The Canon IXUS 310 HS: Classic IXUS style meets backlit sensor technology. Read our Canon IXUS 310 HS review to find out more...
The Canon IXUS 310 HS may arrive less than a year after its IXUS 300 HS predecessor, but it sees a raft of improvements across all aspects of its specifications. It adheres to the previously seen backlit sensor technology, which Canon dubs High Sensitivity, but now offers a 12.1MP CMOS sensor in place of the older 10MP chip.
Similarly, the lens has had its minimum focal length widened from 28mm to 24mm, but it still maintains an impressive maximum aperture of f/2.0 at this setting. It travels up to 105mm and once again sees image stabilisation technology courtesy of a shifting lens group, although Canon now claims that the system is effective by an extra stop, now up to four EV stops of exposure.
The Canon IXUS 310 HS’s screen has seen a number of changes, with a slightly larger dimension of 3.2in across the diagonal and a jump in resolution to 461k-dots. With touchscreen functionality incorporated, the camera can lock onto whatever subject is touched on the screen by the user and keep track of it should it move around, while most of the other controls are also accessed through the screen rather than through any physical buttons and controls.
Movie shooting has also been upgraded to now offer full HD capture at 24fps and 30fps settings, along with optical zoom control during recording and stereo sound for greater clarity. Dynamic IS is on hand to help stabilise movies, while slow-motion recording is possible at 240fps and 120fps, although only at respective QVGA and VGA resolutions.
Elsewhere, the Canon IXUS 310 HS’s exposure options branch out to provide aperture- and shutter-priority options, while a reasonable sensitivity range of ISO 100-3200 is joined by a Low Light option which captures images in particularly tricky conditions at 3MP. And, in addition to the scene modes we expect, Canon has also thrown in some creative filters, such as Fisheye, Miniature and Toy Camera effects.
The build of the Canon IXUS 310 HS feels incredibly solid, as though it has been carved out of a chunk of solid metal, but it still manages to weigh only 185g with a battery and card in place. Almost all control takes place through the touch screen, so it’s good to see both large and reasonably responsive buttons, although navigating the menus requires finger swiping through somewhat resistant screens of options, which can be a little irritating when in a hurry.
Nevertheless, the Canon IXUS 310 HS powers up and down swiftly, and both zooming and focusing are carried out with minimal sound. Although the tracking option doesn’t actually continuously focus as the subject moves, it sticks to the subject well in good light and only falters in darker conditions, while standard focusing is prompt and accurate, with large green boxes placing themselves clearly over the appropriate areas. The camera sometimes refuses to focus in particularly dark conditions, but then in such situations there will always be limits to what can be realistically achieved by such a camera.
The standard of image quality varies, but it’s always between very good and excellent. In optimum lighting conditions fine details are recorded clearly and are only compromised by a little noise reduction, while sharpness extends to corners and edges once the lens has been stopped down. Exposure is spot on most of the time, and even in difficult conditions the camera is rarely persuaded to err too far one way or the other, while Auto White Balance performance also impresses, even if it does have a tendency of leaving images a little cold on occasion.
Colours are bright and punchy, although in contrasty conditions some highlight details are understandably lost. Considering the backlit sensor and top sensitivity of ISO 3200 image noise control is good, and across the camera’s sensitivity range images turn out with minimal chroma noise and just a little texture. At higher sensitivities, details are understandably compromised and noise reduction artefacts are present, but the lack of chroma noise means that such images can still be successfully used. The only other disappointment comes through the camera’s control over chromatic aberrations; many images are affected by fringing across edges throughout the frame, which includes some purple fringing across highlight areas.
Video quality is good in fine lighting conditions, and even at a lowly-lit pub gig the camera did will to render details well and keep subjects focused. As we may expect, some minor artefacts are present across repetitive details, and the familiar ‘wobbling’ occurs when the camera is panned across a scene, but when the camera is held still it deals with all manner of subjects with ease.
Those wanting a stylish and solid camera with a reliable standard of image quality should find little to disappoint with the Canon IXUS 310 HS. It’s also priced far more attractively than previous IXUS models, although the somewhat tardy operation of the touchscreen may be enough to deter some potential buyers.