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Canon PowerShot SX230 HS Digital Camera Review$349.99
The Canon SX230 HS provides a number of automatic modes specifically geared toward novice shooters, including Canon's own "easy" mode (indicated by the pink camera symbol with a heart in the middle). As with other cameras, the different modes provide varying degrees of control, on a range from manual mode (the most control) to easy mode, which provides the least.
Easy mode takes complete control over the camera, preventing the user from even accessing the menu to change any options. In easy mode, the user can just point the camera and take a picture or press the video record button to begin capturing video. No other options are allowed. The camera also features a program auto mode, which allows for full control, but automatically decides shutter speed and aperture. Users can opt for the full automatic mode, which has more control than easy mode but less than program auto, typical of most point-and-shoot cameras.
Also offered are a large variety of scene modes. As with almost all point-and-shoot cameras, these function very similar to the camera's automatic mode, but make specific changes to the shooting settings to help best capture a specific scene. For example, the camera's foliage scene mode is designed to enhance the natural colors of shooting forests in the fall, providing more vivid colors. The camera includes several scene modes right on the physical mode dial, while some of the more esoteric modes are located under a single "SCN" setting on the mode dial, with the user choosing the scene they want through the "function set" menu.
Buttons & Dials
Nearly every inch of the back of the Canon SX230 HS that isn't taken up by the camera's 3-inch rear LCD is occupied by the camera's various dials and buttons. Canon's really wasted very little space, using large buttons with clear labels that are sloped just slightly differently from the buttons beside them. It's a subtle design choice, but it aids usability by improving ergonomics, making it easier to find the key you're looking for.
Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes
The Canon SX230 HS includes a variety of scene modes on the camera, as well as Canon's "my colors" settings, which can be set in any of the camera's many shooting modes.
Settings on the SX230 HS are divided into two different menus. The first menu is brought up by pressing—no surprise here—the MENU key on the back of the camera. This provides access to most of the granular and system settings on the camera, including autofocus frame and method, digital zoom, image stabilization settings, flash settings, and a few others. This menu also includes the camera's system settings, which let you control options like the beep during menu navigation and LCD brightness.
All the more commonly used shooting settings are available in the camera's function menu, which is brought up by pressing the "FUNC SET" button in the center of the rear control dial. This brings up a list of menu options aligned vertically along the left edge of the screen and includes more typical settings like white balance, my color mode, burst mode, flash power, image size, image quality, and others. We'd have preferred if all these "function" settings were also in the main menu, but the bottom line is nearly all the control you need is readily available in this menu.
The manual on the SX230 HS is fairly in-depth for a point-and-shoot camera, providing basic tips and explanations on all the camera's features. The camera doesn't come with a paper manual (the trees thank you, I'm sure), with its 205-page user guide available on the included CD-ROM or on the company's website. The camera does come with a quick start guide in english and spanish, however, which walks you through the basics of turning the camera on and getting it ready to take photos.