It’s definitely that time of year again, the period just before Europe’s largest photography conference, Photokina, which lines up neatly with the pre-Christmas release schedule.

Canon is not to be outdone by Pentax today, and has released three new compacts in the ever-popular Ixus range: the Ixus 900 Ti, Ixus 850 IS, and Ixus i7 zoom. They all offer a similar range of features, but each has one or two that sets it apart from the others.

First, the similarities. All three run on Canon’s new DIGIC III image processor with advanced Noise Reduction technology, and they all boast Face Detection AF/AE, which automatically finds faces in a given scene and optimises the exposure accordingly.

The ISO range has been boosted all the way up to 1600, although it remains to be seen how well the new Noise Reduction technology copes with the difficulties of removing noise without softening or smudging details.

The cameras also feature a novel method of sorting images based on the settings with which they were shot. My Category tags each image with either People, Scenery, or Event, so that when organised with Canon’s ZoomBroswer EX, the software can automatically filter them into categories. There’s also a manual override feature in camera.

So what separates the cameras? The 10MP Ixus 900 Ti is crafted with a solid titanium body, to make it ultra light yet robust, and features a focal length range of 37-111mm. It also boasts the ability to shoot XGA video at a resolution of 1024 x 768 at 15fps with sound, something that not many compacts offer. The price for this model is around $450 in the US.

The 7.1MP Ixus 850 IS features a wide-angle zoom that stretches from 28-105mm, which is a 3.8x optical zoom. The $450 camera also offers underwater shooting thanks to an optional underwater case.

And finally, the 7.2MP Ixus i7 comes in four colours, but because it’s the smallest of the lot, only features a 1.7-inch screen, which is quite small by today’s standards. However, the camera does come with a Camera Station with Wireless Controller for easy charging and picture transfer, and also features a vertical shutter release to make shooting portrait-oriented images easier.