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Canon Powershot SX230 HS GPS Camera Review


The Canon Powershot SX220 HS and SX230 HS are updates to the Canon Powershot SX210 IS and features a new 12 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, compared to the previous version's 14 megapixel CCD sensor, with the SX230 HS featuring built in GPS. The new sensor allows high speed shooting and should lower noise in images, compared to the high noise results of the predecessor. Nb. Due to similarities in performance, some of the review is the same as the Canon Powershot SX220 HS review.

Canon Powershot SX230 HS Features

The Canon Powershot SX230 HS is one of the smallest digital cameras available with a 14x optical zoom lens and is well worth looking at if you want a camera with advanced features, and a lot of zoom. The camera includes full HD video recording with stereo sound and lets you use the optical zoom while recording. It's also one of the smallest pocket-zooms with GPS.

The camera features a large 3 inch screen, with a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a mode dial with full P/A/S/M manual controls. A metal body and high speed shooting rounds this camera off nicely with a full set of features and controls, as well as an abundance of scene and colour modes.

The Canon Powershot SX220 HS is the "little brother" to the SX230 HS - the SX230 HS is available in black, blue and pink and features GPS (logger and tagging, with map utility software), and other than these differences, the cameras are identical. GPS options: GPS settings ON/OFF, GPS Logger ON/OFF. Map utility software.

Key Features 

  • HS System 12.1 MP megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
  • 14x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 28 – 392 mm in 35mm equiv. f/3.1 - f/5.9
  • Compact metal body available in black, blue and pink
  • 28mm, 14x zoom. Optical IS
  • Full HD with optical zoom. Dynamic IS
  • 16:9 Wide-screen 3.0 inch screen with 461k pixels
  • Smart Auto (32 scenes)
  • High-speed Burst & Super Slow Motion Movie
  • Movie Digest & iFrame movie
  • Manual Control
  • ISO 100 - 3200
  • 5cm Macro mode
  • GPS built in

Canon Powershot SX230 HS Handling

The camera is one of the smallest cameras available with a 14x optical zoom lens, with most other cameras offering 14x zoom or more tending to be larger in the pocket. Because of this there's not a lot of grip, instead you have to use your thumb to grip onto the rear mode dial. 

The design is obviously popular at Canon, as the camera looks almost identical to the previous model. Including a pop-up flash that pops up every time the camera is switched on. This can be easily pushed down and manually raised later if needed - I found that whenever I switched the camera on my hand was on the flash and therefore it stayed down.

The buttons are large and easy to use. The mode dial is the right level of firmness so that you don't accidentally change mode, which is a good feature, especially as it's the most natural and perhaps only place to grip the back of the camera. The screen is a wide-screen model with a 16:9 aspect ratio meaning that the default image size of 4:3 photos will show black borders, and you get a smaller view than you would if they had used a 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio screen. Alternatively you can take all your photos at the 16:9 aspect ratio but then you are limited to 9Mp (4000 x 2248) images.

Menus: The Canon Powershot SX230 HS menus are good, and are colour coded so that each mode (Photo, Playback, Setup etc) is easily recognisable. Once you are used to accessing the most popular controls using the Func button and back buttons, and the more advanced controls in the menu system, the camera becomes easy to use. They respond quickly and there is a good level of control and options so that you don't feel too limited when using the camera.

Battery Life: The camera's battery life is rated at approx. 210 shots according to CIPA / Canon testing. The battery is rated at 1120mAh and was able to provide around 200+ shots before going flat. This is lower than much of the competition, so it could be worth considering buying a spare battery if needed. I suspect that using GPS extensively will lower the battery life further.

Speed: We tested the Canon Powershot SX230 HS, and tested the camera with the Panasonic Lumix TZ20, Sony Cybershot HX9v and Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR, taking 6 shots and using the average to ensure consistent results.

