Canon IXUS 255 HS Review

April 19, 2013 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Canon IXUS 255 HS (also known as the Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS) is a stylish digital compact camera that, from the outside, appears to break the rules, sporting a comparably meagre 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor with a DIGIC 5 processor and a 10x optical zoom, all housed in a slim body complete with a 3-inch LCD screen, 1080p video and built-in wi-fi connectivity. Priced at a moderate £199.99 / $229.99, the IXUS 255 HS is available in black, silver and pink.

Ease of Use

In today's volatile consumerist market, many digital compact cameras are released with the sole intention of being a direct opponent for a rival manufacturer's camera. It's not often that you can open a box and say “wow” when you see what's inside. But that's what we thought when we opened up the Canon IXUS 255 HS for the first time. The curves of the case are only broken up by the occasional button and the 3 inch LCD screen – and only because it's too big for the back. In fact, the same goes for the lens but then it is a 10x optical zoom crammed into the thin shell.

There are a number of interesting features on the IXUS 255 HS. The HS appendage denotes that the IXUS 255 uses Canon's High Sensitivity system. It's a combination of winning sensor technology and killer processor to make low light images (usually taken at high ISO with a lot of noise) look better quality. This could be a good indication as to the reason for the relatively low 12.1 megapixel resolution (by comparison). The less pixels on the sensor, the more space is available and so certain types of colour noise are avoided. These types of noise are created by pixels heating up while exposing and affecting neighbouring pixels.

The ECO mode is a battery saving system that you have to enable in the Main menu. It's in the setup tab and you simply switch it to the On position to use it. It reduces the battery power consumption by adjusting the brightness of the screen. Why this isn't a standard feature (ECO all the time) is a bit of a puzzler, but then we'd complain about not having the option to take it out of ECO mode.

We mentioned previously about how the processor can help with the HS system. The Canon IXUS 255 HS has been fitted with a DIGIC 5 processor. But what's different in the DIGIC 5 from the DIGIC 4? Quite a lot, says Canon. The 5 is a sort of light version of the 5+ which is seen in the top end DSLRs (the DIGIC 6 has only just been announced, so the 5 is current technology). According to Canon, it's 6x faster than the DIGIC 4, can efficiently run FullHD video, can manage faster frames per second (fps) at full resolution and – arguably more importantly – can handle image quality better, such as reducing noise.

Canon IXUS 300 HS Canon IXUS 300 HS
Front Rear

More and more digital compact cameras are being produced with wi-fi connectivity, but there's not generally a great deal that can be done with it. Usually, you can only upload your pictures to another device or website. Canon have gone to town though and squeezed every last bit of use from it. For example, you can download Canon CameraWindow app from App Store or Google Play and connect the camera to your phone for wireless control. You can use your phone as a GPS service to geotag your photographs. You can back-up your photos to a website or computer, print directly with a wi-fi enabled printer as well as the previously mentioned uploading to social media.

All Canon digital compact cameras have two menus; one for quick access to frequently used features and one for more in-depth modes. The first is accessed by pressing the FUNC. SET button in the centre of the navigation pad. A small scrolling menu will pop up to the left. The colouring is orange on grey which wouldn't be our first choice, but does look quite nice. Here you can change the ISO, white-balance, resolution and shooting modes among other things.

The main menu is plainly signed on the button and pressing it opens up a dedicated window to it. There are only two tabs so that it doesn't overwhelm the beginner. Because of only using two tabs, the menu is extremely easy to use, but we need to cover a few of the features to give an idea of what the camera is capable of for the newcomer to photography. The Camera tab is for features that directly affect the way the Canon IXUS 255 HS takes pictures such as Flash settings, Blink detection and Focusing modes.

Canon IXUS 300 HS Canon IXUS 300 HS
Front Top

There's a nifty feature called iContrast towards the bottom which expands the dynamic range of the photographs. That means that if you're in a situation where there's a lot of contrast, the sensor normally will not be able to cope with the dark shadows and bright light. This will result in no detail in dark areas and burn out on the highlights. iContrast works to reduce the effect of this and balance out the exposure more. Flick over to the Setup menu and these modes will affect the camera in it's day to day operation such as noise control, date & time, power options and wi-fi settings. The previously mentioned ECO mode is found in this menu.

