Saturday, April 16, 2011

Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS Video Test

The demise of the Flip camera lineup by Cisco surprised nobody except all the people who bought them in the personal pocket-cam frenzy awhile back. The strong HD video and photo features of cellphones such as the iPhone 4 and the Android crowded the market. Now ultra compact point and shoot cameras with high megapixel counts fight on the HD video front. Canon recently introduced a mighty contender in the point and shoot war, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS.

Two things lured me to this slimmest point and shoot in the market. The CMOS sensor with the Canon HS System and the Full HD 1080p video capability. I have been looking forward to more CMOS sensor ultra compacts in the Canon Powershot lineup and the ELPH 300 HS fits the bill. CMOS chips instead of the standard CCD's of previous cameras promote longer battery life due to less power requirements and the most important is the major reduction of ISO noise. I am not a big fan of built in and external flashes. I compare them to automotive high beam headlights. Very harsh shadows and usually blown out exposures with red eyes. CMOS rules!

Believe it or not, this is ISO 3200 from the Canon ELPH 300 HS. No more harsh built in flash pictures for me! This 12 megapixel CMOS chip camera has fixed ISO settings up to ISO 3200 as well as Auto ISO. ISO 1600 is even cleaner. Canon claimed a 60% reduction in ISO noise due to the "High Sensitivity" System with their CMOS sensor. I am a true believer.

Full HD 1080p video is now in the smallest form factor of a point and shoot Canon PowerShot camera. Okay, it is no Canon EOS 5D Mark II with full manual video and audio control but it is sure less inexpensive. The Canon ELPH 300 HS boast 1080p video at 24 fps (not sure if it is exactly 23.97fps but iMovie'11 conforms it anyway) with stereo sound and the ability to optically zoom during video capture. Another benefit is the ability to set a custom white balance and a fixed ISO setting. Just even more creative control over video for aspiring "Soccer Mom" filmmakers.

Now the downside to Canon ELPH 300 HS 1080p video. Initial focus on your subject is set when you hit the record button and that is it. No continuous AF during recording (as expected just like Canon HD DSLR's) and no exposure lock to speak of. Any movement of the camera to different exposures in the frame leads to a rise or lower of the video image. Well, beggars cannot be choosers for ultra compact "all in one" super cameras. By the way, the big dedicated video record button on the back of the camera for easy reach is a nice addition. No more switching back and forth between camera modes either via menu or dial.

Another feature that may satisfy your artistic palate is the "Creative Mode" in pictures as well as video. My favorites are "Toy Effect" and "Miniature Mode" Unfortunately, most of the effects in video mode do not output to Full HD but at lesser standard definition resolutions. Bummer! Well, as a consolation prize, Canon implemented a low resolution but very high frame rate (120fps and 240 fps) to capture very detailed slow motion video events. I will reserve this feature for a future ELPH 300 HS video test. Patience!

In conclusion, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS shoots fabulous low ISO noise pictures at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 without the built in flash. The ultra compact shoots great Full HD 1080p video and made easily with the Apple iMovie'11 video editor. The picture and video quality definitely exceeds my iPhone 4 and the previous Canon ultra compact Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS. Especially, in the battery life category. I shot over an hour of video day and night and the NB-4L battery level indicator did not even budge. Impressive!

You can view more pictures and videos in my Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS Gallery.

Stay updated with the latest Canon HD gear by becoming a Fan on my Facebook Fan Page and following me on Twitter!


  1. Any idea how it does in low-light video? I know you said you could choose an ISO setting, but any idea how it is in actual practice when you are in low-light situations for video?

  2. @seyhee0919,
    I have not shot any night scenes yet, only the bath time video with CFL fixtures in the ceiling as illumination. The ELPH 300 HS is so small, I always keep it with me and I will be looking for the right night scene to capture for a video test. Maybe a sunset or 4th of July fireworks? Stay updated on my Facebook Fan page...

  3. I just picked this camera up and it has continuous autofocus...

  4. @Mojo,
    I have read the manual and tried all different configurations on the camera with no success to get continuous auto focus during video recording. Is there something I completely overlooked? Please let me know. I would like to share it with everybody on my PhotoBlog...Thanks

  5. Do you have the Elph 300 HS? Mine continuously auto focuses. Are you in the Non auto mode?

  6. In fact I can't get the focus to lock yet. I am not sure how to do this while recording...

  7. Ok, I got it. Go to menu and set the servo AF on and it will focus continuous...

  8. @Mojo,
    Thank you very much! I went to "AF Frame" of the menu and selected "AF Tracking". I may have missed the subtle AF movement in the screen at first because of my natural impatience.
    I am glad my viewers are on top of things and catch my foibles!

    Be sure to become a Fan of my Facebook Page and follow me on Twitter!

    Thanks Again!

  9. Very good review, i'm about 99% sure that i'm buying this camera, but the last 2 cameras i've bought advertized low light settings but when i went to downtown miami i got some of the worst pictures i've ever seen when trying to take pictures of the skyline.

    i've seen low light indoors and outdoors samples that look great, but i'm really curious to how this camera is with night skyline scenes and i can't find any examples.

    By any chance do you have any pictures like this that could console my fears.


  10. Nathan,
    Thanks for the review compliment.
    As for night scenes with the ELPH300, I have not shot any yet of any significance. Actually the ELPH300 is with the wife to capture the newborn most of the time, so proximity denies any chance to capture pics.
    Definitely I will shoot and post night shots in the future in the gallery listed above as soon as I get the chance.
    If you are looking for a night friendly point and shoot, I would wait until they upgrade the next generation G12 and S95 from CCD to
    CMOS chip sensors. Until then, you will get full manual exposure control and the benefits of CMOS low light capabilities.

  11. I would like to know if there are any good tips on editing the videos. IE: KBPS I know the Flip is somewhere like 9000..I am using Sony vegas 10 and when I render down, I'm getting motion blur like crazy or files that are wayyy bigger than should be! Thanks
    www.youtube.com/delaypat I have some Low light footage, but youtube really seems to take the footage from the camera and makes it SUPER DARK..Arrgh I hate compression on there

  12. @Delaypat,

    I personally do not own a Flip Video camera and Sony Vegas 10 editing software. I checked the video specs on the Flip website and it vaguely stated Mpeg4 video format using H264 compression. I am not sure if it is a proprietary video wrapper or of a Quicktime nature like the ELPH 300HS. As for Sony Vegas 10, you have to double check the video sequence presets are similar to your camera's native format. Does your video playback on Vegas 10 smoothly? The Vegas 10 website states it is native to HDDLSR .mov video files. Sorry I could not be of more help.

  13. @Chad what settings are you using for the 300 hs and vegas? I gotta get the most out of this camera. It seemed like I was talking about the flip, but I was really asking what you did! Thanks man!!

  14. @Delaypat
    Like I said before, I do not own Sony Vegas 10. I only looked up the specs on the web and found out it is native to h264 video but I do not know what kind of wrapper (quicktime or AVCHD?)
    Just check your sequence and export presets. Make sure they match your ELPH 300HS resolution and frame rates.

  15. I have the perfect Camera Mount for the Canon Powershot SD 1400IS. You will see this camera in the video on the main page. Let me know what you think,
    Happy filming.

  16. I can't see the images on my MAC. I plug in the camera to the MAC but get a message no camera found?

  17. Carlos,
    May I suggest using a separate flash memory card reader for your Mac. If you have a late model iMac, there is already a SDHC slot next to the DVD slot.

    Good Luck!

  18. Carlos,
    Open iPhoto and set it as your default to import photos (and not the Canon software, which is the reason you got the error). I know because it happened to me yesterday.