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Classy Ixus gets 12MP digicam category right

Canon’s Ixus compact digital cameras have always aimed to make a fashion statement, but the newly-released 100IS is even more chic and slim than previous iterations.

Good looks and a rock-solid build aren’t the only reasons this model is enjoyable to use. The sensor has been boosted to 12.1MP and the interface is simple to navigate. More importantly, the incorporation of scene detection in Auto mode makes it significantly harder for ‘point and click’ users to take a bad photo.

This is because the 100IS will switch between modes and alter settings as required. For example, it will recognise when landscape or portrait modes are needed, jump into macro mode for close-ups, and tweak exposure, flash and colour settings for lighting conditions such as day, night, backlit and sunset.

The focus will quickly lock onto your subject and there is automatic face detection, blink detection (complete with a warning when the camera identifies closed eyes) and red-eye correction. There’s also motion detection in the Auto mode and image stablisation (IS) is built into the name.

Other than automatic scene detection, the addition of HD video capture (1280 x 720 pixels at 30 frames per second) and an HDMI port are the most notable features, as they’re still relatively uncommon among compact digicams. The only downside to this feature is you can’t zoom when shooting video. The HDMI port is joined by USB/standard definition connectivity.

The combination of HD video and scene mode enhancement justifies the $599.95 price tag.

When shooting stills or video, the unit feels smooth and comfortable in the hand. It only weighs 115 grams and is finished in matte steel with rounded corners and edges. The model comes in four colours – silver, black, gold and red.

The 2.5-inch LCD takes up most of the back of the camera, which measures 87 x 55 x 18mm overall. There’s also a small viewfinder, which is becoming increasingly rare.

The proprietary 3x optical zoom lens allows for shots within a range of 33cm to a metre of your subject (at 35mm equivalent), with a focal length of 5.9mm in wide (W) and 17.9mm tight (T). In continuous shooting mode, the 100IS will reel off about a shot a second.

Although the Auto mode has been given a boost with this unit, there’s a range of manual adjustments if users prefer. These include ISO settings from 80 to 1600 and seven white balance options.

The 100IS is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, with the charger, USB cable, wrist strap and Canon software all included in the box. A memory card (SD/SDHC/MMC) is an additional purchase and Canon says you can fit 626 large images (at 4000 x 3000 pixel resolution) onto a 2GB card. This increases to 10245 shots at 640 x 480 pixels.