Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 12.1 MP Digital Camera – J. Gebauer – Product Review
I’m a DSLR photographer who shoots professionally and has managed a camera store in the past. I wanted something I can take with me everywhere but still produces good quality shots. I also wanted a camera that could shoot good looking videos. I researched several models and after much deliberation decided on the Canon 300 HS. I’m very happy I did.
I tested cameras and lenses all the time while managing the camera store so whenever I purchase a new camera or lens I always test it. The Canon 300 HS doesn’t produce the quality of images my Nikon D7000 does but I didn’t expect it to. The edges get a little soft with the 300 HS when looking at the image at 100% whereas the D7000 images are almost tact sharp.
Comparing the 300 HS to the Canon Powershot SD1000 from a few years ago, the 300 HS blows it out of the water. The SD1000 is a 7 MP camera. Shooting the same shots on a tripod with the same focal length on the lens the 300 HS uses its extra MPs well. When looking at the images from each camera at 100%, at the wide angle zoom setting and normal zoom setting both cameras have about the same relative slight softness on the edges. However the 300 HS has more MP so it actually produces much more detail in the image. I think it was smart for Canon to keep the MP at 12 because last years models while being 14 MP (SD1400) didn’t give any extra detail from what I could tell than the 12 MP version (SD1300). The SD1400 was basically just creating larger files. When zooming in the telephoto setting the 300 HS clearly produced a sharper image than the SD1000. Often cameras have sweet spots in the zoom range in which it will produce crisper images. The 300 HS has consistently good sharpness throughout it’s zoom range.
HS system and ISO:
The image processing with the HS system truly works to reduce noise at higher ISOs enabling people to produce better quality images in low light. The improvement in image quality gets more and more visible the greater and greater the ISO. ISO 400 with the 300 HS was almost as good as ISO 200 on the SD1000. ISO 800 on the 300 HS was a tad better than ISO 400 on the SD1000. ISO 1600 on the 300 HS was between ISO 400 and 800 on the SD1000. ISO 3200 on the 300 HS produced the same quality of image (noise) as ISO 800 on the SD1000. A 2 stop in film speed improvement is big.
1080p video and slow motion:
With good light, the 300 HS produces wonderful smooth 1080 videos. If you look at a lot of HD videos from compact cameras the video often looks jumpy. From what I’ve seen it wasn’t until you got to the Canon G12 or Panasonic LX5 that the video looked smooth. Both of those cameras only shoot 720p whereas this camera shoots 1080p. The video also very good detail. It truly looks HD.
If you are wanting zoom and continuous AF with your video this camera is the one you want compared to the 100 HS which doesn’t allow you to zoom. The continuous AF with face recognition is stellar with this camera in video mode. I was videoing my wife while she was driving. It focused on her face. I switched to the scenery outside. It immediately focused on that. I then went back to my wife and it found her face and focused on it right away. I even videoed her reflection in the rear view mirror and it found her face in the mirror no problem and focused on it. AMAZING!!!!
Commenting on a complaint I’ve read about the zoom being slow in video mode. If you like getting motion sickness whenever someone rapidly zooms in or out during their video this is not your camera. As smooth looking as the video is, the zoom is also. The smooth zoom creates nice looking transitions instead of warp speed ahead looks.
The slow motion is a fun feature that works well. You need to have good lighting though. In low light even with high ISO’s it produced very dark videos. In a review someone commented that it should have sound with the slow motion video. I honestly don’t know how that could work unless you want to listen to everything at 1/5 it’s normal speed. I think it’s a good thing that it doesn’t have sound with the slow motion videos.
I commented on AF partially in the video portion of the review. It does have several AF modes for various situations. The face detection works great. If you have a person in the picture but want something other than the person to be in focus you will need to change AF modes from face detection. The reviewer that had the problem with the 300 HS focusing on things he didn’t want the camera to focus on likely didn’t have the correct AF mode for the shooting situations. The 300 HS does have a center AF if you prefer that.
Areas for Canon to improve on with the 300 HS:
The camera is so well thought out that I’m surprised Canon let this slip. I love having a wide angle zoom go down to 24mm. It’s great for scenery and photojournalist type shots. If you shoot at the widest angle zoom and use the flash, the lens on the 300 HS blocks the flash’s exposure on the bottom right corner of the image. The corner is completely black. If you zoom in a bit so you aren’t at the widest angle setting when using the flash you will be fine. Still all Canon had to do is not put the flash so close to the lens.
When shooting video in lower light situations the video does start to get noisy and grainy quicker than some other cameras.
All in all this is a wonderfully thought out camera with great image quality and image processing and it shoots stellar videos for it’s compact size.
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