Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
    Canon ELPH 330 275 wide.jpg
  • 12.1 megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS image sensor
  • 10x optical zoom lens (24-240mm equivalent)
  • DIGIC 5 image processor
  • Full HD 1080p video recording
  • Hybrid Auto
  • Smart Auto
  • Intelligent IS
  • ISO up to 6400
  • Movie Digest Mode
  • High Speed AF
  • High-Speed Bursts up to 6.2 frames per second
  • ECO Mode
  • Built-in WiFi
Pros
  • Image quality is very good for a camera with a 1/2.3-inch image sensor
  • Performs well at low and mid-range ISO settings with minimal noise problems
  • Nice to find 10x optical zoom in thin camera
  • Start-up times are fast
  • Shutter lag is not noticeable in most situations
  • Shot to shot delays are minimal when shooting without the flash
  • Several Wi-Fi connectivity options
  • Camera fits in a desirable price point
  • LCD is of a good quality
  • ELPH 330 is very easy to use
  • HDMI slot included for downloading full HD video
  • Movie recording quality is good with fast autofocus
  • Compares favorably in performance versus similarly priced cameras
  • External battery charger included
Cons
  • Control buttons on back of camera are too small and too tight to the camera body
  • Minimal manual control options
  • Menu structure is a little odd and requires some practice to use efficiently
  • Full 1080p HD video limited to 24 frames per second
  • Camera's image quality on flash photos could be better
  • Vignetting occurs during some flash photos, depending on the angle of the shot
  • Using the flash slows down the ELPH 330's response times quite a bit
  • Wi-Fi can be a little tricky to set up, especially for those who aren't tech savvy
  • Inclusion of Hybrid Auto mode on the toggle switch is a little odd; few photographers will use this mode a lot
  • Battery lifespan could be better
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.1 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 0.1 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay without flash = 2.7 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 2.3 seconds with review Off
  • Shot to shot delay with flash = 5.3 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 5.2 seconds with review Off
  • Continuous = 10 frames in 5.1 seconds @ 12M
  • High-Speed Burst = 10 frames in 2.3 seconds @ 3M
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Class 10, 16 GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
Although the Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS camera isn't a high-end camera that will compare favorably with interchangeable lens models or fixed lens models with large image sensors, you'll find that the ELPH 330 stacks up well when comparing it to similarly priced cameras with 1/2.3-inch image sensors. It works quickly, it has good image quality, and it's a thin camera with a 10x zoom lens. Flash photos are probably its biggest weakness, but many cameras in this price range also struggle with flash photos. Versus other beginner-level camera around the $200 price point, the PowerShot ELPH 330 is a solid camera that will give you a good value and good results.
Pick This Up If...
You need a thin camera that provides solid performance levels, a nice optical zoom lens, and good image quality versus its competitors, while fitting in a inexpensive budget level.
Canon's family of PowerShot ELPH digital cameras all share a similar look and body design. ELPH models have a nice clean look and they're all pretty thin, giving them a lot of appeal among beginner-level digital photographers.

However, just because the large number of ELPH models on the market look a lot alike, it doesn't mean that they all have the same feature set or level of performance. While they're all beginner-level cameras, some just have a few more features and power than others.

The PowerShot ELPH 330 HS is one of those models that is at a high level inside the ELPH family. It has some very nice features both compared to other Canon ELPH cameras and compared to other cameras in its price range.

Even though the ELPH 330 has a small 1/2.3-inch image sensor, this camera does a pretty good job with image quality, especially compared to other cameras with similarly sized image sensors. Because Canon chose to include CMOS image sensor technology with the ELPH 330 HS, this camera does perform better in low light situations and creates less noise in those images than similar cameras with CCD image sensors. You should be able to shoot photos with minimal levels of noise up to an ISO setting of 1600.

Also don't let the fact that the PowerShot 330 HS has 12.1 megapixels of resolution deter you from considering this camera, as its image quality is better than what you'll find from some cameras boasting 16 megapixels or 18 megapixels with a 1/2.3-inch image sensor.

The Canon ELPH 330 HS does a really good job with movie quality, too, as it can shoot at full 1080p HD resolution and the autofocus works quickly to keep the movies sharply focused. Canon even included an HDMI port with this camera, which is helpful for downloading movies. (You will have to purchase an HDMI cable separately though.)

The only significant drawback when shooting video with the PowerShot ELPH 330 is that it only can record at full HD resolution at up to 24 frames per second, whereas 30 fps is more common among other cameras. This gives your movies a cinematic feel, however slow frame rates can lead to choppy video when panning quickly; not that we saw any of that in our videos.

