Stashed on my hard drive I have an interesting graph which shows the relative market shares of the main manufacturers of digital compact cameras between Summer 2007 and Summer 2008. Up until about this time last year Canon was the clear market leader, but since then the number one position has changed hands no less than four times, with Panasonic, Samsung and Sony all claiming market leadership at one point or another. According to the most recent figures Panasonic is in the lead followed closely by Samsung, with Canon trailing in third place.
Naturally Canon isn't going to take that sort of thing lying down, and has unveiled over the past few months its Autumn/Winter camera range, including some very strong models with which Canon no doubt hopes to claw back some of that vital market share. Among them is this, the new Digital IXUS 870 IS, a slim and stylish 10.0-megapixel, 4x zoom ultra-compact with optical image stabilisation and a 28mm wide-angle lens. It succeeds the popular IXUS 860 IS which we reviewed about this time last year.
The stylish ultra-compact sector is a growth area of the camera market, and the 870 IS faces some stiff competition from models such as the Panasonic FX37 (£184) and the superb Nikon S560 (£160), and the 13.6-megapixel Samsung L310W (£160). Compared to these the Canon looks a little pricey at around £200.
Straight out of the box the 870 IS is an impressive little camera. It has a sleek and classy half-metal, half-plastic body, finished in a combination of matt black and semi-matt silver with chrome details, although it is also available in gold. It is a very compact camera, measuring 93.8 x 56.8 x 23.6mm, which is slightly longer but slimmer and less tall than the 860 IS. It is quite heavy for its size though, weighing approximately 180g including battery and memory card. As a result the camera feels very solidly made and expensive.