For those of us who celebrate the miracle of western consumerism, the festive season of Christmas is fast approaching, and judging by the number of requests for advice that I'm getting from readers, most people are already deciding what presents they'd like to give (and receive). Digital cameras are always a popular choice as Christmas presents (they're so easy to wrap!) so I think I can safely say that this Canon IXUS 860 IS will certainly be appearing in plenty of Christmas stockings this year.
The 860 IS is an 8.0-megapixel compact camera featuring a high quality 3.8x image-stabilised zoom lens with a wide-angle end equivalent to 28mm, and a large high-resolution 3.0-inch LCD monitor. Like most of Canon's Digital IXUS range it is a fairly expensive product, selling on the high street for around £240, or from online retailers from a little over £200. It's a lot of money for an 8MP compact camera, especially when there are models as good as last week's Casio EX-S880 available for under £140, so what's so special about the 860 IS that justifies such a high price?
As with most of the Digital IXUS range, the initial impression of the 860 IS is very positive. It is very attractively styled, and is surprisingly heavy for such a small camera, weighing a hefty 155g despite measuring only 92.6 x 58.8 x 25.9mm. This feeling of density lends it an air of unmistakeable quality, and it certainly feels expensive, always a useful feature for a Christmas present. Build quality is, typically for Canon, of a very high standard, with a body shell that is mostly metal. The only real weak point is the card/battery hatch, which is a bit flimsy, with a rather loose plastic hinge. The camera is only available in the flat semi-matt silver finish of my review sample, but you can get it with either a black lens surround or the chrome version shown here.