Fujifilm F550EXR Panasonic TZ20 Canon SX230 Sony HX9
Shutter Response* <0.05 <0.05 0.05 <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.20 0.25 0.35 0.20
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.20 0.25 0.40 0.20
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 3.7s 2.2s 1.8s 2.0s
Shot to Shot (without flash) 2.4s 1.2s 1.8s 1.0s
Shot to Shot with Flash 2.5s 2.0s 3.2s 1.9s
Continuous Shooting (full resolution) 8fps (8 shots) 6fps (14 shots) 2.5fps 10fps (10 shots)
Continuous shooting (with flash) N/A N/A 1.2s N/A
The Canon Powershot SX230 has the slowest continuous shooting of the four cameras tested, and considering all cameras are using CMOS sensors then the camera should theoretically be able to shoot as quickly as the others. However, saying that, the 2.5fps is still respectable and still faster than a lot of other cameras (for example CCD based cameras). The SX230 is also the only camera to offer continuous shooting with flash at full resolution (the TZ20 has a scene mode that allows continuous shooting with flash, but at a lower resolution). Switch on time is the quickest with the SX230 perhaps due to the shortest zoom lens, and the shot to shot time is very quick.

The Fujifilm FinePix F550 has a good number of options for continuous shooting: No. of frames: 4, 8, 16, 32. 8fps full resolution (max 8 shots), 11fps at Medium (8mp), max 16 frames / or 32 frames at S (Small, 4mp). *when pre-focused.

The fast performance of the HX9v is rather impressive, with the quickest continuous shooting available, the quickest shot to shot time with or without flash, and a very quick switch on time (only beaten by the Canon Powershot SX230 HS). The camera also has the fastest focusing time, joint with the Fujifilm FinePix F550. The Panasonic Lumix TZ20 should in theory be able to match the HX9v and has the largest number of continuous shooting options, and very good shot to shot times, quick focusing, and quick switch on time.

Canon Powershot SX230 HS Performance

The Canon Powershot SX230 HS produces images that have good detail and excellent colour. Here are some sample photos you can enlarge.
Portrait Flowers
The portrait shot came out well, however there is very slight red-eye noticeable in this photo, and better results can be produced by using the red-eye reduction flash.
Forest Clubhouse
White Balance Performance
Auto White Balance - Incandescent lighting Incandescent preset - Incandescent lighting
Auto White Balance - Fluorescent lighting Fluorescent preset - Fluorescent lighting
Auto white balance under incandescent lighting produced images with a yellow cast, and using the incandescent preset produced much better results. Auto white balance under fluorescent lighting produced very good results and there is very little difference between the auto white balance and the preset. ISO and Noise Performance Noise is good, thanks to the fact that levels are low right up to ISO1600, with the results looking good. At ISO3200 noise becomes very noticeable. Using ISO100 to ISO400 noise is very low, and again at ISO800 noise is low.
Wide-angle (28mm equiv) Mid-zoom
Full 14x optical zoom (392mm equiv) Scuba Divers
The optical zoom provides an impressive zoom range from 28mm equivalent to 392mm equivalent, helping you zoom into distant subjects and view high levels of detail. The wide angle end isn't as wide as some of the other pocket-zoom cameras, however, this does give you quite long telephoto reach.Some of the creative modes and photographic features are shown below:
Miniature effect Toycam effect
Black and White Mode Rusty boat
The creative modes can create some artistic shots, and can make some otherwise boring shots more memorable, using the modes available: Smart Auto (32 scenes detected), Program AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual, Easy, Movie Digest, Portrait, Landscape, Kids & Pets, Smart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer), High-speed Burst (3.0MP), Best Image Selection (3.0MP), Handheld Night Scene, Low Light (3.0MP), Creative Filter (Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Colour Accent, Colour Swap), Beach, Underwater, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, Stitch Assist.Beyond this, the camera also has a "My Colours" mode, the options are: My Colours Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Colour.

Macro Performance

Macro Watch Clock at St Pancreas Station
The Canon Powershot SX220 HS allows you to be 5cm away from your subject, this produces good macro photos with high levels of detail, and good colour. Video Mode

Canon Powershot SX230 HS Sample Video.
The video quality is very good recording Full HD videos with stereo sound, and allows the use of optical and digital zoom. The optical zoom is much slower when recording, however this means that less lens noise should be picked up on the video.

