Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Canon IXUS 310 HS

Canon IXUS 310 HS

Stylish, but a bit too expensive.

Good image quality; Stylish form factor; 1080p recording; Large touch screen with good visibility.

Noise in images and videos; Screen not very responsive; No dedicated video record button; Limited manual focus; Video capture file size restricted to 4 GB; Expensive.

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Canon IXUS 310 HS
MRP: Rs 19,999
Street price: Rs 19,395 (;

For those who want style and fashion even in cameras, Canon has the IXUS series with sculpted bodies and decent specs. One such compact camera is the IXUS 310 HS, which is a 12.1 MP camera with 4.4x optical zoom along with Optical Image Stabilisation. This successor to the IXUS 300 HS, has a full touch screen interface with a large 3.2" screen. Powered by the DIGIC 4 processor, this baby can shoot 1080p videos at 24 fps without breaking a sweat, as against the 720p offered by its predecessor. A back-illuminated CMOS sensor promises better photography in darker conditions, while it also boasts of Super Slow Motion movies at 240 fps and high-speed burst stills. While these are the specs on paper, we found out what the camera really delivers.

Canon IXUS 310 HS
Li-ion battery
Wrist strap
USB data cable
A/V cable
Software disc

Design And Features
The Canon IXUS has a curvaceous sculpted stainless steel body with a metallic lustre. The construction is very rugged and the camera appears to be chunky when held in the hands. With a slim profile with only a slight bulge near the lens, it is small and light enough to be carried in a pocket. The retractable lens is protected by a cover, which automatically opens or shuts when the camera is switched on and off, respectively. A pair of stereo microphones is present on either sides of the lens to capture stereophonic audio. The horizontal flash is placed on the side away from the shutter button to minimise the chances of it accidentally getting blocked by fingers.
Almost the entire rear of the camera is occupied by the 3.2" large touch screen LCD. The only button available over here is the Play button to initiate the playback mode. The screen has double the number of pixels (461,000) as its predecessor (230,000), making the image a lot crisper. With good viewing angles and colour definition, the display is easily visible even under direct sunlight, making it possible to use the camera in broad daylight. This is essential for this camera because it does not come with an optical viewfinder. All the familiar Canon UI is present in this camera as well, albeit with touch control. A vertical list of icons is placed on the left of the screen, which can be scrolled by vertically swiping at the screen. Because the controls are placed so close to each other, you will be in a fix if you have fat fingers, thus unintentionally touching another control instead of the one you actually intended to touch. Although Canon states that the screen is capacitive, it exhibits the lack of responsiveness of a resistive screen. Canon also states that this screen is resistant to scratches.The battery compartment is present below the camera, protected by a sliding door. This compartment also houses the SD memory card slot. The battery is a 1000 mAh Li-ion proprietary battery. There is a threaded metal socket to attach a tripod, which is placed off the centre of gravity, although it does not matter much in a camera as light as this one. A mini-HDMI port along with a mini-USB slot is present on one side of the camera protected by a flap, while the other side has a sieve behind which the speaker is placed.

The camera has integrated iSAPS technology, which analyses the scene being photographed and automatically chooses the best scene mode. The shutter priority mode lets you set a shutter speed from as high as 1/1600 of a second to as high as 15 seconds, while the aperture priority range covers F2.0 to F8.0. The large touch screen has been used to provide touch-to-focus functionality. However, there is no way to choose the focal distance. This makes it difficult to focus on subjects in situations such as when they are behind glass or grills, where the camera refuses to focus on the subject, preferring to focus on the glass or grills instead. The lack of a physical mode dial is evident, especially when you have to go inside the touch menu every time you want to change the mode, something which would have been easily achieved, had there been a physical mode dial.

The camera becomes operational within a second of pressing the power button. The average gap between two shots was found to be around 2.5 seconds.

Let us now take a look at the image quality.

The 310 HS features 4.4x optical zoom, which is usually the case with cameras sporting a slim and small form factor, although a slightly bulging camera such as this one could have easily accommodated more.

The Canon IXUS 310 HS is a splendid example of an amalgamation of style, performance, and quality. It doesn't fail to amaze with its good still image quality and 1080p video capture, although we must add the otherwise flawless performance is marred with noise in the image at all ISO levels. The design is good, the size pocketable, while the UI with a huge 3.2" full touch screen easy to use. Manual controls or even shooting modes are not available by direct control buttons, but only after you go inside the touch UI, which may be daunting and confusing to many. The 4 GB \ 10 minutes limit of video capture is also another limitation enforced by Canon, probably to force people not to use this as a camcorder and buy its expensive models.

One of the major negatives about this camera is that the IXUS 310 HS, which is available in brown, pink, and silver, is priced very expensive at an MRP of Rs 19,995 with a 1-year warranty. At this price point, the Sony TX9 would have been a worthy competitor. However, it is no longer available, thus leaving this camera with no competitor to compete against.

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