Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS Digital Camera Review
Looking for a great all-around point-and-shoot? Make a date with the Canon PowerShot 330 HS.
By the Numbers
While the score for the 330 HS may seem low, it actually compares well to most cameras in its class. There are some performance areas you should know about—image quality suffers in low light and when fully zoomed in—but they're manageable. Additionally, the color accuracy leaves a bit to be desired, though this camera will work famously for novices who need a simple, dependable camera that is an upgrade over your average smartphone.
Color and White Balance
Fair color accuracy, but outstanding white balance presets.
Point and shoot cameras often struggle in some performance metrics, though color accuracy is not usually one of them. However, the Canon PowerShot 330 HS lags behind the pack a bit in this regard. In the lab, we measured a ∆C00 of 2.7 turning the "My Colors" mode to off with auto white balance enabled. This is acceptable performance, but nothing special. You can expect to see the most noticeable errors in yellows and reds. The 330 HS does manage to keep its saturation in check in this mode, topping out at slightly over 103% of the ideal.
If you switch to other color modes, you'll get a mixed bag of performance. "Neutral" will desaturate your photos, any of the "Vivid" settings will oversaturate the color they designate, and the B&W/Sepia modes will remove the natural color from your photos in favor of a monochromatic look.
If you're worried about white balance issues, the white balance presets are very effective: If you know which type of lighting you're shooting under, you can get dead-on white balance. Ultimately for simplicity's sake we recommend just leaving it on auto white balance. It's good enough for almost all of your snapshots.
Ah, the cost of a great zoom. Though the 10x zoom is certainly impressive on paper, cramming that much lens into a tiny compact point-and-shoot stresses the laws of physics. The drawback here is that as you zoom in, the aperture creeps to a close, limiting sharpness and your ability to capture good shots in low light.
The 330 HS does produce some sharp-looking images when not fully zoomed in, however. This is mostly due to software enhancement, though, than actual optical quality. While you won't notice the difference when looking at shots at web sizes, if you make large prints or zoom in to 100% you'll notice some ugly haloing around high-contrast edges.
It's worth mentioning that the Canon PowerShot 330 HS has a very aggressive automatic noise reduction in its software. That's perfectly fine, but it does introduce a wrinkle in low-light shooting, and that's detail loss.
Fine lines and shading will tend to get lost in the shuffle as the camera struggles to cope with mounting image noise, hindering image quality. Though noise levels bounce around between 0.61% and 1.03% depending on your focal length, the more noticeable issue is the ISO setting.
Shadows suffer greatly from the automatic noise reduction, and there's no way to turn it off. However, keeping that ISO setting at a defined value (or under ISO 800) will preserve enough detail for use on Facebook or sharing with friends and family.
Able to shoot broadcast-quality video down to 8.5 lux, this camera can capture moments in 1080p in poorly-lit areas if need be. We still suggest sticking to well-lit rooms, but sometimes you just don't have that option. Additionally, we recorded a sharpness of 650 lp/ph both horizontally and vertically in bright light, meaning fine details will be more or less preserved in motion. This performance could be a lot better, but could be worse as well—hardly an Achilles' heel for the 330 HS.
In our practical tests, we did notice strobing in high-contrast patterns and a bit of trailing in moving objects. You'll definitely notice a bit of this in your own movies if you record a lot of fast-moving objects, but considering the device you're shooting with, you could do a lot worse.
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