on May 1, 2013
I want to use my DSLR whenever possible, but it is often not practical to take with me as a "walkabout" camera due to its size and the need to carry additional often bulky equipment. A point-and-click camera is something I still use often and can carry with me at any time with barely a second thought.
I'd previously owned several Canon point-and-click models - most recently a Powershot A2000 that I've taken almost 10,000 photos with so far and is still going strong. It is getting a little long in the tooth now though, with just a CCD sensor rather than a CMOS, and fairly limited operation and speed due to the old Digic 3 processor, (rather than the Digic 5 in this ELPH 330 model.) The Digic 5 processor is noticeably quicker than my old Digic 3 based camera - and of course it has to do a lot more as well both due to shooting in much higher resolutions, but also because the camera has a lot more automated features. The fact that this camera had the Digic 5 processor was a big selling point to me. It offers a huge improvement over previous iterations of the chip, (I won't detail them here but Canon's website provides this information if anyone is interested.)
When I received this camera, the first thing that struck me was how tiny it is - especially bearing in mind the fact it has a 10x optical zoom that is required to extend out so significantly and retract back into the main body. How Canon has achieved this is beyond me, but I'm glad they did.
Anyone who has ever used a previous Canon digital camera will be right at home using this new model. The auto mode is fantastic - I never thought I'd say that about a compact camera - and it takes great photos in a variety of environments I've tested it in, (at night under artificial light with and without the flash; outside on a sunny day and outside after snowfall; indoors during the day, outside in close to darkness, etc.) To be honest, I'm fairly experienced when it comes to photography - I know my way around f-stops, shutter speed, ISO, exposure, etc. as I own a DSLR, but for use as a "walkabout" camera, I'll probably only somewhat rarely take this camera out of "Auto" mode. The pictures are so wonderfully focused, clear and full of color. The semi-auto and manual modes are still there, (with the omission of the old "landscape" mode - although there is an "infinity" mode now that appears to be a similar thing.) There is a Program (P) mode too which I've always found incredibly useful and my default mode to use with other Canon point-and-shoot models - that mode allows the camera to handle the aperture and shutter and gives control to the user to set other factors of the photo - namely the ISO, flash mode, exposure compensation and white-balance. The camera does still retain a "Portrait" mode too, which is useful for taking photos of people up close and allows the camera to blur the background a little using a large aperture (i.e. small f-stop) automatically.
This camera has built in wireless connectivity, but, to be honest I probably will never use this capability. I prefer to copy my images to my computer and edit/crop them in Paintshop Pro prior to uploading them anywhere.
Insofar as video recording goes, I was very impressed by the quality both of the picture and the sound. I briefly tried full 1080p recording, and was quite astounded by the quality once I downloaded the video to my computer. However, for my purposes the 720p resolution is good enough, (and a much smaller file size to work with and edit.) As with all point-and-click cameras you can audibly hear the camera zooming in and out on the recording if you decide to do so. It's not too imposing though so it's no big deal. Most of the video I'll ever take with this camera will be wide-angle anyway, so I'll probably never touch the zoom lever while recording anyway.
The 12.1mp CMOS blows away all the 16mp CCD cameras I've seen and used. I know a lot of people believe that a digital camera's specification all but ends at the megapixel level, with the more the better, but this is a false belief. A camera with a good CMOS sensor is FAR better than a cheaper (but perhaps more megapixel) CCD based camera.
I'm trying to think of negatives to balance my review, but am struggling. I'd like Canon to stop ripping off their customers with the price of additional "official" batteries. True, there are cheap clones at less than 20% of the price of a Canon brand, but if the reviews on them are anything to go by, they should be used with caution and may invalidate you camera warranty if they cause damage. Ah... I just thought of a negative thing about the camera itself -- the buttons on the back are flat and almost flush with camera body. This can make them a little harder to press than with previous camera models which had raised or rounded buttons. Sorry, that's the biggest negative I can think of. This is a terrific camera.
P.S. The camera comes with a decent little "Getting Started" manual. However, there is a much more comprehensive and detailed manual available (for free) from the Canon USA website, and also on the disc supplied with the camera. Amazon doesn't allow web-links in their reviews, so I'll post the link to download the full manual as a comment on this review instead, (which does seem to be allowed by Amazon.) Anyone considering buying this camera also may wish to download the manual to ensure the ELPH 330 is the model for you, or to familiarize themselves with operating it while you wait for Amazon to deliver it.