Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/12/review_compact_camera_canon_digital_ixus_95_is/

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Small wonder?

By George Cole

Posted in Hardware, 12th June 2009 12:00 GMT

Review Some people want style. Others want simplicity. And then there are those who want both. If you belong to this last group, then Canon’s Digital Ixus 95 IS could be just the ticket. This compact camera is aimed at the point-and-shoot snapper who fancies a camera that looks good and takes decent pictures with the minimum of effort.

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Canon's Digital Ixus 95 IS

There’s no doubt about it – the Ixus 95 IS is a very good looking camera. Its metal and plastic construction neatly combines a brushed metal and chrome effect finish. The contoured body is good to hold yet, it’s an exceedingly diddy camera. Measuring just 88.5 x 54.8 x 21.8mm and weighing 140g – including battery and card – it’s small enough to disappear in man’s palm and light enough for you to forget that you’re carrying a camera.

At the top is a small power button, shutter and zoom rocker. On the back is a tiny optical viewfinder, playback button, a slider for selecting shooting modes – auto, camera or movie – and below this, a multi-controller for selecting various functions, plus macro, flash modes, a timer and exposure compensation.

Most of the back is dominated by the 2.5in LCD, composed of 230,000 dots. A small plastic cover on the right conceals a tiny USB port for AV out and PC connectivity. At the bottom is a compartment for the lithium-ion battery and the memory card. The Ixus 95 IS can take SD, SDHC and various flavours of MMC cards.

Touting a 1/2.3in CCD with 10Mp (effective) and a 3x optical zoom, the 6.2-18.6mm f/2.8-f/4.9 lens is equivalent to 35-105mm in a 35mm camera. Utilising a DIGIC 4 image processor, this Ixus features an optical image stabilizer, a shutter speed range of 15-1/1500sec, continuous shooting at 1.4fps and an ISO range of 80-1600.

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

For such a compact camera, few can match its range of features

Various systems include i-Contrast for boosting the exposure level in dark areas, Face Detection and Face Self Timer, Scene Detection and Motion Detection. Image resolution ranges from 3648 x 2736 to VGA, and movies are shot in VGA and QVGA resolution at 30f/s. For movies, the Motion JPEG AVI file format is used.

The Ixus 95 IS is very easy to operate, which is just as well, as Canon persists in supplying its cameras with just a printed, basic start-up guide – which barely progresses beyond switching on the camera – hiding the full instruction manual as a PDF on CD. Power on is swift, with the Ixus 95 IS ready to shoot within two seconds. Another thing you notice is that, despite its compact size, the camera is quite noisy during operation, especially when the auto-focus kicks in.

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Various detection systems improve shooting and ease of use

The menu button reveals a tabbed navigation system. Here, you can adjust various set-up items including LCD brightness and a selection of camera settings, such as digital zoom and flash settings. One grumble is that the i-Contrast setting is on a second menu page, as it would be handy if this was easier to access.

The Function Set button takes you into the familiar Canon L-shaped menu with various icons for adjusting ISO, white balance, file size, colour effects, metering mode and drive mode. In terms of shooting modes, you can choose from 17 that include, auto, program AE, portrait, sunset and ISO 3200.

The LCD screen is a bit of a disappointment, especially if you’re used to using cameras with 3in displays. It was also difficult to view in bright sunlight and so full marks to Canon for including an optical viewfinder. It’s a bit on the small side, and you certainly don’t get a 100 per cent field of view, but we found it very handy when using the Ixus 95 IS outdoors in bright conditions.

The auto-focus system is fast and soon locks onto the target, and the Scene Detection system very quickly determines what you’re shooting. Face Detection – which can detect up to 35 faces in a shot – is swift and accurate. We’re also big fans of the Face Self Timer system, which means no more racing to get in the shot when you use the self timer, because the Ixus 95 IS won’t shoot until it detects an additional face in the frame.

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

The optical viewfinder overcomes LCD issues in bright conditions

However, we did find the optical zoom somewhat uninspiring, both at the wide angle and telephoto ends; it was especially frustrating when trying to zoom in on a distant object. Battery life is rated at 260 shots with the LCD switched on and we had no problem shooting around 200 frames and some video footage on a single charge.

Sample Shots

Noise isn’t an issue until ISO 400 and, even then, it’s not bad. However, when you reach ISO 800 there is a big leap in noise.

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

ISO 80
Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

ISO 100
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Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

ISO 200
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Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

ISO 400
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Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

ISO 800
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Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

ISO 1600
Click for a full-resolution crop

Sample Shots

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Sample Shots

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Click for a full-resolution crop

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

i-Contrast off

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

i-Contrast on: an exposure level boost brings out hidden detail.

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Wide angle
The 3x optical zoom is uninspiring at both the wide angle and tele-photo extremes

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Tele-photo
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Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Close-up
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Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Continous shooting mode at 1.4f/s
Click for a scaled QuickTime image sequence

But when it comes down to it, what users want from a camera are good pictures, and with the Ixus 95 IS, this is something of a hit-and-miss affair. Noise wasn’t an issue until ISO 400 and even then, it wasn’t that noticeable. However, noise levels jump significantly when you reach ISO 800. We noticed a tendency to overexposure and the colours were somewhat muted. Chromatic aberration wasn’t a huge issue, but it was noticeable on some shots.

Canon Digital Ixus 95 IS

Colourful options for the summer season

As you'd expect, the VGA movies looked fine in a small window, but pretty ropey when expanded a bit. That said, the motion was smooth and you can zoom whilst shooting. However, if you really want to capture video with your compact, we’d suggest forking out the extra for the Ixus 100 IS, which offers HD movie recording at 1280 x 720, 30f/s.

Verdict

If you’re looking for a camera you can take anywhere, which is easy to use and looks smart, then the Ixus 95 IS is a strong candidate. However, you can find better specified compacts for less, offering superior performance, although, admittedly, you’d be hard pressed to find a more compact model. Still, with that £219 price tag, the Ixus 95 IS faces some pretty stiff competition, which you should keep in mind before you flash the cash for this model. ®

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