Just a couple of years ago almost every camera I reviewed would be yet another tiny 3x zoom ultra-compact. All the manufacturers (except for Ricoh) were doing it, and in some cases most of their range would be variations on the same 3x zoom theme. Thankfully these days we have a lot more choice, with pocket-sized compact cameras featuring long-zoom wide-angle lenses becoming ever more popular. Now 3x zoom ultra-compacts are the exception rather than the rule, so it's slightly surprising that Canon's latest IXUS compact is re-treading old ground.
The Digital IXUS 100 IS in an ultra-compact camera featuring the same 12.1-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor, the same DIGIC 4 processor, and the same 1280 x 720 HD 30fps video recording mode as the IXUS 110 IS and the IXUS 990 IS which I reviewed a couple of months ago. The 100 IS manages to cram these features into a body measuring just 87 x 54.5 x 18.4mm and weighing approximately 135g loaded. Where the 110 IS and 990 IS have 4x and 5x zoom lenses respectively, the 100 IS has a very small 3x zoom lens. The more vocal traditionalists on our comments section will no doubt rejoice that it also has a proper optical viewfinder as well.
Although 3x zoom ultra-compacts are less common now there are still a few about, and some very good ones too. The IXUS 100 IS will be competing with the Casio EX-S12, which offers a similar specification in an even slimmer package but without the optical IS for around £140. Other possible contenders include the new Samsung ST50 (£130), and of course the Pentax Optio M85 (£130).
One glance is enough to tell you that the IXUS 100 IS is designed to serve as much as as a fashion accessory as a camera. It's a nice looking thing, with an all-aluminium body that could only be described as sleek. It's available in a range of colours, including black, metallic red, bronze and the anodised silver finish shown here, and the build quality is well up to Canon's usual high standard. It's not all roses though, because the battery-card hatch is rather flimsy, and I'm also not too impressed by the plastic pop-off cover concealing the HDMI and A/V Out sockets. It's positioned on the back of the camera, right under the users thumb, and is held on only by the snap-fit of two plastic lugs and a thin plastic tether. It feels flimsy and vulnerable, and exactly like the sort of thing that will get accidentally broken and lost.