Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot
  • 20.2 MP CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 4+ Image Processor
  • 12x optical zoom lens
  • 3.0 inch LCD screen
  • Image Stabilization
  • Full 1080p HD video
  • Hybrid Auto Feature
  • Built-in Wi-FI (with a dedicated button)
  • NFC
  • Story Highlights mode
  • Pros
    • Fast performance in non-flash photos
    • 12x optical zoom nice to find in thin camera
    • Image stabilization feature works well
    • Overall image quality is good
    • Sharp LCD screen
    • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity
    • Good collection of special effect shooting modes
    • Full HD video recording available
    • Stylish camera available in silver, black, and purple
    • Camera is very easy to use
    • Small camera fits easily in a pocket
    • Good price point
    • Low light image quality could be better
    • Embedded flash is too small and can suffer from vignetting
    • Maximum ISO setting of only 3200
    • Camera runs too slowly when using the flash
    • Full resolution continuous shot mode should be faster
    • No full manual control shooting mode and no RAW shooting format
    • Battery life could be better
    • Inclusion of toggle switch to access some special effects is odd and confusing
    • Maximum aperture of lens is below average at f/3.6
    • No articulated or touch screen LCD
    Timing Test Results
    • Power up to first image captured = 1.3 seconds
    • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 0.1 seconds
    • Shutter lag with autofocus = 0.1 seconds
    • Shot to shot delay without flash = 2.3 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 2.1 seconds with review Off
    • Shot to shot delay with flash = 5.0 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 4.8 seconds with review Off
    • Continuous Mode = 10 frames in 4.7 seconds @ 20M
    • High-Speed Burst Mode = 10 frames in 1.7 seconds @ 5M
    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
    The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS is a nice camera, considering its price point, as it compares favorably to other models that are similarly priced. It has a 12x optical zoom lens in a camera that measures less than 1 inch in thickness, which is a nice feature. It has almost no shutter lag, which is impressive in this price point. But the ELPH 360 is nearly identical to last year's ELPH 350, which means you might want to consider the older model instead, because it will be available at a discounted price.
    Pick This Up If...
    You need a compact camera with a good optical zoom setting, you're seeking an easy to use camera, and you'd like to have plenty of special effect options available.
    The compact point-n-shoot market is fading away, as smartphone cameras continue to erode the desirability of these inexpensive digital cameras. Still, there's one area where compact cameras can outperform their smartphone counterparts: The optical zoom lens.

    If you're looking for a compact camera with a nice optical zoom measurement as a companion to your smartphone camera ... or for a thin model that'll fit in a pocket as a companion to an advanced DSLR camera, Canon's PowerShot ELPH 360 HS is worth considering. This model isn't going to give you top-level performance in any particular area, but it does have just enough nice features at a sub-$200 price point to make it a good companion camera. Perhaps its biggest competition is its predecessor, as we'll discuss later.

    Let's start with the 12x optical zoom lens found in the PowerShot ELPH 360. This is a pretty nice zoom lens to find in a camera that measures less than 1 inch in thickness when powered down.

    I thought the camera's autofocus was accurate the majority of the time, and it also works fast, as shutter lag is not noticeable in this camera, which is great to find in such a low price point.

    The ELPH 360's image quality compares favorably to other compact cameras in this price point, as it offers nice photographic quality when shooting in good lighting conditions versus its peers. The PowerShot 360 has a tiny 1/2.3-inch CMOS image sensor, which is typical of what's found in inexpensive cameras.

    But, like other point-n-shoot cameras, this unit struggles quite a bit in low light conditions, both in terms of image quality and in terms of performance speeds. The Canon PowerShot 360 is an extremely slow performer when you're forced to use the flash. Additionally, the ELPH 360's embedded flash unit is small, and its size is compromised a bit by the curvature of the camera's lens housing.

    Its maximum ISO setting is only 3200, which further hampers its low light performance. You'll begin to notice significant noise in images at the ISO 1600 setting.

    To counteract those drawbacks, Canon has designed the ELPH 360 HS as a fun, easy-to-use camera; and the manufacturer has succeeded here. This model works well as a simple point-n-shoot model in fully automatic mode.

