Canon IXUS 960 IS
- Great build quality, exceptional pictures, stylish
- Some minor blurring towards corners caused by chromatic aberration
The IXUS 960 IS is a great compact camera from Canon. Consumers looking for a high-end camera to back up their SLR or to take their photography to the next level will love this unit.
Price$ 649.00 (AUD)
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Despite being of less and less importance to the average photographer, megapixel counts continue to increase. Entering the market with their first 12-megapixel compact camera, the IXUS 960 IS, Canon has created a model catering to photography enthusiasts who are after brilliant image quality in a sturdy and stylish body. Other features include image stabilisation and the same titanium construction previously seen on their TI series of models.
With a 12-megapixel sensor, this isn't a model designed for the occasional holiday or party snap. More avid photographers, who are after a second compact camera, or amateurs wanting to improve their skills, are the primary target of the 960 IS.
And rightly so, as it captures some of the smoothest, sharpest images we've seen from a compact. Canon cameras typically capture very natural looking pictures and handle high detail very well and this model is no exception. We ran our usual array of tests which include our analysis software Imatest, and were very impressed with the results
For sharpness the 960 IS achieved a score of 1916, which is a great result and was consistent with our high quality test shots. There was a little blurring towards the corners of the frame, but this is a fairly commonplace side effect of chromatic aberration (which Imatest gave a score of 0.078 per cent) and shouldn't be too problematic. There was also some minor haloing in areas of high contrast, but it won't be clearly visible unless you're making very sizeable enlargements.
Colour response was, as usual, impressive, with Canon seeming to continually set the bar in this test. The 960 IS's score of 6.27 is a brilliant result and corroborated what we found in our test shots, which exhibited well balanced rich colours that weren't too strongly saturated. Imatest revealed minor error in the primary colours but it wasn't anything to concern us.
Image noise performance was also solid with the unit achieving a result of 0.67 per cent at ISO 100 which isn't near the top of the pack but it is more than adequate. Our shots were smooth and speckle free, with little in the way of graininess. The image noise also scaled well as we increased the sensitivity, with even shots captured at ISO 800 being usable in a pinch at small print sizes.
Aside from image quality, the other noteworthy thing about the 960 IS is the build. Constructed entirely of titanium, it is one of the sturdiest and most stylish unit's we've looked at recently. Obviously your best bet is to never drop your camera at all, but the best of us get clumsy at times and a unit with this build quality should survive more than a few knocks.
Users should also pay attention to the improved 2.5in LCD display which is extremely smooth and has a great refresh rate, meaning it doesn't stutter at all. The control scheme is also pretty funky, with the standard directional pad also offering iPod-like functionality if you apply light pressure and move in a circle.
In our speed tests the 960 IS's performance was a little more moderate. It exhibited 0.08 seconds of shutter lag, 2.1 seconds between shots and 1.8 seconds from power up to first snap. The burst mode operates at 2.5 frames per second.
The feature set is fairly standard for a compact camera, offering ISO sensitivities up to 1600, white balance presets and a manual mode and the now commonplace face detect, which is great for portrait and group shots as it makes human faces the focus point of the picture. Optical image stabilisation is also included, which helps eliminate the impact of handshake, particularly when using the included 3.7x optical zoom.
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