Canon's 10-megapixel IXUS 300 HS is a real pocket-sized powerhouse. The 'HS' stands for 'high speed', and, as well as a one-sixth-speed 240fps 'super-slow-motion movie' mode, you get 3.7fps continuous shooting at full resolution and a host of other high-end features. This camera had better be good, though, because its £300 asking price is pretty steep.
No ordinary IXUS
The 300 isn't a run-of-the-mill IXUS. For a start, it comes with one of the latest back-illuminated CMOS sensors, rather than an ordinary CCD sensor. It also has aperture-priority and shutter-priority exposure modes, and a maximum ISO of 3,200 at full resolution.
These back-illuminated sensors are interesting because they trade outright megapixels for increased sensitivity and, in the case of the 300, increased dynamic range. That's what Canon says, anyway, and the 300 does seem to be better than most at holding onto highlight detail, like bright skies, although it's also rather prone to overexposure if you've got plenty of shadowed areas in the scene.
There's no doubt about the improvement at high ISOs, though. At the camera's ISO 3,200 maximum, the detail softens and there's clearly plenty of noise reduction going on, but the overall picture quality is still miles better than you'd expect from a compact camera at this kind of sensitivity.
The super-slow-motion mode is a real hoot, too. Okay, so the movie resolution is just 320x240 pixels, and there's no sound, but this mode is simple to use and plays back in slow motion directly on the 75mm (3-inch) LCD display.
You can also shoot 1,280x720-pixel, high-definition movies at normal speed. This mode marks another step forward for Canon, by allowing you to use both the zoom and autofocus while you film.
The f2.0 lens is quite a surprise too, having a maximum aperture that's 1-1.5 stops faster than most. In fact, it looks very much like the 28-105mm zoom on the. It's not, because these two cameras have differently sized sensors, but it does show that Canon's keen to develop its cameras' low-light shooting capabilities.