Canon IXUS 220 HS Review

April 8, 2011 | Gavin Stoker | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Canon IXUS 220 HS (also known as the PowerShot ELPH 300 HS) is a new sleek, slim and stylish compact digital camera. Key features of the IXUS 220 include a back-illuminated 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, 5x 24-120mm lens with an optical image stabiliser, 3.4 frames per second burst mode at full resolution, full 1080p HD movie recording with stereo sound and a HDMI port, and a 2.7 inch LCD screen. Available in silver, red and black, the Canon IXUS 220 HS costs £199.00 / €239.00 / $249.99.

Ease of Use

New for spring 2011, the 12.1 megapixel Canon IXUS 220 HS is another slender pocket zoom compact that goes up against the likes of the Nikon Coolpix S3100 in that respect, whilst offering a slightly better feature set for marginally more money. Just 19.3mm in depth and fashioned from stainless steel to its rival's 18.4mm, like the Nikon the point-and-shoot IXUS 220 HS is being sold in a range of vivid body colours, suggesting all ages and both sexes are being targeted: we had the eye catching scarlet option in for review. Expect to pay a street/online price of around £170 for the privilege.

As with the rest of the IXUS camera range, the 220 HS' glossy exterior disguises the fact that this could be classed as a budget compact option. The 'HS' suffix trumpets the camera's claimed 'High Sensitivity' capability. In terms of specification, this is highlighted via the inclusion of backlit 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor and its integral Digic 4 processor enabling image noise levels up to 60% lower than its predecessors at higher ISOs (here ISO100 through ISO3200), claims its maker.

The Canon IXUS 220 HS betters the cheaper Coolpix in that its own 5x optical zoom boasts lens shift anti shake, rather than just the digital variety, in part enabling us to achieve consistently sharper results when shooting handheld at the telephoto end. Here the focal range on offer is equivalent to a wide angle 24mm to 120mm, so as adept at landscape shots and group portraits as it is (relatively close) candid photography and pulling objects from a couple of hundred yards away that much closer without actually having to take a couple of steps forward. That's not quite a spec that propels it into travel zoom territory but its diminutive size would suggest a travel companion nonetheless.

A dedicated video record button located in the top right hand corner of the back plate, in lieu of its own option on the shooting mode slider switch, signals the importance leant that facility, as does a mini HDMI port alongside a joint AV out/USB 2.0 port under a rubber flap at the camera's side.

Canon IXUS 220 HS Canon IXUS 220 HS
Front Rear

With the above allowing for instant, one-touch filming no matter what alternative stills shooting mode might have been in play at the time, here that's at a Full HD 1920x1080 pixels and a standard rate of 24 frames per second. Whilst finding Full HD on a budget model is both surprising and welcome, so too is the fact that stereo sound is offered, via two microphones lurking beneath adjacent pin pricks on the camera's top plate. Inevitably, this location means that they pick up the sound of fingers moving around the camera as framing is adjusted, and the low whirr of the zoom making any adjustments, but for this price such grumbles cannot be considered deal breakers.

The low cost also part excuses the fact that the back plate 4:3 aspect ratio LCD, utilized for composition and review in the absence of any separate viewfinder, is a relatively modest 2.7-inches in size on the IXUS 220 HS, and boasts a so-so resolution of 230k dots. It's adequate for purpose and that's about all we can hope for. When recording video the screen display narrows, black bands cropping it top and bottom to provide a 16:9 widescreen aspect.

Although this is very much a snapshot model, it does hold some appeal for action shooters. In terms of stills there's the ability to shoot at 3.4fps at 12 megapixels, or up this to 8fps with the caveat of a fall in resolution to three megapixels as a result. For videographers, there's the ability to record slow motion clips, by virtue of either filming at 320x240 pixels at 240fps, or standard definition 640x480 pixels at 120fps. Canon also throws in what it's terming a Movie Digest feature. With this option selected the camera records a short video burst at the point a still photo is taken. Stitched together these short clips form a little standalone 'movie' that, can, says Canon, tell the story of your day. Handy if you're spending the day sightseeing perhaps.

