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(Pocket-lint) - The Canon Ixus range has long been the bench mark for the stylish digital camera pack and it’s hard not to see why. Small enough to fit into a top jacket pocket, pair of jeans or even an evening bag they have always been the thing to be seen with at a party.

Yet Canon have won the crowds not only by the look of the latest cameras, but also by what they put inside and a combination of options, good lens and a sturdy approach has meant that these little beasts are hard to follow.

The same therefore applies to the latest Canon in the Ixus range, the Canon Ixus v3, a 3.2mega pixel gem based on a 1/2.7” CCD sensor that packs a pretty decent punch.

On the outside the camera is encased in a full metal jacket measuring 87 x 57 x 26.7mm and weighting 180g (without batteries) making this a small but study little device. It also means that the thing can be thrown around a bit by the little ones or the big ones when on a drunken booze up. The back is graced with a 1.5” LCD display that does a very good job of keeping up with changing images and light sources, and as with most digital cameras, all the relevant buttons are to hand. Canon like Fuji, has opted for a switch to allow you to change between picture capture, movie mode and playback and this makes changing between the three simple.

Images are stored on the 16mb CF card that is included in the box and the whole device is powered by the made-to-fit Canon rechargeable Li-ion battery pack. This means the cost of running the device is minimal after the initial purchase and is welcomed when you realize the speed at which some digital cameras guzzle standard AA batteries. Connection to a PC is made via a custom made USB socket and this socket also serves as the AV out port to connect to a standard television whether it’s American or UK.

Inside and the camera offers just as much. Lift the hood and you’ve got a 2x optical zoom that offers the equivalent of 35 - 70mm at an aperture range of f2.8 to f4.0. Add that to the digital zoom and you’ve effectively got another 3.2 on top of that, although as always you should never rely on the digital zooms quality.

Auto focus and manual focus options are available and the focusing method is a TTL 9-point AiAF giving plenty of focusing points per image. While for close up work the camera offers a macro mode up to 10cm.

Manual setting give you full control over a range of options including shutter speeds of 15 - 1/1500 and the ISO range gives you enough to get by with in most party situations starting at 50 and going up to 400.

Just in time for those parties the Canon Ixus v3 also offers four flash modes and seven white balance modes, giving you plenty of chance to get the image you want where ever you are.

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For those a little daunted by all the manual settings there are a couple of shooting modes pre programmed including vivid, neutral, low sharpening, black and white, and sepia.

To recap

Another addition to the range making a fine Christmas update for the gadget freak who wants to treat themselves.

Writing by Stuart Miles.