For the past nine years, the Canon Digital IXUS series (also known as ELPH and IXY in some territories) has been the benchmark for luxury ultra-compact digital cameras, combining elegant styling, superior build quality and the latest technology to produce a range of cameras that have kept Canon at or close to the top of a highly competitive market. Recent models such as the IXUS 870 IS and IXUS 85 IS have demonstrated that industry veterans Canon can match anything that relative newcomers such as Panasonic or Sony can produce.
Canon has recently launched a number of new IXUS models which I hope to review very soon, but there is one important model from last autumn's range that I haven't yet looked at, so in response to numerous reader requests today I'm reviewing the IXUS 980 IS, still the most powerful - and most expensive - camera in the range. It's a 14.7 megapixel ultra-compact featuring a 3.7x zoom lens, a 2.5-inch monitor and that rarest of features on a compact camera, an optical viewfinder.
The first thing that stands out about the 980 IS is its unusual shape. Canon's designers seem to have got bored with making plain rectangular cameras, and many recent models have experimented with soft curves and organic shapes. Some have been less than successful, particularly the 980's immediate predecessor, the IXUS 970 IS, which had the handling characteristics of a well-worn bar of soap. Fortunately the curvy shape of the 980 IS is much easier to hold, and feels comfortable and secure in the hand.