Monday, February 7, 2011
Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:30 AM
The final Canon headline today is some ice news. Canon for once is not joining in upping the megapixel stakes today by announcing a bunch of compacts using the same 12 megapixel CMOS sensor with the ability to shoot 1080p videos at 24 FPS, as well as some neat tricks like QVGA video at 240 FPS. If the previous incarnation of the sensor in the IXUS 300 HS is anything to go by, these will be quite good pocket shooters. All feature the new Canon software, which allows for auto scene mode selection, along with all the colour swap/faux tilt/whatever options currently present in Canon's compact lineup.
First on the list is the Powershot SX230 HS compact superzoom, which features its predecessor's 14x optically stabilised 28-392mm equivalent f/3.1-5.9 lens and 3" HVGA LCD. What's new is the above mentioned sensor and the inclusion of a GPS system for geotagging photos. Expect the camera to appear in March for US$350. There is also a Europe (Asia too?) version called the SX220 HS, which just drops the GPS receiver.
Next up are the ELPH/IXUS cameras. Leading the pack is the ELPH 500 HS/IXUS 310 HS, an update of the SD 4000 IS/IXUS 300 HS. It features a new 4.4x optically stabilised 24-105mm equivalent f/2.0-5.8 lens with a 3.2" HVGA touchscreen LCD, and loses the option of having the camera come in black. I really liked the matte black version of the IXUS 300 HS, and that camera's red option was something to talk about. The current options of pastel pink, brown (the horror) and silver are just not very interesting. Ships in March for US$300.
Following that is my favourite of the bunch, the ELPH 300 HS/IXUS 220 HS, which is an update of the very slim and compact SD 1400 IS/IXUS 130 IS. The new lens now starts at a 24mm equivalent, giving a 5x optically stabilised 24-120mm equivalent f/2.7-5.9 lens. Nice! The rest of the camera is pretty much unchanged, with a 2.7" QVGA LCD screen and very good looks. Did I mention it is very slim and compact? Ships in March for US$250.
Finally, the ELPH 100 HS/IXUS 115 HS. It's main advantage is price, at US$200 (an IXUS for US$200, who'd have thought?), but the features are still pretty decent. Mated with the HS sensor is a 4x optically stabilised 28-112mm equivalent, and the camera features a 3" QVGA LCD screen. Not bad for US$200. Ships in March.
Commentary: I have to say, Canon's compacts are now pretty good. After a period where they were churning out cameras with 3x/4x 35-105/140mm equivalent lenses for the longest time, Panasonic and their cameras pushing for HD videos, easy-to-use auto scene modes, and lenses that start wider (28mm and wider is not uncommon) just looked way more interesting. Looking good did not hurt either, and unlike most manufacturers, Panasonic did not restrict good looks to the top end of the range. Canon using the "HS" sensors is a good move. Now the only thing left is, will consumers be interested in the better quality of images over camera phones?
Images of the other cameras after the break.