Canon PowerShot ELPH 340 HS, A Great Budget Camera

canon powershot elph 340 - cover

Design and Features

The Elph 340 HS is quite small when you consider its 12x (25-300mm f/3.6-7) zoom lens. It measures just 2.3 by 3.9 by 0.9 inches (HWD) and weighs a mere 5.2 ounces. Canon sells it in black, silver, and purple. It’s tough to find a camera that’s smaller, but is still useable; the 2.1-by-3.8-by-0.9-inch, 4.4-ounce Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX80 shaves a little bit of space and weight, and it borders on being perhaps a bit too compact for its own good. I was able to comfortably handle the Elph 340 HS, and slide it into my shirt pocket with ease; its point-and-shoot design doesn’t offer a lot of need for manual controls.You’ll find what controls there are on the rear, to the right of the LCD. There’s a dedicated button that starts movie recording, and a four-way control that adjusts exposure compensation, flash settings, macro focusing, and the amount of information that’s displayed over the Live View feed. There’s also a Mobile Device Connect button that launches the Wi-Fi features at any time; previous models required you to be in playback mode to use the second function of the exposure compensation control to do so, although that’s still there as an option. On the top plate you’ll find the power button, zoom rocker, and shutter button, and a switch to change between Program, Hybrid Auto, and Creative Shot.Depending on the mode you’re shooting in, the overlay menu that’s launched via the rear Func/Set button features different options. In Hybrid Auto and Creative Shot you can only control the self-timer, video resolution, and flash output. Switching to Program adds settings for the metering pattern, color output, white balance, ISO, scene modes, continuous drive mode, aspect ratio, image compression, and the output resolution. This is par for the course with Canon compacts. The Creative Shot mode carries over from the oddly shaped PowerShot N.

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I’m happy to see it in a more standard compact; it saves six versions of each photo, one standard version and additional five that have unique crops and color filters applied. It’s a fun option that will appeal to the Instagram generation, and occasionally you get some very cool results. Canon has added the ability to determine what kind of effects are applied (you can choose from fully automatic selection, as well as limiting it to Retro, Monochrome, Special, and Neutral filters). The rear display is 3 inches in size and packs a 461k-dot resolution. It’s bright and can be viewed from extreme angles; I had no issues using it outdoors on a sunny afternoon. It doesn’t offer any sort of touch input, and it’s not as sharp as the 921k-dot displays found on some other cameras, like the premium Canon PowerShot S120. Extra resolution is useful for checking focus on images in the field, but for general review the 340 HS’s display is adequate.Canon’s Wi-Fi feature set is quite good. The Elph 340 HS can transfer images to an iOS or Android device with ease; there’s even NFC communication for quick pairing with compatible phones. In addition to transferring images directly to your phone, you can connect the Elph 340 HS to a network and post images directly to popular social networks, including Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter. There’s a little bit of setup required for that, and you’ll need to activate an account on the Canon Image Gateway service, but I was able to work through it in only a few minutes, without having to plug the Elph 340 HS into a computer. 

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Performance

canon powershot elph 340 - performanceFirst the good—the Canon PowerShot ELPH 340 HS is one of the most color-accurate cameras we’ve ever tested in terms of white balance. Similarly, the included color modes are extremely spot-on: No matter what you want to do, you’ll get shots that look natural, similar to how your eyes see them. With the notable exception of incandescent light, the camera can handle just about anything you throw at it and still give you accurate shots in ever-changing lighting conditions. Auto white-balance is fantastic, though you can take a manual reading by yourself if you are so inclined.From here on out, the results are more mediocre. Taking a bit of a risk in giving the 340 HS a wider zoom ratio than its predecessor, this camera suffers some of the ill effects of a longer lens’ geometry. Light reaching the sensor has to bend in unusual ways in longer zooms, so we typically see some sharpness loss and chromatic aberration at the edges of sample shots. The same is true with the 340 HS: The extra focal length is great, but if you zoom in all the way your image quality will suffer.To combat this, the 340 HS uses its software to over-sharpen high-contrast edges quite a bit, meaning sometimes you’ll see halo-like smears near hard lines in your shots. It still won’t get rid of some blueish coma near the edges of your frame, but problems like this would be much worse without the camera’s corrective hand.Video quality is passable, but not great. Because the sensor is so tiny with a somewhat limited ISO range, you’ll find that taking cinematic in low light is a bit difficult to do well with the 340 HS. Even in bright light, the “FHD” setting—which captures 1080p at 30 frames per second—has some trailing and frequency interference issues.

 

Warranty

Canon includes a one-year limited warranty.

 

What’s in the box

The 340 comes with a battery, battery charger, wrist strap, and some documentation. There is no software CD or instructional booklet, but those can be found online at Canon’s website.

canon powershot elph 340 - box

 

Conclusion

Cameras like the 340 are a reason why smartphones are winning the compact point-and-shoot war. Despite the 340 having an optical zoom lens and other easy-to-use features, most new smartphones are just as good in terms of functionality and image quality, if not better in many cases. We are shocked and disappointed that image quality seems to have been downgraded, no thanks to lesser specs. Throwing in Wi-Fi and NFC really doesn’t solve the convenience factor that smartphones offer. If there were an argument for not carrying two devices, it would be this.