Many cameras in the crowded and competitive digital point-and-shoot market are all flash and no substance. They add all sorts of extra gimmicks such as fancy slide shows and colourful borders that don't actually contribute to the cameras' pictures. Canon thumbs its nose at that design philosophy with the simple yet functional Digital IXUS 60, a £200 6-megapixel point-and-shoot camera that's light on features but heavy on image quality, performance and usability.
A midrange member of Canon's IXUS series of cameras, the Canon Digital IXUS 60 is small and light, weighing less than 140g. The matte-silver metal body, almost identical to the Digital IXUS 65's, is compact enough to fit in a shirt pocket but solid enough to have a nice, dense, block-of-metal feel. If you want to spend an extra £30 or so, the IXUS 65 is a carbon copy of the IXUS 60, but with a 76mm (3-inch) LCD as opposed to the IXUS 60's 64mm (2.5-inch) screen.
Like the camera itself, the IXUS 60's control scheme is simple but functional. Most of the controls are on the back of the camera, next to the LCD. You control camera functions with a basic four-way-plus-OK switch, with instant access to ISO, flash, macro, burst and shutter settings. The back of the camera also holds a mode slider, as well as display, menu and print buttons. The top side of the camera holds the shutter release, the zoom rocker and a power button.
The Digital IXUS 60 sports a standard f/2.8-to-f/4.9, 3x zoom lens (35mm-to-105mm equivalent) and offers a basic feature set highlighted by a few notable capabilities. The 64mm LCD is accompanied by an optical viewfinder, a rare combination in ultracompacts. The viewfinder is tiny but welcome, especially when battery power runs low. The camera has a handful of scene presets, plus a VGA movie mode with a QVGA 60fps setting for watching slow-motion clips. Of course, Canon's innumerable image-adjustment parameters let you tinker with contrast, sharpness, saturation and skin tone, as well as red, green and blue levels.
The IXUS 60 lacks certain features, such as built-in memory, image stabilisation, manual exposure control and a live histogram. These would have been handy, but they're not critical, and their absence hardly hurts the camera's appeal.
The Canon Digital IXUS 60 boasts excellent performance, with fast start-up and responsive shooting. The quick shutter lags no more than 0.7 seconds, even in dim light.
We measured a quick shot-to-shot speed of 1.5 seconds, which bumps up only slightly to 2.1 seconds with the flash enabled. Burst mode proves equally fast, delivering about 2.1fps.
Of course, the most important aspect of the camera is photo quality, and this compact shooter delivers in almost every respect. Besides exhibiting Canon's signature smooth, noiseless images at ISO 80 and ISO 100, the IXUS 60 manages very well up to as high as ISO 800, a sensitivity many compact digitals don't even reach. At that speed, the IXUS 60's pictures are noisy but in an unobtrusive, almost filmlike way -- ISO 800 images on the IXUS 60 actually look better than many other cameras' images shot at ISO 400.
The IXUS 60's ISO 200 shots are almost indistinguishable from those taken at ISO 100, and its ISO 400 images are still very usable, though noise starts to become noticeable at that setting. With less noise than usual, this camera performs better than other cameras in its class, especially in low-light, no-flash conditions such as indoor performances and museums.
It's hard to find any fault with the IXUS 60's imaging pipeline. Colours are appropriately warm and saturated at all speeds -- it produces very sharp and detailed pictures. The camera's automatic white-balance and exposure decisions are consistently accurate and pleasing. Lens distortions such as vignetting or pincushioning are negligible in the IXUS 60, though as with many ultracompacts, lens sharpness falls off dramatically in the upper-left corner of the scene. Fringing is also barely there, even under heavily backlit objects such as branches against a sky. Ugly JPEG processing artefacts such as colour banding and halos around high-contrast edges are, likewise, hard to spot.
The few problems with the IXUS 60's images are minor. White highlights tend to blow out easily, and flash pictures are not evenly lit, though the camera's excellent high-ISO performance will eliminate the need for flash in many instances.
The Canon Digital IXUS 60 is a great compact digital camera. It might not have many bells and whistles, but its quick performance and excellent images make this a great choice for anyone who wants their camera to simply take pictures.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
||Typical shot-to-shot time||
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||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Edited by Lori Grunin
Additional editing by Nick Hide