Take a look at the photo quality and shooting capabilities for Canon's 8x zoom ultracompact, the PowerShot Elph 310 HS.
The Elph 310 HS produces generally excellent snapshots. Photos do get softer and noisier above ISO 200--typical for point-and-shoots--but ISO 400 and 800 are still very usable. The noise and noise reduction are well balanced so you still get good color and detail at these higher sensitivities without things looking overly smeary or blurry. Colors desaturate some at ISO 1600 and 3200, subjects look very soft, and detail is greatly diminished. You may also notice yellow blotches of color noise. While you might not want to view them at larger sizes or heavily crop them, the high-ISO results should be satisfactory for Web use at small sizes.
The camera can focus as close as 0.4 inch from a subject for shooting close-ups. This is a 100 percent crop from the inset photo taken at ISO 100. Even at larger sizes and with heavy cropping, the photos are very good, if a touch soft, for inspecting fine details.
Color performance is excellent from the 310 HS: bright, vivid, and accurate. Exposure is generally good, though highlights will blow out on occasion. And if your subject gets lost in shadows, you can use Canon's i-Contrast option to brighten things up in playback.
The 310 is essentially the same size as the older 300 HS--3.8 inches wide by 2.2 inches high by 0.9 inch thick--but instead of a 5x, f2.7-5.9, 24-120mm lens, the 310 has an 8x, f3.0-5.9, 28–224mm lens.
There is slight barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens (top) and maybe a hint of pincushioning in telephoto (bottom). Center sharpness is very good and the lens is consistent out to the sides and in the corners.
There is a fair amount of fringing/ghosting in high-contrast areas of photos. It's most visible when photos are viewed at full size, so it's not a huge concern unless you do a lot of enlarging and/or heavily crop your photos. However, there are times when it's very easy to see, such as around these tree branches.
The camera's continuous shooting speed at full resolution is decent at 3.5 frames per second, with focus and exposure set at the first shot. If you're willing to sacrifice some resolution, its high-speed burst mode can shoot 3-megapixel photos at 8.7fps. The results are decent, good enough for small prints or Web use.
If you want to experiment with your photography, Canon's Creative Filters are mixed in with the camera's scene modes. These include a Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, and Poster Effect. You'll also find a Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Color Swap (replace one color for another, e.g., red for yellow), and Color Accent (pictured) where the scene is monochrome except one user-selectable color.