While it’s fair to say the IXUS 980 IS wasn’t exactly a design classic, we’re pleased to say Canon has returned to form with the super-compact IXUS 100 IS.
Packing 12.1megapixel shooting, HD movie recording and an assortment of motion and face detection modes, it’s a capable little devil, and cuts a dashing figure in its choice of silver, black, gold or red trims.
It’s also one of the most tactile pieces of kit you could hope to hold. Beautifully engineered, only 18mm thick and about as heavy as candyfloss, it’s hard to stop playing with.
Fortunately, its dinky dimensions also make it easy to use, with practical controls and a straight-to-the-point menu system that boils down to ‘Auto’ and ‘Program’ modes.
In ‘Auto’ the camera dictates many of the settings, while the latter hands more shooting flexibility over to you.
Great detection rates
An optical image stabilizer is a sensible addition and less detrimental to images than electronic versions, while Canon’s new DIGIC 4 processor delivers on its promise of faster response times. Even the sharp, bright 2.5in LCD deserves applause – perhaps just for making it onto a device this small.
There are some baffling choices though. For a start, why include a viewfinder? The IXUS 100 is tiny, and the resultant viewfinder is so small you might as well call yourself Gulliver and head straight for Lilliput.
And though it’s quite responsive the 3x optical zoom does comes across as a bit weedy in the company of the 5x and 7x zooms that appear on marginally bigger rivals from Panasonic and Nikon.
Still, good times are restored with a variety of detection modes that improve your photos. Smart Auto mode uses scene detection to determine brightness, contrast, distance and hue, while motion detection works to prevent blurred images. And, as part of the face recognition settings, there’s a blink detection to avoid that just-got-out-of-bed look.
Aside from the odd red object that punches out too much, the IXUS 100 IS’s performance is excellent, producing crisp, detailed images. We’d have liked a bit more visual oomph in places but it’s still good to report important functions like the autofocus are fast, solid and dependable.
The HD movies option – with a max resolution of 1280x720 and 30fps – is probably the least impressive aspect of this desirable compact, as clips are over-exposed and less than smooth.
But this is merely a minor pimple on the face of a camera that’s as easy to use as it is to carry.