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Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review

Matt Grayson gets the first full review of the new Canon IXUS 110IS.

| Canon Canon IXUS 110IS in Compact Cameras
Canon continue the IXUS brand with a new range of compacts. One of which is the slinky 110IS available in many colours including blue.

Canon IXUS 110IS: Specification
  • Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110ISZoom: 4x optical
  • Resolution: 12.1Mp
  • Sensor size: 1/2.3in
  • Sensor type: CCD
  • Max. image size: 4000x3000
  • File type: JPEG
  • Sensitivity: ISO80-1600
  • Storage: SD, SDHC
  • Focus types: TTL, AiAF (face detection, 9 point), 1 point AF (centre)
  • Close focusing: 2cm
  • Metering types: Evaluative (linked to face detection), centre-weighted, spot
  • Exposure compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 step increments
  • Shutter speed: 15sec-1/1600sec
  • Flash: Built-in, auto, manual
  • Monitor: 2.8in Purecolour LCD II
  • Interface: USB 2.0
  • Power: Li-Ion battery
  • Size: 97.9x54.1x22.1mm
  • Weight: 145g
The Canon offers 12Mp, 4x optical zoom and fun preset modes for £349. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 is slightly older but costs around £299 and has 10Mp, 2.5x optical zoom and simulation modes. Panasonic pixels are also sat on a larger sensor than provided by Canon.

Alternatively, the Leica C-Lux 3 at £379 has 10Mp, 5x optical zoom anlong with the simulation modes. It also has a lens from one of the best lens makers in the business and offers the head swelling prestige of owning one.

Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110IS
The lens is set surprisingly central compared to a lot of recent compacts that have been released.
Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110IS
A mode switch, power button and shutter release with the zoom wrapped around are all that adorn the top of the camera.
Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110IS
The menu is nifty, clear and slick.
Canon IXUS 110IS: Features
Released as part of the 2009 spring collection, the IXUS 110IS is just one of several units and offers a few features that have been seen on cameras from other companies alongside some completely new ones.

Keeping with the IXUS brand ideology of sexy styling and advanced technology, the slinky 110IS curves around the right side in a similar fashion to old 35mm Olympus Mju cameras. On the front, the lens is sat nearer the middle than some compacts with the lens set further away in the top corner. This will help offset red-eye which, despite progression of software to remove the phenomenon, still looks better if it doesn't happen at all.

The top of the camera curls over to the top plate which houses half of the buttons available on the camera. A switch is sat in the middle for choosing between video, recording and Ai mode. Ai is an advancement on the usual auto mode that we all know and love. It will analyse the picture you're taking and select the appropriate scene mode to ensure the best picture. This isn't anything new as currently at Panasonic and Pentax have this feature so at the launch of the IXUS range, ePHOTOzine caught up with Matt Foden, Product Manager for Compact Digital Still Cameras and he confirmed that other cameras that have this feature will only have four or five whereas the Canon boasts fourteen. We were told that the scene detection technology is an advancement of iSaps which essentially means that it will no longer be featured in any cameras ever again as the new system takes over.

Upgrades from other IXUS models include Servo AF being used as standard which means there's no need to press the shutter release halfway to focus as the camera will work more like a camcorder in that respect.

Intelligent contrast will analyse the image and boost any hard contrast areas bringing detail out in the shadow areas where it wouldn't normally be seen. This is essentially a dynamic range compensation system and is susceptible to noise.

In these new days of popular culture, manufacturers are turning their attention to fun ideas that make the camera stand out. At the moment, the best way to have a camera stand out is for it to look like it's made by Apple. For that reason, the IXUS 110IS is available in a variety of colours which, canon say, are very popular at the moment. To add to this iPod revolution, the playback menu has a new system for moving through your images. Instead of simply pressing left and right, you have to flick the camera up or down to sift through them. You can still use the left and right buttons if you desire and I settled for that as I found the glossy casing of the camera tended to slip out of my fingers and I got worried I might drop it.
Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110IS
The rear of the camera is minimal. With High Definition being thrust down our throats, no camera worth it's salt will be seen without it.

On the rear of the camera, the controls have been kept to a minimum with only the playback, menu and function buttons, the latter being set in the command wheel. This wheel can be also pressed up, down, left and right which also activates access to display, focus, self timer and flash options. This isn't possible to find out without pressing the button which means you have to unnecessarily enter a mode you might not want.

Despite the lack of buttons, there's plenty of space available for the 2.8in widescreen which will shoot in the wide format making viewing images on a TV nicer or the aspect ratio can be changed to a more traditional size.
Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110IS
Colours similar to the selected colour will also be visible but to a lesser degree. That's why the blue in the purple chair is coming through the image.

As with all Canon compacts, the function button reveals quick access options on the left of the screen but the new 110IS has a slicker, sexier version with white fonts on a grey backing and orange highlight. The function menu can be navigated by using the wheel as a pad or as a wheel. Using it as a wheel could get tedious as it's not the most responsive I've used.

One of the more interesting modes available in the menu is the colour select or Colour Accent mode. It gives the same effect as what was first seen in Schindler's List with the girl in the red coat. By choosing this mode, you can select a colour to remain while all others are converted to mono. It's great to see and can also be used in video mode. To change the colour, hold down the menu button and press left when the small white square is over the colour you wish to highlight.

Canon IXUS 110IS: Build and handling
The IXUS brand is well known for its build quality and all of the cameras feel solid when held. My previous mention of the glossy covering making me think I'll drop it still remains when the camera is flipped but this can be avoided by wearing a wrist strap. In fact, Canon are pleased with the new accessories revealed at the same time as the camera.

Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110ISThey involve a strap that can be fitted to the belt and the camera can be extended on a retractable cord for taking pictures and then hangs conveniently from your waist.

One of my hangups with digital compacts is the lack of a metal tripod bush but the IXUS 110IS is metal which means this area of the camera which is used a lot won't get threaded or worn like a plastic one is more likely to do.

Flipping the battery door open reveals a long, thin Li-Ion battery with the SD/SDHC slot next to it. A 1Gb card will be able to hold around 315 shots and the largest file size will be able to print to around A2. I know this because the camera tells me when I select the desired setting. It's a feature that Matt Foden thinks will help the user:
“It's easier to read and understand so the user can make decisions on which setting to use quicker” he said.

When the lens extends, there's a certain amount of play which is a little more than I'd expect but it doesn't feel flimsy. It's fast enough for a compact and when watching it through the screen, the images are bright and blur free.

Canon IXUS 110IS: Performance
Shutter lag times varied but seem most consistent with around 0.12sec which is a little on the slower side of average.

Continuous shooting mode managed a maximum of six images in 10 seconds giving an average of 0.6fps (frames per second). Less than one frame per second is a little slow by today's standards and certainly using it feels like it's taking forever while it cycles through.

Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110ISReds and warmer tones have been pumped a lot more than what I'm used to seeing on a compact. That's not to say that the blues are more supressed. On the contrary, they're also jumping out of the image.

The earth brown and forest green look rich and the monot ones are balanced. Skin tone looks a little too pink for my tastes but that may change in the portrait test.

One problem I continuously ran into with the IXUS 110IS was purple colour fringing in high contrast areas. It can be seen on the landscape shot where the white bars overlap the darker lock.

Detail is good in the foreground and landscape mode has balanced the exposure while giving it as low an ISO setting as possible. I'm unhappy with what looks like some sharpening on the balance beams. It disrupts the lines and makes them look disfigured which shouldn't be happening.
Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110IS
The 16:9 aspect ratio has been used on this landscape image to give an idea of the wide screen capability. Purple fringing is evident on the edges of the white bars as well as the trees in the top left. I also dislike the sharpening being added to the image as it breaks the detail slightly.
Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110IS
Portrait mode is supposed to flatter the subject by warming the skin and selecting the correct aperture to send the backgroud out of focus.
Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110IS
In portrait mode and program, the skin tone looks yellow which isn't very attractive.
Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110IS
Using the flash has balanced out the skin tone, filled in shadows and added catchlights but looks more like a snap than a photograph.
There isn't a great deal of difference between portrait mode and program mode. Both have the same skin tone which shows that portrait mode doesn't warm the image any. In fact, it goes slightly yellow making thew subject look mildly Jaundice. That's not a good look in anyone's book.

Using flash has added more definition, erased shadows caused by directional ambient light and increased the catchlights in the eyes. On the downside it looks like it was taken at the entrance of a nightclub.

Canon IXUS 110IS: Focus and metering
All the focusing and metering systems in the IXUS are pretty simple. The main thing that's changed on the new models is that continuous focusing (ServoAF) is set to default which is better for photograpjhing the kids or pets.

Metering options are available on the function menu at the top. There are the regular three multi, centre-weighted and spot metering modes that are found on all compacts these days while the focusing modes are in the main menu. It's probable that the focus modes have been relegated to the main menu simply because there's more options and it allows them all to be kept together.

Options include being able to adjust the AF frame from the centre of the frame to face detection and if you do have it set to centre, you can choose the size of the area it focuses on. Servo AF can be turned on or off if you desire so that when it locks, it stays set at that particulr area. Not good for moving subjects or if you're hand holding the camera unless you take the picture nearly immediately.

Canon IXUS 110IS: Noise test
Despite still using a small sensor, ISO80 is better than I expected with bags of detail in the petals and smooth tiles. Being able to use this setting every time would ensure the finest quality images but unfortunately it needs a lot of light.

The detail continues to be good while the images generally start to degrade properly at about ISO200. It's tolerable and can only really be seen at full magnification so don't worry about it too much. ISO400 is also good enough to use if you need that extra speed for a faster shutter.

ISO800 starts to see the detail diminish with purple and green blotches coming into the grey area faintly. In contrast, ISO1600 has lost all detail in the petals which may be a cause of noise reduction. This reason would explain the lack of aggressive noise.
Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110IS
The ISO80 test.
Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: Canon IXUS 110IS
The ISO1600 test.

Canon IXUS 110IS: Verdict
Canon IXUS 110IS Digital Camera Review: It's an interesting camera that they've released in terms of design and styling. It has the feel of the old Mju 2 from Olympus and they've stripped a lot of buttons and stuff off the back.

My only concern with this minimalist approach is that to find out what the navigation pad options are only found out by pressing the pad and an icon appears on screen. This isn't very quick and you could accidentally activate a mode without wanting to. It's a shame because I do like it and see it as a positive design.

I can see the appeal for users who like pretty cameras and younger photographers who enjoy funny little features such as Colour Accent.

Canon IXUS 110IS: Plus points
Great build
Fast start up
Bright screen
Wide screen
Colour Accent mode
Simple design
Good noise for the sensor size

Canon IXUS 110IS: Minus points
Slippy covering when the camera will be shook
Maybe too minimalist?
Bad portrait result sends skin yellow





The Canon IXUS 110IS costs around £349 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Canon IXUS 110IS

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