We’re regaining confidence in Canon’s powers of compact camera making. No sooner had the impressive IXUS 90 IS left our testing labs than this tiny 10MP model turned up on our doormat.
The IXUS 85 IS redefines what you expect from such a teensy body. It feels solid and boasts invaluable niceties such as a proper viewfinder and optical image stabilizer. There are compromises of course – the LCD is a bog-standard 2.5in and the lens only goes to 3x zoom – but there’s only so much you can miniaturise. And the IXUS 85 is very miniature.
After finding the user interfaces on the recent IXUS 90 and IXUS 970 to be blighted with overly convoluted controls, it was a relief to see everything minimized yet clearly labeled on the IXUS 85. It’s likely you’ll pick it up and know how to do everything you need within a minute of playing around.
Start-up time and focusing is also awesomely fast, which combines with the intuitive controls to make this camera effortless and worry-free in use.
For battling against the holiday sun, the optical viewfinder is also a gift from the gods. It offers a very tiny view out on the world, but it’s certainly better than squinting to see what’s behind the harsh reflections on your LCD.
Feel the noise
Picture quality, as so often with Canon, doesn’t disappoint. Colours and detail are top notch as long as you stick below ISO 800, at which point noise creeps in rather violently. At ISO 1600 shots are pretty much unusable unless converted to black & white, at which point you appreciate that the noise is grainy rather than splodgy.
The optical image stabiliser is also very good – at least on a par with those on rival Panasonic and Samsung models.
It’s hard to find fault with the IXUS 85, as the few it has are due more to the constraints set by its size – and as its size is such a big draw, we’re willing to forgive it. It’s a magnificent little camera in so many other ways, after all.