Scott's Photography
Canon Powershot ELPH 300 HS

September 1, 2012
By Scott Lewis

I bought a new pocket camera a few months ago. I just forgot to write about it until now.

My previous pocket camera was not working well. The zoom was flakey, especially if it was a little cold. The lens cover would stick. Something sticky was clearly spilled on it while it was not in my possession. It was to the point I could not rely on it.

So... I did my usual due diligence and selected another pocket camera.

I needed to evaluate what I expected from a pocket camera. After all I have a Canon EOS Rebel T2i with three lenses. When I purchased my previous pocket camera I bought one with all the bells and whistles. It could take pictures in RAW, had manual controls, GPS, and a 12x zoom lense. It was a powerhouse, with good reviews for excellent picture quality.

During the few times I actually used that camera I found that I did not use the super zoom capability. It ended up being a "nice to have" feature. I also discovered that although it has Aperture Priority and Time Priority modes... there was very little range to make it useful.

I did a little soul searching and decided on these requirements for a new pocket point and shoot camera:

1) Good to great picture quality.
2) Good enough zoom.
3) Fast shooting.
4) Really small.

Let's hit the first one... picture quality. I do understand that going with a small pocket camera you are going to sacrifice picture quality compared to a DSLR. But you should not expect poor picture quality. So, I wanted a camera that would have reviews showing it to be good, maybe even great, for its size and class.

I noticed that when using a 12x zoom lens it was much more critical to be steady. Being steady when you are holding a camera out in front of you (as you do when composing from an LCD screen) is much more difficult than when holding a larger camera up to your eye (as you do with a DSLR when looking through the viewfinder). So, super zoom range was not important. I decided I wanted at least 5x zoom (because all previous cameras with 3x were way too limiting) but I didn't really need more than 10x.

Next up... fast shooting. I find that when walking around with a pocket camera I tend to leave it turned off, but still in my hand... or in my pocket. I do not walk around with it powered on (as I do when I walk around with my Canon T2i). So... I wanted a camera that would turn on fast.... and take a picture quickly.

I did find that my previous pocket camera with its 12x lens was a bit much in my pocket, and made it a little cumbersome to take it out for a fast shot. This time I wanted the smallest camera that would give me the picture quality I was after.

The Canon ELPH 300 HS fit the bill almost perfectly. I did spend a fair amount of time comparing the 300 HS to the slightly large Canon 310 HS and the Canon 510 HS. The 310 HS has an 8x zoom lens, while the 510 HS has 12x.

Of important note here... all three of these Canons have the same sensor, so picture quality should be as close to the same as possible. In the end I went with the smallest camera. As a bonus it was also the cheapest of the three.

So far I am extremely pleased with the Canon 300 HS. It is smaller than my phone, and it does indeed take some very good pictures. I took it to a car show... an indoor car show. Typically I hate these kinds of car shows. The cars and people around them are squished in so badly you can't get any good pictures.

The Canon 300 HS performed admirably. I used it for almost all my picture taking... leaving my T2i in the camera bag.

There are some things I don't like. Most importantly... you have too little control over ISO. You can manually set it or leave it in auto. Yuck! My Canon T2i allows you to set a limit while in auto. I set mine to a maximum of ISO 800. I wish the ELPH 300 HS could do the same.

I may find the 5x zoom lens a bit limiting... but I am not concerned. I don't plan on using this camera for the kind of picture taking that needs more zoom than that. I am very glad I selected the compact size over zoom range. This camera is so compact I will think nothing of putting it in my pocket when I head out. In fact... I keep it on the counter with my phone when I am at home.


I highly recommend the Canon ELPH 300 HS as an everyday camera to keep in your pocket nearly all the time.