Value for Money The Canon Powershot SX230 HS is available for £265 - which prices it very closely with the competition, the Panasonic Lumix TZ20 with 16x optical zoom at £270, the Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR priced at £229 with RAW support, the Sony Cybershot HX9v with 16x optical zoom priced at £299, and the Casio Exilim h30G available for around £215, although it features a 10x optical zoom lens instead.

Canon Powershot SX230 HS Verdict

The Canon Powershot SX220 HS is a very good camera, the SX230 HS adds GPS and some additional body colours, however compared to other pocket zoom cameras with GPS, the SX230 has slower continuous shooting, and there is less difference between the SX220 and SX230. That's not to say that the SX230 isn't a good choice if you want GPS, it's just that if you were choosing between the SX220 and SX230 and didn't need GPS, then there would be no real reason to buy the SX230, whereas the other cameras with the addition of GPS make a much more compelling case for buying the more expensive model. If you are looking for the most compact pocket zooms with GPS, then the SX230 HS is a good choice, and the use of a 12 megapixel CMOS sensor means noise is very low.
The Canon Powershot SX230 HS is one of the smallest pocket zooms with GPS, and produces low noise images.
Canon Powershot SX230 HS Pros: GPS built in - one of the smallestFull HD video with stereo sound and optical zoomCompact with an excellent 14x optical zoom lensGood image quality - excellent colourBuilt in optical image stabilisationLow noise upto ISO1600Images look great on the high quality screen

Canon Powershot SX230 HS Cons:

Some soft corners in imagesSlight vignetting at full optical zoomSome purple fringing in extreme conditions

Canon Powershot SX230 HS Specification

Price £265
Lens 14x optical zoom (35 mm equivalent: 28 – 392 mm) f/3.1 – f/5.9
Resolution 12.1 million pixels
Sensor size 1/2.3
Sensor type Back-illuminated CMOS
Max. Image size 12mp 4000 x 3000
Aspect ratio 4:3, 16:9, 3:2, 1:1
Monitor 3.0in TFT LCD monitor, 461k pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio
Shutter speed 1 – 1/3200 sec. (factory default), 15 – 1/3200 sec. (total range – varies by shooting mode)
Focusing system Contrast detection AF TTL
Focusing modes Face Detection, 1-point AF (fixed to centre), AF Modes Single, Continuous (only available in Auto mode), Servo AF/AE¹, Tracking AF
Focus distance 5 cm (W) from front of lens in macro
File types JPEG compression, MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (stereo)], iFrame
ISO sensitivity ISO 100 - 3200
Metering modes Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (Centre)
Exposure compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments, Enhanced i-Contrast for automatic dynamic range correction
Continuous Approx. 3.2 shots/sec.¹, AF: Approx. 0.8 shots/sec.¹, LV: Approx. 1.0 shots/sec.¹, High-speed Burst (3.0MP): Approx. 8.1 shots/sec.¹, (until memory card becomes full)²
Image stabilisation Yes (lens shift-type), 4-stop. Dynamic IS (in Movie)
Movie mode Full HD 1920 x 1080, 24 fps, Class 6 cards recommended, (Full HD & HD 1280 x 720, 30 fps) Up to 4 GB or 29 min. 59 sec, (L and M) Up to 4 GB or 1 hour, Super Slow Motion Movie (L) 120fps, (M) 240fps
Media type SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HCMMCplus
Interface Hi-Speed USB 2.0, HDMI Mini Connector (HDMI-CEC compatible) A/V output (PAL/NTSC)
Power Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-5L (battery and charger supplied)
Box Contents Canon Powershot SX230 HS Digital Camera, Software / Manual CD-ROM, Batter NB-5L, USB Cable, AV cable, Wrist strap, AC power cable, AC Battery charger.
Size 105.7 x 61.6 x 33.2 mm
Weight 223g (including battery and SD memory card)

Canon Powershot Sx 230 Hs 12.1 Mp 3 " Lcd Ekran Dijital Fotoğraf Makinesi

Seyahatlerinizi ölümsüzleştirir. İstediğiniz zaman. İstediğiniz yerde.

HS Sistem, 28 mm geniş açılı 14x optik zoom ve Full HD filmler sayesinde PowerShot SX230 HS her yerde mükemmel görüntüler yakalar. GPS, pozlarınızı etiketler ve seyahatinizi günlük kaydeder. Bu özellik onu seyahat için en üst düzey kompakt haline gelir. 

FaydalarHS Sistemi (12.1 MP)28 mm, 14x zoom. Optik ISGPSOptik zoom özellikli Full HD. Dinamik ISGeniş 7,5 cm (3,0”) PureColor II G LCDAkıllı Otomatik (32 sahne)Yüksek Hızlı Seri Çekim ve Süper Ağır Çekim FilmFilmli Özet ve iFrame filmManuel KontrolSu Geçirmez Kap

Temel Özellikler




Düşük ışıkta harika çekimler 

12x optik zoom ve geniş açı 

Fotoğraflarda ve filmlerde bulanıklığı azaltır 



Çekimleri etiketleyin ve yolculuğunuzun günlüğü tutun 

 Geliştirilmiş güç ve görüş



32 sahne tespiti özellikli otomatik mod 

Diyafram ve enstantane hızı kontrolü 

TV'nizde fotoğraflara bakın ve videoları izleyin 


Detaylı Özellikler

HS Sistemi (12.1 MP)

HS Sistemi, düşük ışıkta harikalar yaratır, bu sayede flaş veya tripod kullanmadan anın gerçek atmosferini yakalarsınız. Yüksek performanslı DIGIC 4 işlemci ve yüksek hassasiyetli görüntü sensörü tüm koşullar altında size üstün görüntü kalitesi sağlar.

14x zoomlu 28 mm ve Optik IS

14x telefoto erişimine sahip geniş açılı lens sayesinde tam olarak istediğiniz pozu fotoğraf çerçevesine alabilirsiniz. Panoramik manzaralardan uzak hedeflere kadar, gelişmiş bir optik Görüntü Sabitleyicisi pozlarınızı sabit tutar.


Kaydedici işlevli GPS*

GPS Kaydedici seyahatinizi kaydederken, GPS etiketleme sayesinde, çektiğiniz her fotoğrafa ne zaman ve nerede çekildiğine dair anahtar veriler işlenir. Verilen yazılımı kullanarak, bir harita üzerinde görüntülerinizi ve seyahatinizi gözden geçirebilirsiniz. 

Optik zoom özellikli Full HD. Dinamik IS ve Stereo ses

Yüksek kaliteli filmler, stereo sesle FULL HD 1080p formatında kaydedilebilir. Dinamik IS hareketli çekim sırasında sarsıntı ve hareketin etkisini azaltırken, optik zoom film kaydı için kullanılabilir. 


Geniş 7,5 cm (3,0”) PureColor II G LCD

Büyük bir 7,5 cm (3,0”) yüksek çözünürlük PureColor II G LCD sayesinde görüntüleri fotoğraf karesine almak kolaydır. Temperli cam dış katmanı, dayanıklılığı arttırır ve muhteşem bir görüş sağlar. 

Akıllı Otomatik

Akıllı Otomatik, otomatik olarak 32 farklı çekim sahnesine kadar algıladığı için büyük bir güvenle, kameranızın sizin için her şeyle ilgileneceğini bilerek muhteşem fotoğraflar çekebilirsiniz. 


Yüksek Hızlı Seri Çekim ve Süper Ağır Çekim Film

Yüksek Hızlı Seri Çekim modunu kullanarak hızlı bir şekilde fotoğraf çekin veya Süper Ağır Çekim Film modunu kullanarak hareketleri yavaşlatın. Her iki mod da hızlı hareket eden hedefleri kaydetmek için çarpıcı ve muhteşem olanaklar sağlar. 

