You navigate through the Ixus' menu system using a combination of a thumbwheel-style mode dial embedded in the upper right side and a more conventional touch control dial positioned below this. A total of 18 pre-set shooting modes are available - through the mode dial you can select one of five operational settings: Playback, Automatic, Manual, Special Scene or Movie.
Playback allows you to view the pictures you've taken. Automatic mode is fairly self-explanatory, but under Manual, the Ixus 950 IS provides access to image manipulation settings rather than the exposure controls you might expect to find. Manual includes th Digital Macro setting, which allows you to shoot when the distance from the lens to the subject is within 2-50cm; Colour Accent, which allows you to keep one colour and transform the others to black and white; Colour Swap, allowing you to change colours around; and under Stitch Assist you can create a long panoramic picture by overlapping many individual images.
And under Special Scene you can opt for Portrait mode, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Creative Light Effect, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, and Underwater - which requires Canon's waterproof WP-DC15 case, sold separately.
Movie mode lets you shoot VGA - 640 x 480 resolution - movies at 30fps with stereo sound. And in addition, the Time Lapse Movie function can capture changing scenes, for example a flower slowly blooming, drifting clouds or a bustling city street - and accelerate the playback to save them as (relatively) smooth video clips. This feature worked well when we tried it, and the Time Lapse function was fun to play with... for a while, at least. However, if you're serious about using this feature, we'd recommend you consider investing in a tripod. A simple one will suffice, as stability proved to a bit tricky to maintain for an extended period of time.
Not being picky but
'This simple feature can make such a difference if you're remotely serious about photography. If the sun's high and bright in the sky or simply reflecting off snow-covered slopes, the ability to actually see the LCD monitor can be critical in framing a shot.'
Now maybe you understand why an optical viewfinder is so important ! I rarely rely on the lcd monitor to frame the shot, I regard it as something that is useful to review the pic and only use it for framing when the viewfinder is impractical.
Small optics and 8.5 MPix
The ixus series has, at least since the 6MPix the problem that the sharpness limitation does not come from the lack of pixels, but from the small optics.
I have a 6MPix model, and even in the best shooting conditions the sharpes edges have at least 3-4 pixels width.
There's no point buying 8MPix if you finally get more pixels but not more information...
$ to £ conversion again
Well nearly amazon.com has it at $386.38. Would the UK consumers in the room please bend over.