Canon’s Ixus range has been around for almost a decade, and although it initially led the way with covetable, metal-shelled designs, it’s fallen a little behind of late, both in terms of looks and innovation. So is the flagship 980 IS a return to form, or a swan-song for Ixus?
Ahead of the curve
The first thing to note is the new design, which leaves the basic anatomy of the Ixus in place but eschews sharp corners in favour of smooth, fluid curves.
It feels good in the hand, but hardly represents a great leap forward, and while the 980 also comes in black, neither finish can stand up next to slimmer, slicker snappers like the Sony T500 or the beautifully retro Samsung NV24HD.
Size (kind of) matters
Despite the sensor brinkmanship going on all around us, 10 megapixels is more than enough for most (non-pro) purposes.
There’s very little to choose between a compact packing 10MP and one with 14MP, given the size and quality of the sensors involved – but hey, nobody wants to be left behind, so you can invest in the 980 IS safe in the knowledge that you’ve got the biggest in the playground. For now.
The Ixus 980 features manual control over shutter speed and aperture, a long-overdue first for the Ixus range.
But we can’t help but wonder whether this isn’t another case of ticking a box to keep up with the competition, as ambitious users will surely prefer to plump for the PowerShot G10 with its versatile lens, 5x zoom, stellar screen and wider range of controls.
Easy to use
Where the 980 does triumph over the G10, though, is in its UI. Buttons and jogwheels are kept to a minimum and are clearly and intuitively marked, and the menu system is clear and easily navigable, making this an easy camera to find your way around. You can even set up shortcuts in ‘My Menu’.
All the latest buzz-words are present and correct: there’s face detection, now improved to recognise faces far away and in profile; face selection and tracking, which keeps track of a moving person as you compose the shot; and face self-timer, which takes the shot only once you’ve scuttled into view.
Faster and quieter
The Ixus 980 also boasts Canon’s DIGIC4 processor, which, Canon says, improves both operating time – reducing shutter lag – and processing time, and also helps to reduce image noise at low ISOs.
Performance in dim light is also aided by an auto high ISO mode; snaps are better than many compacts at this price point, but can’t rival bridge cameras like the Nikon Coolpix P6000.
With the Ixus 980 IS, Canon manages to keep up with the game, upping the pixel count to 14.7MP and adding manual controls. But given its relatively small screen and fairly unexciting design, we think its prettier and more accomplished competitors may keep it in the shadows.