Held in the palm the Canon IUS 220 HS pulls off that trick of feeling at once lightweight yet reasonably sturdy with it, despite boasting dimensions barely larger than a credit card of 92.2x55.9x19.5m and a weight of 141g with battery and memory card (here SD, SDHC or SDXC).

Canon IXUS 220 HS Canon IXUS 220 HS
Side Top

Nobody will be surprised, least of all us, that there is no actual handgrip or rest of any sort provided on the 220 HS for a firmer grip. Whilst your fingers slide about the smooth, pebble-like faceplate, your thumb comes to rest over the video record button at the back. As this button is level with the body, accidental activation is largely prevented, though it is possible. Should you choose to steady the camera in both hands when taking a shot, the rear screen inevitably becomes smeared with finger and thumbprints. If you really want a small pocket camera, you also have to put up with such design compromises.

From the front the IXUS 220 HS appears friendly and approachable in its simplicity, its lens, retracted within the body when not in use, dominating proceedings, top right of which is a narrow window for the integral flash, with tiny AF assist/self timer lamp peeking out below. This positioning means that when holding the camera in both hands there's the danger of the forefinger of the left hand part obscuring the flash.

The top of the camera also appears fairly simple at first glance, the largest control being the shutter release button, here surrounded by a regulation-issue lever for operating the zoom for added convenience. A raised lip at the front is just large enough to catch the pad of the forefinger. Next to these controls and slightly sunk into the top plate to help prevent accidental activation when transporting the IXUS is the on/off button. Press this and provided time and date have been pre-set, the camera readies itself for the first shot in just over a second – which is fast for its class – lens extending to maximum wideangle setting and the LCD blinking into life with an audio flourish.

Give the shutter release button a half press and after a briefly visible moment of focus adjustment/exposure determining, AF points/s appear highlighted as green squares. Whilst the AF is not lightning fast, it's fast enough for the IXUS 220 HS' class. Press down fully to take the shot and the IXUS takes three seconds to four seconds to write a maximum resolution JPEG to memory, screen blanking out briefly before displaying the captured frame. Again this isn't the quickest we've experienced, but for its class and its price it's hard to justify spitting feathers.

The back of the camera continues the user-friendly ethos with larger buttons than we'd expect to find on a camera with overall dimensions this dinky, meaning that they can be accessed with a thumb press rather than requiring fingernail precision. We've already mentioned the video record button. Ranged parallel to this is a two-setting slider switch for alternating between Smart Auto, the default scene and subject recognizing option for pure point and shoot operation, and Program auto, via which a greater range of hands on control including effects filters can be accessed. Usefully Canon has here given playback a separate button rather than including it on the same switch. This means that if you're replaying a shot when a fresh photo opportunity presents itself, a mere half press of the shutter release button will throw the user back into capture mode.

Canon IXUS 220 HS Canon IXUS 220 HS
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Beneath the shooting mode switch and record button is a familiar control pad. The options ranged around it are the usual suspects of exposure compensation (here +/- 2EV), flash, display and auto/macro focus mode settings. At the centre of the four-way pad is a 'func/set' button. Press this in either shooting mode and a toolbar appears at the left hand side of the screen, rather more densely populated with options when in Program as opposed to Smart Auto mode, which merely allows adjustment of image quality (Fine or Normal) and compression levels (Large, Medium or Small), image aspect ratio (the default 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, or most surprising of all 1:1), self timer, and video resolution (the full 1920x1080, dropping down incrementally to 320x240 pixels).

