Measuring a mere 3.67x2.20x0.78 inches, the 100 HS is similar in size to a deck of playing cards. This allows it to tuck away in the smallest of pockets or handbags, ensuring you can keep it with you all the time. The exterior, like past ELPHs, is both sleek and stylish, while at the same time offering a good sense of durability thanks to its mostly metal construction; including a metal tripod mount. Being a point-n-shoot that is designed to be used in Smart Auto mode the majority of the time, Canon has kept things extremely simple when it comes to controls. You'll find typical controls on the top of the camera (Power button, Shutter release with zoom controls, etc.). On the back, you have only what's needed (4-way controller with shortcuts, Func./Set button, and the Menu and Playback buttons). One feature Canon has added to most of their newer cameras is a dedicated Movie mode shutter release. This allows you to start capturing video at any time, not matter what mode you are using. Like we saw on the 300 HS, many of the effects seen when using one of the Scene mode options are carried over to movie mode; meaning your video will have the same look as still would. This is some nice functionality, that many will have loads of fun with. Overall, the controls are all placed in a comfortable manner, and like always we were glad to see the zoom controls are still mounted around the shutter release.
Speaking of exposure modes, Canon continues to incorporate their proven Smart Auto exposure program on their cameras. With Smart Auto, the camera will intelligently select from one of the 32 pre-defined shooting scenes when you start to frame a subject, almost instantly. This allows you to keep your focus on your subject, and get the shot framed just the way you want it without having to worry about the settings needed to get a good photo. If you still want to play with some settings, Program mode offers access to more advanced settings like ISO, exposure compensation, etc.The various scene mode settings that the 100 HS includes are also access when you flip the mode switch to the Camera icon (Program mode), via the function shortcut menu. The 100 HS offers up to 25 different pre-programmed scene modes, including the new Super Slow-Motion movie, Toy camera, etc.
Canon has installed a nice 3.0-inch LCD screen on the ELPH 100's tiny frame, which inhabits the majority of the real estate on the back of the camera. While the display only offers approx. 230,000 pixels of resolution, we found it was able to produce a nice live image both indoors and out. The picture gets a little grainy when shooting in a very dimly lit room, however that's pretty typical. Outdoors there are a few angles where the surface coating will reflect bright light, however the LCD's backlight was strong enough to help ensure we didn't have any framing issues in bright conditions. The ELPH 100's menu system is pretty much identical to the 300's, along with many past models; with the exception so differences in available settings. This means that past PowerShot owners will be right at home. Those who are new to the Canon point-n-shoot world will find the menu is organized in a logical manner, and is very easy to learn. The only real difference we've noted in the menus of with newer compact PowerShot models is that the Scene settings are access from the Function shortcut menu when in Program mode, compared to having a SCN or SCENE position on a mode dial or switch.
Our image quality results from the ELPH 100 HS is very similar to what we found with the 300 HS. Being one of Canon's HS models, the 100 HS uses their High Sensitivity System, which combines a fast Backside-Illuminated CMOS type image sensor with their proven DIGIC 4 processor, and a fast lens. This system boasts to help produce images with less noise and blur when shooting in marginal lighting. We found that the camera was able to produce pleasing exposures in various lighting, with good detail and sharpness. When using Smart Auto mode, the camera provides beautiful color, and thanks to Canon's iContrast technology, brighter looking images than when using Program mode. Many will like this, however some may prefer the look of images taken in Program instead. When pixel peeping at 100%, you'll see some slight edge softness and noise depending on the ISO used. We also noted some faint traces of CA (aka purple fringing), however this is very normal for a compact camera, and it's likely that you won't notice them in your prints.
The ELPH 100 boasts a 4x zoom range thanks to its nice 28-112mm (equivalent) optical zoom lens. This lens is quite fast when compared to most of the competition, as it utilizes a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at wide angle (f/5.9 at telephoto). This brightness helps enhance the 100's performance when shooting in difficult lighting, which should allow you to capture better quality photos. The 24mm end of the zoom range is great for wide landscapes when our doors, along with group shots both indoors an out. When shooting indoors, you'll find that you have a much better viewing angle to work with than when compared to a standard model that starts a 35mm, which is a bit narrow when shooting in a small room. The telephoto end will help you tightly frame a subject, however it lacks the magnification to bring distant objects up close. Overall the lens helps the 100 HS produce sharp results throughout the zoom range with minimal distortion.
Indoors the camera excels when compared to other cameras in the sub $200 category. While the flash is tiny, and doesn't offer a great deal of power, the 100's high ISO capabilities really help it cover some ground. Canon notes a very realistic flash range of up to 13 ft. at wide angle (or 6.6 ft. at telephoto), which matches up with what we experienced pretty well. Using the mid end of the zoom to tightly frame a subject, we feel you'll get the best exposure using the flash with the camera no more than 8-10 feet away. This will provide enough illumination for get the subject nice and bright. Our examples show that the ELPH 100 does a great job at capturing faces, with very little red-eye showing up in our photos. The face detection system is able to quickly (almost instantly) lock onto several faces within the frame, to help make sure your subject's faces are nice and sharp.
Like its sibling, the ELPH 100 HS is able to produce usable photos when using its higher ISO capabilities. Normally on a point-n-shoot of this nature (and price), you wouldn't dare use anything higher than say ISO 800 (there are some exceptions of course). With these new Canon ELPHs that wear the HS badge, it seems they can create usable photos throughout the ISO range. While the best quality is had from ISO 800 and below, ISO 1600 looks pretty awesome compare to most compact cameras, and even our M&M man shot at 3200 looks decent at full screen resolution (about 25%). These findings put the ELPH 100 HS as one of the most affordable cameras on the market to offer such low-light abilities, with High ISO image quality that rivals that of more expensive models.
Like we mentioned in our 300 HS review, Canon has beefed up the video options on their 2011 PowerShot offerings. You now have resolution settings of
1920x1080 (24fps), 1280x720 (30fps), 640x480 (30fps), and 320x240
(30fps). While the 300 HS offered full use of the optical zoom, that's not the case with the 100 HS. You can preset the desired focal length before recording starts, but only the digital zoom is available while recording; which we recommend you use sparingly, if at all. Canon has added various new modes and functionality to the video mode
on the 100 HS, including Super Slow-Motion Movie and Movie Digest. Along with these, most of the Scene modes are functional in movie mode too. Meaning, if you are shooting still photos in
Monochrome mode and decide to press the movie record button, your video will also show the monochrome effect. There are some settings that will not transfer over, such as Toy Camera and Fish-eye for example. Overall, Canon has really increased the appeal of their video offerings with functionally and quality that is above par when compared to the competition. While the 100 HS can capture nice 1080p video, be sure not to get your expectations too high; this is still a compact point-n-shoot that can't be compared to a HD camcorder.
Bottom Line - Like its sibling (the 300 HS), we were very impressed with the PowerShot ELPH 100 HS. Offering loads of useful and fun exposure modes, Canon's now proven HS system, good shooting performance, excellent image quality, a fast f/2.8 lens, and unmatched High ISO performance for a camera at this price, the ELPH 100 HS is a no brainer if you want a low-light capable ultra-compact for under $200 US. With such an amazing price, the 100 HS is sure to fly off the shelves, even in these tough economic times.
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