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Canon Digital Ixus 960 IS compact camera

Plenty of pixels, but passable performance

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Round the back is a nice, large 2.5in LCD screen with 230,000 pixels. You also get a tiny optical viewfinder, which is handy if you want to reserve battery power or are shooting under bright light conditions. That said, the viewfinder cuts out a lower portion of the scene.

There’s also a rocker control for auto, manual, scene and movie modes, and underneath two small buttons for playback and printing. Beneath these is a circular function control for ISO, flash, macro, timer, and continuous shooting modes. Pressing a central function set button activates a menu for changing certain parameters (in the manual mode, this includes white balance, exposure compensation, metering and My Colours, which lets you adjust the colour mode for skin tones, as well as effects like sepia and black and white).

Canon Ixus 960 IS compact digital camera

Round the back is a nice, large 2.5in, 230,000 pixel LCD screen

At the bottom are two more tiny buttons, one for altering the display mode (all icons/no icons or off) and a menu button. The latter is used for a variety of set-up adjustments plus setting up features such as Face Detection and Image Stabilisation – more on this later. Dig around the bottom and you find a spring-controlled flap for the battery and SD/SDHC card.

Enough of the aesthetics. What does the Ixus 960 offer apart from Face Detection, Image Stabilisation and a plethora of pixels arranged on a 1/1.7in CCD? Well, it’s got a 3.7x 7.7-28.5mm optical zoom (equivalent to 36-133mm on a 35mm camera), ISO settings which run from 80-1600, plus Auto High, shutter speed range from 15-1/1600 sec, image resolution ranging from 4000 x 3000 to 640 x 480 pixels, video that can be shot in XGA (1024 x 768 at 15fps) and VGA resolution (640 x 480 at 30fps), and 18 shooting modes that include portrait, night snapshot, kids and pets (is there a difference?), foliage, snow, and ISO 3200.

Switch on is fast and you can get shooting in less than a couple of seconds. But this was not the friendliest of cameras to use in terms of operation. The image stabilisation setting, for example, is buried within a menu (it’s third from last on a list of 14 functions and not even on the first menu page). No doubt Canon will argue that it's best left on most of the time, but we think it should be more easily accessible.

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