Saturday, 3 March 2012

Canon IXUS 1100HS is reviewed

Canon IXUS 1100HS is reviewed
Canon IXUS 1100HS

A potentially great little camera is let down by a slightly unresponsive touchscreen and colour fringing on some images. It's also rather expensive at £350. That's a shame, as in all other respects the IXUS 1100HS is very impressive, reproducing realistic colours with the absolute minimum of noise.

Clean, sharp images
Great image colours
Good video compensation for changing light conditions

Some colour fringing
Touchscreen tricky to use
Wind noise on movies

With a compact body, hefty resolution and touchscreen controls round the back, there's much to like about the IXUS 1100HS. Slim, attractive and capable of producing some of the cleanest, most colourful pictures we have seen in a camera of this size, we had high hopes for what looked like an innovative addition to the long-running IXUS line-up.

Sadly, though, this £350 camera doesn't quite meet the high standard set by its cheaper, smaller sibling, the IXUS 230HS.

Hardware and handling
We'll start with the touchscreen, which is the most obvious set-apart feature on this particular IXUS. We're seeing an increasing number of compacts adopt the touchscreen as their primary means of control, but not one of them has yet trumped the iPhone for ease of use and smooth control -- and the IXUS 1100HS is no different.
The touchscreen is the most distinctive feature of this addition to the IXUS range.
Here, to move between pictures in review mode you can either drag them across the 3.2-inch (8cm) screen or press 'hot zones' on either end of the display. To do the same with the menus, you drag them up and down. The theory is sound, but the implementation could do with some work. Dragging is tricky and sometimes unresponsive, and we found it took much more time to work our way through the menus using the touchscreen. It wasn't long before we were hankering for a traditional four-way rocker.

You can also use the screen to select the autofocus point and fire the shutter, as you can with the Nikon Coolpix S4150 and S100. The former of those two options is genuinely useful -- particularly for anyone who's used to shooting on a smart phone -- but we're not so hot on the latter, as it induced several unintentional shots when our fingers strayed onto the screen.

We weren't fans of the virtual video button either. We appreciate that it helps in cutting down the number of physical buttons and switches -- preserving the 1100HS's clean lines -- but as with the missing four-way rocker, we found ourselves longing for a proper video shutter control.
A 12.1-megapixel sensor lies behind the 12x zoom.
The body itself is metal and feels like it was built to take more than the odd bump and scrape. There's no grip per se, which might have made it hard to hold were it not for the rubber strip that Canon has laid down the side of the screen, just where your thumb rests. It looks good, feels good, and improves handling greatly, so it's easy to hold and shoot with one hand.

Around the front, we're glad to say things are a whole lot more conventional. There's a generous 12x zoom, behind which lies a 12.1-megapixel sensor. The zoom's focal length is equivalent to 28-336mm on a 35mm camera, which is impressive for so compact a device. Fortunately it also has physical lens-shift stabilisation, as without it hand-held shooting at its fullest length would be close to impossible.

It maintains a respectable f/5.9 maximum aperture at full telephoto, and f/3.9 at wide angle. Neither of these figures is out of the norm for this class of camera, producing bright images at either end of the scale.

This is further helped by the technology behind the 'HS' at the end of the product name. Denoting 'High Sensitivity', it points to a sensor and processor combo attuned to achieving the best possible performance in low light, without the use of a flash or extremely long exposures. This should both reduce unnatural light levels and obviate the need for a tripod in many cases.


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