It seems like barely a month goes by without Canon launching a new IXUS. The range has become almost as synonymous with digital compact cameras as the Apple Ipod has with MP3 players. Canon has always placed style, compactness and image quality as the major attributes of the IXUS and with this in mind, the IXUS 80 IS follows that ethos.
Announced in January, the camera is available in four colours Classic Silver, Caramel, Chocolate and Candy Pink. This reflects Canon's desire to appeal to both the fashion conscious and to women, a move that coincides with Canon's recent marketing campaigns and presence at events such as London Fashion Week. To top off its stylish looks the body has an aluminium outer casing giving a feel of quality and sturdiness.
In many other respects the camera offers little over its rivals. A 3x zoom covers most general snapshot eventualities, though it's 38-114mm equivalent lens is hardly a world shaker. Speaking of shaking, the lens does come with Image Stabilisation - hence its IS moniker - designed to reduce camera shake. This is a feature that's rapidly becoming a standard fixture on both digital compacts and on DSLRs, and in the formers case, is welcomed. While the advertisers try to sell IS as a low light necessity, in actual fact it's become a necessity of digital cameras whatever the lighting. Most people use compacts at arm length, composing the image via the LCD. This is hardly the most stable position for taking images and camera shake is an ever-present danger. Similarly I have found that the increased pixel count of cameras means that the pixels are smaller and pushed even closer so the slightest movement is amplified. The inclusion of IS is therefore necessary in all light, not just low light.
The pixel count itself is 8 million pixels, placing it at the lower end of the current crop of IXUS in resolution terms. Processing is performed by Canon's DIGIC III processor, to produce maximum quality JPEGs at approximately 2-5 MB closed (depending on the subject and level of detail) and 22.9 MB when opened. The quick processing speed allows maximum burst speed of 1.3 frames per second for the capacity of the card.
Unusually the IXUS 80 has an optical viewfinder, which offers a real image zoom view, while for the arm-length fans, the 2.5 inch LCD should suffice. This has a fairly typical 230K dot screen, with 1 levels of brightness adjustment and also offers access to the camera menu system and image playback.