Canon IXUS 230 HS Review

November 3, 2011 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Canon IXUS 230 HS (also known as the ELPH 310 HS) is a slim, funky coloured digital compact camera boasting an 8x optical zoom, 12.1 megapixel son a back-illuminated sensor using HS technology, a 3 inch LCD screen and DIGIC IV processor. With a sexy design and a tech-packed interior, the IXUS 230 HS looks to impress the younger generation or people who want to stand out from the crowd. Priced at £229 / €269 / $259.99, the Canon IXUS 230 HS / ELPH 310 HS is available in green, silver, purple, blue, pink and black.

Ease of Use

On the front of the Canon IXUS 230 HS is a worthy 8x optical zoom which will bring a lot of generally far away stuff nearer to you. For example, at the Zoo, the animals won't be so far away and it will allow you to crop out crowds or buildings making it look like you've been on a safari. The lens bezel sticks out by a couple of millimetres which makes us wonder if they had put in a 7x zoom, would it be flush? It's unlikely that the loss would severely impact on the camera and would make it look a bit more futuristic. Still, it looks nice anyway. On the top of the IXUS 230 HS is the usual line-up with a power button sat next to the shutter release with a zoom lever wrapped around it.

The sexy curves of the front, sides and top of the Canon IXUS 230 HS are cut short to fit the 3 inch LCD screen to the back. Unfortunately for the IXUS 230 HS, it doesn't have a touch-screen. It dominates the left side of the camera with a small area designated to vital buttons such as direct video recording, playback, function menu and the navigation pad. The main menu button has been placed on the right side of the camera which we think is a really good idea. The easy auto/normal auto modes switch is also located on the side towards the top shoulder.

The Canon IXUS 230 HS is priced at under £200 / $250 which is a good start and we don't know of many compacts under that price that have a metal tripod bush. Yes, yes it's a trivial matter but the humble tripod bush appears to be an unofficial benchmark of quality. In a nutshell, if the tripod bush is plastic, the camera is low end, if it's metal, the camera is high end.

Canon IXUS 230 HS Canon IXUS 230 HS
Front Rear

Based on this assumption, we can surmise that the IXUS 230 HS is a high-end camera. So why is it under £200 / $250? That's a good price. We think that maybe the camera is aimed lower than the normal target audience of the IXUS to try and draw people in who would normally only look at Powershot because the IXUS range is more expensive. That would explain the lack of a touch-screen because there's certainly space for one. It would eradicate the buttons on the side making the camera a bit smaller too.

The low 12 megapixel resolution is an indication that Canon are not shoving more and more pixels onto the sensor. Canon call this HS technology and they're talking about it a lot. With the combination of the lower resolution, high sensitivity CMOS sensor and DIGIC IV processor Canon say that the image quality is the best yet. To help with noise, the sensor has been improved and the lower resolution should also help to keep noise created by heat from neighbouring pixels to a minimum.

As with any Canon IXUS, the build quality is to a high standard. The casing is metal with only a spatter of plastic here and there and that's usually where there's a door such as covering the HDMI/USB ports or the battery/memory card door. We expected a better quality battery door than what's on the 230 HS - it's quite flimsy and bendy. There's a little bit of play in the lens when it's out but that's to be expected. Although the IXUS range is well known for its quality, the lens doesn't have a marque of distinction the same way that Nikon have ED elements.

Canon IXUS 230 HS Canon IXUS 230 HS
Top Side

With the IXUS 230 HS, Canon have retained the usual twin menu system. The function menu opens up the most used features such as resolution, file size, ISO, white-balance, metering, aspect ratio, drive and video quality. The menu pops up to the left of the screen superimposing itself over the view. The navigation pad is used to work your way around and the middle button confirms any commands (the same button also opens up the function menu).

The main menu is more in-depth covering less used and more permanent modes such as adjusting the focus frame size, i-contrast and flash settings. There's also a second tab for core camera adjustments such as date & time, file numbering and formatting the card. The menus on Canon cameras have always been easy to navigate and the IXUS 230 HS is no different. It's clear, nicely coloured and easy to understand. 

There's no denying that the IXUS 230 HS is fast. From pressing the power button to focusing and taking picture took 2.5 seconds. A typical digital compact camera will take 3-4 seconds. In our test, the Canon gave results of 0.08 second shutter lag which is about standard for a digital compact camera. The area we've really taken an interest in is the continuous shooting mode. In a ten second time period we took 20 pictures which averages out to 2 fps (frames per second). The first 3 frames are fast at less than a second but then it starts to slow down as the buffer fills up and ranges between 1 or 2 frames each second.

