May 4, 2011
- Portable and stylish
- Built-in GPS for geotagging
- Very good image quality
- Automatic & manual controls
- Speedy performance
- Poor low-light video quality
- Mediocre battery life
The Canon PowerShot SX230 HS is a feature-packed 12-megapixel point-and-shoot digital camera that doesn't leave much to desire. It has both automatic and manual controls, speedy performance, a 14x optical zoom and a built-in GPS.
The Canon PowerShot SX230 HS's body measures 4.2 x 1.3 x 2.4-inches (wdh) and is definitely small enough to fit in a coat pocket or woman's purse. It has a unique design that makes use of a grooved edge instead of a handgrip for secure shooting. It works pretty well in our design, but you'll probably want to test it out for yourself first before you buy. The camera comes in four different colors: black, blue, pink and red. Our test unit, the black style, looked very appealing and had a matte finish that makes it look finished off in a nice way.
The backside controls include a navigation scroll wheel, four buttons (including a dedicated video record button) and the traditional mode wheel mounted vertically. There's also a small on/off button right next to the mode dial too. The top of the camera only has the pop-up flash and zoom toggle. The flash seemed to be well-built and is activated by manually flipping it up with your finger or through the camera's menu system.
On the back, the 3-inch LCD screen functions as the only way to frame your shots due to the lack of an optical viewfinder. But the screen does a good job, even in direct sunlight.
In terms of specifications, the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS has a CMOS image sensor with a resolution of 12-megapixels. The lens has a large optical zoom of 14x, a 35mm focal length equivalent of 28-392mm and an aperture range of f/3.1-5.9. The ISO speed range from 3200 to 100 and the shutter speed is measured at 1-1/3200 seconds. Images have a maximum resolution of 4000 x 2248-pixels and are saved in JPEG format while movies have a resolution of 1080p full high definition and are saved in MOV (H.264) format. Supported storage media include SD/SDHC/SDXC cards, Eye-Fi, MultiMediaCard, MMCplus and HC MMCplus cards.
The menu system on the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS is just like all previous Canon cameras, which is a good thing because they're already so well designed. Accessing settings and the most frequently used settings is easy and doesn't require much fuss to get to them either.
On the rear mode dial, there are many different modes accessible, but the more common ones include automatic, manual, shutter-priority and aperture-priority. There are also more unique modes that include fast-shutter/high-ISO for fast-moving subjects and an Easy Mode that allows you to use the camera's vast selection of scene modes and creative filters. There is a Program Mode that allows you to adjust the ISO and white balance, which is great for the more experienced users.
The built-in GPS included in the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS allows you to geotag your photos in the image's EXIF data. There is no in-camera mapping interface, which means you have to offload the images to a computer before you can see the geotagging data or view your images on a map. In testing, the GPS feature worked decently well with only a few occurrences where the location data was incorrect. You can choose to have the GPS remain in contact with the GPS satellites while the camera is powered off just so it doesn't have to reestablish a link every time you take a picture. We should mention that using the GPS feature significantly decreases the battery life, which would be expected.
In subjective image testing, the quality of the images taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS were rated at "Very Good" and seemed to be way above average in most cases. Test shots taken in outdoor conditions were very color accurate and sharp. Low-light images were also of above average quality, which usually isn't the case with point-and-shoots.
The 1080p HD video quality was good, but no where near the quality of the images. Well-lit conditions produced good quality videos with excellent quality sound, but low-light indoor videos were useless and almost completely dark. We did appreciate the addition of 1080p video recording in a point-and-shoot camera because 720p is usually the norm.
Battery life is about average with a rating of 210 shots, but expect much less if you're using the GPS feature.