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Canon IXUS 185 Digital Compact Camera Review

The Canon IXUS 185 offers excellent value for money but does the price compromise image quality and features?

| Canon IXUS 185 in Compact Cameras

Canon IXUS 185 Digital Compact Camera Review: IXUS 185

Quick Verdict

The Canon IXUS 185 is very reasonably priced, at around £89, which will certainly grab your attention if you're in the market for a compact camera that's priced at under £100. However, price isn't always everything and what you gain in money in your pocket you lose in image quality and features. Not all images are terrible but they're not amazing either. Plus, with so many reasonably priced smartphones now available, it's hard to justify why you should need to purchase a compact point-and-shoot. If you do really want one, however, and will be taking photos in good light (not overly bright) and aren't expecting much in terms of features and mind-blowing image quality, you may want to consider the Canon IXUS 185. 

+ Pros

  • Price
  • Easy to use 
  • 8x optical zoom lens
  • 1cm macro focus
  • Size & Weight 

- Cons

  • Photo quality could be better 
  • No FullHD / 4K video
  • Featureless 


The Canon IXUS 185 is available for well under £100 and on paper, you get a lot of features for not much money but is image quality good enough and, does the compact camera offer enough to pull attention away from a smartphone which can capture impressive images nowadays? 

You may be wondering why we're reviewing a compact camera that was released in 2017 and the answer to that is, despite its age, the Canon IXUS 185 is still a popular model on Amazon, Argos and other retailers who still sell the camera for around £88-90. 


Canon IXUS 185 Features

The standout features of the Canon IXUS 185 is its 20MP 1/2.3 type CCD sensor, an 8x optical zoom lens, simple design, easy to use controls and the modes which are designed to make the camera really easy to use for a beginner. 'Point & Shoot' is another term used to describe this type of camera and the Canon IXUS 185 certainly does that with an Easy Auto mode, Auto Zoom and 32 scene detection modes. 

There's a 6.8 cm (2.7") LCD that's not a touch screen unfortunately and the battery will capture approximately 210 shots - plenty for a day out at the coast. 

Other features include a 100-1600 ISO range (which you can access when you switch to P mode), Exposure Compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments, date/time stamp, electronic IS, dynamic IS when capturing video (720p HD) and an f/3.2 - f/6.9 aperture range. 

Key Features

  • 20MP 1/2.3inch CCD sensor
  • 8x optical zoom & 16x zoom plus (4x digital zoom)
  • Easy Auto mode
  • Auto Zoom - selects the best framing for stills and movies
  • Aperture range: f/3.2 - f/6.9
  • ISO: Auto, 100-1600
  • Exposure Compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments
  • 6.8 cm (2.7") LCD (TFT), approx. 230,000 dots
  • Digital effects and creative modes
  • 32 scene detection in Auto mode
  • Add date stamps to your images
  • Intelligent Image Stabilisation (electronic)
  • Dynamic IS when capturing movies
  • 720p HD movies. Aspect Ratio 4:3
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-11L / NB-11LH (approx 210 shots)


Canon IXUS 185 Handling

Canon IXUS 185 Digital Compact Camera Review: Canon IXUS 185


When you first pick up the Canon IXUS 185, it feels incredibly lightweight but looks rather cheap and that's mainly down to its plastic design which when you compare it with some other compact cameras or even smartphones, makes it look a little dated. However, the overall design is simple which means a beginner will find it easy to use. There are hardly any buttons/dials so it doesn't take long to get to grips with. Mind you, having used a smartphone as a point-and-shoot camera for so long, I will admit it did take me a while to navigate menus. 

On the back is the screen which is bright and text in the menus is clear but it's not a touch screen, unfortunately. However, considering its 230k dot resolution, the price of the camera and the small screen size, it's no real surprise. You do get 100% frame coverage, though, and the brightness of the screen can be adjusted in the menu. 

To the right of this are buttons for previewing images, recording video, accessing the menu, setting functions etc. On the top is the power button, shutter button and the zoom dial/lever which all feel pretty sturdy considering they're constructed from plastic. Also, thanks to a raised piece of plastic, you can push the zoom dial with one finger (just about), while still holding the camera sturdy, so you don't have to adjust your position to zoom in on detail. If you need to, there's an auto zoom function for photographing people with a [people] button which lets you zoom without using the zoom leaver but only when in the Easy Auto mode. 


