Canon Digital IXUS 85 IS review

Price when reviewed

Canon’s latest pocket snapper, the 85 IS, is the most recent in a torrent of compact cameras to land in the PC Pro offices recently, most from this one manufacturer. There are now no fewer than nine digital compacts in the IXUS range, and deciding which to review has been quite a task.

In the end we chose the 85 IS: it’s a few steps below the A-Listed 960 IS (web ID: 162942) and has a slightly smaller body and a lower price. But on paper, there’s little difference.

Its sensor has just 2.1 fewer megapixels than the 960 IS’ 12.1 – no big deal – and although the zoom isn’t as impressive (3x compared with 3.7x), again there’s not much in it.

It bears all the hallmarks of Canon’s years of experience too, with solid build quality, a simple, responsive interface and all the whiz-bang toys we’ve come to expect in a modern compact digital camera.

There’s optical image stabilisation, which allows you to take pictures in lower light than you’d normally be able to without a flash, while face-detection technology tracks the people in a shot and tries to expose correctly for them.

Image quality is acceptable, but nothing special. There’s noticeable purple and blue fringing on dark edges against black backgrounds, barrel distortion afflicts wide-angle shots and focus is far from crisp away from the centre of the lens.

We weren’t impressed with the automatic white balance and noise levels at ISO levels of 400 and above either.

But the biggest difference between this and the higher-end compacts is not in image quality or raw specifications but the flexibility with which you can shoot.


There are plenty of scene presets on offer here, but you get no control over aperture or shutter speeds. All you’re left with by way of creative control is exposure compensation and white balance. It’s good that Canon has seen fit to include a spot metering mode – just don’t expect SLR-type options.

For the price this is disappointing. The 85 IS is undoubtedly a capable, well-made compact camera that’s awash with features.

But with such average image quality and limited shooting options, we’re struggling to be completely enthusiastic about it.


Image qualityN/A

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating10.1MP
Camera optical zoom range3.0x

Weight and dimensions

Dimensions94 x 26 x 59mm (WDH)


Charger included?yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash?yes
Aperture rangef2.8 - f4.9
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed1/1,500
Exposure compensation range+/- 2EV
ISO range80 - 1600
Selectable white balance settings?yes
Manual/user preset white balane?yes
Progam auto mode?no
Shutter priority mode?no
Aperture priority mode?no
Fully auto mode?yes
Exposure bracketing?no
White-balance bracketing?no
Memory-card typeSD
Tripod mounting thread?yes

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