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HolidayBuyer's Guide

ISO comparison

Macro

Color

Autofocus in Smart Auto

Zoom range

Lens distortion

High-speed burst

Creative modes

Photos taken with the Canon PowerShot ELPH 100 HS look soft even at its lowest ISOs, but get noticeably softer at ISO 400 and higher. However, if you're using them at small sizes, you can safely use up to ISO 800. Colors desaturate some at ISO 1600 and 3200, subjects look very soft, and detail is greatly diminished. While you might not want to view them at larger sizes or enlarge and heavily crop them, the high-ISO results should be satisfactory for Web use. They are about as good as you're going to get from a camera at this price, and a little post-shoot sharpening with basic editing software will improve things.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET
If you like to shoot close-ups, the 100 HS can focus as close as 1.2 inches from your subject. 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 excellent, if a touch soft, for inspecting fine details. The f2.8 lens is capable of creating a shallow depth of field in macro.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
Color performance is excellent from the 100 HS: bright, vivid, and accurate. Exposure is also very good, though highlights will blow out on occasion.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
When shooting in Smart Auto, the 100 HS frequently locked onto the wrong subjects, forcing me to prefocus with a half-press of the shutter release again and again. In this case, I just pressed straight down on the shutter release and instead of focusing on my daughter's face, it picked the staircase.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
The lens has a modest zoom range, going from 28mm to 112mm, or a 4x zoom. That's just enough to improve framing when shooting portraits or headshots or to get you a little closer to your subject when you physically can't.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
There is a slight amount of barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens (top), but no pincushioning when the lens is extended. Issues with fringing around high-contrast subjects were minimal and only really visible when photos were viewed onscreen and 100 percent. The lens is fairly sharp at the center and consistent edge to edge--something I usually can't say about cameras at its price.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
The camera's regular continuous-shooting option is capable of capturing at 3.3 frames per second, with focus and exposure set with the first shot. It can shoot until your memory card fills up, though, which is nice; competing cameras have a burst limit and make you wait while images are stored before you can shoot again. The camera also has a high-speed burst mode, used here, that can shoot 3-megapixel photos at up to 8.2fps. The results are good enough for Web use or small prints.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
If you want to experiment with your photos, 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 Color Accent (scene is monochrome except one user-selectable color), Color Swap (replace one color for another e.g. red for yellow), Fish-eye Effect, and Miniature Effect (pictured), which is available for movies and photos.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
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