feature calculates the focal distance by using a large active region in the center of the image. This function is quite exact, even when used with subjects that are slightly off-center in the frame.

(This may be overlooked by autofocus systems that are more traditionally designed.) In the regular mode, the focus range is from 6.3 inches to infinity (or 16-76cm), however, in the macro mode, it extends from 2.5 feet (76cm) to 6.3 inches. During our testing, we discovered that the bright LED autofocus assist light that is located on the front of the camera helps the camera focus in low-light shooting scenarios. This feature performed extremely well.

(Even in complete darkness, the camera is able to focus relatively well, albeit not precisely.) The subject is temporarily illuminated by the brilliant, bluish-white light, which enables the camera to determine where the focus should be set. On the other hand, unlike some other cameras that include AF help lights, the S300 does not have the ability to turn off the light.

Considering that the S300 does not have a manual focus option, it is possible that it is irrelevant whether or not the AF light can be disabled: If you were to turn it off, the only option you would have for candid images, for example, would be photos that were out of focus.

Exposure

We found the exposure control on the S300 to be rather easy to use, similar to what we experienced with the S100 model before it. However, the LCD menu system on the S300 was significantly better and required far less time to traverse. The camera has both an automatic and a manual basic exposure mode, with the manual option allowing you to customize the image quality, exposure correction, and white balance independently of the automatic mode. In each of the exposure modes, the shutter speed and aperture are determined by the camera.

When the camera is set to the Automatic exposure mode, it assumes control of all aspects of the photographing process, with the exception of the self-timer, flash, capture, and macro modes. On the top of the camera is a dial labeled “Mode,” which also controls “Stitch Assist” (commonly known as “panorama”) and “Movie” modes. This dial controls the exposure mode (both described below).

The sensitivity setting on the S300 is fixed at what is comparable to ISO 100 and cannot be changed. On the other hand, while taking photos in conditions with low light, the ISO equivalent will automatically increase to 150. The Canon PowerShot S300 has a shutter speed range of one to one thousand five hundred milliseconds, which places certain restrictions on the camera’s ability to photograph in low light.

However, during our testing, we discovered that the S300 was capable of producing brilliant and clear pictures at light levels as low as one foot-candle (11 lux), which is about similar to the level of light that would be present in a city at night when normal street lighting is present.

Flash

The built-in flash that is included with the S300 has five different modes of operation, all of which are controlled by the Flash button that is located on the rear panel. The button toggles between the Auto setting (represented by a lightning bolt with a “A”), the Redeye Reduction setting (represented by an eyeball), the Forced On setting (represented by a lightning bolt), the Forced Offsetting (represented by a lightning bolt with a slash), and the Slow-synchro setting (person icon with a star).

It should not be necessary to explain what Auto, Forced On, and Forced Off do. Red-eye Reduction is when the camera fires a short pre-flash before the main flash in order to limit the number of times that the subject’s eyes appear red in the resulting photograph. The Slow-synchro mode synchronizes the flash with a slow shutter speed, making it ideal for photographing nighttime scenes since it lets in more light from the surrounding environment.

In the Manual exposure mode, you may choose from any of the flash modes; in the Automatic exposure mode and the Stitch Assist mode, you can choose from a more limited selection. The charging time for the flash is around ten seconds. When the flash is ready to fire, the top LED adjacent to the optical viewfinder illuminates in orange color.

According to Canon, the flash power may be adjusted between 2.5 and 11.5 feet (76 cm and 3.5 m) while using the regular wide-angle mode, and between 2.5 and 6.6 feet (76 cm and 2 m) when using the telephoto mode. Based on our research, we determined that the flash has a range of around 8 feet and that the lens is approximately halfway between wide angle and telephoto.

Video Out

The S300 comes with an analog-to-digital (A/V) connection, which enables you to connect the camera to a television set so that you may examine photos and movies on the screen and compose compositions (US and Japanese models come set up for NTSC and European models for PAL). The only option that prevents the use of the television as a viewfinder is the Stitch Assist mode.

Power

Because the S300 gets its power from a Canon NB-1L rechargeable battery pack, you won’t have the choice, even in an emergency, to substitute a set of AA batteries for it. The good news is that the battery pack makes use of lithium-ion cells, which indicates that you may recharge it whenever you choose without having to worry about irreversibly lowering its charge capacity.

