Canon's IXUS range has seemed short on ideas of late. Its once-coveted metal-shell design has remained virtually unchanged since its inception, leaving others to try on its style crown for size.
But now it’s finally given in to compact camera fashion with the IXUS 200 IS – a 12MP snapper that rocks a 3in touchscreen.
The 200 IS retains the slightly curved chassis of its stablemates, the 980 and 110 IS. Build quality is, as usual, first class, with that familiar heft and brushed-metal shell keeping up Canon's reputation for solid shooters.
An imposing 3in screen is offset by buttons for Menu, Playback and the standard Canon navigational dial – making it apparent the 200 IS isn't entirely at home with its new touchscreen status.
Touch and go
In fact, the headline-grabbing touchscreen only controls select functions, leaving more intricate menu surfing to the dial. As a result, you're often left prodding un-proddable menu options.
Despite this, the touchscreen does exceptionally well in the areas it's implemented. One particular beneficiary is the ability to touch on an area of the screen for exposure and focus. Once Touch AF is activated, it can track slow-moving subjects so they remain sharp.
The familiar iPhone-style swipe is invoked to scroll through images in Playback mode, while the more adventurous can tilt the camera back and forth to navigate – although you may get some funny looks. Tapping zooms in on images.
Automatic for the people
Canon has no intention of letting you tinker with manual settings, including of a host of Scene modes instead. The touchscreen is used to good effect in Program mode, where you can drag on a slider to set exposure compensation and see adjustments in real time on screen.
Those liking the safety of Auto can snap away happy that scene-detection technology will automatically identify faces, motion, distance, colour and brightness – optimising settings accordingly.
Image quality has always been an IXUS strength, and the 200 IS is no different. Exposure is even and Canon's i-Contrast tech deals competently with areas of high contrast.
Colours are rendered more realistically than in past models, which have tended to suffer from over-zealous punch. Greens and reds can still appear slightly over-saturated, but the effect is one of vibrancy, not an acid trip.
The 24mm ultra-wide angle lens is great for landscapes, while low-light shooting benefits from image stabilisation and the DIGIC4 processor. There's still the inevitable grain at higher ISOs, so it’s worth playing with Scene modes and exposure.
Switching to Movie mode puts 720p HD footage at your fingertips. There's few features to play with, and it’s a shame the optical zoom is disabled. But image quality is good, even if the mic does pick up a little too much extraneous background noise.
Canon has again come up with a reliable performer in the IXUS 200 IS. A little internet digging will turf up prices of around £250, and if you're the type who likes to hand control to your compact, you won't be left complaining.