Canon's compact quartet

Johannesburg, 23 Aug 2010
Read time 4min 10sec

Sometimes I wonder if engineers and marketers work in cahoots to come up with clever product names. Take Canon's new Digital Ixus, for example. It's this model's 10th birthday, and it's been kitted out with a 10-megapixel sensor and a 10x zoom lens. That's 10 times 10 times 10 - which gives us the model number, the Ixus 1000 HS.

Canon claims it's the slimmest super-zoom camera in the world and it's right - there's not another compact pocket camera with a mega-zoom lens, and it's made sweeter due to the lens retracting completely when the camera is turned off. No need to worry about shake when using that lens, though - it's got a built-in image stabiliser.

The 10-megapixel sensor is good for low-light photography, thanks to the HS system, and can also capture full high-definition video footage. Shooting is made easier with the large three-inch colour LCD on the back. If it's anything like the display used on the EOS cameras, it'll be mindblowing.

Next up is the Powershot S95. Like the Ixus, it's a 10-megapixel pocket camera, but the Powershots have always been a bit chunkier and offered more advanced manual controls for keen snappers. The S95 boasts an F/2.0 lens and Canon's HS system, both combining for fantastic performance in low-light.

The 3.8x optical zoom on the S95 is more modest, but allows low lens apertures, which in turn allows for more creative photography. Those close-up macro shots are also going to be easier to pull off thanks to a new hybrid image stabiliser - Canon claims this takes into account the angular and shift shake. Sounds complicated, but a hands-on test will tell whether it really works.

Touch control

Third in the announcement line-up is a brand new HD video camera, the snappily named Legria HF M32. While the still snappers have large 10-megapixel sensors, the Legria makes do with a dedicated 3.3-megapixel HD video sensor. Though it can do photos, the focus on video means it should produce super sharp and detailed video clips.

Some really great innovations in the Legria include advanced face detection technology, capable of identifying up to 35 faces in a frame - great for those reenactments of Battle of Isengard from your homemade Lord of the Rings remake. Powering this is is Canon's latest video processor, the Digic DV III.

Taking control of the Legria is made easy with the use of a touchscreen LCD. While shooting, it's possible to touch a point on the screen and the camera will focus on that. This same technology can also be used to control exposure or the tracking of subjects.

Touch gestures are also used in the menu navigation - very Apple-like, and I'm sure users will appreciate this.

Optics are taken care of by the 18x zoom lens with image stabiliser and storage is a generous 64GB of internal flash memory, with support for SDXC cards.

Photo finish

And finally, if you're going to be taking a lot of photos with any of these or your existing cameras, you'll want to print out some photos. Why share them on Facebook when you can have a shoebox full of memories?

The Selphy CP800 compact photo printer produces what Canon calls “photo-lab quality” prints - a bold claim for such a small device. I've played with some of the proper Pixma photo printers and they certainly live up to the claims, so it will quite something if the baby Selphy manages the same.

Additionally, the dye-sublimation print process means photos will be good for up to 100 years. That's a lot longer than your flash drive lasts before being stolen out of a drawer, with all your photos stored on it.

It's a self-contained imaging solution - there's no need to connect it to a computer. A USB port and multiformat card reader are present, along with a colour. The printer offers basic photo editing, such as red-eye removal, and has an 'ID Photo layout' mode - a Noddy badge for guessing what this does.

Most importantly, full colour, post card-sized prints can be had in less than a minute. It's been a while since I've had some film developed, but a minute seems very reasonable for a home print. I'd probably spend more time sorting and editing photos than I would printing them.

Now, all that's left is for Canon to release details on local availability and, crucially, pricing. Watch this space for some in-depth reviews, too.

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