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.
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