Canon's Digital IXUS range of compact cameras currently stands at at nine models, ranging from the 7.1-megapixel IXUS 70 (£126) to the new IXUS 970 IS (£230) reviewed here a couple of weeks ago. The mid-point of the range is represented by another new model, the IXUS 85 IS, which I have for review today.
The IXUS range is justly renowned for style, performance and build quality, and equally justly for being very expensive compared to similarly-specified models from other brands. The IXUS 85 IS is no exception to this rule. It is a 10.0-megapixel ultra-compact with a 2.5-inch 230k LCD monitor, an optical viewfinder and a 3x zoom lens with optical image stabilisation, which is a surprisingly rare combination of features these days. Many manufacturers, Canon included, have been moving away from the standard 35-105-equivalent 3x zoom lens in favour of longer zoom ranges and better wide-angle performance. Examples include the 4x zoom Panasonic FS20 (£180), or the new 5x zoom Nikon CoolPix S550 (£175, review coming soon). By comparison the IXUS 85 IS looks a bit limited and rather expensive, with a list price of £240 and an online price of around £200.
As usual with Canon cameras, the build quality of the IXUS 85 IS is beyond reproach. The camera's body is all aluminium, with an attractive semi-matte anodised finish. It is available in two styles, with either a black lens surround or the mirror-finish chrome version shown here. It is a very compact camera, not quite in the same league as the tiny Casio EX-Z80 I reviewed last week, but certainly in the "ultra-compact" category. It measures 86.0 x 54.0 x 20.4mm and weighs 130g, so it's small and light enough for a shirt pocket. However while it may look very nice, that smooth finish does make the camera very slippery to hold, and there is no provision for either a finger or thumb grip.