Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS line has long been known for packing good image quality into tiny packages, and the latest version, the 12.1-megapixel Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS ($199.99 list) continues the trend. The 100 HS delivers fine images, good performance, and a good feature set—but nothing about it stands out. It’s a nice digital camera for the price, but don’t expect it to wow you.
No bigger than a deck of cards, the 100 HS certainly upholds the pocket-sized legacy of the Elph line. It’s a rectangle with curved edges that make it easy to hold, measures 3.7 by 2.2 by 0.8 inches (HWD), and weighs 4.9 ounces. My test unit was a bright matte blue, but the 100 HS is also available in gray, pink, silver, and orange finishes, all with silver accents.
Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS View SlideshowSee all (7) slides
A zoom switch, Power button, and Automatic/Low-Light shooting mode slider switch sit on the top edge of the camera. The bottom houses a tripod mount and the battery/memory card housing. On the back are the rest of the controls: a five-button directional-pad, two menu buttons, and a dedicated button to start video recording from any screen.
The rest of the back of the 100 HS is devoted to the 3-inch, 230,000-dot LCD. It’s sharp without being anything spectacular; some cameras’ screens display 430,000 dots, significantly improving the sharpness of the screen, but those are generally found in more-expensive cameras.
Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS Specifications
- Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS Megapixels
- 12.1 MP
- 35-mm Equivalent (Wide)
- 28 mm
- Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS 35-mm Equivalent (Telephoto)
- 112 mm
- Optical Zoom
- 4 x
- LCD size
- 3 inches
The 4x, 28-112mm (35mm equivalent) optical zoom lens offers a decently wide angle, but it doesn’t quite hit the 25mm focal length of the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T110 ($219.99, 4 stars) (which can zoom in to only 100mm). The lens’ aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/5.9, which is slightly brighter than most compact cameras. The 100 HS will perform slightly better in low light, but the difference isn’t huge. The 100 HS’s cousin, the Canon PowerShot Elph 300 HS ($249.99, 4 stars), packs a slightly brighter (f/2.7) and slightly wider (24mm) lens, but you’ll pay $50 for the upgrade.
Canon’s user interface is simple enough, made up mostly of cascading rows down the Y axis of the screen. Most menu options are just icons, but they’re nicely explained when you scroll over them. If you’re shooting in automatic mode, you’ll never really have to use the menus. Changing scene modes and ISO sensitivities is easy enough in other modes.
Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS Performance
From boot-up to first shot, the Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS takes an average of 2.1 seconds, fast for a point and shoot. Its recycle time (the time between shots) averages 2.5 seconds, and its shutter lag (the time between you pressing the shutter and the camera capturing an image) averages 0.6 second—respectable, but not spectacular .
Images delivered by the Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS were decidedly mediocre. In the PCMag.com labs, we use Imatestto objectively measure image quality. The 100 HS scored a center-weighted average of 1,692 lines per picture height, a low number even for a compact camera—the Editors’ Choice Kodak EasyShare M580 ($199.95, 4 stars) averaged a sharp 2,127 lines, and even Canon’s PowerShot SD1400 ($229.99, 4 stars) averaged 2,152. The lower lines per picture height means images are likely to be soft, instead of clear and sharp.
Low-light performance is one of the touted features of the Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS , and our test results showed why. If Imatest detects more than 1.5 percent noise in an image, it will likely be visibly grainy and noisy, and potentially unusable. The 100 HS kept noise under the 1.5 percent threshold all the way up to ISO 1600, which means it will take clear photos, without a flash, even in poor lighting conditions. The Kodak M580 could only shoot at ISO 400 before going over 1.5 percent, and the Sony DSC-T110 up to ISO 800. Some of the above-average performance is probably due to Canon’s HS System, which is built in to the Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS and processes images after they’re shot to reduce noise. Whatever the cause, the 100 HS is Surprisingly good in low light for a compact camera.
The camera can shoot video at two different HD resolutions: 1080p24 or 720p30. Video was clean and sharp in my tests, though since Canon disables both zoom and autofocus when recording video (most manufacturers do this, since both functions make audible noise) you won’t want to move the camera around too much. Videos are recorded as .MOV files, which can be natively uploaded to sites like YouTube and Facebook.
As is standard for most compact cameras, the two connectivity options on the Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS are a USB port and an HDMI port. The HDMI port is an industry-standard mini-HMDI, and easily-found cables will plug your camera into your HDTV for playback. The USB connector is also an industry standard, mini-USB. The camera saves to SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
The Canon PowerShot Elph 100 HS is a decent camera, especially for $200. It doesn’t do anything spectacularly well, but it does everything serviceably and simply, and the price is definitely right. If you want better images, the Canon PowerShot SD1400 offers better photos and similar features in a same-size package, for just $30 more. For $50 more, the Elph 300 HS offers a brighter, wider lens and a few upgrades in its feature set and image quality.