Flash performance is a bit of a downside for the ELPH 330, too. This camera's images that are shot with the flash aren't quite as good as those shot without the flash. The built-in flash unit included with the PowerShot ELPH 330 is a little small, and part of it is obscured by the lens housing, which can lead to some vignetting in photos shot at certain angles. The flash also tends to create hot spots on images when you're standing too close to the subject. I'd recommend standing a few feet farther back than you normally would and using the camera's zoom lens to reduce the impact of the flash.

This camera doesn't work particularly fast when you're using the flash, as its shot to shot delays and shutter lag increases noticeably. As long as you're not using the flash, though, the ELPH 330 HS has great performance in terms of very little shutter lag and a fast start-up, at least compared to similarly priced cameras. Most low-priced thin cameras struggle with shutter lag, but the Canon 330 HS is a good performer.

The ELPH 330's optical zoom lens has a good working range compared to other thin cameras and other similarly priced models. The PowerShot ELPH 330 HS has a 10x optical zoom lens along with a wide angle equivalent measurement of 24mm, both of which are good specifications for a camera in this price range.

The ELPH 330's LCD screen is another strong feature of this camera. The screen measures 3.0 inches diagonally and it has 461,000 pixels, which create sharp and bright images on the LCD. You'll find a few glare problems on this camera's LCD screen when shooting in bright sunlight, but you can increase the screen's brightness level to counteract any glare.

Not many cameras at or below this price point contain built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, but Canon chose to include this feature with this model. You may find that the PowerShot 330's built-in Wi-Fi is a little difficult to set up and use if you're not at least a little tech-savvy, but it works well once it's set up properly.

Despite some nice features, keep in mind that the Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS is a beginner level camera designed primarily as a point-n-shoot model. Intermediate- and advanced-level photographers will be disappointed by the lack of opportunities to set the camera's controls manually.

This model really only offers two primary shooting modes -- Auto and Program. Under Program, you can control settings like the ISO and white balance, but there's no full manual or even aperture priority modes with the ELPH 330. Explanations do appear on the screen as you select the various shooting modes, which is a further help for beginners.

It would've been nice if Canon had chosen to make it easy to access the two primary shooting modes through the toggle switch on the back of the camera, but the PowerShot ELPH 330's two-way toggle switch instead includes modes for basic shooting and for Hybrid Auto, which is a feature where the camera records a video clip before and after you press the shutter button to record a still image. While this is a fun feature to use, you likely won't use it as often as Auto and Program shooting modes, so the toggle switch would be more useful if it contained Auto and Program modes instead.

Because of the way the toggle switch is set up, once you select basic shooting mode, you then must work through the camera's on screen menus to pick the exact shooting mode you want to use. However because Canon chose to include such small control buttons on the back of the ELPH 330 HS, it's not comfortable to use these buttons. Changing shooting modes is a bigger hassle than it needs to be. The buttons are also too tight to the camera body, which makes pressing them difficult. Larger control buttons that are slightly raised away from the camera body would have been better with this model.

Battery power could be a bit better with this camera, too, as you can only shoot around 200 images per battery charge. If you use the Wi-Fi feature quite a bit, you'll see even less battery lifespan. Thankfully though, Canon included an external battery charger, so you can easily pick up a spare pack and keep it charged up while you're using the camera with another pack.

Bottom Line - Don't let the thin and stylish design of Canon's PowerShot ELPH 330 HS camera fool you. It is a model that performs at an above average level versus other small beginner-level cameras. It has a good optical zoom measurement of 10x, a sharp LCD screen, and built-in Wi-Fi capabilities. Image quality is higher with the ELPH 330 than what you'd typically find with a camera that has a small 1/2.3-inch image sensor, although flash photo quality could be better with this model. The PowerShot ELPH 330's response times are quicker than you might expect in a thin point-n-shoot camera, too, as it has minimal shutter lag and it can shoot photos very quickly after pressing the power button. This camera is easy to use -- in fact it might be too easy to use, as the number of manual control features with this ELPH camera are extremely limited. I also found that this camera's control buttons are too small to be used comfortably, which is a problem that plagues quite a few small PowerShot cameras. Ultimately, though, these are difficulties that most beginning photographers can live with, especially when Canon has hit a couple of desirable numbers with the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS, thanks to its 10x optical zoom lens and its suggested price of less than $200. If you're in the market for this type of beginner-level camera, the ELPH 330 HS is one of the better values on store shelves right now. Just make sure that you can live with the really small control buttons and the lack of advanced controls before you purchase this model.

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