Canon PowerShot ELPH 100 HS Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

Originally Posted: August 7, 2011

Last Updated: March 10, 2012

The PowerShot ELPH 100 HS ($199) is the entry-level model in Canon's stylish and compact ELPH lineup. It's the follow-up to the PowerShot SD1300 IS, which came out on top in our 2010 Budget Camera Shootout. It features a 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor, a 4X optical zoom lens (28 - 112 mm equivalent), optical image stabilization, a 3-inch LCD display, plenty of point-and-shoot features, and Full HD video recording.

The ELPH 100 HS has a very different name than its predecessor, and here's why. First, Canon dropped the "SD" from the name, since everyone knows that the camera uses SD cards (early ELPHs used CompactFlash). The HS stands for high sensitivity, a feature which Canon has been touting quite a bit in 2011. The "high sensitivity system" on the ELPH 100 really has to do with its CMOS sensor and DIGIC 4 processor which, according to Canon, allow the camera to take better quality photos in low light. You'll find out if the ELPH 100's photo quality lives up the marketing hype later in the review. Finally, Canon doesn't put "IS" in the product name, probably because nearly all of their cameras feature onboard image stabilization.

And speaking of reviews, it's time to start this one, so let's get going!

The ELPH 100 HS is known as the IXUS 115 HS in some countries.

What's in the Box?

The PowerShot ELPH 100 HS has a pretty standard bundle for a compact camera in 2011, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Here's what you'll find inside the box:

  • The 12.1 effective Megapixel PowerShot ELPH 100 HS digital camera
  • NB-4L lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution
  • 35 page "Getting Started" guide + full manual on CD-ROM

Canon seems to be the only manufacturer that neither builds memory into their cameras, nor provides a memory card in the box. So, unless you have one already, you'll need to pick up an SD, SDHC, or SDXC card right away. For most folks, a 2GB card is fine, though if you'll be taking a lot of movies, you'll want something like 4GB or 8GB. Buying a high speed (Class 6 or higher) card is recommended for best performance.

The ELPH 100 HS uses the same NB-4L lithium-ion battery that has been found on many Canon cameras over the years. This battery holds just 2.8 Wh of energy, which is on the lower end of the spectrum for cameras in this class. How does that translate into battery life? Have a look:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot ELPH 100 HS 230 shots NB-4L
Fuji FinePix JX300 ** 200 shots NP-45A
Kodak EasyShare M532 ** 200 shots KLIC-7006
Nikon Coolpix S5100 200 shots EN-EL12
Olympus VG-120 ** 160 shots LI-70B
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5 260 shots DMW-BCK7
Pentax Optio S1 180 shots D-LI78
Samsung ST65 ** 180 shots BP70A
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX9 * 210 shots NP-BG1

* Full HD video
** Electronic image stabilization only

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

First things first -- the PowerShot ELPH 100 HS has better-than-average battery life, thanks to lackluster performances from just about every other camera on the list. Another thing to point out is that the ELPH 100 is one of only two cameras in this to feature Full HD (1080p) video recording -- everyone else is 720p.

As with all of the cameras in the previous table, the ELPH 100 HS' battery is proprietary. These batteries tend to be pricey, with a Canon-branded spare setting you back a whopping $60 (generics are available for less). In addition, should your battery run out of juice, you can't pull something off the shelf to get you through the day. But seeing how you can't fit AA batteries into a camera this size, that's just the way it is!

When it's time to charge the battery, just pop it into the included charger. The charger plugs directly into the wall, and takes just ninety minutes to fully charge the NB-4L.

Canon PowerShot S90 in the hand

As with all ultra-compact cameras, the PowerShot ELPH 100 HS has a built-in lens cover, so there's no clunky lens cap to deal with.

There are a just a few accessories available for the ELPH 100 HS. They include:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
Waterproof case WP-DC39 From $175 Take your camera up to 40 meters underwater
External slave flash HF-DC1

From $106

Attaches via the tripod mount and fires when the onboard flash does; gives you better flash range and less chance of redeye
AC adapter ACK-DC60 $50 Power the camera without wasting your batteries
HDMI cable (3 m) HTC-100 From $49 For connecting the camera to an HDTV. You can save a fortune by buying a generic one instead.
* Prices were accurate when review was published

Alright, that's all for accessories -- let's talk about software now.

Camera Window in Mac OS X

Canon includes version 82 of their Digital Camera Solution Disk with the PowerShot ELPH 100 HS. The first part of the software suite that you'll probably encounter is Camera Window (pictured above), which you'll use to transfer images to your computer, organize photos on the camera (meaning delete or protect), upload videos to YouTube, and adjust a few camera settings (startup screen, sounds, theme).

ImageBrowser in Mac OS X

After you've transferred photos to your computer, you'll find yourself in either ImageBrowser or ZoomBrowser, which are for Mac and Windows respectively. The Browser software lets you view, organize, e-mail, and print your photos. If you categorized any photos on the camera (more on this later), then this information is transferred into the Browser software.

Editing in ImageBrowser

Double-click on a thumbnail and you'll bring up the edit window. Editing functions include trimming, redeye removal, plus the ability to adjust levels, color, brightness, sharpness, and the tone curve. There's also an auto adjustment option for those who want a quick fix.

A movie editing tool is also available, though about all it can do is trim unwanted footage from a clip, or save a frame as a still image.

PhotoStitch in Mac OS X

The last part of the Canon software suite that I want to mention is PhotoStitch. As you can see, this allows you to combine multiple photos into a single panoramic image. It's super easy to use, and the results can be impressive. While using the ELPH 100's Stitch Assist feature isn't required to make panoramas, it does help you line things up correctly, so there are no "seams" in the final product.

The documentation situation is unchanged from the PowerShot SD1300 that came before the ELPH 100 HS. You get a 35 page manual that's just enough to get you up and running. For more details, you'll have to load up the full manual, which is included on the same CD-ROM that contains the software I just described. The manuals themselves are just about average in terms of user-friendliness, which means "not great".