The macro setting will focus down to 3cm which is pretty good going for a small compact like this. So if you're into your close-up nature photography and always want to be ready to shoot, the IXUS 90 IS will make a good pocket companion.
Start-up time is very swift with the IXUS 90 IS switching on in less than one second. Consequently, you shouldn't find yourself missing a shot while you're waiting for the camera to ready itself. The power switch is locating in the centre of the top edge, which makes it easily accessible with your left index finger, while readying your right index finger over the shutter release. Canon has clearly designed the layout for easy and fast activation. The zoom is operated via a ring surrounding the shutter release - a system that Canon has been using on IXUS cameras for a long time, and it's as intuitive now as it always was.
The rear of the IXUS 90 IS is dominated by the large 3in LCD screen, which sports a 230,000 pixel resolution. The screen is superb with an instantaneous refresh, no matter how quickly you move or pan the camera. The LCD is also very bright, with vibrant colours, giving you a clear and accurate view of your subject matter.
To the right of the screen Canon has managed to squeeze in an impressive array of buttons and controls. There are four buttons that are completely flush with the casing - these are separated and accented by rubber piping, and it has to be said that this layout looks really good. One of the top two buttons activates the PictBridge feature, while the other switches the camera into Playback mode, allowing you to review your images and movies. At the bottom you have a Display button which configures or turns off the on-screen display, while the Menu button brings up all the camera's setting screens.
Nestling between these two pairs of buttons is a round navigation rocker/dial. At first I assumed that this was just a four-way rocker, used to navigate through menus and select options when shooting, and that's exactly what it is. Pressing the round rocker up brings up the ISO setting, press to the right and you can configure the built-in flash, press to the left and you can switch between Normal, Macro and Infinity focus settings, while pressing down configures the shooting mode - Single Shot, Burst, Self Timer etc. A button in the centre of the round rocker confirms selections once you've navigated to where you want to be.