In contrast to its more widespread counterparts, NiMH batteries, lithium-ion batteries do not suffer from the issue of “self-discharge,” in which they gradually lose charge despite not being actively used. According to Canon’s calculations, a completely charged battery pack will allow for around 120 shots with the LCD monitor turned on and roughly 270 shots while the monitor is turned off.

Quality of the Image

We advise you, as we do with all of Imaging Resource’s camera testing, to use your own eyes as the most reliable indicator of how well each of the devices functioned. Look through the photographs on the pictures page to get an idea of how the S300 performed and how the quality of its shots stacks up against that of other cameras that you might be considering purchasing.

To begin, we feel obligated to acknowledge that the image quality that the PowerShot S300 was capable of producing left us feeling pretty awestruck. We thought that in order to fit everything into such a small box, certain sacrifices had to be made, even if the older model of the S100 performed admirably in its own right.

We are pleased to announce that the S300 appears to have avoided the need for any such sacrifice in the image quality in any way: The test photos that we took came out crystal clear and extremely crisp, with very little distortion, very little noise, and great color. Here is a rundown of the specifics:

The white balance mechanism of the S300 functioned admirably overall, appropriately interpreting the majority of the light sources that we exposed it to. The S300 was fooled a little bit by the incandescent lighting that was used for our Indoor Portrait since it generated a somewhat warm cast on the photographs that were taken while it was being used.

Despite this, the findings of the remaining parts of our testing were consistently correct when we used the automated white balance option. The majority of our tests showed that the color looked fantastic, marking a huge improvement over the S100 model that came before it. Although the S100 functioned admirably, the S300 provides considerably more accurate color, and the white balance mechanism of the S300 appears to be slightly more responsive to changes in the intensity of the available light.

We did observe some somewhat brilliant red values, most notably in the red flower of the Outdoor Portrait, as well as a minor propensity to develop purple tints in the blue flowers of the bouquet. Both of these observations were made (in both the Outdoor and Indoor portraits). Despite this, the huge color blocks on the Davebox test target appear to have a level of saturation that is about correct.

(We noted a brighter pixel outline inside the brighter yellow and bluish blocks.) “We detected faint, glowing halos around the outside borders of the bright red and blue blocks.”

Although the black divider line has a reddish hue and the tiny tonal changes of the Q60 chart are faintly visible in the “B” range, the S300 has no problems with the brilliant red and magenta color blocks on the middle, horizontal color chart (which are usually misinterpreted by digital cameras) (another common problem area for digicams).

The lens on the S300 looks to have an exceptionally good optical quality: It creates very crisp and clear images, and it loses very little sharpness even in the corners of the frame, which is really impressive.

Although the information is still readily apparent all the way up to 700–800 lines, we start to detect aliasing in the test patterns at around 575 lines per image height in both the horizontal and vertical orientations. Importantly, though, almost no color aliasing can be observed in any part of the image.

We observed about 0.57 percent barrel distortion while looking at wide-angle images with the S300, which indicates that the optical distortion on this camera is mild. The telephoto setting yielded results that were significantly improved, with no discernible pincushion distortion.

We can observe around four or five pixels of color on either side of the black target lines when the wide-angle setting is used, which would ordinarily grade quite poorly in terms of markings. Chromatic aberration is rather minimal. The fact that the degree of coloring is just very little, however, is a blessing in disguise because it makes the distortion virtually undetectable in the vast majority of the photos.

Only around two pixels of even the most subdued hue are visible when the camera is set to the telephoto setting. (On the resolution target, you can see this distortion as a very faint colored fringe surrounding the items that are located on the outside limits of the field of vision.)

We noticed that the S300’s optical viewfinder was rather small, displaying just around 79.4 percent of the image area when used at wide angles. This may be the camera’s most significant shortcoming. In the telephoto setting, the percentage of accurate frames was roughly 84.25 percent.

The bottom right-hand corner of the image was emphasized more in photographs that were composed using the optical viewfinder. The LCD panel was significantly more precise, displaying around 99.3 percent of the picture area when shooting at a wide angle and approximately 99.1 percent of the image area when shooting telephoto.

The S300 performs a fantastic job considering that we typically love to see LCD displays with an accuracy that is as near to one hundred percent as is feasible. At the telephoto setting, the dispersion of the flash appears to be good and even, with a little bright spot located on the center target lines.

