Canon PowerShot SX230 HS: Video and Image Quality

April 28, 2011 by A. Sutton Reads (7,433)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 9
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 8.25
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Video Quality
The SX230’s video quality is very good, and probably some of the better footage I’ve captured using a point-and-shoot. I shot both of these videos at the Santa Monica Pier and was able to toggle the zoom without losing much fluidity in the video. The video doesn’t seem too compressed out of the camera, and the highlights aren’t really clipped. I would argue that this is one of the strongest features of the SX230 HS.

Download Sample Video

What is also nice about the full HD capture of the SX230 HS is that it has a frame rate of 24 fps, mimicking cinema cameras, with options to shoot 720p in 30 fps, standard definition at 30 fps and 320 x 240 at 30 fps.

Image Quality
I shot most of the time with default image settings. The images seemed very natural and richly colored, with vibrant hues. Image quality out of the camera was very nice and the SX230 didn’t produce images with an overly processed look that many compact digitals are guilty of creating.

On close inspection, my images had a lot of good natural-looking detail, something I prize above all when it comes to photography. Also, light metering is very important when talking about a camera that is being touted for its low-light capabilities, as it will help you expose your image properly depending on what part of the frame you are metering. Its default setting is evaluative, and it works well to provide a proper exposure throughout the scene.

However, the other two options seemed to overexpose my images in low light, and in controlled lighting, but keep in mind it’s either taking a center spot reading or center weighted. The spot metering had a tendency to overexpose every time, but center weighted worked nicely in giving precedence to the middle of the frame. Overall the SX230’s exposure system is good.

Automatic white balance produced a good, faithfully reproduced image under our studio fluorescents. Performance in the field was also good. Pre-set options such as cloudy or custom rendered superior results that were accurate in the field as well.

Canon SX230 Sample Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

With a combination of the DIGIC 4 processor, the newly coined HS System and less megapixels, the SX230 HS is indeed a great performer in various lighting scenarios from the field to the lab. When you look at our lab tests you can see that the image quality doesn’t start to get fuzzy until ISO 800. Noise increases from there to ISO 3200.

Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 100
Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 200
Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 400
Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 800
Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 1600
Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop
Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 3200
Canon SX230 Sample Image
ISO 3200, 100% crop

That appears to be a stop improvement over the SX210’s image quality which saw a significant drop at ISO 400. Noise is still evident in the 100% enlargement of the SX230’s ISO 400 image, but less detail is lost to smudging and smoothing over. The difference is that ISO 800 is still usable in the SX230 HS, even for a mid-sized print. So it seems that yes, the HS System actually works quite well and should be touted as a great feature of the SX230 HS.

Additional Sample Images

Canon SX230 Sample Image Canon SX230 Sample Image
Canon SX230 Sample Image Canon SX230 Sample Image
Canon SX230 Sample Image Canon SX230 Sample Image

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