Canon IXUS 90IS

Retro compact with a 10-megapixel sensor and 3in screen

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Canon IXUS 90IS
  • Canon IXUS 90IS
  • Canon IXUS 90IS
  • Canon IXUS 90IS

Pros

  • Stylish retro design, sharp images, fast start-up time

Cons

  • Slow shot-to-shot time, burst mode sluggish, controls can be fiddly

Bottom Line

Another solid compact camera from Canon, the IXUS 90IS packs in image stabilisation and good image quality. It is only let down by sometimes sluggish performance and some slightly annoying controls.

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With a boxy, retro design that differs somewhat from the sleek and multi-coloured designs of its IXUS compatriots, the IXUS 90IS is the final member of a trio of new models in this series. Packing in a 10-megapixel sensor, a large screen and image stabilisation, it is pretty similar to its siblings such as the Digital IXUS 85IS; this means it is another solid choice for users after a sleek and stylish compact camera.

The IXUS 90IS's design is sure to turn some heads. While Canon hasn't subscribed to the colourful and curvaceous trend many manufacturers have been pursuing, this camera nonetheless looks pretty impressive. A mishmash of straight edges and lines, the camera's somewhat old-school aesthetic is sure to please film camera enthusiasts, and it helps this model stand out from the crowd.

It is also exceptionally well built, with the entire chassis constructed of solid-feeling metal. While it is a touch heavier than some competing units, we like our cameras to feel tough and reliable, and the IXUS 90IS gets ticks in both boxes. Another design element of note is the 3in LCD display, which is of fairly good quality and makes framing shots a breeze.

The controls are unusual. Rather than traditional buttons, the chassis itself flexes in and out at designated points. Although it looks cool, we found this interface not as tactile as a regular buttons. Another control quirk is that the directional pad now doubles as a scroll wheel, similar to those found on Nikon compacts. It is nice in theory, but we found it a little fiddly and not particularly accurate.

In our image quality tests, the IXUS 90IS was on par with competing models. Its 10-megapixel sensor captured extremely crisp, sharp shots that will be suitable for almost any print size. There was a reasonable amount of purple fringing outdoors and some minor haloing on high contrast edges, but corner softening was minimal and Imatest gave good results in its sharpness test.

Colour tended to be strongly saturated, as is the norm with Canon units, but between the manual white balance and the variety of colour modes (standard, vivid, neutral etc.) there is enough on-camera adjustability to tweak settings to your tastes.

Image noise was well controlled at lower ISO sensitivities. Everything up to ISO 400 produces fairly clean snaps; at ISO 800 a little clarity was lost, but the shots are still fine for small prints.

The IXUS 90IS's speed was a bit of a disappointment. While it started up almost instantly, with just over a second's delay, and shutter lag was pretty quick at 0.07sec, shot-to-shot time was extremely sluggish; there was a 2.5sec pause between pictures. The burst mode operated at a sedate 1.5 frames per second.

As with all the other IXUS units, this model offers a fairly solid feature set. There are no manual shooting modes, but the standard array of focus modes (with face detect), colour options, white balance presets (with a custom mode) and ISO sensitivities up to 1600 are all present. There is also Optical Image Stabilisation built into the 3x zoom lens, which helps keep shaking hands from ruining your shots.

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