Canon makes two ranges of compact digital cameras: The budget PowerShot and the enthusiast IXUS. But even though the IXUS cameras have a generally higher specification, the new IXUS 220 HS still comes in at well under £200 – and boasts a wealth of powerful automatic features to help you take consistently great photos.
Available with a black, silver or metallic red body, the camera is very easily pocketable, though it still has a three-stage, telescopic, 24mm wide-angle lens. The lens works with a 12.1-megapixel sensor which, combined with the camera’s proprietary DIGIC 4 processor, forms Canon’s HS System. This is designed to work in lower light, before needing to fire the camera’s built-in flash.
At the back is a 2.6in, glass-faced LCD display, which is surprisingly bright, even on sunny days. Only with full, bright sunlight falling directly on it did we have any trouble seeing what we were shooting.
Controls are few, partly due to the fact that so many of the camera’s features are automated. On top are the power button and the shutter release, with a zoom collar set around it, all falling easily under the index finger. Next to the LCD screen are four buttons, a four-way ring and a small slider, which switches between auto and manual shooting modes.
Auto scene selection
Pan the camera around in Auto mode and it automatically spots not just faces, but the type of shot that’s being taken. A blue icon in the top right corner of the display flips between shooting modes as it spots, for example, a landscape, a night scene or plant foliage.
There are a lot of fun effect modes, too, such as fish-eye, colour accent (think of the small, red-coated girl in Schindler’s List) and underwater. The IXUS 220 HS is well adapted to underwater work, with two optional waterproof cases available, the more robust of which is rated down to 40m.
One of the buttons on the camera’s back is for video recording – placed where it’s less likely to be pressed accidentally. The camera can take video at up to Full HD (1920×1080) resolution, but you’ll need to add a suitable SD card to store your footage, as none is supplied.
In use we found the IXUS 220 HS extremely easy to use and capable of capturing a wide variety of different scenes, well. In comparison with a DSLR on a cloud-spattered sunny day, it over-exposed a little, but handled scenes with a wide dynamic range intelligently. Indoors, the HS System helped the camera take more shots without flash Taking in natural light improved the colour balances.
Contact: Canon on 01737 220000
- Automated scene selection with tracking auto-focus.
- Some over-exposure when set fully automatic.
This is a very neat and effective pocket camera, particularly if you take most shots using non-manual settings. With auto-scene selection and the HS System improving performance in low light, it's hard to take a bad photo. Take time to learn its feature set and you can have a lot of fun with the special effects, too.