It's a small camera but it's well balanced with a tough feel, yet it has a refinement to it that's lacking on some other models. It's responsive shutter button takes images quickly with minimal lag, though it's by no means comparable to a DSLR, while the zoom quickly moves through a steeped zoom range. This is backed up by a speedy AF system, that works in most lighting, though falls over a little in particularly dark rooms, where in conjunction with the flash can occasionally produce blurred images.
Image quality on first sight is pleasant. Images are generally well exposed - even subjects that I'd expect to need exposure compensation, ie very bright or dark subjects - are within the bounds of acceptable, with around half a stop of error.
Unfortunately the images display a familiar digital tint, common on sensors over 6MP. There's a grittiness to them, with noise displaying itself at close inspection, especially in areas of shadow detail. Combined with slightly aggressive compression in order to process and move and store the data, the images can suffer from a lack of detail, seen for example in detail, where the tones are very similar.
This is compounded by a lack of detail from the lens, with some sharpness fall off in the corner of the frame at the wide end of the lens focal length. The IS system makes some difference to sharpness and it's worth keeping it on all the time.
White Balance is better, the IXUS rarely getting it wrong, while noise at ISO 80-200 is passable it rapidly deteriorates as the gain is raised. On the positive side, at least the camera has a decent ISO range.
This is a camera designed to appeal more to the fashion conscious than the connoisseur, and as such it serves its purpose. It's well made and very attractive, but is at the lower end of the IXUS range in terms of specification, features and price. Image quality is passable but I sometimes feel manufacturers try to impress too much with the gimmicks rather than get the fundamentals right first. The IXUS 80 IS is a case in point.