For the past eight years, since the launch of the first 2-megapixel model in the spring of 2000, Canon's Digital IXUS range has pretty much defined the genre for stylish digital compact cameras, with class-leading performance and cutting-edge design. However once in a while even the most prestigious brands can stumble, and when it comes to the design of the new Digital IXUS 970 IS (sold as the PowerShot SD890 IS in the USA) Canon has done just that.
Don't get me wrong; it's a great-looking camera with a tempting specification. It has a 10.0-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor, a 5x zoom f/3.2 - f/5.7 lens equivalent to 37-185mm, a 2.5-inch 230k LCD monitor, optical viewfinder and a high-quality all-metal body. Advanced features include enhanced optical image stabilisation, DIGIC III image processor, motion detection and face detection AF. It follows such outstanding cameras as the 8.0-megapixel 4x zoom IXUS 950 IS, and the titanium-bodied 12.1-megapixel IXUS 960 IS that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago.
The 970 IS is brand new, so at the moment it is horribly expensive, selling for between £250 and £300. That's a lot of money for a 10MP camera, even one with a 5x zoom lens. Comparable models include the 10MP 4x zoom Nikon Coolpix S600 (£220), the 10MP 7x zoom Olympus mju 1020 (£190), but the closest rival is probably the new Panasonic Lumix FX500, which is also just as expensive at £250-£300. These are all premium products, but even amongst such distinguished company the 970 IS is still pretty pricy. No doubt that price will fall over the next few months, but I doubt that it will ever be cheap. The IXUS 950 IS still costs around £180 eight months after its launch.