When the wide-angle setting is used, the flash distribution is at its brightest in the center of the target, with a little but not significant fall-off along the edges, and a fairly dramatic fall-off in the corners. (The S300’s flash system does not receive very high scores overall.)

The S300 achieves results in the macro category that are somewhat below average, with a minimum area captured that measures 7.81 by 5.86 inches (198.47 x 148.86mm). Even though it’s not actually that near, the resolution is really nice, and you can make out a lot of the small detail in the coins and on the brooch.

The details are pretty sharp while being just a bit vague in places. The color appears to be rather realistic, but with a little magenta cast. When we used the wide-angle lens setting, we saw that the dollar note had a slight barrel distortion across its surface. The level of noise is minimal, and it can only be seen out against the gray background.

The built-in flash of the S300 performs a decent job at turning itself down for the macro-region, which results in a little more realistic color balance (though greenish). The huge coin creates a shiny reflection, yet all of the details are still visible. At this distance, the brightness of the flash diminishes rather noticeably around the image’s edges, but it is still able to illuminate the primary subject area to a satisfactory degree.

We were only able to capture bright, useable photographs with the S300 down to one foot-candle, which is below the industry standard. The S300’s performance in low light was just mediocre (11 lux). At a light level of 5.5 lux (half a foot-candle), the target could still be seen, but with a pinkish hue and a diminished degree of brightness.

Even when the light level was only 1/16 of a foot-candle (or 0.67 lux), the target was still visible, even if the picture looked nearly completely monochromatic. The exposure compensation tweaks didn’t appear to make much of a difference in the final photographs until the light level dropped below half a foot candle.

The exposure modifications, on the other hand, were a lot more obvious from one foot-candle all the way up to eight foot-candles. The photos continue to maintain a very low degree of noise, which is almost undetectable at the higher light levels (from one foot-candle on up).

Canon PowerShot S300 (Digital IXUS 300) Specs

Body typeUltracompact
Max resolution1600 x 1200
Other resolutions1024 x 768, 640 x 480
Image ratio w:h4:3
Effective pixels2 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors2 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.7″ (5.312 x 3.984 mm)
Sensor typeCCD
ISO100
White balance presets5
Custom white balanceNo
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsSuper-Fine, Fine, Normal
Focal length (equiv.)35–105 mm
Optical zoom
Maximum apertureF2.7–4.7
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaSingleLive View
Digital zoomYes (2.5 x)
Manual focusNo
Normal focus range76 cm (29.92″)
Macro focus range16 cm (6.3″)
Number of focus points3
Screen size1.5″
Touch screenNo
Live viewNo
Viewfinder typeOptical (tunnel)
Minimum shutter speed1 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/1500 sec
Aperture priorityNo
Shutter priorityNo
Built-in flashYes
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Off
Continuous drive2.5 fps
Self-timerYes (10 sec)
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Resolutions20 fps, max 5/20/30 sec, audio
Storage typesCompact Flash (Type I)
Storage included8 MB CompactFlash
USBUSB 1.0 (1.5 Mbit/sec)
HDMINo
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionCanon NB-L1 680 mAh Lithium-Ion
Weight (inc. batteries)270 g (0.60 lb / 9.52 oz)
Dimensions95 x 63 x 30 mm (3.74 x 2.48 x 1.18″)
Orientation sensorNo
Timelapse recordingNo

Conclusion

The S300 is a wonderful addition to the Digital ELPH product line since it combines the best of what the vast majority of digital camera buyers are looking for: A very compact camera that produces high-quality images. The S300 is one of the most pocket-friendly digital cameras we’ve seen because of its “elfish” size and the fact that it’s one of the tiniest digital cameras we’ve ever seen.

Even though users have the option to pick features like exposure correction and white balance, the point-and-shoot architecture of the S300 makes operating very simple and straightforward. The Movie and Stitch Assist (panorama) modes offer versatile shooting possibilities, and a solid complement of software offers extra creative conveniences for photographers.

It regularly produced clear photos with superb color and very little noise overall. The quality of the photographs produced is outstanding. We believe that it will end up being a very popular model even if it has a tiny price premium in comparison to larger 2-megapixel cameras. Strongly suggested as an option.

Canon PowerShot S300 (Digital IXUS 300) Price

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