Canon produces a comprehensive range of digital cameras with models to suit almost anybody; it's a range that keeps getting stronger. The IXUS 60 marks another step in the IXUS product ladder, placing it below the new IXUS 65 and above the IXUS 55.
Arguably, in the past, we have said of the always numerous IXUS range that some of its examples were mediocrity plus 10%, just fillers in the range. But not so here.
A stainless steel body encases the new camera in silvery, protective refinement. On the back, a 2.5-inch colour screen is both bright and crisp so making it very nice to use (although bright light does produce distracting flare across the screen) and crucially, a neat little optical viewfinder placed centrally above the screen backs it up.
The control layout is quite nice too, with a combined shutter release and zoom control on the top plate alongside a small, LED illuminated on/off button. Down the right side of the back plate are the other controls; a still/movie/playback switch at the top, a menu and a display toggle control and direct print buttons surround a four-way controller used for scrolling images or menus.
Each of these is simple enough to use and will be familiar to anyone that has already tinkered with a digital camera. However, the drawback with such a svelte camera is there's not room for more external controls and the net result of this is many extra control options are buried within menus. And the IXUS 60 suffers a little from this too; with its 16 subject program modes reached through the FUNC(tion) button that sits centrally within the four-way jog control and then another press on the menu button.
This is slightly counter intuitive at first but gets you there in the end. The Manual shooting mode is more an Auto mode with e few extras than a true user-takes-control setting, so don?t expect loads of manual control options. What there is includes exposure compensation but that is about it.
However, there are the more usual array of basic controls such as white balance presets and custom settings, which work well and are simple to set up. You also get some extras such as the widescreen 16:9 shooting mode, a 30fps, 640 x 480-pixel movie mode with sound, a digital macro function for getting super close ups and a My Colours mode, allowing you to apply some simple photo effects and colours.
ISO settings run from ISO 80, 100, 200 and 400 then up to ISO 800 and there's a "Hi" setting too. Noise is in there at the 800 setting but is not intrusive. However, the noise reduction processing is not as successful as some competitors, but shooting at ISO 400 or lower is more than satisfactory.
Your freshly shot images are stored on SD/MMC cards housed under a hatch on the camera's base along with the rechargeable Li-ion battery pack. Battery life is only modest compared to other players such as Casio with around 180 shots with the screen on.
Moreover, that image quality is quite simply excellent. Colour is natural - but adjustable - if you need more or less vibrancy. Images are sharp thanks to both the nine-point AF set up and the DIGIC II processing. The 6MP sensor provides plenty of detail but more importantly so does the very sharp, 3x, 35-105mm F/2.8 optical zoom lens, its ultra-high refractive index aspherical (or UA) optics allow both a compact lens (and so camera body) design and provide great clarity too. Finally, at either the ISO 80 or 100 settings images are extremely clean and free of noise.
Canon has once again produced a camera that performs extremely well, provides a simple to use and satisfying shooting experience and that can produce nice results. All courtesy of technology such as iSAPs (intelligent Scene Analysis based on Photographic space), which works just like an expert program to automatically set the camera to the correct settings for the scene you present it with.
The retail price seems a tad high but you're sure to get it for less by shopping around online or on the high street.
Either way, it is certainly a camera worth putting on your list if you?'re in the game for a new, simple, and pocketable digital compact.