Test review of the Canon Digital IXUS 980 IS digital camera
Canon’s IXUS range has a long list of admirers in the compact camera world. Not only is it one of the more stylish available, but, more often than not, this style was combined with substance in the form of usability and excellent image results. The latest model in the range is the 980IS.
The 980IS boasts the compulsory range of image capture enhancements – such as face detection, image stabilisation and the like – but the model also now features a DSLR-chasing resolution of 14.7MP, albeit on a CCD sensor measuring just 1/1.7in. The 980IS boasts a 3.7in optical zoom – 36-133mm in equivalent terms – and also combines both a 2.5in, 230k pixel, LCD screen and optical viewfinder for image capture and composition.
In the tradition of the IXUS range being design-led, the 980IS sports a striking body, with lines akin to a compact camera that’s been hitting the gym and maximuscle, and is now available in the traditional silver or also ‘stylish black’. The rear of the camera sees both mode switch and function dial/buttons all crowd to the right of the model’s LCD, leaving little room for the thumb to comfortably rest without accidentally pressing a button or two. What’s more, said function dial has a gaudy faux stainless steel surround which, while no doubt assisting operation of the dial, is not really in keeping with the overall design of the compact.
The IXUS 980IS performs much as you’d come to expect of an IXUS model – focusing is prompt, as is shifting between zoom ranges, while the face detection technology also performs well.
As mentioned, the design of the buttons at the rear of the camera seems a little crowded, with no natural position in which to rest the thumb of your shooting hand. The LCD screen is also a touch on the small side at just 2.5in, but you get the impression that a larger redesign would have been needed to facilitate anything larger.
Considering the pixel count of the IXUS 980IS relative to the size of the camera’s sensor, the model displays impressively few image flaws. Noise control is excellent for a compact camera and, considering it has the same sensor as Canon’s PowerShot G10, is comparable with that camera.
What’s more is that the IXUS 980IS demonstrates an excellent range of tones through the frame, while an impressive dynamic range is also exhibited, with highlights rarely blowing out. Images do, however, benefit from a slight amount of sharpening in post-production thanks to a degree of softness, but overall, images from the IXUS 980IS are impressive.
Overall then, performance is excellent with the IXUS 980IS, though this is what you’d hope from a camera with its price tag. The 980IS features an SRP of £389, which it’s safe to say is at the high end of the compact market. This price has now dropped to a more reasonable and realistic point, but it’s safe to say that while the 980IS is an excellent camera, you’re still going to be paying a premium for the IXUS brand.