Before you even think about buying this camera you have to ask yourself one key question: “Do I really need 7 megapixels in a compact digital camera?” I ask the question, because that’s what the Ixus 700 offers, a 7 megapixel resolution in a body the size of a bar of soap.
So you’ve decided that you might need the high megapixel count. After all “the higher the number the better the shots” is the accepted reasoning for digital photography but unless you will be constantly printing photos that are bigger than A3 (the size of a tabloid newspaper) then 7 megapixels might just be a tad over expressive - even in pixels (3072 x 2304) it sounds big. The high megapixel count will also mean that the paltry 32Mb card Canon has included in the box will give you just seven images before you run out of space. If you had a 1 megapixel camera, you would get 265 pictures for the same space - a considerable difference.
Space conscious users and Canon will point out that you can maximise your memory card by reducing the quality of the picture, but we say if you’re going to reduce the picture quality you might as well buy a 5 megapixel camera instead. Reducing the quality would be like buying a Ferrari and never going over 50 mph, you’re not going to do and so you shouldn’t have to here.
So you’ve bought a 1Gb card to increase your picture capacity and looking to take some pictures. Well, the Ixus 700 is your party option. Small and compact, (dimensions are 90 x 57 x 27 mm and the weight is 170g) the camera follows previous Ixus models in its design. While that means a stylised case, for some reason the buttons on these things are never in the same place. This time our bugbear is the switch that allows you to alternate between playback, camera, movie and my mode. The problem is, it’s just a little bit too small even if it fits in with the rest of the compact design. Flick back from playback to camera and eight times out of ten you’ll find you’ve overshot the camera mode and the movie mode is kicking in.
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Image wise, the camera as you would expect from 7 megapixels takes a good shot with plenty of detail. The Ixus 700 features the Digic II processor found in the 350D and the 20D giving you a quick response time for those moments when speed is of the essence and the ability to shoot 2 fps until memory card is full. Combine this with the cameras several automated modes and you’ve got a camera suitable for most situations. Those with a photographic streak can manually set most elements if they want to. We found the flash to be almost too powerful (see examples) although we’ve found this on most Ixus models.
The camera coped well with colour handling when shooting the different subjects we tested it with. The multiple amount of greens in the garden shot shows plenty of definition although highlights - see the flowers - were slightly high compared with the midtones and shadows.
So should you be rushing out to buy the Ixus 700. This is the important question and we can't help but feel the answer is NO.
Yes the camera's results are good. Yes the size and the style are equally as impressive, in fact on paper you would think this would be a resounding YES. But it all comes down to whether you really need 7 megapixels in a compact digital model if all you are planning on doing is printing the odd 6in x 4in prints.
Even the Canon's entry-level 350D only has one more megapixel on this model and Olympus's professional DSLR one megapixel less. Frankly the sort of people that are going to want that sort of megapixel count to reproduce those A3 prints are likely to want to opt for the DSLR anyway.
Add that to the need to by an SD card before you start, and it makes this an expensive proposition, no matter how cheap SD cards have become over Canon's 5 megapixel brothers. It's good but confused and must be marked in the “ahead of its time” category.