Canon's Digital IXUS cameras are smart and well made, and that's certainly reflected in the price. The Digital IXUS 110 IS will set you back around £270. For that, you get a 12-megapixel sensor, 4x wideangle zoom and high-definition movie mode. But is it enough?
This is a very good-looking camera. It's not the smallest compact on the market by any means, but the metal body comes in a choice of colours and is finished off with a thick, glossy lacquer. This camera's packed with the latest technology, but it's distinctly understated on the outside.
There's a three-position mode switch on the top (movies, program AE and full auto), while the back's dominated by a big, 71mm (2.8-inch) wideangle LCD. To the right of that are a multi-controller, a playback button and a menu button -- and that's it.
The screen is good, the autofocus is snappy and the face-detection software works well. Like other current Canon cameras, this one has a face self-timer mode. In this mode, you set up a group shot, start the timer and run into position. As soon as the camera recognises that a new face has appeared in the frame, it starts the timer. It even takes three shots to make sure it gets a good one.
The i-Contrast feature is supposed to lighten darker areas of the picture in high-contrast scenes, and, while it doesn't seem to have a particularly noticeable effect, it's probably worth having.
Definitely worth having is the 720p HD movie mode. The jump in quality from ordinary VGA (640x320-pixel resolution) movies is obvious, and this camera's good enough to make you wonder why anyone buys camcorders any more. You can hook it up to your HD television too, although you'll need to pay extra for the HDMI cable.
The movie mode does have limitations, though. You can't zoom while you're shooting, for a start. Well you can, but you only get digital zoom and a sort of pixellated mush, rather than the crystal-clear definition you might have been expecting. What you have to do instead is zoom in before you start shooting. The movie mode picked up a few vertical streaks from bright highlights off metallic surfaces too, although this wasn't a problem in ordinary lighting.
While video is excellent, the picture quality is so-so. Yes, the 110's got 12 megapixels, but it doesn't really offer any more real-world definition than the much cheaper Digital IXUS 95 IS.
It's not the world's best lens, either. The zoom range is pretty modest by today's standards, but it still delivers a fair amount of barrel distortion, fringing and corner softness. In a £150 camera you probably wouldn't worry about it, but, when you're paying this much, you might not be so forgiving.
You'll also have to come to terms with Canon's touch-sensitive, spinning controller wheel on the back, which, as ever, is so light and indefinite it may drive you mad.
The Canon Digital IXUS 110 IS is a good but pricey camera. It shoots great movies but average stills. Its control layout is excellent but its navigational controller is a frustrating gimmick. You won't find many cameras that are better-looking than this one, but, when it comes to the actual pictures, it's very middle of the road.
Edited by Charles Kloet