There seems to be no end in sight to the pointless progression of ever-higher resolutions for compact camera sensors, in fact just last month Sharp announced the development of a 12-megapixel 1/1.7in CCD that is sure to find its way into a production camera within a few months. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the fastest-moving sector of the digital camera market is still 6-megapixel, 3x zoom pocket compacts.
In my opinion, and I’m not alone in this, 6-megapixels is pretty much the perfect resolution for a compact camera. It gives roughly the same level of detail as 200 ISO 35mm colour negative film, good quality prints at A4 size and photo quality at 10 x 8in, and 6-megapixels sensors generally have better dynamic range and lower image noise than 10-megapixels sensors of the same physical size. Also, perhaps because the camera companies seem to regard them as obsolete, many very good 6-megapixel cameras are available for bargain prices.
Take this Canon IXUS 65 for example. Canon’s IXUS range has always been at the luxury end of the compact camera market, with models like the IXUS 850 IS at the cutting edge of photographic technology and costing nearly £300. By comparison the IXUS 65 is practically a budget model, costing around £235 on the high street or about £170 online. Despite this it has the same stylish and innovative design, exemplary build quality and outstanding performance as its more powerful stable mates. Its price matches well with the wide range of other cameras in the same area of the market, such as the Casio Exilim EX-Z70 (£179), Fuji FinePix F30 (£179), Nikon Coolpix S9 (£179), Olympus mju 700 (£163), Pentax Optio S6 (£185) and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W50 (£146).
Like the other cameras in the IXUS range, the 65 has a strong all-metal body and outstanding build quality, with one major exception. The battery/card slot hatch is desperately flimsy and poorly designed, and I nearly snapped it off a couple of times myself.
The 5.8-17.4mm (35-105mm equiv) f/2.8-f/4.9 lens retracts flush with the body, and the various controls are also partly recessed. The only thing that sticks out slightly is the end of the zoom control, and that’s only by a millimetre or so. Measuring 90.3 x 56.8 x 20.2mm and weighing 145g it is one of the slimmest and lightest cameras in its class, and is pretty much the perfect size and shape to slip in your pocket for a night out.