    It also offers a host of special effect shooting modes, where you can have the ELPH 360 apply a series of special effects automatically as you shoot the photos, such as fish-eye, toy camera, and super vivid, among others. You'll also have access to Canon's Creative Shot mode, where the camera records six photos on one shutter press, automatically applying various special effects.

    You can make use of either Wi-Fi or NFC wireless connectivity with the Canon ELPH 360, which contributes to the enjoyable aspects of using this camera. After you shoot some fun photos of your friends and family with the special effects, you can share them immediately on social media sites by using the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity.

    Oddly, Canon's designers chose to place access to Creative Shot and another special effect, Hybrid Auto, on a toggle switch on the top panel of the camera, while other special effects are available through the camera's menus. This is a strange design decision, as it may be confusing for some photographers to have to access to the special effects in different areas. Additionally, you could bump the toggle switch out of place inadvertently, leaving you shooting in Creative Shot or Hybrid Auto without even realizing it.

    The Canon 360's LCD screen is of a decent quality, measuring 3 inches diagonally and offering 461,000 pixels of resolution. Compared to the display screens on other point-n-shoot cameras in this price range, this model's screen is slightly above average. There's no viewfinder with this model, so it's important to have a good LCD screen. Unfortunately, the ELPH 360's display screen has no touch capabilities, which would have been nice to find in an easy-to-use camera.

    Other aspects of the camera's design are about what you'd expect from a compact camera. The control buttons on the back are small, but they're designed with more of a square-ish shape than the typical tiny round buttons Canon includes with its inexpensive PowerShot models, and the square-ish shape makes them easier and more comfortable to use and press.

    And don't expect a large number of control buttons on the PowerShot ELPH 360, as this model doesn't offer a fully manual control option. You can make use of Program Auto mode with this camera, and you'll have the option of changing the ISO setting and white balance in this mode. But you cannot manually set the shutter speed or aperture in any shooting mode with this model.

    You can shoot at full 1080p HD video resolution with this model, and the full optical zoom range is available while shooting movies.

    The PowerShot ELPH 360's battery capacity is a bit of a disappointment, offering less than 200 shots per charge. And if you choose to use the Wi-Fi connectivity, you can expect to drain the battery even faster.

    Ultimately though, the biggest problem with the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 is that it's almost identical to the ELPH 350 introduced last year. In fact, if you held the two cameras side by side, you probably couldn't tell the difference between them without seeing the model number printed on the cameras. The specification lists are nearly identical too.

    I'm not sure why Canon would release basically the exact same camera in back to back years. I guess the primary difference between the two models is the ELPH 360 was available in black and silver; the ELPH 360 adds purple to the mix. So if you want to pay a 25% to 40% premium for the ELPH 360 so you can have a purple camera, that's a choice you certainly can make. But it's tough for me to recommend the ELPH 360 when you can find the ELPH 350 as a close-out model for a significant discount to the new model.

    Bottom Line - When compared to other compact point-n-shoot digital cameras at the $200 price point, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS is a good option. It certainly doesn't excel in any one area, but it's a good enough all-around camera for the amount of money you're paying. It has a nice 12x optical zoom lens, it's extremely easy to use, it offers quite a few fun special effect options, and it has a nice LCD screen. Image quality is about what you'd expect for this type of camera -- pretty good in outdoor conditions and not so good in low light conditions. Perhaps the camera's best feature is its ability to operate with almost no shutter lag, which is nice to find in a simple point-n-shoot camera. The camera's performance speeds do slow considerably when you're making use of the flash, though. While the ELPH 360 is a reasonably good camera, its biggest drawback really has nothing to do with the makeup of the camera itself. For whatever reason, the Canon ELPH 360 is nearly identical to the Canon ELPH 350, which was released last year. The specification lists for the two cameras are nearly identical, and If the two cameras were side by side, you couldn't tell the difference without seeing an imprinted model number. So it's difficult for me to recommend that you purchase the ELPH 360 at its MSRP as a newly released camera, when you could purchase the ELPH 350 as a close-out camera at a discounted price of 25% to 40%.

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