Canon's latest IXUS model, the Canon IXUS 210 brings with it a 14.1-megapixel sensor and a range of new in-camera features, but can the new compact camera impress? We got hands-on with the new model at the London press launch.
The Canon IXUS 210 is controlled via a 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen that dominates the back of the camera. It dominates it so much in fact that there is no space for any other buttons.
That doesn't mean the camera is devoid of all buttons of course. There are plenty on the top of the camera, but gone are most of the shortcut hard buttons that you are used to like flash and macro mode settings. Like Olympus, Canon has also introduced the ability to tap the camera to browse through their images.
What buttons are left are, as we've said, have been moved to the top of the camera. Here you get a zoom toggle, shutter button, power switch, and instant playback. There is also an auto mode, still and video slider switch.
Aside from the battery compartment that also houses the SD card, the IXUS 210 also features an integrated HDMI port so you can plug straight into a HD-Ready television and share your images or video.
Back around the front you get a 24mm ultra-wide angle image stabilized lens with 5x optical zoom. Inside and it's a 14.1-megapixel CMOS sensor that also supports 720p video recording.
While 14 megapixels is a lot, and certainly more than most would need for the average point and shoot camera, that isn't really the focus here. What is, is the number of scene modes and in camera "art" features the IXUS 210 sports.
There is miniature mode for example that allows you to do tilt-shift photography. Tilt-shift is a photography technique that blurs the top and bottom of the picture leaving a band in focus in the middle. The resulting effect makes it look like you've shot model village rather than real life. It's not something that you are likely to use at a wedding mind you, but none the less quite good fun.
Other modes include replicating a fish-eye lens to blow the image out of proportion and the HDR effect that again helps to deliver more dramatic pictures. There is of course the usual array of colour swap out modes, landscape modes and a setting to let you shoot your pets and kids (photographically).
If the mode options are all a bit too much for you the camera can be set to bypass the whole lot with auto that really does just turn it into a point and shoot. All of this is controlled by you tapping and swiping your way through the on-screen menu system. It's well laid out, responsive and overall very easy to use.
Icon's are simply pressed to access things like ISO and even after a quick play we forgot that the camera lacked all the traditional buttons.
Better still the touchscreen interface is used to make things like focus a lot easier. Following in the path of other camera makers like Nikon, Canon's Touch AF system allows the user to focus on their subject by simply "touching" it on the screen. If the subject is moving, the camera’s integrated Servo AF/AE will automatically track it, maintaining both focus and exposure. Handy for kids.
It is worth pointing out that we weren't able to test how much the screen takes out of the battery and/or its performance in sunlight - the launch was in the evening.
Failing the screen you can in fact operate the camera with your face, or more precisely with actions with your face thanks to an advanced face detection feature. While the The Face Detection technology can identify up to 35 faces in a single frame and adjust focus, exposure, flash and white balance, it can also be set-up to recognise when you wink or smile at it. In the right mode this can be the trigger to take a picture.
In our brief go it seemed to work fairly well although we did find with the wink mode that it could snap us still winking - you've got to be quick. A more helpful one is the Face Self-Timer that also triggers the shutter two seconds after a new face joins the frame - you've just got to be quick.
The IXUS 210 looks on the surface to be a good little snapper, but we'll hold out on a score till we've had a longer play.
We weren't able to take away test shots for further analysis and the shots we did take to look at on the back of the camera weren't in the best lighting conditions anyway. A verdict on the performance front is still very much out.
However with a wrath of innovative and fun features we expect good things from this camera when it eventually hits the shops in March.
We will let you know how we get on, when we get one in the office for a full review.