The PowerShot ELPH 100 HS is one member of a fleet of three new digital ELPH point-and-shoots introduced earlier this year. We reviewed its 300 and 500 HS siblings, each sporting step-up features such a touch screen (the 500) and a 5x optical zoom lens (the 300). Our electric blue 100 HS review unit is slimmer, more pocketable and offers streamlined features for just around $200 at the time of this writing.
While the ELPH 500 offers more enthusiast-oriented features like an f/2 lens and semi-manual shooting modes, the 100 HS is all auto simplicity. It carries the same 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor as the 300 HS, optimized for better low light performance by positioning some of the chip's circuitry out of the way of light-catching photosites. Canon claims on its website that the HS system "Takes the frustration out of low light shooting."
That's all nice marketing speak, and so far the ELPH 300 and 500 have shown good performance at ISO 400 and beyond. None of these cameras are the low-light whisperers that Canon makes them out to be, but an improvement of even just an ISO stop is very encouraging.
The PowerShot 100 looks, feels and (so far) performs like a pared-down version of its higher-spec siblings. The last camera I reviewed was the 500 HS and it was noticeably larger than the skinny 100 HS. The bigger, wider lens on board the 500 is likely what made it so bulky, and it's not a bad tradeoff if you can live with a somewhat larger camera. However, the 100 strikes a nice, clean profile, albeit with a slower lens.
It's not all bad news lens-wise, the PowerShot 100 packs a 4x optical zoom lens starting at a nice 28mm with a maximum wide angle aperture of f/2.8. That lens will focus as close as 1.2 inches in macro mode. On the back of the camera is a 3.0-inch LCD with an average-ish resolution of 230k-dots.
Here's a surprising new development I stumbled upon when I first started playing with the camera controls - pressing the playback button when the camera is off will turn it on and immediately begin displaying images. The playback button is neatly recessed into the back camera panel, and I'll be keeping an eye on this feature as I work on the full review to see if it creates any unwanted power-ups and battery drains.
Image quality so far appears to be on par with the other ELPH HS cameras we've tested. I didn't put it to a low light torture test just yet, but a cloudy drizzly day presented some challenges for the 100 HS. For the most part, it was able to overcome them.
The cloudy white balance setting was accurate and helped capture the warm colors of the building façade featured above. Contrast appears to be strong, and the macro AF mode helped me get up close and personal with a little purple flower blooming thanks to our May showers.
On a spin around the neighborhood the 100 HS didn't present any red flags, potential stumbling blocks or unexpected quirks. Watch for our full review soon with a thorough analysis of performance and image quality.
Additional Sample Images