Canon PowerShot SX230 HS review

Superb refresh of this keenly priced travel zoom compact
Photo of Canon PowerShot SX230 HS
£299

Digital camera technology doesn’t just race by – it zooms. Only a year ago we were admiring Canon’s PowerShot SX210 IS, and now before you can say ‘travel zoom’ the company has decided enough time has passed for an upgrade to be released, in the shape of the PowerShot SX230 HS.

While the dimensions (106x62x33mm) and weight (223g) are broadly similar to those of its predecessor, Canon has nevertheless introduced an array of changes intended to significantly broaden your shooting options as well as make the camera feel more comfortable in the hand.

GPS tagging
A glance at the front reveals a virtually identical configuration, with the same 28-392mm wide-angle lens and 14x optical zoom with an AF Assist lamp to the left.

However, closer inspection shows two tiny stereo speakers on either side of the lens and while the same grooved, silver plastic strip runs along the top as in the SX210 IS, a markedly additional ‘bump’ has appeared next to the shutter button – a GPS tracking unit that allows both tagging and logging of your photos for later viewing online using the supplied software. In practice the GPS works pretty well apart from in some indoor locations – best results, then, for outdoor travelling.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS zoom

Redesigned features
The uncomfortable zoom rocker from the earlier model has now been replaced by a smoother and quieter zoom ring around the shutter, and the power button has been moved to the back plate. Otherwise, the control layout on the back remains broadly unaltered with a chunky mode dial at the top, video record and playback buttons below this, a function dial and then display and menu buttons to round off the set.

The 16:9 LCD monitor remains at 3.0in – but wisely, Canon has doubled its resolution from 230,000 to 461,000 pixels. There’s also a new setting on the mode dial called Movie Digest which captures up to four seconds of footage before a still shot is taken and then stitches all these mini video clips together into one ‘summary’ movie – great fun if you want to create a time lapse effect. The only real gripe we have with the design is that the flash unit still pops up every time you switch on and still makes positioning your left hand awkward.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS LCD screen

New High Sensitivity sensor
On the performance side, the previous 14.1MP sensor has been replaced with a 12.1MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor using the HS System to provide much higher quality images in dim conditions. So the ISO range has been expanded to 3200 and the results are exceptionally good, especially when using the Low Light setting.

Movie recording has also been beefed up, for as well as stereo mics you can now record Full HD 1080p movies with full use of the zoom and most of the effects. High-Speed Burst mode enables action stills to be captured at 8.1 shots/sec at 3MP quality and Super Slow Motion Movie mode does what it says on the label. In short, this is an ideal travel companion.

Company: Canon

Website: http://www.canon.co.uk/

Contact: Canon on 01737 220000

Positives
  • Stunning picture quality.
Negative
  • Awkward pop-up flash.

Verdict

Despite some tiny niggles like the annoying pop-up flash, Canon has done an excellent job in upgrading this 14x travel zoom camera with Full HD video, a new low-light sensor and extra shooting settings and with Amazon selling it under £240, it's a must.