Canon has long had a knack for designing great-looking cameras -- the IXUS 115 HS being a prime example. But there would be little point in forking out £145 for a handsome snapper if the photos themselves were an ugly, pixellated mess. Thankfully, the 115's photos match its good looks.
Canon's IXUS line has always been about design. The 115 is no exception, marrying simplicity and sophistication with several varieties of aplomb.
The solid metal body is available in blue, grey and pink, as well as the classic IXUS silvery-gold colour. The body is slim but not as compact or lightweight as that of some previous models. This may, in part, be due to the sizeable, 3-inch LCD screen on the device's rear. It's not touch-sensitive in any way -- navigation is carried out via a traditional five-way pad -- but it's an exceptionally high-quality display nonetheless.
On the front of the 115, the 4x zoom lens housing sits almost entirely flush with the camera's body when retracted, with the shiny silver ring raised barely a millimetre above the rest of the surface. The top edge hosts just three controls -- a shutter-release button surrounded by a zoom lever, a power button and a switch that alternates the camera between full auto mode and standard operation.
There's a fairly decent variety of shooting options available, including a 1:1 ratio setting, three different metering modes, a generous assortment of genuinely useful and arty effects, and 1080p high-definition video capture.
Canon's even made room on the 115's uncluttered surface for a dedicated video-record button and an HDMI-output socket.
Even if the 115 weren't the tiny, shiny slab of loveliness that it is, we'd still rate it. The camera has a backlit, 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, and it's clear from its photos that it can take much better images than many cameras with higher-resolution CCD sensors. The lower pixel count also means the camera doesn't struggle to find detail where there is none, which seems to help reduce picture noise by a noticeable margin.
There was a slightly soft quality to some of our outdoor test shots, but it wasn't detrimental to the images overall -- if anything, it gave them a more photo-like feel. Colours are rich and deep, while skin tones look even and natural. Strong primary colours also pop out well. Some fringing can be seen around highlights, but it's not a significant problem.
With a decent amount of ambient light, you should find that the camera offers decent interior performance too. Our indoor tests delivered good results with both flash and non-flash shots. Shots up to about ISO 400 are comparatively noise-free.
The 115 is a great camera for a range of different types of shot -- macro, portrait and nature photos all look great. The 28-112mm focal length equivalent is a comfortable range to work within, although it's possible to find models with a more versatile lens for slightly more cash.
The Canon IXUS 115 HS offers style, simplicity and sterling performance for a surprisingly reasonable price. We give it a definite thumbs up.
Edited by Charles Kloet