Film Düzenlemesi ve iFrame film

Filmi Özet, poz çekilmeden önce eylemin 4 saniyesine kadar yakalar ve fotoğraf koleksiyonunuza eklemeniz için aynı günden klipleri tek bir VGA filminde birleştirir. iFrame film formatı, hızlı bir şekilde video alma, düzenleme ve paylaşmanın basit yoludur. 


Manuel Kontrol

Yarı otomatik Av ve Tv modlarından Tam Manuel moduna kadar pozlamayı tek bir yandan kontrol edebilir veya tam kontrol sağlayabilirsiniz. 

Su Geçirmez Kap

İsteğe bağlı bir su geçirmez kap (WP-DC42), 40 m derinliğe inmenizi sağlar. 


*GPS kullanımı bazı ülkelerde veya bölgelerde sınırlandırılmış olabilir. GPS kullanımı, elektronik cihazlar kullanımının sınırlı olması da dahil olmak üzere çalıştırıldığı ülkelerin ve bölgenin yasa ve düzenlemeleriyle uyumlu olmalıdır.

*** Özellikler, modele ve bulunduğu ülkeye bağlı olarak değişebilir.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS Review: Overview

Review posted 4/19/2011

Quick Take


  • Well built body that is also stylish with several color choice options
  • Excellent outdoor image quality
  • Versatile 14x optical zoom with a 28mm - 392mm equivalent range
  • Upgraded 3.0-inch LCD is a welcomed addition
  • Excellent High ISO performance up to the maximum 3200 setting.
  • Speedy shooting performance for a compact camera
  • Cool GPS functionality for geotagging and tracking
  • Records nice HD video
  • Optical zoom is available while video is recorded


  • Pop-up flash not in the greatest position; easily blocked by your left index finger
  • Flash Pops up automatically in all modes, which is not always wanted
  • Non-existent labeling on the 4-way controller
  • Indoor image quality not up to par with other Canon PowerShot models
  • GPS system drains the battery fast, even while the camera is off
  • Microphones pic up a good amount of background noise when recording video
  • Auto White Balance has some issues indoors under mixed incandescent lighting

Bottom Line

The Canon PowerShot SX230 HS offers some very appealing options stuffed inside its petite frame. We were pleased with the camera's overall image quality and shooting performance, with only a few annoyances, many of which have been carried over from its predecessors. Overall the camera offers a great value if full HD video, long telephoto reach, and built-in GPS are among the features you desire. Read more in our Full Conclusion.
In addition to the ELPH lineup of HS enabled cameras, Canon has also released the PowerShot SX230 HS; their first GPS enabled camera. Highly useful for travel heavy vacations or trips, the SX230 HS uses a dedicated receiver to record latitude, longitude and altitude for each one of your photos. This information is stored within the EXIF data of each picture, and the included Map Utility software allows you to view where you captured photos using maps supplied by Google Maps. There's also a Logger feature that allows you to track your trip, then display an outline on the map when you upload your photos to your PC later.

Beyond the GPS functions, the PowerShot SX230 HS offers 1080p HD recording, a 12.1-Megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS Sensor and a 14x optical zoom with image stabilization.  The camera also comes equipped with a 3.0 inch LCD screen, Smart Auto functionality and Canon's HS system for higher quality low-light photos. Canon PowerShot SX230 HS key features include:  

  • Slek and stylish body available in 3 colors (Black, Blue and Pink)
  • 12.1-Megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS image sensor
  • 14x optical zoom with 28-392mm equivalent zoom range
  • 3.0-inch  LCD screen with 461K pixels and 100% frame coverage
  • Canon's HS (High Sensitivity) system
  • ISO settings from 100 - 3200
  • Optical Image stabilization
  • 1080p HD Video recording with stereo sound
  • Smart AUTO (Face detection, focus, exposure)
  • 21 different exposure settings, from Manual to various Scene modes
  • Built-in, auto pop-up flash unit
  • New Movie Digest and Super Slow Motion Movie options
  • Li-ion battery pack (up to 210 shots per charge)
  • Memory card slot for SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards (Eye-Fi compatible)
  • Built-in GPS functionality for Geotagging and logging
The Canon PowerShot SX230 HS is available now with a suggested retail price of $349.99 US.