In Program mode we obviously get all of the above, plus metering options (evaluative, centre weighted average and spot), comprehensive 'My Colors' modes (with 'Vivid' getting the most use during our test period, though leaving this turned off and utilising the camera's default settings produces good results too if plenty of light is available), white balance, ISO, plus the chance to switch from Program to one of the built-in effects filters. Tabbing down the options here we find Movie Digest mode, dedicated portrait and kids and pets scene options, smile shutter, high speed burst shooting, best image selection (the camera choosing the best representation of a given scene from a sequence of shots), handheld night scene, Low Light (three megapixel resolution), plus fisheye, miniature effect, toy camera, monochrome, super vivid and poster effect. The slow motion movie clip option is also squeezed into this comprehensive menu of possibilities.

The last button we haven't yet mentioned on the camera back is the self-explanatory 'menu', tucked into the right hand corner near the base. Press this and we're presented with two folders; one governing image capture and the second the set up folder. In the first folder we have the usual options, including the ability to turn the digital zoom on/off, as well as Canon's i-Contrast mode, blink detection, the ability to call up on-screen grid lines and swap the image stabilization mode between continuous, shoot only (comes into effect when the shutter release button is pressed). The second set up folder allows sound and volume to be controlled LCD brightness adjusted and the memory card in use to be formatted. There's no integral memory offered as a back up.

Whilst the right hand side of the camera, if viewed from the back, features the output ports and a lug for attaching a strap, the opposite flank of the camera is devoid of features entirely. The base of the IXUS meanwhile features a screw thread for a tripod and a covered compartment housing both vacant memory card slot and rechargeable lithium ion cell, good for 220 shots (a coincidence given the model numder?) from a full charge.

Whilst one could criticize the IXUS 220 HS for not exactly being full of surprises, it does the job, doesn't cost a king's ransom and looks reasonably stylish with it. So what of the images it produces. Do they transcend its budget status, or remain in the gutter whilst other digital compacts are grasping at the stars?

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 10 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 2.5Mb.

This being a Canon camera we weren't expecting images to be terrible despite the low-ish price point: far from it. That said, we are dealing with a snapshot camera, so miracles aren't expected either. With this caveat in place, familiar bugbears such as pixel fringing between areas of high contrast and loss of sharpness towards the corner of frame at maximum wide angle rear their heads. With as a default the camera biasing whatever is dead centre of frame, most will be pleased with the results though, and images are generally well exposed and crisp in terms of detail – as long as you don't enlarge portions and scrutinize them too closely.

This is a class of camera that functions at its best with plenty of natural light available, so sunnier climes will render the best-looking photographs. Having said that the IXUS 220 HS doesn't exactly drop down significantly in performance when it comes to low light shooting either, and it is this respect that we were most pleased with the camera's capability. Here the top setting of ISO3200 when combined with an f/2.7 maximum aperture is actually usable; a setting at which the performance of most point and shoot cameras is degraded significantly to resemble something closer to a watercolor than a photograph. That's not the case here and even the three megapixel Low Light mode delivered a pleasingly sharp result when faced with our regular doll test subjects. Overall a much better than expected performance and from a sub-£200 camera - leaving us with very little to grumble about.


There are 6 ISO settings available on the Canon IXUS 220 HS. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes via the My Colors menu option.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Chromatic Aberrations

The Canon IXUS 220 HS handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)


The Canon IXUS 220 HS offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 3cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


The flash settings on the Canon IXUS 220 HS are Auto, Flash On, Slow Synchro, and Flash Off, with Red-eye Correction and Red-Eye Lamp settings available via the Flash Settings main menu option. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (24mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (120mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (120mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. Neither the Flash On or the Red-eye Correction settings caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Correction

Red-eye Correction (100% Crop)


The Canon IXUS 220 HS's maximum shutter speed is 15 seconds in the Long Shutter mode, which is good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 800. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like. The camera takes the same amount of time again to apply noise reduction, so for example at the 5 second setting the actual exposure takes 10 seconds.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Canon IXUS 220 HS camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920 x 1280 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 31 second movie is 133Mb in size.