The Canon IXUS 255 HS is very well made. It has a weight to it that keeps you aware of it's presence while shooting or sitting in your pocket. The tripod bush is metal for added durability and the only thing we'd liked to have seen is a lock on the battery cover. It snaps open, so isn't easily jostled while in a bag or pocket but there's also no metal on it, so it's more flexible than we're comfortable with. The thin lithium ion battery slots in alongside the SD memory card. Up to and including SDXC can be accepted in the 255 HS.

One area of the build we really like is the size and sturdiness of the zoom lens. A 10x optical zoom in a little body such as this one isn't seen a lot, but it's great. There's very little movement in it when waggled from side to side. We also like the screen that Canon have fitted to the IXUS 255 HS. It's a little bit too big for the body and sticks out but it's much better to see a large screen. It's bright, colourful and contrasty.

Canon IXUS 300 HS Canon IXUS 300 HS
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Continuous shooting on the Canon IXUS 255 HS is great. In the first second, the camera rattles off three pictures before slowing to a steady two fps therein. We captured 21 pictures in a ten second period indicating a 2.1fps performance. Download time to the card is fast too at only a couple of seconds for all those pictures. This shows what the lower resolution and faster processor does for you and is great for a little compact. Should you find yourself needing the camera on quickly, from the off position, the 255 HS can turn on, focus and take a picture in two seconds. That's half a second faster than a typical digital compact camera.

The Canon IXUS 255 HS can be switched on to review pictures whether it's powered up or not. If it's off, simply hold the button down a bit longer and it will come to life. Pictures are shown full screen as default but pressing the DISP. button will scroll through the options of information you want to have on screen. For instance, you can have no info, basic info such as the resolution, date & time and file number or you can go the whole hog and have all shooting information displayed with a thumbnail of the picture and even a histogram. There's a Function menu in playback and brings up features such as the delete button (for that one image you're on), favourite, lock and rotate. There's also an Image search feature which will look for pictures using their date, favourites – if you have any or people – using face detection among others.

Directly under the box opening is a small card tray which holds the software and manuals. The booklet is only a brief manual with the full manual being stored electronically on the CD. The CD also contains a picture viewing suite which offers basic editing and tagging. Beneath this is the camera with a battery, charger, wrist strap and USB cable.

Image Quality

All pictures were taken at full resolution unless otherwise stated. A JPEG recorded at superfine quality produces images with wildly varying sizes. We recorded images between 2.8Mb to just under 5Mb in size. Typically, knocking down to Normal compression roughly halves the file size which means more information is lost.


Choose ISO 80 for all your shots and you'll see that noise isn't a problem with the Canon IXUS 255 HS. Lines are sharp and clear while dark shadowy areas are colour-free. The same can be said for ISO 100 although it's only knocking it up a third of a stop. Typically, a camera will start to show signs of weakness at ISO 200. However, the IXUS 255 HS shows no signs of letting any colour noise destroy it's pretty pictures and works hard at this setting to retain the same quality that we see at ISO 80. If we were to be hyper-critical, then when viewing the images at full magnification, it's possible to see faint blobs of colour  at ISO 400. However, unless you're going to print very big, it's unlikely that you'll view the pictures at that size, so it won't be noticeable. It gets slightly worse at ISO 800, but the results are still very impressive.

It's worth noting that the point of focus is on the top extending bellows arm of the folding camera we used as the subject. The lens is out of focus, not breaking down in edge detail. The sharpness of the arm is just as good at ISO 800 as it is at ISO 80. It's lost some of it's gleam, but what do you expect at ISO 800. We actually expected a lot worse than what the Canon IXUS 255 HS is giving to us. The darker areas of the bellows and shadows start to get noticeable noise on them at around ISO 1600. The fuzziness of focusing is getting worse by the pixellation of noise. Edges are still sharp in mid and highlight areas. At ISO 3200 noise starts to take over, but still when viewed at normal viewing size, they look great. It's not until you zoom in 100% that you can see the degradation.