What's in the box?:

  • PowerShot SX230 HS Body
  • Battery Pack NB-5L
  • Battery Charger CB-2LX
  • Wrist Strap WS-DC11
  • AV Cable AVC-DC400ST
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
  • Digital Camera Solution CD-ROM

Additional Product Views:

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS -

The Canon PowerShot SX230 HS is the latest incarnation of Canon’s highly popular pocket super-zoom. Announced in February 2011 to replace the year-old PowerShot SX210 IS, it’s the first SX model to carry the HS suffix. A step-down in resolution from the 14 Megapixel SX210, the SX230’s 12.1 Megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor and Digic 4 processor provide excellent low light performance combined with 1080p HD video recording

The SX230 HS sticks with the 14x optical zoom of its predecessor and the 3in screen, though the display resolution has been increased to 460k dots. Crucially, it adds a GPS receiver, the lack of which put its predecessor at a disadvantage compared with the earlier Sony Cyber-shot HX5 and Panasonic Lumix TZ10 / ZS7. Note: the PowerShot SX220 HS, released alongside the SX230 HS (in Europe only) lacks the GPS but is otherwise identical.

The competition has moved on too, though, and the PowerShot SX230 HS is now up against new models from Sony, Nikon and, of course, Panasonic with the Cyber-shot HX9V, the COOLPIX S9100 and the market-leading Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 respectively. Read our full review to find out how it measures up.


Canon PowerShot SX230 HS Design and controls

The PowerShot SX230 HS looks similar to to its predecessor and is almost exactly the same size and weight. It’s available in pink, blue or black and the soap bar shape with a cupped silver edge both looks stylish and provides a secure and stable grip. The tell-tale difference between the SX230 HS and its predecessor is the bulge on the top edge just to the left of the shutter release labelled GPS. There’s one other important difference: the earlier SX210’s zoom ‘nipple’ experiment has been abandoned with the return of a conventional zoom collar surround on the shutter release.


The stereo mics have been relocated from the top to the front panel and the movie button no longer doubles a custom function button and that’s the extent of the external changes.

The Flash on the PowerShot SX230 HS is a pop-up type located on the left end of the top panel. Regardless of the settings, even if it’s disabled or you’re in a movie exposure mode, it pops up when the camera is powered on, which is a bit of a nuisance, but it’s easily pushed back into position. The problem is you then have to pop it back up manually if you want to use it – even in auto mode and I think that’s simply poor design. How else would you describe a system that automatically activates when not required and vice versa? It’s also something just about every review criticised on the earlier SX210 IS, so it’s disappointing not to find it resolved here.

The flash has ‘Auto’ (fires when required as long as you remembered to pop it up) forced on, forced off (superfluous as popping it down does the same thing) and slow synchro modes, and has a quoted maximum distance of 3.5 metres. Smart flash automatically adjusts power depending on the proximity and brightness of the subject and recycles in around two to four seconds.

The SX230 HS has a 3in widescreen display with 16:9 proportions. While ideal for shooting HD movies, best-quality 4:3 stills only occupy the central portion of the screen with thick black bars containing info icons running down either side. But if you’re shooting lots of HD video, it’s great. With much of the competition opting for 4:3 screens this is something that sets the SX230 HS apart and along with 1080 24p HD video will increase its appeal for film makers. The 460k dot resolution results in a crisp detailed image that’s bright, contrasty and easy to see from most angles though in bright sunlight, like all screens, it’s a bit of a struggle.


The controls, including the mode dial, dedicated movie record button playback, display and menu buttons and the control wheel are located to the right of the screen on a subtly contoured panel that looks cramped, but, perhaps due to the contoured surface, doesn’t feel so.