Product Images

Canon IXUS 220 HS

Front of the Camera

Canon IXUS 220 HS

Front of the Camera / Turned On

Canon IXUS 220 HS

Isometric View

Canon IXUS 220 HS

Isometric View

Canon IXUS 220 HS

Rear of the Camera

Canon IXUS 220 HS

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Canon IXUS 220 HS

Top of the Camera

Canon IXUS 220 HS

Bottom of the Camera

Canon IXUS 220 HS

Side of the Camera


Canon IXUS 220 HS

Side of the Camera

Canon IXUS 220 HS

Memory Card Slot

Canon IXUS 220 HS

Battery Compartment


OK, so it doesn't offer GPS, 3D shooting mode, moisture resistance or a broad focal range, but, being pocket friendly, low cost and competent anyway, could the Canon IXUS 220 HS possibly be your next travel accessory?

In its favour it certainly lives up to the IXUS heritage, stretching back a decade now, in being both easy to use yet maintaining a stylish almost sophisticated aura in spite of that. It also holds its own against keenly priced competitors thanks to largely noise free results even at the higher ISO settings, and offers a degree of future proofing thanks to its inclusion of Full HD video and HDMI output.

If you are considering the IXUS 220 HS as an accessory to drop into your bag for the beach this summer, Canon offers a couple of waterproof cases by way of accessories, with pricing between £55 and £225. Some may understandably baulk at the latter.

In summing up, whilst the Canon IXUS 220 HS is not the most innovative model of recent months to land on our test slab, all things considered it's another Recommended award from the Photographyblog team of testers for anyone looking for an undemanding good value pocket camera that will deliver decent image quality with the minimum of fuss. Exciting it may not be, but at times you just want a camera that does the job of an aide memoire and don't want to spend a fortune to get it.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4
Value for money 5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Canon IXUS 220 HS from around the web. »

The IXUS line of compacts has proved very successful for Canon, with the first iconic models appearing in the late 90s. Things have moved on since then, and with the Canon IXUS 220 HS, Canon hope to appeal to a whole new generation.
Read the full review » »

The new Canon IXUS 220 HS enters the market with a 12.1MP resolution, 5x zoom lens with an equivalent focal length of 24-120mm and stabilisation technology.
Read the full review »


