Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Canon IXUS 700
- Optical viewfinder, very easy to use
- Image quality a little lower than expected
The small and rugged Canon Digital IXUS 700 is a good companion for capturing everyday mementos, though image quality may disappoint more demanding photographers.
Price$ 849.00 (AUD)
The Canon Digital IXUS 700 is so small that it fits easily in just about any pocket, leaving you no excuse for not having a camera handy when those once-in-a-lifetime baby/puppy/soccer shots happen. The resulting photos weren't our favorites, but they should prove more than acceptable for all but the most demanding photographers.
Pick up the IXUS 700, and it just feels substantial. It weighs only 170 grams, but the metal body appears sturdy and well made. Its dimensions are petite: 89.5mm wide by 57mm tall by 26.5mm deep. Canon helps keep things small by using an SD Memory Card to store photos (a 32MB card is included). The unit's compactness is most notable when you compare it with other small cameras. For example, place Sony's comparable Cyber-shot DSCW7 next to the Canon, and the Sony looks positively oversized.
When you power up the camera, its 3X optical lens opens and its sharp 2" LCD quickly springs to life. In addition to the LCD, the unit includes an optical viewfinder--a nice touch that's often missing in cameras this size. Controls are logically placed, with power, shutter and zoom mounted on top. The camera's mode dial gives you access to its various shooting modes: automatic, manual, Special Scene, Movie and Playback. From within the manual mode you can set white balance, ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation. The IXUS 700's f/2.8 to f/13 aperture range is the widest I've seen on such a small camera, but you can't set the aperture or shutter speed manually.
Additional settings available within the manual mode include My Colors (which lets you swap colours within an image) and Digital Macro (for extreme close-ups). There are more tricks within the camera's Special Scene menu. Here you can pick from nine different modes: Portrait, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater, Indoor, Kids and Pets, and Night Snapshot. (Note: I wouldn't recommend using the underwater setting without the optional underwater camera housing).
Navigating the camera's menus is fairly straightforward using the circular directional thumb pad, Function Setting button, Menu button and Display button. During my testing I found the camera a joy to use--the epitome of point-and-shoot simplicity. The IXUS 700 is simple enough that you can hand it to someone else while you pose for a group shot, and be confident that they'll be able to figure it out.
You should net a fair number of photos from the camera between charges of its removable, proprietary lithium ion battery. In our tests it lasted 230 shots (half with flash and half without). That's not bad, but in similar tests Sony's comparable (if somewhat larger) DSCW7 managed 406 shots, and the equally compact and less expensive Fujifilm F10 exceeded 500.
The IXUS 700's weakness is its image quality. The photos looked good overall, but not as good as some other compact point-and-shoots in the same price range. For example, the Fujifilm F10 produced significantly better photos. Most disappointing was the IXUS 700's weak performance in our test shot using the built-in flash; its exposure accuracy was lower than most other point-and-shoot cameras. That said, test images looked sharp, and most casual photographers wouldn't find much to quibble about when it came time to make prints from everyday snapshots.
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