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Canon Digital IXUS 60 review

Verdict

We had to fight hard to find anything to criticise about this camera: if you want a beautiful, high-quality compact then buy the IXUS 60

Review Date: 1 Jun 2005

Reviewed By: David Fearon

Price when reviewed: (£213 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
6 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

The IXUS 60 doesn't differ enormously from its A-Listed brethren, the IXUS 55. It shares the same fuss-free and extremely small casing, plus a 2.5in LCD screen at the rear, which seems unfeasibly huge on such a diminutive body.

Design philosophy follows the mould of the original IXUS APS film cameras, the watchword being 'tiny'. Dimensions of the body itself are identical to those of the IXUS 55; at 86mm wide and only 22mm thick, it's so small that some people initially complain it's difficult to keep a grip on it, but it takes only a few tries to work out a way of holding it that feels secure.

It has tiny-technology fetish factor in spades, and with its metal casing it's sturdy too. It's a smidge heavier than the old model but at 170g feels reassuringly weighty for the size. Our one criticism of the build is that the combined battery and SD card slot cover is made of plastic and feels like it could snap off a little too easily given a ham-fisted tug in the wrong direction.

Although the screen size is unchanged, its resolution has been enhanced to 173,000 pixels from the IXUS 55's 115,000, giving sharper previews and a better chance of catching camera shake before the moment to re-shoot has passed.

The name of the new model is a clue to its major enhancement: the CCD boasts six million effective pixels over the 55's 5-megapixel device. This results in images of 2,816 x 2,112 pixels; plenty for A4 prints, even with some cropping. Physical size of the sensor remains the same at 1/2.5in, which does raise concerns of increased noise with the physically smaller photo detectors. But in practice, image noise is pleasingly low, to the extent that the IXUS 60's sensitivity can now be increased to ISO800 either manually or by selecting the extended High ISO Auto mode. The extra stop of sensitivity makes flash-free indoor photography a possibility in daylight conditions, although you'll still tend to need the flash for shooting indoors in artificial light. Be warned, though, that at this high sensitivity noise is very obvious.

In use, the first thing you'll notice is the startup time: just the merest whisker over one second after pressing the power button, the IXUS has extended its lens and is ready to shoot. In Play mode, you can choose fading or sliding transitions; menu selection icons are smoothly animated. And there's an orientation sensor that not only flags portrait images for correct display once downloaded to a PC, but works dynamically too. Rotate the camera while viewing a shot on the LCD screen and the picture rotates with it to stay in correct orientation. It's a very classy piece of engineering.

Whether shooting videos or stills, image quality is as good as you could want from a compact digital: chromatic aberrations do occur in extreme contrast situations, but they're rare enough not to be an issue. Sharpness at default settings is excellent without being overdone and causing artefacts. The only criticism of Canon's DIGIC image processor is that the automatic white balance can be inaccurate, particularly in strong sunlight; it pays to manually select daylight white balance where possible.

That small problem aside, there isn't a great deal of negative comment we can make about the IXUS 60. It even includes an optical viewfinder. And with the price it's being sold at by many online stores, it's outstanding value too.

Author: David Fearon

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