Canon Digital IXUS i5 review
With technology moving as fast as it does these days, it’s easy to be greedy – we want it smaller, faster and cheaper. When it comes to cameras though, there are trade-offs that have to made between physical size and the features they can offer. But it doesn’t always have to be painful.
Take Canon’s tiny new IXUS i5: there’s no optical zoom, no viewfinder, a fixed-aperture 6.4mm lens and only limited control over settings. Yet it’s still a highly desirable camera.
With its diminutive 90 x 47 x 19mm (WDH) dimensions, rounded corners and 130g weight, you’ll barely even know it’s sitting in your pocket – all you can ask for from a point-and-shoot camera.
Startup time is reasonable, with the camera good to go in just under 3 seconds. Shutter lag isn’t a problem, but it’s difficult to take more than a single shot every 5 seconds or so, and there’s no continuous shooting mode.
The small size has other restrictions too. The 1.5in LCD is tiny, albeit relatively bright and clear, and we had occasion to miss an optical viewfinder. There’s also little space for physical controls, with only flash settings being available without delving into the menu. That’s made up for, to some extent, by Canon’s eminently usable menu system, which offers the usual preset ‘scenes’, including night, portrait, indoor and even underwater – for use with the optional waterproof case. In Manual mode you’ll get access to white-balance settings and exposure (ISO 50 to 400, plus compensation of +/-2EV). Metering mode is also switchable from centre-weighted average to spot or evaluative.
Left to its own devices, the auto white balance is effective even in low-light conditions, and the auto exposure makes sensible decisions. The AiAF focusing system is generally very workable too.
By and large, the IXUS i5 produces excellent results, with rich colours and good detail resolution. There’s a slight softness to the edges of some shots, and the purple fringing of chromatic aberration makes an occasional appearance, but neither is a big problem. In most lighting conditions, colour balance and noise levels are good, although switching to ISO 200 introduces substantial noise, and even more so at ISO 400. An auto-focus assist lamp is included for low-light conditions, and the presence of a tripod mount and long-shutter mode help with night photography. The flash is a little weak for outdoor use, but doesn’t overpower indoor shots.
Macro mode is impressive, although focusing becomes a problem at the ends of its range. With no optical zoom, we occasionally found it frustrating to get the shots we wanted, but the 5-megapixel CCD allows some leeway to crop later. The IXUS i5 will also take movies up to 3 minutes in length at 320 x 240 (15fps) or up to 30 seconds at 640 x 480 (10fps).
This is a well put-together camera, which both feels and looks like it costs more than its sub-£200 price tag. It’s even available in a choice of colours.
You’ll need to upgrade the 32MB SD card quickly, but this camera will otherwise satisfy most people straight from the box. Battery life is good too: the lithium-ion battery lasted for nearly 200 shots before showing signs of running out. Anyone wanting more flexibility would be better off with the similarly priced Sony DSC-W1, but if you’re after a high-quality, portable, robust and attractive camera, the IXUS i5 is a good choice.