Canon's latest IXUS HS model combines both stylish design with a strong specification, but how does it shape up on the testing bench? Our Canon IXUS 115 HS review finds out...
Canon IXUS 115 HS review – Features
Canon’s IXUS series has long been one of the leading compact camera brands, and the introduction of HS technology has solely served to enhance this reputation. The Canon IXUS 115 HS is the latest in the fashionable line of these models, and promises good image quality in a compact and eye-catching body.
The model boasts a 4x stabilised optical zoom that covers a focal range of 28-112mm in 35mm equivalent terms, which also offers a macro close focus point of just 3cm. The compact features a 12MP backlit CMOS sensor which is supported by both a DIGIC 4 processor and Canon’s HS technology which promises improved performance in low light conditions.
As this IXUS is more towards the lower-end of the range, consumers will no doubt welcome the addition of Smart Auto mode, which assesses the scene and picks the mode to suit the conditions. Again, as is somewhat to be expected for a camera more aimed at the consumer of those looking for a first-time compact, the Canon IXUS 115 HS is lacking in manual exposure control, although the 32 scene modes do offer the suitable controls for most conditions.
Other features of the Canon IXUS 115 HS include a 3in PureColor II G LCD screen – although the screen is striking on first glance, it disappointing that the resolution sits at just 230k-dots, which is definitely at the lower end of the scale.
As is the case with a vast amount of compact cameras arriving to the market these days, the IXUS 115 HS ships with full HD movie capture at 1080p resolution and 24fps, while video capture is also supported by dynamic IS for extra stability when shooting. Finally, the Canon IXUS 115 HS is complete with an HDMI output connection for simple connectivity to an HD TV or monitor.
Design and Performance
Canon IXUS 115 HS review – Design
As is often the case with IXUS cameras, the IXUS 115 HS is eye-catchingly designed. The body is markedly slim and sleek, measuring just under 20mm at its thickest point. The body has a brushed metal finish that is not only pleasing to the eye, but is also comfortable in the hand.
This impressive design extends to every feature of the camera’s body. The top of the camera features a button to flick between auto and program shooting modes, an on/off switch and shutter release and zoom slider, all of which sit flush to the camera’s body. The 3in LCD screen takes up the majority of the real estate on the rear of the camera, and this creates quite a striking scene. The space remaining houses a dedicated video record button, menu and playback buttons, as well as a centrally located d-pad for controlling the various shooting functions.
As is the case with most Canon IXUS models, the menu system on the IXUS 115 HS is pleasingly designed and is simple to negotiate. Function modes appear along the side of the LCD screen so as not to intrude on composition, while other menu features are easy to locate.
Canon IXUS 115 HS review – Performance
Thankfully with the IXUS 115 HS it’s not a case of style over substance, as the model performs well in use. Start-up time is minimal, as is shutdown, while the dedicated video record button provides quick access to the camera’s HD record functionality.
Despite measuring 3in in size, it’s disappointing that the LCD screen on the camera’s rear only boasts a resolution of just 230k-dots. Whilst a higher-resolution screen would no doubt push up the cost of the camera, the lower-end resolution is noticeable in use.
The AF system of the IXUS 115 HS is pleasingly zippy, easily as fast as equivalent compacts, and is accurate to boot. A range of focus options is also available, including an impressively accurate face detection system, so the user will always have an option to suit.
While the model boasts of 32 ‘scene modes’, a lot of these are more of the novelty variety, for example the fish-eye filter, with more conventional shooting modes far fewer. While these scene modes perform well enough, and will be more than adequate for the casual shooter, it’s a shame that shutter and aperture priority don’t feature, let alone full manual control.
Image Quality, Value and Verdict
Canon IXUS 115 HS review – Image Quality
The Canon IXUS 115 HS produces pleasing images in almost all conditions. Exposure is generally reliable, and although it does on occasion underexpose this isn’t a major issue when shooting. White balance has a slight tendency to expose on the warmer end of the colour scale, although by no means in such a way that it is to the detriment of the images.
Colour rendition is excellent, with just the right level of saturation applied to images, and even if it’s not to your liking there is a range of different colour settings which can be applied to the camera in just a few keystrokes.
ISO noise is well controlled throughout the ISO range, with Canon’s HS system meeting its claims admirably. ISO noise is apparent at the higher scale, but it is manageable and impressive for a small compact.
Sharpness is kept to a good level through the frame with only a slight amount of softness appearing towards the frame edges, with barrel distortion is also kept to a minimum.
Canon IXUS HS review – Value
There was a time when the IXUS range was the most desirable on the market, but as such it had a whopping price tag to match. However, it appears that the emergence of a whole host of strong competitors in the compact market has resulted in a drop in the price tag for the IXUS range.
At launch, the IXUS 115HS boasted a competitive price tag, and since then the price has fallen further still. Whilst there are several misgivings as to holes in the cameras specification, the low price tag means that those most likely to buy will have more than enough camera to work with for the cash.
Canon IXUS HS review – Verdict
Whenever a new IXUS camera arrives, it does so with a certain weight of expectation behind it. The IXUS 115 HS, with its full specification, HS technology and reasonable-for-an-IXUS price tag, certainly has as much of this weight as any. However, the good news is that it impresses both in use and on reflection of the images it produces. Image quality has a few flaws, although these are easily corrected, while is also performs admirably. There are a few reservations about missing functionality and a few oversights in the specification, but on the whole the IXUS 115 HS is up there with the best compacts on the market.