Canon IXUS 185 Digital Compact Camera Review: Canon IXUS 185

The bottom is where you access the battery/memory card slot (SD/SDHC) as well as a tripod thread and on the front is the flash, AF assistant/self-timer light and, of course, the 5.0 - 40.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 28 – 224 mm) 8x optical zoom lens. When you zoom the lens in/out, there is a loud whirring noise but the movement is smooth and you have access to 8x optical zoom and 16x ZoomPlus (digital). Image Stabilisation is built in but it is electronic and the aperture range goes from f/3.2-f/6.9. 

The position of the flash does mean your finger can get in the way so just be wary of that and the usual flash modes are built-in - auto, manual flash on/off. There's also a slow synchro setting and red-eye reduction found in the menu system. 

Due to its size, the Canon IXUS 185 fits well in the hand and has a decent amount of grip. Plus, there's a wrist strap should you be concerned you may drop the camera (under this attachment is a piece of rubber which can be peeled back to reveal a joint AV out/USB port, too).

The Canon IXUS 185 won't win any design awards, it's very generic, but it's OK (maybe we've been spoiled by flash smartphones?). 


Canon IXUS 185 Digital Compact Camera Review: Canon IXUS 185


Switch the Canon IXUS 185 on and it instantly feels like a camera designed for the beginner with 'Easy Auto mode' automatically switched on so you can literally point the camera at something, take a photo and it does all of the hard work for you. There are also 32 scene modes built-in that automatically recognise what is in front of the camera, adjusting settings to create the best results possible. 

If you want a little more control, you can switch to P mode (which you do by holding the 'Auto' button, confirming you want to switch 'Easy Auto mode' off and then click the button again to access P mode). Here, you can access ISO, white balance, metering settings, shutter speed, focus modes, digital filters and a variety of creative modes. There's also a self-timer, drive modes and image resolution options found in the menu. 

The ISO range goes from 100-1600 but when in auto mode, this is restricted to ISO100-800 which can mean blur creeps into some shots but noise is kept to a minimum. If you find your shots to be over/underexposed, there's +/- 2 EV to assist and if you enjoy macro photography, you can get up to 1cm close to your subject. 

Canon IXUS 185 Digital Compact Camera Review: Canon IXUS 185

Battery life is rated at 210 shots which is a decent number of images and will be plenty for those looking for something to go in their pocket on a day trip. 

Switch on time is around 2-seconds and this includes the screen coming to life and the zoom lens extending to its widest setting. The camera switches on with an accompanying noise just to assure you it's coming to life. 

As for how long it takes to capture and process an image, it's not as instant as a smartphone but it's not slow either (1-2 seconds at the most, perhaps which might be a bit annoying for those born in the 'instant' generation'). To ensure focus is set before you capture an image, you simply half-press the shutter so a green box appears then press the shutter fully down. Not having a touch screen means you can't press the screen to ensure the camera focuses where you want it to which is annoying but for under £100, you can't really complain too much. 

Overall, if you're looking for a point-and-shoot compact without too many frills, the IXUS 185 could be on your 'top choices' list but when you compare it to a reasonably priced smartphone, it's still a little hard to justify purchasing such a device when a smartphone offers the same, if not more, features, although the 8x optical zoom lens and real flash could still appeal, especially if you don't want to take a pricey smartphone with you.


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18 Jul 2019 2:32PM
Why are you reviewing this 2-year old camera now?
18 Jul 2019 3:46PM

Quote:Why are you reviewing this 2-year old camera now?

As we said in our introduction: "You may be wondering why we're reviewing a compact camera that was released in 2017 and the answer to that is, despite its age, the Canon IXUS 185 is still a popular model on Amazon, Argos and other retailers who still sell the camera for around £88-90."
18 Jul 2019 4:07PM
Ah, thanks. As you can tell I didn't read the introduction. Tongue
ErrolC 10 1 South Africa
12 Jan 2021 12:51PM
What would be a good step up to the next best camera/s?

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