Canon PowerShot ELPH 320 HS: Performance

November 29, 2012 by Laura Hicks Reads (12,605)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 6
    • Features
    • 7
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 6
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Expandability
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 6.60
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


Overall, the camera is fun and easy to use. I took the camera out in the field to test it in various conditions. The camera’s auto function handles nicely in almost every situation. The PowerShot Elph 320 HS is a great choice for those that love to shoot in the auto mode. Canon’s Smart Auto mode identifies up to 58 different scenes. It is quite responsive and automatically adjusts as the scene changes.

In the program mode the camera allows you to easily scroll between soft focus, monochrome, color swap and toy camera effect (just to name a few). Although the camera has a multitude of shooting options located in the program mode my favorite was shooting macro in the Smart Auto function. I was very impressed with the Elph 320 HS’s macro shooting capabilities. Whether indoors or outdoors, Canon’s intuitive nature was an auto shooter’s dream.

Shooting Performance
Canon’s spontaneous face identification function enables you to quickly respond to a changing social environment. Six different image stabilization modes ensure optimal shooting no matter your environment. The auto focus responds quickly and accurately, overall. The flash is easily set to be automatic or off. My personal preference is for the flash to be set to off in most cases. Even in low light situations with the flash off the Elph 320 HS performed surprisingly well. Only in the dimmest of lighting did the image lose clarity. Images can be stored on an SD, SDHC or SDXC memory card and are saved as JPEG files. The battery life was decent. Canon stated I would get approximately 170 shutter fires. I actually got almost 200. Since photographing only 200 images is not very many (especially while traveling) I would recommend grabbing another battery just in case.

Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)

Digital Camera Score
Canon PowerShot ELPH 320 HS 0.24
Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS 0.02
Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 0.01

AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)

Digital Camera Score
Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 0.48
Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS 0.36
Canon PowerShot ELPH 320 HS 0.3
Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS 0.21

Continuous Shooting (frames per second)

Digital Camera Score
Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS 3.8
Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 3.5
Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS 2.4
Canon PowerShot ELPH 320 HS 2


*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.

Lens Performance
The 320 hosts a genuine Canon lens. The lens is responsive and moves fluidly through wide angle to telephoto. With just a twist of your finger you can easily catch that perfect shot happening right in front of you or across the room. Grabbing that elusive picture of the Loch Ness Monster, on the other hand, might be a challenge.

With only a 5x zoom, the Canon Elph 320 leaves much to be desired in the telephoto department. With a minimum 24mm and maximum 120mm field of view this camera will out zoom any camera phone. However, if a zoom lens is what you crave, other point and shoots leave the Elph 320 a little short.

Video Quality
The 320 HS boasts 3 levels of video options: full HD video at 1080, HD video at 720 and standard video at 480. Also, the camera has several fun video functions such as video digest and super slow motion video. My children especially enjoyed the latter and found it quite enjoyable to watch themselves in slow motion. As a professional photographer I was not in love with the camera’s video capability. The image quality from the video was very similar to that of the still images. Yet, the end result was a video that was rather choppy. My children, however, thought the slow motion video was a hoot to watch and could care less about the image quality and choppy playback.

Image Quality
Default images out of the Canon PowerShot ELPH 320HS are good, have nice color rendition and are generally sharp.

Overall I thought still image quality was good for a point and shoot camera.

Here is a look at the Creative Filters applied to a still scene:


Smooth Skin



Toy Camera

Soft Focus


Super Vivid

Poster Effect

Color Accent

Color Swap


Image quality is where the Canon Elph 320 HS truly shines. Canon has gone to great lengths to perfect the photography experience. In the Smart Auto mode this camera does all the work for you. But if point and shoot creativity is your thing, the Elph 320 gives you that freedom. With a multitude of in-camera processing options, the sky’s the limit. Literally. In the color select mode I was able to photograph the bright blue sky while keeping the tree black and white. While in the color swap mode I made my couch a bright pink instead of its actual color of yellow. The toy camera effect gives your image a vignette. The soft focus option gives the whole picture a dreamy feel. And if you feel the need to show off a “Jersey Shore” tan, the super vivid option is just for you. Admittedly, these images would not grace the halls of The Louvre, but they are fun to take and even more fun to post online.

The auto white balance in the Smart Auto mode tested positively in the field. In general, it held true to the actual colors when photographing outdoors. When inside the camera took on a yellow cast, but that was due to the flash. When the flash was turned off indoors the white balance did a much better job at retaining the actual colors.

The Elph 320 HS is a perfect camera for standard shooting conditions. At the standard 400 ISO, the camera performs with clarity and great image quality. When taken to the limits of its ISO (800 and above) the images lose clarity and definition. This is also the case when the digital zoom is employed. Image grain is quite evident at ISO 3200.

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

Additional Sample Images

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