Type 1/2.3 type back-illuminated CMOS
Effective Pixels Approx. 12.1M
Colour Filter Type Primary Colour
Type DIGIC 4 with iSAPS technology
Focal Length 4.3 – 21.5 mm (35 mm equivalent: 24 – 120 mm)
Zoom Optical 5x. Digital Approx. 4x (with Digital Tele-Converter Approx. 1.5x or 2.0x and Safety Zoom¹). Combined Approx. 20x
Maximum f/number f/2.7 – f/5.9
Construction 6 elements in 5 groups (3 double sided aspherical lenses (including 1 UA lens),and 1 single sided aspherical lens (including 1 UA lens)
Image Stabilisation Yes (lens shift-type), Approx. 4-stop. Dynamic IS (in Movie)
Type TTL
AF System/ Points AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point), 1-point AF (fixed to centre)
AF Modes Single, Continuous (Auto mode only), Servo AF/AE¹, Tracking AF
AF Point Selection Size (Normal, Small)
AF Lock On/Off Selectable
AF Assist Beam Yes
Closest Focusing Distance 3 cm (W) from front of lens in macro
Metering modes Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre)
AE Lock On/Off Selectable
Exposure Compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments
Enhanced i-Contrast for automatic dynamic range correction
ISO sensitivity* AUTO, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Speed 1 – 1/2000 sec. (factory default)
15 – 1/2000 sec. (total range – varies by shooting mode)
Type TTL
Settings Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
Monitor 6.7 cm (2.7”) PureColor II G LCD (TFT), Approx. 230,000 dots
Coverage Approx. 100%
Brightness Adjustable to one of five levels. Quick-bright LCD
Modes Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Slow Synchro
Slow Sync Speed Yes. Fastest speed 1/2000 sec.
Red-Eye Reduction Yes
Flash Exposure Compensation Face Detection FE, Smart Flash Exposure
Flash Exposure Lock Yes
Built-in Flash Range 50 cm – 3.5 m (W) / 90cm – 2.0 m (T)
Modes Smart Auto (32 scenes detected), P, Movie Digest, Portrait, Kids & Pets, Smart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer), High-speed Burst (3.0MP) , Best Image Selection (3.0MP), Handheld Night Scene, Low Light (3.0MP), Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Color Accent, Color Swap, Beach, Underwater, Foliage, Snow, Long Shutter, Stitch Assist
Modes in Movie Smart Auto (21 scenes detected), P, Portrait, Miniature Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Color Accent, Color Swap, Beach, Underwater, Foliage, Snow, Super Slow Motion Movie
Photo Effects My Colors (My Colors Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Color)
Drive modes Single, Continuous, Self-Timer
Continuous Shooting Approx. 3.4 shots/sec.¹, High-speed Burst (3.0MP): Approx. 8.0 shots/sec.¹, (until memory card becomes full)²
Image Size 4:3 - (L) 4000 x 3000, (M1) 2816 x 2112, (M2) 1600 x 1200, (S) 640 x 480
16:9 - (L) 4000 x 2248, (M1) 2816 x 1584, (M2) 1920 x 1080, (S) 640 x 360
3:2 - (L) 4000 x 2664, (M1) 2816 x 1880, (M2) 1600 x 1064, (S) 640 x 424
1:1 - (L) 2992 x 2992, (M1) 2112 x 2112, (M2) 1200 x 1200, (S) 480 x 480
Resize in playback (M2, S, XS)*
*XS is half the length and width of S
Compression Fine, Normal
Movies (Full HD) 1920 x 1080, 24 fps, (HD) 1280 x 720, 30 fps, (L) 640 x 480, 30 fps, (M) 320 x 240, 30 fps
Super Slow Motion Movie (L) 120fps, (M) 240fps
Miniature Effect (HD, L) 6fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps
iFrame Movie (HD)
Movie Length (Full HD & HD) Up to 4 GB or 10 min. 00 sec.¹
(L and M) Up to 4 GB or 1 hour²
(Super Slow Motion Movie) 30 sec.
Still Image Type JPEG compression, (Exif 2.3 [Exif Print] compliant) / Design rule for Camera File system, Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant
Movies MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (stereo)]
Canon Printers Canon SELPHY Compact Photo Printers and Canon Inkjet Printers supporting PictBridge (ID Photo Print, Fixed Size Print and Movie Print supported on SELPHY CP & ES printers only)
PictBridge Yes
Red-Eye Correction Yes, during shooting and playback
My Camera / My Menu Start-up image and camera sounds customisation
My Category Image tagging feature
Intelligent Orientation Sensor Yes
Histogram Yes
Playback zoom Approx. 2x – 10x
Self Timer Approx. 2 or 10 sec., Custom
Menu Languages English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Chinese (traditional), Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, Ukrainian, Romanian, Farsi
Computer Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible)
Other HDMI Mini Connector (HDMI-CEC compatible) A/V output (PAL/NTSC)
Type SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HCMMCplus
PC & Macintosh Windows 7/ Vista SP1-2/ XP SP3
Mac OS X v10.5 – 10.6
Browsing & Printing ZoomBrowser EX / ImageBrowser
Other PhotoStitch
Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-4L (battery and charger supplied)
Battery life Approx. 220 shots¹
Approx. 330 min. playback
A/C Power Supply Optional, AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC10, AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC60
Cases / Straps Soft Leather Case DCC-1200, IXUS Metal or Leather Strap
Waterproof / Weatherproof Case Waterproof Case (40m) WP-DC41
Waterproof Case (3m) WP-DC320L
Waterproof Case Weight WW-DC1
Power Supply & Battery Chargers AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC10
AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC60
Other Canon HDMI Cable HTC-100
Operating Environment 0 – 40 °C, 10 – 90% humidity
Dimensions (WxHxD) 92.2 x 55.9 x 19.5 mm
Weight Approx. 141 g (including battery/batteries and memory card)

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