Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been taking a look at some of the new models in Canon’s Digital IXUS range of style compacts, and today I’ve got the latest model, the long-awaited 950 IS. I say long awaited, because many people thought it was going to be a replacement and successor for the highly popular and technically advanced IXUS 850 IS which I reviewed last October. However, while in some ways the 950 IS does improve on the 850, it is not a replacement, but rather an additional model in the same range. There are still some things the 850 can do that the 950 can’t.
The main improvement is the increase in resolution from 7.1 megapixels to 8.0, but something that I found surprising is that the 950 IS does not share the 850’s popular 28-105mm-equivalent, 3.8x optical zoom range. Instead the 950 has a 4x zoom lens with a focal length range equivalent to 35-140mm. While there are no doubt some people who will prefer the longer telephoto setting, there are plenty of other cameras around that have a 35mm wide angle end, while a 28mm wide angle is relatively rare.
Like the rest of the Digital IXUS range, the 950 IS is an expensive camera. It is possible to find one online for £220, but you’re more likely to see it inthe high street for around £260, which is a lot of money for an 8-megapixel compact. That hardly-better-than-average zoom range means that the 950 is going to be competing with a much wider range of models than the equally pricey 850, and most of the competition costs less. Models such as the new Fujifilm FinePix A820, which is just £130, or the Kodak EasyShare Z885 which is only £135 are practically budget cameras by comparison, while the Samsung DigiMax S1050 offers 5x zoom and 10 megapixels for around £210. Even the 7MP, 5x zoom Olympus mju Digital 750 is only £210, and that’s waterproof. Even the 8MP, 5x zoom Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T100 can be found for around £220. Anyone who wants both a longer zoom range and wide angle could chose either the Panasonic TZ3 (£250) or Ricoh Caplio R6 (£230) for less money.
Of course with a camera like the IXUS 950 IS, your money buys more than just a specification. Like the 850 IS the build quality and design is of a very high standard. The camera has a part-plastic, part-metal body which certainly isn’t as strong as the titanium-bodied IXUS 900 Ti, but the curved shape gives it an inherent rigidity. It is quite a heavy camera at 165g (minus battery or card), and measuring 90.4 x 56.5 x 26.4 mm it’s not the slimmest camera on the market, but there’s no denying that it does feel reassuringly solid in the hand. That said however, squeezing the front panel a little did elicit a very noticeable creak and it is possible to feel the panels flexing slightly. But I’ve been a little spoiled by the 900 Ti, because there is certainly nothing flimsy about the 950 IS. The battery hatch has a strong metal hinge, all the controls feel solid and well made, and even the tripod bush is metal, which is always a good sign.