Canon IXUS 230 HS Canon IXUS 230 HS
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

There are 3 ways to view the pictures you've taken on the Canon IXUS 230 HS. As well as the normal view which simply shows the picture, there's also an option to view all file information and a snazzy zoom view which crops in on a segment of the picture allowing you to check focus. Again there are 2 menus in playback mode. They follow the same routine as when you're in shooting mode with the function menu accessing more used options - or maybe options that Canon would like you to use - while the main menu is exactly the same as in shooting mode anyway.

The function mode has several interesting features such as smart shuffle which displays four similar images which - judging by the results we got - can only be attributed to shooting information. Filtered playback will allow you to narrow down the pictures you've taken using parameters such as date, ratings given or whether it's videos or pictures.

In the box there's a rechargeable lithium ion NB-4L battery, a wrist strap, USB cable and charger unit with mains cable. In the software bundle there are 2 CDs; one with the full manual on and one with a solution disc version 91.0. The disc is compliant with Windows 7 (including SP1) and Mac OSX v10.5. Interestingly there's no memory card included with the Canon IXUS 230 HS despite the camera having no internal memory.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 3Mb.

The Canon IXUS 230 HS produces very nice pictures. We're happy with the colour reproduction in primary colours. Darker colours such as red, green and blue are rich without being too over saturated. Lighter colours are treated sympathetically. Because of the HS system, we're expecting noise to be handled very well. We'll go into more detail later but the results do look promising.


One of the most important areas for testing is the ISO. Essentially a camera can be make or break if the ISO performance isn't up to scratch. This is where the HS technology does its best work. The comparably low resolution and noise reduction technology work in tandem to help lower noise. It certainly seems to work at ISO 100 because there's literally no noise on the pictures. Edge definition is also sharp.

Working through the range, there's no change at ISO 200 but ISO 400 is where the changes usually start to take shape. Being overly critical, there is a slight loss in image quality but it's negligible and we were magnifying to 100%. At ISO 800 edges start to break up a little but colour noise is still kept at bay. In fact, the major changes actually start at ISO 3200 where edges are softer and coloured blobs show in dark and mid-tones.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Canon IXUS 230 HS's 8x zoom lens offers a versatile focal range, as demonstrated by the examples below.



File Quality

The Canon IXUS 230 HS has 2 different image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

12M Fine (2.31Mb) (100% Crop) 12M Normal (920Kb) (100% Crop)


Normally if we add sharpening in Adobe Photoshop, there's a distinct difference but adding a sharpening to the pictures on the Canon IXUS 230 HS shows only minimal difference.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Chromatic Aberrations

The IXUS range is renowned for excellent hardware and the lack of chromatic aberration shows the high quality of the lenses. We struggled to find it but it did show in obscure places which we've highlighted.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)


If you like your macro subjects close then you'll be happy with the IXUS 230 HS. Focusing is around 1cm which is excellent but it does suffer badly from barrel distortion. There's only a small area that's sharp before the picture starts to blur as it goes out to the edges. It resembles one of those zoom filters that Cokin released a few years ago.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


There's mild vignetting at the extreme corners of the frame and using flash doesn't eradicate it. It's not present at telephoto even without the flash. There's no red-eye preflash option because red-eye is done after the shot has been taken when you're in playback mode. We never got an instance of it to test effectively but we managed to use it in our forthcoming Canon IXUS 1100HS test which uses the same system.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (224mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (224mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. The Flash On setting didn't cause any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)


We shot a 1 second exposure at ISO 100 for the night test and the results are pleasing enough. The white-balance looked balanced on the screen but on the computer looks a bit green and that was using the custom setting.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Canon IXUS 230 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 28 second movie is 120Mb in size.

Product Images

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Front of the Camera

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Front of the Camera / Turned On

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Isometric View

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Isometric View

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Isometric View

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Rear of the Camera

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Rear of the Camera / Movie Mode

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Rear of the Camera / Function Menu


Canon IXUS 230 HS

Rear of the Camera / Image Playback

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Rear of the Camera / Image Playback

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Rear of the Camera / Quick Menu

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Canon IXUS 230 HS

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Canon IXUS 230 HS
Top of the Camera
Canon IXUS 230 HS
Side of the Camera
Canon IXUS 230 HS
Side of the Camera
Canon IXUS 230 HS
Front of the Camera
Canon IXUS 230 HS
Memory Card Slot
Canon IXUS 230 HS
Battery Compartment


Let's not beat about the bush, the 230 HS isn't the best IXUS that Canon have released but it certainly performs where it counts. It doesn't have the hardware that we've seen on the 1100HS but this is reflected in the price. There are a few dubious areas of build quality such as the battery door, but again, this is reflected in the price. The insides are the same as the top IXUS cameras though with the HS system, DIGIC IV processor and good quality lens.