The on/off button is positioned on the bevelled top edge just above the mode dial. The only slightly unusual thing about the controls is the control wheel’s lack of labels. The wheel doubles up as a menu navigator – rotate to scroll – and a four-way one-touch selector for flash, self-timer, macro and exposure compensation, an icon showing the layout appears on the screen when the wheel is lightly pressed – a great idea once you get used to it.

A flap on the right edge covers the mini HDMI and A/V / USB ports and the combined card and battery compartment on the bottom of the camera takes SD (HC XC) cards. The NB-5L battery pack provides enough power for an unimpressive 210 shots. With the optional WP-DC42 waterproof casing you can dive with the SX230 HS to a depth of 40 metres.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS lens and stabilisation

The PowerShot SX230 HS has a 14x stabilised optical zoom with a 35mm equivalent range of 28 – 392mm. It’s the same lens with the same field of view as it predecessor and, like the SX210 before it, the SX230 HS lacks the super-wide angle field of view provided by competitor models like the Sony Cyber-shot HX9V, Panasonic Lumix TZ20 / ZS10 and Nikon COOLPIX S9100. But where the earlier SX210 could outreach its competitors at the telephoto end of the range that’s no longer the case with the latest PowerShot SX230 HS, as its telephoto advantage over the HX9V and TZ20 / ZS10 is negligible and the COOLPIX S9100 outguns it with a 450mm telephoto.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS coverage wide

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS coverage tele

5-70mm mm at 5mm (28mm equivalent)   5-70mm at 70mm (392mm equivalent)

While a slightly wider field of view would be nice, the PowerShot SX230 HS nonetheless provides an impressive zoom range in a pocketable format. The zoom is smooth and quiet and the two-speed zoom collar provides a good degree of control. Optical image stabilisation has four still image modes – off, continuous, Shoot only and panning.

Canon’s optical image stabilisation has proved to be very effective on earlier models and the claim of four stops of stabilisation for the PowerShot SX230 HS is perfectly credible. I tested the SX230 HS stabilisation by taking a series of shots with the lens set to its maximum focal length with the stabilisation turned off and set to Continuous. The crops below show the results.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS, IS Off / Continuous

100% crop, 5-70mm at 70 mm, 1/20, 100 ISO, IS Off.


100% crop, 5-70mm at 70 mm, 1/20, 100 ISO, IS Continuous.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS shooting modes

The SX230 HS’s mode dial provides a good guide to the available shooting modes with the manual and semi-automatic PASM modes followed by Auto with scene detection and Easy auto which disables all the advanced functions leaving basic point-and-shoot operation. Next there’s the new Movie digest mode which continuously buffers a few seconds of video allowing a four second clip of the action immediately preceding a still shot to be saved; these clips are then compiled into a digest of the day’s events – a genuinely novel and creative application of modern digital processor technology.


The SX230 HS’s scene detection can determine whether there are people in frame, the lighting conditions, distance from the camera and whether subjects are moving; it then displays an icon to let you know what it thinks its looking at and sets the focus and exposure accordingly. It’s reassuringly accurate and rarely gets it wrong, though if it can’t make a decision it defaults to the regular auto exposure metering. The SX230 HS can also tell when you’ve got the camera attached to a tripod and unlock longer exposure times.

Next up are a selection of dedicated scene presets followed by the generic SCN position with on-screen selection of 12 further scene modes. Most notable of these are Handheld Night Scene which takes several frames in low light and produces a composite image with lower noise, Smart shutter with smile activation and wink and face self-timer modes, and a reduced resolution High speed burst mode, about which more later.

