Having recently marveled at the wonderful build quality and 21st-century styling of the IXUS 80 IS, and sighed with relief that Canon had apparently recaptured some of its mojo, it was with high expectations that we unboxed the IXUS 970 IS. After all, this is the IXUS flagship.

Deflated is how we’d describe ourselves upon laying fingers on the chunky, plasticky 970 IS. The wedge-shaped design is a nice idea, but seems to have been applied to a bargain-basement body that’s eaten too many pies. None of the 80 IS’s lovely metal casing here – just tacky-feeling plastic.

Convoluted controls

Still on the back foot, the 970 IS, like the 80 IS, suffers from a convoluted control system that relies on too many buttons and a directional pad that also rotates as a click-wheel. Whatever happened to ergonomics?

Also, in days where most compacts around this price range are all aiming to charm with wide-angle (28mm equivalent or wider) lenses, it seems odd that the 970 IS sports optics that start at 37mm. That said, at least the lens has 5x optical zoom, so you’re looking at a 185mm equivalent at the telephoto end.

We have one more whinge before we move onto the good stuff. The LCD is a disappointingly last-year size of 2.5in. It’s not terrible, but we want 3in at this price now.

And now the good...

So, to the tasty bits – the image quality is, as we’ve come to expect from Canon, excellent. Colours and detail are top-notch, and noise at high ISO isn’t too offensive. Flash shots are also well exposed, without too many getting blown out.

Canon is really on top of its game with image stabilisation, too – the 970 IS has an excellent optical stabiliser that helps to prevent blur in low light.

Also worth commending is Canon’s decision to add optical viewfinders to many of its compacts, and the 970 IS has one that’s small but very clear. If you’ve ever had to frame a shot in bright sunlight, you’ll know what a godsend an optical viewfinder is.

Ultimately, though, the 970 IS’s flaws outweigh its highlights. A premium-priced product should offer a lot more for your money than this one does.


Stuff says... 

Canon IXUS 970 IS review

In too many ways, this IXUS isn’t good enough to justify its high price