We're happy with the image tests, colours are reproduced realistically and noise is kept to a minimum. If fact, we would be happy shooting at ISO 800 in low light. Everyday pictures are pleasing; sharp and exposed well.

The price tag is keen at under £200 which shows that Canon are trying to entice the type of customer that would normally go for something more inferior in build and image quality. That way, when they're ready to upgrade, they're more likely to spend more on another IXUS. Not a bad marketing strategy and although this is all speculation, the facts add up. The build quality is higher than a £200 camera, the design is curvy and sexy to attract younger photographers and people after a nice looking camera for nights out and the image quality is top notch because we normally expect this kind of noise performance on cameras over £250.

The Canon IXUS 230 HS would be great as a Christmas present for someone in need of a new camera at this time of year and will work great throughout Christmas day documenting the family occasion from opening the presents (even in the dark when the kids have got up at some unholy hour) to the tree lights without using a flash.

If you're looking for a budget digital compact camera for either yourself or as a present and you want good quality and good picture performance then you need to take a serious look at the new Canon IXUS 230 HS.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 4.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Canon IXUS 230 HS from around the web. »

The Canon Ixus 230 HS is as beautiful a compact camera as you're ever likely to encounter, coming in a variety of colours and packing great features into a slim case.
Read the full review » »

Daniel Bell reviews the Canon IXUS 230 HS, a compact digital camera with an 8x optical zoom lens and 12.1 megapixel sensor as well as a range of creative modes.
Read the full review » »

If you’re in the market for a highly portable compact digital camera, then you cannot bypass the Canon PowerShot Elph 310 HS ($259.99 MSRP) during your search. The PowerShot Elph 310 HS shares many of the same features with last year’s PowerShot Elph 300 HS, including the 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with Canon’s Digic 4 processing.
Read the full review » »

Canon's compact PowerShot Elph 310 HS packs an 8x zoom lens into a body that can slide into your shirt pocket with ease. When you consider its high-res LCD, excellent image quality, and 1080p HD video capture capability you have a camera that earns our Editors' Choice.
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 5.0 - 40.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 28 - 224 mm)
Zoom Optical 8x. Digital Approx. 4x (with Digital Tele-Converter Approx. 1.5x or 2.0x and Safety Zoom¹). Combined Approx. 32x
Maximum f/number f/3.0 - f/5.9
Construction 8 elements in 7 groups (1 double-sided aspherical lens, 1 single-sided aspherical UA lens, 1 single-sided aspherical lens)
Image Stabilisation Yes (lens shift-type), Approx. 3.5-stop. Intelligent IS
Type TTL
AF System/ Points AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point), 1-point AF (fixed to centre)
AF Modes Single, Continuous (only available in Smart Auto mode), Servo AF/AE¹, Tracking AF
AF Point Selection Size (Normal, Small)
AF Lock On/Off Selectable
AF Assist Beam Yes
Closest Focusing Distance 1 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 7.5 cm (3.0”) PureColor II G LCD (TFT), Approx. 461,000 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 - 4.0 m (W) / 50 cm - 2.0 m (T)
External Flash Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1,
Canon High Power Flash HF-DC2
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, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, 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, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, iFrame Movie, 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. 3.5 shots/sec., High-speed Burst (3.0MP): Approx. 8.7 shots/sec., (until memory card becomes full)¹²
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

Super Slow Motion Movie (L) 640 x 480, 120fps, (M) 320 x 240, 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, Hindi
Computer Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible)
Other HDMI Mini Connector (HDMI-CEC compatible), A/V output (PAL/NTSC)
PC & Macintosh Windows 7 / 7 SP1 / Vista SP2 / XP SP3
Mac OS X v10.5 - 10.6
Browsing & Printing ZoomBrowser EX / ImageBrowser
Other PhotoStitch, Movie Uploader for YouTube, CameraWindow
Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-4L (battery and charger supplied)
Battery life Approx. 210 shots¹
Approx. 240 min. playback
A/C Power Supply Optional, AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC60
Cases / Straps Soft Leather Case DCC-1300, IXUS Metal or Leather Strap
Flash Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1,
Canon High Power Flash HF-DC2
Power Supply & Battery Chargers AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC60
Other Canon HDMI Cable HTC-100
Operating Environment 0 - 40 °C, 10 - 90% humidity
Dimensions (WxHxD) 95.8 x 56.8 x 22.1 mm
Weight Approx. 140 g (including battery/batteries and memory card)

Your Comments

Loading comments…