Canon's Ixus range continues to offer a bewildering mix of different design strands, overlapping specs and new and older models mingling together. The new 12.1-megapixel IXUS 105 seems to slot in somewhere near the bottom, looking a great deal like the older Digital IXUS 95 IS, but with a wider-ranging zoom. It's not cheap, mind, at £160 or so.
Not every IXUS camera has been a paragon of style and quality. There have been a couple of right old mingers over the years, but they do tend to be few and far between, and the IXUS 105 isn't one of them. Our review sample came in a chocolate-coloured finish so smooth and satisfying to touch that you could easily spend more time fondling the camera than taking pictures. The smooth-cornered body and flush-mounted controls are classic IXUS hallmarks, although the sloppy, grey, plastic mode switch looks and feels out of place.
The start-up time's really quick -- the 105's ready to shoot about a second after you press the power button. The zoom and autofocus speeds are average, but that's fine in a camera like this, which is designed more for style-conscious snappers than enthusiasts.
You get an optical image stabiliser, motion detection and auto ISO adjustment to reduce blur. The 4x 28mm wide-angle zoom is pretty good. There's not much distortion at the wide-angle end, although there's some chromatic aberration, and the definition falls away at full zoom.
The 105 appears to offer decent value for money when you compare it with the PowerShot A3100 IS, which is about the same price, lacks a wide-angle zoom and is, to be frank, something of a porker, relatively speaking.
Style over substance?
Even so, once you take a long, hard look at what you're getting, the 105 is nothing special. Sure, it offers a great design, finish and build quality, but the zoom range and picture quality alone certainly don't justify the price. You can get similar results from cameras that cost much less than this.
You also start to notice the things you don't get as much as the things you do. If you want high-definition movies and Canon's new focus-tracking feature, you'll have to shell out at least another £50 and go for the Ixus 130 instead. You do get a new 'smart flash exposure' system, designed to produce more natural-looking flash shots, as well as Canon's 'i-Contrast' system for lightening dark shadows, but neither seems to make a massive amount of difference.
There's only so much the motion-detection and image-stabilisation system can do to reduce blur too, and, in themselves, they certainly don't guarantee sharp shots in bad light. Alright, this stuff might work and it might be worth having, but it doesn't exactly grab you by the throat.
The 4x zoom is handy and the 12.1-megapixel sensor delivers decent pictures, but, on their own, they certainly don't justify the Canon IXUS 105's price. You're not really getting much in the way of technical innovation, either. What you're paying for is the IXUS design, style and build quality. The 105 is more of a classy gift than clever tech.
Edited by Charles Kloet