cameras

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS Review

The Canon SX230 HS combines a 12.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor, and 14x optical zoom lens in a slim body.

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Science Introduction

The SX230's color and noise disappointed us. It's a shame, because the level of detail was at times impressive, but poor image stabilization and distortion drag everything down.

Image Quality

Issues with color and distortion plague this camera's image quality.

Canon tends to be hit or miss when it comes to color accuracy, and the SX230 is a miss for sure. The smallest error value we could achieve was 3.82, quite a bit worse than average, even for a compact camera. Flesh tones were particularly far off, with many shades of yellow turning to green.

Most likely due to the ambitious lens, chromatic aberration is very noticeable in the high contrast areas of all shots. Fringing often manifests itself as pink or yellow glow bordering dark edges, and the problem only gets worse toward the edges of the frame.

Barrel distortion is very severe (over 1.00%) at the widest focal length, however this quickly tapers at the middle and end of the focal range. This results in an overall average of 0.12%, not too shabby.

Noise Reduction

Noise reduction is rather ineffective.

The SX230's handling of noise is very poor. Image noise cracks a full 1.00% as early as ISO 200, and increases exponentially from there, finally reaching 1.83% at the maximum sensitivity. This score is quite a bit worse than many travel zooms on the market.

Image Stabilization

Shots are detailed, but the image stabilizer struggles with long zoom shots.

Detail levels were above average with the SX230 HS, however our results swung wildly depending on the current focal length. Sometimes sharpness reached over 2200 MTF50s, which is quite good, but at longer focal lengths and regions closer to the edge of the frame, detail dropped below 800 MTF50s. Edges also have a tendency to become oversharpened, and this detracts from the realism of exposures. But overall, we're awarding a decent score here.

At the maximum zoom ratio, blurriness is quite severe. The SX230's optical stabilizer will create a relative improvement to sharpness, but in the grand scheme of things, even the stabilized image won't be very appealing. Our test is based on percent-improvement though, and this stabilizer does technically increase detail by 52% on average.

Video

Movies are sharp enough, but artifacting and interference pollute the image.

Motion isn't great in videos captured with the SX230. There's a bit of jumpiness, some artifacting, and some blurriness to fast moving subjects. An option for a 60p frame rate would've gone a long way here. Resolution was also problematic. The SX230 HS was able to resolve only 450 LW/PH of detail horizontally and 550 vertically in our sharpness test, placing it far below the best performers in the category.

Other Tests

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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