Image quality from the IXUS 80 IS is quite nice for a camera of its class. Its automatic white balance does a good -- but not perfect -- job of neutralising colours under a variety of light sources. It adds warmth to incandescent-lit shots and a touch of green to fluorescent, but does a great job in natural daylight. The camera's tungsten setting did a good job of neutralising the harsh yellow cast of our tungsten hot lights.
While noise isn't completely nonexistent at ISO 80, you'll have to look quite closely to find any at this lowest sensitivity or at ISO 100, and both settings offer pleasingly sharp images with plenty of shadow detail. By ISO 200, you'll start to notice noise, especially in shadows, though there is still plenty of sharpness to the images.
At ISO 400, noise still isn't over the top, and there is a surprising amount of sharpness, though we saw a noticeable roll-off in shadow detail. Things get precipitously worse at ISO 800, though you still might be able to get a decent 152x102mm (4x6-inch) print under ideal circumstances. By ISO 1,600, images look as if they're shot during a hailstorm. We suggest staying below ISO 800 whenever possible.
Given the success of the IXUS 70, we were surprised that Canon lets the camera's shot-to-shot time slide with the IXUS 80 IS. The company makes up for it by adding optical image stabilisation and keeping the impressive image quality of its predecessor.
Despite our whinging, the IXUS 80 IS is still a very nice camera, and if you're going to make a trade off anywhere, we'd rather wait longer between shots than sacrifice image quality or shutter lag. As long as you don't mind the long flash recycle time, Canon's Digital IXUS 80 IS makes a great choice for a relatively inexpensive ultracompact camera.
If optical image stabilisation doesn't mean that much to you though, you should probably see if you can find still find the , since you can get it at a very nice discount if there are still any available.
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday