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But the four-way round rocker is also a jog dial, giving you access to a host of other options, without the need to navigate through nested menus. When you're shooting you can rotate the dial to select the correct mode - it's a quick and simple way to switch between Auto and Manual settings, or even Panoramic stitching mode from both left and right sides. In principle this rotating wheel is a great, but in practice it's not quite perfect. The wheel has been designed to fall easily under your right thumb, but I found it quite hard to rotate the wheel without inadvertently pressing the edge and selecting one of the rocker functions. I found that I could easily rotate the wheel using my index finger, but that meant that I wasn't holding the camera in a shooting position. A bit of practice improves this problem, but if the rocker function required a little more pressure there wouldn't be a problem in the first place.

The only other control is a sliding switch in the top right corner at the rear. This switches between Shooting mode, Scene mode and Movie mode. Shooting mode is your basic setting that you'll probably use most of the time, switching between full Auto and Manual as needed. The Scene mode is very comprehensive, with everything from a Fireworks setting to Underwater and Beach options. For a quick and simple approximation of the right settings for your particular environment, the Scene modes do a decent enough job, and will go some way to ensuring that even a complete novice has a good chance of taking a decent picture. The Movie mode will shoot 640 x 480 footage at 30fps, producing pretty decent results. You can drop that to 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 if space is an issue, or if you're looking to stream your video online.

On the underside is the hatch that houses the battery and memory card. There's also a plastic cover hiding a hole in the hatch - this allows you to power the camera using an external power source, which is potentially useful if you're planning to take an excessive amount of photos indoors and think that the battery won't go the distance. For most users though, the plastic cover will probably never be opened. Canon bundles a 32MB SD card with the IXUS 90 IS, which is somewhat laughable. That's not a real problem though, since a 2GB SD card is only going to set you back around a tenner, but just remember to order one along with the camera. The camera is SDHC compliant, as proved by the fact that I tested it with a 16GB SDHC card from Kingston. There's also a tripod mount on the underside - it's good to see that Canon has used metal threading, rather than the plastic option favoured by some manufacturers.

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Simon Hall

January 22, 2009, 2:08 am

After having recently owned a Panasonic Lumix Fs5 and Nikon Coolpix S560 and being unhappy with both of them I decided to buy one of these little numbers based on a few good reviews. I can honestly say I love it. It produces excellent images, the build quality is beyond reproach, it also looks stunning. It also has a great range of features, such as face detection that actually works (Unlike the Nikon) and an Auto mode that is almost fool proof (unlike the Panasonic). However there is plenty of scope to be creative with this camera, you can manually select ISO and colour setting as well as manually select long exposure times. It also has a colour accent mode which allows one colour to come out in colour and everything else to be in black and white.

The only things I am not too keen on are the limited zoom range and the fact it is quite heavy. But that is the price you pay for it being all metal. There is also a small amount of corner blurring on some photo's but it is in no way worse than other compacts I have used.

I would recommend this camera to anyone after a decent quality compact. It may not be the cheapest, but you get what you pay for.

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