ISO 6400 is a massive shift in image quality with coloured blobs of noise showing up in random areas, not just shadows. Noise reduction software has desaturated the colours to try and nip it out but it's still quite strong. It's easy to get lost in the disappointment of getting noise. We need to keep in mind that this is a tiny sensor on a digital compact camera and the setting we're looking at is ISO 6400. The results from this are equal to ISO 800 on other similarly priced cameras.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso100.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso400.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

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ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso6400.jpg


The Canon IXUS 255 HS is adequately low in noise to see a benefit from sharpening in an editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

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sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Focal Range

The Canon IXUS 255 HS has a 10x optical zoom. It's a 4.3–43mm lens, but we always go on the 35mm equivalent focal length which is 24-240mm. There's a degree of barrel distortion at wide-angle – which is to be expected –  but that disappears when zooming out. There's no pincushion at full zoom.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration is handled very well on the Canon IXUS 255 HS. We only found evidence of it on the macro test shot which has a lot of lens distortion to it because of the close focusing and wide-angle lens setting. In real-life situations, chroma doesn't seem to be something you'll have a problem with.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)



The close focusing of the Canon IXUS 255 HS is 1cm from the front of the lens. However, with enough patience, it's possible to creep the subject slightly closer. At that stage as we said in the chroma section, there's a lot of lens distortion with sharpness falling off quite near the centre of the frame.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The Canon IXUS 255 HS suffers from some vignetting at wide-angle and using flash doesn't get rid of this. It does steady the light, making it more directional to the centre of the frame. At full zoom, the light has lost the vignette and it seems that using flash or not, you get a well exposed image.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (24mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (240mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (240mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Red-eye is turned on or off in the Main menu. However we didn't get any red-eye whether it was on or off. It means that the flash has been positioned enough distance away from the lens to obviate the issue.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red-eye Correction

Red-eye Correction (100% Crop)

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The Canon IXUS 255 HS has been fitted with a Long exposure mode. This means you get to control the amount of time that the camera exposes for. It affords you so much more flexibility that there's no need to use the program mode. We used ISO Auto mode to compare the shutter speeds and Program mode used a higher ISO setting to keep the shutter speed up. Because the Long exposure assumes you're using a tripod, it knocks the ISO down to avoid noise.

Night Program

Night Program (100% Crop)

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Night Long Exposure

Night Long Exposure (100% Crop)

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Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Canon IXUS 255 HS camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Superfine 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 1080 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 36 second movie is 152Mb in size.

Product Images

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Front of the Camera

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Front of the Camera / Turned On

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Isometric View

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Isometric View

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Rear of the Camera

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Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

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Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

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Rear of the Camera / Turned On

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Rear of the Camera / Function Menu


Canon IXUS 255_hs

Rear of the Camera / Camera Menu

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Rear of the Camera / Playback Menu

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Rear of the Camera / Print Menu

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Rear of the Camera / Settings Menu

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Rear of the Camera / Wi-Fi Menu

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Top of the Camera

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Bottom of the Camera

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Side of the Camera

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Side of the Camera

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Front of the Camera

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Front of the Camera

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Memory Card Slot

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Battery Compartment


The Canon IXUS 255 HS is a joy to use. It's small and lightweight but has that presence of weight that gives you confidence that it's still in your possession. It's good looking enough to want to get it out at every opportunity when on nights out. There's enough modes and features on it to keep you entertained for hours and it has convenient features on it to help you get your pictures to a safe storage area. We found the menus are a breeze and well lit with contrasting dark grey and bright orange.

There are only two small gripes: The buttons are maybe a bit too small which is a sacrifice you have to make if you want a small camera. Also the battery door is a real metaphorical thorn in a garden of roses. It's badly made from flimsy plastic and has no lock. Arguably not essential, but it sticks out against the rest of the camera like a green hat with an orange bell..

Image quality is exceptional which we're putting down to the heady combination of a low(ish) resolution sensor and top of the line imaging processor. Noise is practically non-existent until you get to high numbers which is great. Colours are recorded faithfully with not too much saturation unless you choose it in the scene modes. iContrast works well to bring out more detail in shadowy areas.

The Canon IXUS 255 HS seems a perfect little camera for stealing away on holiday when you want exceptional picture quality without lugging all your gear around. The 10x optical zoom will bring far away wildlife to a comfortable distance without spooking them or without you actually having to walk to them.

