Canon IXUS 970IS

5x optical zoom and 10 megapixels in a stylish package

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Canon IXUS 970IS
  • Canon IXUS 970IS
  • Canon IXUS 970IS
  • Canon IXUS 970IS

Pros

  • 5x optical zoom with Optical Image Stabilisation, sharp images, good noise performance up to ISO 800, looks fantastic

Cons

  • Some chromatic aberration issues, power button poorly designed

Bottom Line

With few flaws a lot to like, the IXUS 970IS is another great compact camera from Canon. Its most noteworthy feature is the stabilised 5x optical zoom, but there should be something for most users in this package.

Would you buy this?

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Sitting at the top of the new IXUS units, the Canon IXUS 970IS is another impressive compact camera. While not as petite as the IXUS 80 IS and the Digital IXUS 85IS, it offers a larger, 5x optical zoom as well as the same impressive feature set and image quality of the other models. This makes it another alluring option for users after a stylish, robust and full-featured compact.

One thing that stands out about this unit is its design. Although it is chunkier than the other IXUS models we've looked at recently, it will still fit comfortably in a large pocket or small bag; more importantly, it looks fantastic. The colour scheme is silver with a hint of blue, and it sports a new wedge shaped design that differs a little from past models. Fashion-conscious buyers should be right at home with the IXUS 970IS. We do have one tiny design complaint: the power button. It is recessed above the screen on the back of the unit and can be difficult to press, which may be annoying for users wanting to take spontaneous snaps.

Fortunately this model isn't a case of style over substance; it also captures some impressive images. The 10-megapixel sensor performed excellently across most of our tests. It took some of the crispest, sharpest shots we've seen in recent months. Edges were clean and areas of detail were well-rendered. However, there was a fairly hefty amount of purple fringing in our outdoors shots, and some minor detail loss towards the corners of the frame — this is symptomatic of chromatic aberration issues but is fairly standard on most compact units.

Image noise was relatively well controlled. At ISO 200 everything was clean, while ISO 400 saw some very minor but quite negligible speckling creep in. ISO 800 saw an increase in the noise density, but it was still an extremely fine grain and we'd be happy making small prints on this setting. It wasn't until the maximum sensitivity of ISO 1600 that things became unusable.

Colour balance was fairly good, although possibly a touch behind Canon's usual high standard. Imatest gave the IXUS 970IS a score slightly behind that of some past IXUS models. Nonetheless, the colour reproduction was pleasing — bright, vivid primaries and a very lively overall look. You can tweak the colours using the onboard colour mode, and a manual white balance setting allows for accurate adjustment to lighting conditions.

In our speed tests this unit's results were fairly good. Its shutter lag was an extremely quick 0.05sec; shot-to-shot and start-up times were both an impressive 1.8sec. The burst mode is adequate if not noteworthy, snapping around 2.2 shots per second.

The camera's feature set is fairly comprehensive for a compact. As mentioned earlier, this model packs in a 5x optical zoom, which is a little larger than you'll find on many competing models. This is also backed up by Optical Image Stabilisation, which does a great job of reducing blur. Aside from these there is the usual array of focus modes with face detect, colour options, white balance presets and ISO sensitivities. In-camera red-eye correction also makes an appearance, and it does a decent job.

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