Compact digital cameras aren't usually the most well built pieces of electronics. Mass-produced plastic bodies are very common and they often lack the solid feel of the cameras from yesteryear. There are exceptions to this however and we're testing one here, the Canon Digital IXUS 330.
- 5.4-16.2mm 3x zoom lens(35mm film equivalent: 35 -105mm)
- 2.0 megapixels
- Uses CompactFlash Type I
- TTL 3-point Ai Auto Focus
- ISO Auto/50/100/200/400
- Flash range of up to 3.5m
- Intelligent orientation sensor
- Exif 2.2 (Exif Print) compliant
- Rechargeable lithium ion battery
- Weighs 254g (excluding battery and CF card)
- Dimensions: 94.8x62.5x31.5mm
- Priced around 430
Surrounded by a steel body the Digital IXUS 330 has a very solid feel. With very little plastic on the outside of the camera it oozes a sense of sophistication. The steel body means it's not the lightest camera around, but most people would probably prefer high build quality over low weight.
At the back of the camera, the controls are all sensibly placed and the same brushed steel finish is present.
The menus operate quickly, meaning you rarely have to wait for the camera to catch up with you. Important features such as zooming in on previously taken photos, are very quick and easy to use. The following screen shots and descriptions show some of the main sections of the menu system.
|This is an example of the view on the LCD when you are taking a photo in manual mode. When the shutter release is half pressed the white squares nearest the area in focus light up green.
||In playback mode information on the photos taken is displayed. Additionally there is a histogram to help you check for the correct exposure. The histogram is also shown in the preview mode directly after taking the photo.
|Divided into three sections the Rec. Menu allows you to set up:
1. Resolution (stills), Resolution (movies), Compression, ISO Speed, AiAF, Digital Zoom, Self-timer, Image review, AF-assist beam, File No. Reset, Auto Rotate, Long Shutter.
2. Beep, Speaker Vol., Power Save, Date/Time, Format, Language, Video System.
3. Theme, Start-up image, Startup Sound, Shutter Sound, Operation Sound, Selftimer Sound.
|Also divided into three sections these allow you to set up:
1. Image protect, Image rotate, Sound memo, Erase all, Slide show, Print order, Transfer order.
2. Same as Rec. Menu.
3. Same as Rec. Menu.
The Digital IXUS 330, although primarily a point and shoot compact, has a number of useful modes. These are:
Playback: Used to check photos you've taken.
Auto: Most of the settings are automatically set by the camera.
Manual: The exposure compensation, white balance and other settings can be manually set.
Stitch Assist: Images are shot in overlapping series to create a panoramic image.
Movie: Shoots movie clips with sound.
The Digital IXUS 330 comes with a Lithium-ion battery and charger. This lasted well in our testing and should be sufficient for most users of this camera. Unless you're planning to take a considerable amount of photos in a day you're unlikely to need a spare battery.
On the left side of the camera are connections for the USB connection to your computer and audio/video out. All the necessary cables are provided. Canon cameras such as this can be directly connected to their range of small dye-sublimation printers, we reviewed the CP-100 printer here.
LCD Screen and Viewfinder
Used outside on a sunny day the LCD screen was easy to see. It is sharp and clear and surpasses the quality of even costlier cameras such as the Pentax Optio 330.
The same can't be said of the viewfinder which doesn't provide the diopter adjustment found on the Optio, the view is also a bit too small for my liking. Thanks to the excellent LCD screen, the shortcomings of the viewfinder aren't too important.
For a compact 2 megapixel camera, the level of quality produced was high. You can override the automatic settings to select a custom level of quality. This customisation provides settings such as Vivid colours, or low sharpening. In addition, you can select the ISO level which has a proportionate effect on the level of image noise in your photos.
The focussing system was generally reliable. The white squares that light up green on the LCD when the focus locks, are a great help. The one area I found the focussing lacking, was in the macro mode. In this mode, it performed well with high contrast subjects, but struggled in areas of low contrast.
The lens isn't the sharpest around but there is still plenty of detail. The candle above is a direct copy from the full-size image on the left.
Although the metering system generally performed well, it was still susceptible to occasional errors. In this example the photo has been underexposed.
|For a two megapixel camera, the Digital IXUS 330 captures a good amount of detail. The crop of the above photo shown to the left, shows very low levels of noise and a good level of sharpness.
This illustrates again the very low levels of noise in the shadow areas of photos. On higher ISO settings the noise level creeps up, but it is still a very good performance.
The Digital IXUS 330 is a fine example of a compact digital camera. Build, operation and image quality are all of a high standard and throughout our testing we could find little to complain about. There are enough configuration settings to satisfy most enthusiast photographers, yet at the same time the camera is easy to use for those new to photography.
The price is quite high for a two megapixel camera, but this is partly a reflection of the relative luxury status the steel Digital IXUS provides. If you are after a compact, easy to use digital camera and have no need for large prints, the Digital IXUS 330 could be ideal for you.
Discuss this review and other digital cameras here