For the price, it's a great little camera and if you're looking for a slim unit that has a host of features, good build quality and produces excellent pictures, then you need to take a look at the Canon IXUS 255 HS.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 3.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Canon IXUS 255 HS from around the web. »

With built-in Wi-Fi and reliably high image quality, there's much to like about the latest addition to Canon's point-and-shoot IXUS lineup. There was some noise at middling sensitivities, but otherwise the 255 HS performed well in my tests.
Read the full review » »

The Ixus 255 HS is the third ultra-compact camera we've seen in recent weeks that comes with a 10x zoom and Wi-Fi. It's an appealing combination of features for casual snapping – the extended zoom gives a clear benefit over smartphone cameras, while Wi-Fi means you can transfer directly to a smartphone for instant online sharing.
Read the full review » »

The Canon PowerShot Elph 330 HS ($229.99 direct)$199.00 at Adorama is one of the best compact cameras that you can buy for under $250. It's easy for anyone to use, has a generous 10x zoom range, and allows you to share photos via built-in Wi-Fi.
Read the full review »



Type 1/2.3 type back-illuminated CMOS
Effective Pixels Approx. 12.1M
Colour Filter Type Primary Colour


Type DIGIC 5 with iSAPS technology


Focal Length 4.3 – 43.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 24 – 240 mm)
Zoom Optical 10x
ZoomPlus 20x
Digital Approx. 4x. (with Digital Tele-Converter Approx. 1.5x or 2.0x and Safety Zoom¹). Combined Approx. 40x¹
Maximum f/number f/3.0 – f/6.9
Construction 9 elements in 7 groups
(1 double-sided aspherical lens)
Image Stabilisation Yes (lens shift-type), 3-stop (Canon standard). Intelligent IS


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 AF¹
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, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400


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. Multi-area WB correction available in Smart Auto.


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) / 1.0 m – 2.0 m (T)
External Flash Canon High Power Flash HF-DC2


Modes Smart Auto (58 scenes detected), Hybrid Auto, P, Portrait, Smooth Skin, Smart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer), High-speed Burst (3.0MP), Handheld Night Scene, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Soft Focus, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Color Accent, Color Swap, 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, Snow, Fireworks, Super Slow Motion Movie
Drive modes Single, Continuous, Self-Timer
Continuous Shooting Approx. 2.4 shots/sec.
High-speed Burst (3.0MP): Approx. 6.2 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)
Compression Superfine, Fine
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
Movie Length (Full HD & HD) Up to 4 GB or 10 min. 00 sec.¹
(L) 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 (via USB or Wireless LAN)


GPS GPS via mobile (linked to compatible smartphone)¹
Red-Eye Correction Yes, during shooting and playback
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, Malaysian, Hindi, Indonesian, Vietnamese


Computer Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible)
Other HDMI Mini Connector (HDMI-CEC compatible), A/V output (PAL/NTSC)
Computer/Other Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11b/g/n), (2.4 GHz only)¹




PC & Macintosh Windows 8 / 7 SP1 / Vista SP2 / XP SP3
Mac OS X v10.6 – 10.8
For Wi-Fi connection to a PC:
Windows 8 / 7 SP1
Mac OS X v10.6.8 / v10.7 / v10.8.2 or later


Browsing & Printing ImageBrowser EX
Other Camera Window


Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-4L (battery and charger supplied)
Battery life Approx.220 shots¹
Eco Mode: Approx. 300 shots¹
Approx. 240 min. playback
A/C Power Supply Optional, AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC60


Cases / Straps Soft Case DCC-1350
Flash 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) 97.2 x 56.4 x 22.5 mm
Weight Approx. 144 g (including battery/batteries and memory card)
Zoom ¹ Depending on the image size selected.
AF Modes ¹ Some settings limit availability.
Continuous Shooting ¹ Under conditions where the flash does not fire.
² Depending on memory card speed / capacity / compression setting.
Movie Length ¹ The following Speed Class memory cards are required for maximum record time: (HD) 1280 x 720 Speed Class 4 or above. (Full HD) 1920 x 1080 Speed Class 6 or above. (iFrame) 1280 x 720 Speed Class 6 or above.
² Depending on memory card speed / capacity / compression setting.
GPS ¹ GPS use may be restricted in certain countries or regions. Use of GPS should comply with the laws and regulations of the country and area in which it is being operated including any restriction on the use of electronics.
Computer/Other ¹ Wi-Fi use may be restricted in certain countries or regions. Wi-Fi support varies by device and region. For more information visit
Battery life ¹ Using the batteries and memory card format supplied with the camera (where included), except where indicated.

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