Canon Digital IXUS Wireless review
IXUS was once a byword for tiny, but as it enters middle age the range is growing up. This is essentially our A-Listed IXUS 55 (see p42) with Wi-Fi features bolted onto one end, but while the screen has shrunk by half an inch and the optical viewfinder is painfully small, the body has grown by more than a centimetre. Everywhere else, it’s business as usual: the sensor delivers 5-megapixel snaps and movies up to 1GB in size, just like the IXUS 55. It also has the same bright f/2.8-f/4.9 lens and a respectable 35-105mm zoom when compared to a 35mm equivalent, while sensitivity runs from 50-400 ISO.
It’s more of a sprinter than a long-distance runner, with a breakneck shutter speed and fairly short battery life. After two days of moderate use, it was running dry, and as there’s no port for mains power we had to switch off, pull out the battery and stop taking pictures until it recharged. Connecting by Wi-Fi can’t have helped, but our excessive use of the continuous shutter mode was most likely to blame, as it took a 5-megapixel picture every half-second until our 512MB card was full.
The results were good, with accurate colours and no evidence of artefacts. However, there was slight fringing where very bright metallic reflections met a dark background, and we occasionally found unwarranted noise after manually knocking up the ISO to 200 to counter camera shake in overcast light. We were impressed by the macro setting, which takes you to within 3cm of your subject to capture extraordinary levels of detail.
It’s a well-built device, 10g lighter than the IXUS 55, and both well balanced and comfortable to hold. We were bowled over by the large graphics and sliding icons of the on-screen menus, but found the zoom uncomfortable. It’s been mounted pointing forwards, so you adjust it with your index finger, but in practice this led to our finger slipping off. Thumbs are better for zooming.
Before using the Wi-Fi features, you must first pair the IXUS with your PC, which is both quick and easily done. From here on, pressing the camera’s transfer button will launch the bundled capture software and suck in pictures at a rate of one every second. It’s efficient and a real highlight of this device, but we can’t bring ourselves to hang a recommendation off the back of this alone.
It works by setting up an ad-hoc network, with the IXUS acting as host and your PC the client, but if you’re already running a fully fledged router and hub network it’s equally happy playing along with your existing settings. For those who only want to print their pictures, a bundled adaptor will attach to the back of any PictBridge-compatible Canon printer. Note that the adaptor only works with printers; you’ll need existing wireless capability for PC transfer.
The £120 premium you’re paying for Wi-Fi over and above the price of the IXUS 55 is hard to swallow, particularly when there’s already a perfectly usable USB 2 port sitting idle. It’s more tempting to stick with the A-List choice and spend the savings on a decent memory card, as the bundled 16MB is filled by just five shots.