Like most other 2011 Canon compacts the PowerShot SX230 HS features the new Creative filter modes, special effects that include faux fish-eye, miniature (tilt-shift), Toy camera (vignette), Super vivid, Poster, Colour accent and Colour replace effects. All good fun and an a quick and easy route to effects for those who lack the time or inclination to post process their images.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS movie modes

The SX230 HS has a dedicated movie mode button so you can record video regardless of the position of the mode dial. Some stills modes, including all of the Creative filter and many scene modes, can also be used for movie shooting. In Miniature mode the action is sped up and you can choose one of three playback speeds. There’s also a movie position on the mode dial which switches the screen to 16:9 view and sets the shooting mode to standard. Movie exposure is set automatically but you can lock it prior to shooting and adjust by up to two stops either way.

The PowerShot SX230’s best video mode is 1920 x 1080p, at 24 fps an improvement on the 720p resolution of it’s predecessor and one which will certainly please film makers who favour not just the Full HD resolution, but the 24fps frame rate. Other options include 720p, VGA and QVGA, all at 30fps. The maximum recording time for HD clips is 4GB or a second short of half an hour, whichever comes first. At the 1080p24 resolution the data rate is around 38 Megabits per second which equates to about 15 minutes of footage on a 4GB card, and Canon recommends SD speed class 6 or higher cards.

Movies are encoded using the H.264 codec and saved in a QuickTime wrapper as .mov files. There’s also an iFrame option that produces files in Apple’s easily edited iFrame format as well as a Super slow motion mode that shoots at 120 fps VGA and 240 fps QVGA.

The PowerShot SX230 HS has Dynamic IS movie stabilisation which can be turned off, but it’s probably not a good idea, particularly if you plan to use the optical zoom which can be operated during filming. Though you can’t take stills during movie recording, you can shoot stills with the mode dial in the movie position, but pressing the shutter release while filming stops recording.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS sample video 1: outdoors, sunny, handheld pan with optical zoom

Other than a little bit of flare and wind noise, (for which there’s a filter) this 1080p24 clip from the PowerShot SX230 HS looks very nice. The focus is spot on throughout the handheld zoom and image stabilisation, though it doesn’t iron out all the wobbles, is a big improvement on unstabilised hand-held footage.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS sample video 2: outdoors, sunny, tripod pan with optical zoom

On this tripod-mounted panning shot the PowerShot SX230 HS loses the focus momentarily near the end of the zoom, but quickly regains it. If you listen carefully you can just hear the zoom motor.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS sample video 3: indoors, low-light, handheld pan

There’s a little bit of noise visible in this low-light hand-held panning shot, but the quality is nonetheless very good. The metering is quick to respond to the changing lighting, but exposure can be locked-off if you prefer.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS handling

The PowerShot SX230 HS starts up in around one and a half seconds extending the three-section zoom to 24mm. Zoomed to its full telephoto range the barrel extends to an impressive 51mm. We’ve already talked about the efficiancy of Canon’s scene detection and its Face AiAF system is no less capable. In the absence of faces it defaults to single centre area AF and you can reduce the size of the AF area for spot focussing or select tracking AF for non-human moving subjects.

The Func menu, activated from the control wheel central button almost negates the need to access the two-tabbed menu system and is logically organised providing only the relevant controls for the selected exposure mode.

In continuous shooting mode the PowerShot SX230 HS can manage 2.2fps at full resolution- a little slower than the quoted 3.2 fps. In the High speed burst mode, however, it manages a much more respectable 6.5fps, albeit at a reduced 3M (1984 x 1488) resolution.

The PowerShot SX230 HS has a built-in GPS receiver which appends geopositional data to the image and can also produce a track log that can be plotted on a map, though in this mode the GPS is always on and consequently drains the battery more quickly. In use the GPS wasn’t always able to lock onto a sufficient number of satellites to provide positional data and on occassions the data it did provide wasn’t particularly accurate, sometimes varying from the actual position by tens of metres.

The PowerShot SX230 HS has a 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor which produces images with a maximum size of 4000 x 3000 pixels at one of two compression settings. The best quality Fine setting produces images with a file size of around 3MB.

To see how the quality of the PowerShot SX230 HS measures-up in practice, take a look at our real-life resolution and high ISO noise results pages, browse the sample images gallery, or skip to the chase and head straight for our verdict.

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