Canon IXUS 230 HS vs IXUS 220 HS

Just about every camera brand in the fiercely competitive sub-£250 point and shoot market wants to captivate you with their latest ‘unique’ gizmos, and Canon is no exception.

The Canon IXUS 230 HS, launched just six months after the debut of the capable IXUS 220 HS, is not so much a model upgrade as an enhancement to the IXUS family.  It’s pitched squarely, according to Canon’s product brochures, as the perfect partner for stylish, hip, young things who want to have fun nights out.

At about the width of a penny, this camera is slim enough to fit almost any pocket or clutch bag. And weighing in at just 143g, it won’t strain your sinews. Yet crammed into the surprisingly solid metal body – available in six satin-sleek colours – is a cavalcade of tech tricks that produce first rate image quality, even in dimly-lit clubs and bars.

Canon HS system

Like all of this year’s IXUS cameras, the 230 HS sports Canon’s HS system – a nifty combo of highly sensitive backlit 12.1MP CMOS senor and the excellent DIGIC 4 processor, usually seen in tip-top prosumer EOS bodies.

JPEGs shot from dawn till well after dusk look well balanced, and even at the outer reaches of ISO3200, image noise is rarely an issue - certainly nothing a little post processing can’t sort out. The shutter button feels reassuringly precise with no lag, and focusing is certainly swift.

To grab gorgeous-looking, cinematic 1080 HD 24fps movies, you simply press the IXUS 230 HS's dedicated rear panel video button. In-movie optical zooming is silent and smooth. Record your epic in any shade of daylight and you could just about broadcast it. Shoot at night, using a GorillaPod for rock solid stability, and you’ll still be thrilled at the quality.

IXUS 230 HS – 8x optical zoom

Where the 230 HS really differs from siblings lower down the IXUS pecking order, however, is the inclusion of Canon’s superb new Intelligent IS image stabilisation. This allows you to still knock out sharp, blur-free pics when shooting in less than perfect light without resorting to the built-in flash. So snaps of you and your mates on a big night out retain that ambient, natural look.

Canon has also loaded the camera with an impressive 28-224mm (35mm equivalent) 8x optical zoom lens – great for getting closer to the action – and a high-res 3in rear screen, although it’s not touch sensitive.

The camera’s interface is simple, as controls are kept firmly to a minimum. The only hint of manual operation is an exposure compensation capability to make images a tad brighter or darker before taking a shot. Otherwise, you’re cruising in Automatic or Programme mode.

To boost creativity, there are 25 Programme shooting options – some of which are actually rather brilliant and addictive. The pick of the bunch are Super Slow Motion movies (QVGA video at 240 fps), Miniature style stills and speedy time lapse video – both of which will make your world look like Toy Town. Handheld Night Scene is great if you forgot to take your tripod to the pub, and there's also a Smile Detection auto-firing feature.

IXUS 230 HS – too expensive?

The best camera in the world is the one that’s with you. Despite its lack of controls and so-so battery life (it’s worth investing in a couple of backups), the diminutive IXUS 230 HS could be a winner.

But – and it’s a hefty one – not at £230. The competition is innovative, price-conscious, and worth more than a glance. Examine street prices for the Nikon Coolpix S100, Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-TZ18, or the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10 and you might find equally svelte bodies packing yet more gadgetry.

Stuff says... 

Canon IXUS 230 HS review

A stylish super-slim snapper which is no slouch in low light conditions