Design and features
Canon has long been the doyen of the slimline, compact camera market, with previous offerings proving that style can walk hand-in-hand with photographic substance. This latest camera, the 220 HS, sits comfortably in a pocket thanks to its diminutive size and weight of 122g.
It feels particularly nice to hold, and is surprisingly ergonomic despite its tiny footprint. Large hands shouldn't have too much trouble, as the buttons are significantly larger than on the previous slimline IXUS cameras that we've seen. The HS in the camera's title denotes "High Sensitivity", which comes thanks to a new 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and a range of in-camera options for better low-light performance. More on this later.
A 5x optical zoom pops out from the front of the chassis, with the lens opening to 24mm wide angle. At the rear, you get a 2.7-inch LCD screen with a fairly low resolution of 230,000-dots. Buttons sit flush with the back panel, including the mode selector switch that alternates between full automatic mode and various functions in program mode. There's also a dedicated video record button that flicks the 220 HS into its full HD, 1080p and 24fps recording mode.
Those functions include: movie digest mode, which takes four seconds of video before the shutter is pressed, stitching it together at the end of the day into a small VGA resolution movie; portrait; kids and pets; smart shutter; high-speed burst; best image selection, which takes the best image in a sequence; hand-held night scene; low-light mode, which takes images at a reduced 3-megapixel resolution; fish eye; miniature; and toy camera. There are plenty more modes to discover in the camera menus, just in case you didn't think these were enough.
Connectivity options are located underneath a small plastic flap on the side, covering a mini-HDMI and mini-USB port.
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Time to first shot
- Shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- Canon 220 HS
Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)
- Canon 220 HS
- Sony WX7
Canon rates the battery for 220 shots. The 220 HS can also shoot at 8fps in high-speed continuous mode, but the resolution drops to 3-megapixels.
As the 220 HS is advertised as a camera that excels in low-light situations, we decided to put it through its paces. There are several modes in the camera that are designed specifically with evening photography in mind, including a long exposure mode with increments selectable up to a maximum of 15 seconds, and a mode that reduces the resolution to 3-megapixels.
An example of a shot taken using the low-light mode, reduced for web display.
This camera does an excellent job of delivering strong, accurate colours even in low light, with deep blacks and reasonably natural skin tones produced with the flash turned on or off. The flash is also bright enough to illuminate both foreground and background subjects in a room. Autofocus is less accurate when the light drops off, so a few attempts might need to be made to lock the focus onto the appropriate subject.