JPEG Quality / Image Sizes

Standard Test Scene

The Digital IXUS supports nine combinations of JPEG compression levels (quality) and image size. You can select from one of three image sizes; 1600 x 1200, 1024 x 768 or 640 x 480 and three different JPEG compression levels; Super-Fine (5 bpp), Fine (3 bpp) and Normal (2 bpp). The IXUS 300 does not have an uncompressed TIFF or RAW mode.

To give an impression of what some of the combinations of image size and quality produce the table below is a cross reference of some of them:

  • 1600 x 1200 Super-Fine
  • 1600 x 1200 Fine
  • 1600 x 1200 Normal
  • 1024 x 768 Super-Fine
  • 1024 x 768 Fine
  • 1024 x 768 Normal
  • 640 x 480 Super-Fine

Images below are cropped 240 x 100 area of the image magnified 200% (nearest neighbour).

1600 x 1200

919 KB
566 KB
268 KB

1024 x 768

415 KB
262 KB

133 KB

640 x 480

186 KB

If you look closely at the above samples you can see a clear difference between each compression level and the associated loss of detail / increase in artifacts. Probably 90% of the time you'd use 1600 x 1200 Super-Fine.

Picture Effects

The IXUS 300 only has one picture effect and that's a black and white mode. You access it by setting the white balance to black and white, here's a sample of the difference between normal colour mode and the black and white mode.

Normal colour Black & White

Digital Zoom

Readers of my reviews will know I'm not a huge fan of digital zoom as it's often a badly implemented and seldom used (by owners) marketing "ploy" to sell cameras which don't have an optical zoom. The Digital IXUS 300 features a 3 x optical zoom and beyond that a smooth digital zoom up to 2.5x.

Digital Zoom is implemented by cropping (selecting the mid part of the image) and sampling-up, the only advantage in doing digital zoom inside the camera is (a) if you don't have any photo software to magnify (and interpolate) the image or (b) to digitally zoom without zooming the JPEG artifacts.

Zoom: 3 x (105 mm optical, no digital)
Zoom: 6 x (105 mm optical, 2 x digital)
Zoom: 7.5 x (105 mm optical, 2.5 x digital)

Macro (a little closer) focus mode

The macro focus mode on the IXUS 300 should really be named "a little closer" as it's not really anything like a macro mode, about as close as you can possibly get is 13.7 cm across the frame, which isn't really a macro mode. Indeed the specs say that you can focus only as close as 16 cm (6.3").

Internal Flash

The internal flash on the IXUS 300 seems to be identical to that found on last years Digital IXUS, obviously limited by free space it doesn't really have the power to live up to its specified 3.5 m (11.5 ft) range. However, kudos to Canon for fixing the blue cast problem the old Digital IXUS had with skin tones, colours are far warmer and more accurate on the IXUS 300.

Skin tone test, much better performance, accurate (if a little underexposed), even the wall colour is correct. Shame. This is our wide-angle wall shot test, we're just 2 m (6.6 ft) away from the wall here and the flash just doesn't have the power or cover to cope. Colour chart flash exposure. Good exposure, accurate colours without any noticeable cast.

Stitch Assist mode

The Digital IXUS 300 features two Photo Stitch modes, one from left to right and another from right to left. Just as I commented in the original Digital IXUS review I would really have liked to have seen a vertical and/or square stitch modes too.

When using the PhotoStitch mode the camera displays the last quarter of the previous image to help alignment of the next frame, to ensure proper matching of the stitched images the camera locks exposure and white balance to the first exposure.

The Digital IXUS 300 also comes with Canon's own Photo Stitch software (both Windows & Mac), although it's relatively good it's no match for my personal favourite stitching software, PanaView Image Assembler. The panorama below was produced using PanaView Image Assembler from four images taken by the IXUS 300 in Stitch Assist mode (you can grab the originals here: one, two, three and four).