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Canon IXUS 980 IS - Canon IXUS 980 IS

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

The Canon IXUS range is well known for its excellent performance. The 980 IS starts up in approximately one and a half seconds, which is very fast, and shuts down again in about the same. In single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time of 1.6 seconds, which is also very fast, while in continuous shooting mode it can maintain 1.4 frames a second with audio cue and a view on the monitor too. Other manufacturers should take note; this is what a continuous shooting mode is supposed to look like.

The autofocus system is also well up to Canon's usual high standard, focusing quickly and accurately in almost all lighting conditions, although as usual the nine-zone automatic AiAF system has a mind of its own. The centre-zone AF option is a lot quicker and more reliable. The bright AF assist lamp has a range of several metres, but even beyond that the low-light focusing ability is excellent. The built-in flash is also very powerful, with a maximum range of over four metres, but is well metered and doesn't over-expose closer subjects.

Picture quality is always Canon's strong suit, and the 980 IS doesn't disappoint. Instead of the current trend toward electronic distortion correction, Canon has chosen the better option of simply fitting a very high quality lens. It produces excellent edge-to-edge sharpness with minimal barrel distortion, and only a little blurring and chromatic aberration in the far corners of the frame. Colour reproduction is superb, and exposure metering is reliably accurate in most situations.

The 980 IS has a larger 1/1.7-inch sensor (7.6 x 5.7mm), rather than the tiny 1/2.3-inch sensors used by most of its rivals, and despite its huge pixel count image noise is well controlled, producing usable images even at the highest sensitivity setting, wisely limited to 1600 ISO in normal shooting, although 3200 ISO is available at 2MP.

The only fly in the ointment is the poor dynamic range. Despite the larger sensor size the 980 has a real problem with high-contrast situations. The exposure meter does its best to avoid burned-out highlights, but as a result it sacrifices almost all shadow detail. The i-Contrast function helps a bit, but even that has its limits. However this is a problem that is common to over-powered compact camera sensors, and the 980 does cope better than some.

Verdict

The Canon IXUS 980 IS exemplifies just why Canon is so highly regarded as a brand. It is a superb camera, built up to a standard rather than down to a price, combining stylish but functional design, superior build quality, class-leading performance, a useful and accessible range of features and outstanding picture quality. It is very expensive, but if you want top quality you have to pay for it.

Carl Abudephane

May 14, 2009, 1:48 am

I don't mean to question your facts as you've obviously used it, but are you absolutely positive that the body is all-metal? I only ask as when I had a look at this camera recently, I was reasonably sure that it was plastic. It really did feel like plastic, look like plastic close-up and when I subsequently checked specs online with Canon's own blurbs, other ixus' had metal body mentioned in the specs, but notably not so for this camera.


Can you say for certain that it's metal?


Also, is a review for the stunningly gorgeous new ixus 100 IS due soon?

Geoff Richards

May 14, 2009, 3:46 am

@Carl - I can't speak for the 980 IS but I have my 960 IS right here, and that's definitely metal-bodied. It would imagine the 980 is too, since it's been something of an IXUS trait over the years, hasn't it??

Cliff Smith

May 14, 2009, 8:39 pm

Carl - Yes, the body is definitely metal, Aluminium as far as I can tell. I tested it with a multimeter and it conducts electricity, but it is not magnetic. Science!





I'm expecting an IXUS 100 to arrive any day now, but in the meantime I've got the new PowerShot SX200 IS, which is looking very nice. Review coming next week.

Carl Abudephane

May 15, 2009, 1:27 am

Wow! Tested it with a multimeter! Now there's certainty for you! Many thanks for the confirmation of that and for the news of the Ixus 100. Strange really that up until the I'd clapped eyes on the 100, I thought the 980IS was sexy as hell and my favourite-looking Ixus so far; then the 100IS comes out, is the polar opposite of the 980 - slim & svelt versus curvy & 'fullsome', and to be honest I think it is nothing short of beautiful, a genuine piece of handheld metallic sculpture that I'm hoping takes great photos's to boot.


Keep up the good work, it's appreciated.

robincapper

May 16, 2009, 3:22 pm

Cliff, Interesting review. I debated about getting a entry level DSLR or the 980. Portability + quality meant the 980 won as I like having a good camera that's always on hand. The only real design flaw I have found is it's one touch replay button sometimes gets bumped, in the bag, on leading to unintended battery drain.





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Ohmz

May 17, 2009, 6:08 am

@ Carl Abudephane, get a girlfriend man. :)

Carl Abudephane

May 18, 2009, 12:31 am

@ Ohmz, Ha!! Thanks for the heads-up! Just re-read my post and yep, it screams 'get a girlfriend/life'! Got the girlfriend, so obviously ...!

ChristianMonk3y

May 20, 2009, 5:17 am

Does this do geo tagging of photos?

Cliff Smith

May 20, 2009, 4:02 pm

ChristianMonk3y - No.

Oliver Pate

May 20, 2009, 4:45 pm

Hi Cliff.


After your positive comments I decided to order a Lumix dmc fx35 from an internet website. However, one week later the company have informed me they are out of stock of that specific model! Very frustrating. This has therefore given me the chance to rethink my options. I can pick up a Canon IXUS 980 for around £80 more than the Panasonic Lumix I am interested in. Would this be a better choice for the extra money? Bearing in mind I'm just looking for a simple,compact point and shoot camera that takes top quality images?





Kind regards





Olly

digitalife

May 20, 2009, 5:24 pm

They're 'out of stock' because the FX40 is out now :) which I'm *guessing* will be just as good as this Canon.

Oliver Pate

May 20, 2009, 6:39 pm

Okay i've been on Amazon all morning and am looking at purchasing either the IXUS 100, Lumix FX35 (as there are very few reviews of the FX40 + the lens on the 35 is supposed to be superb) or the slightly chunkier IXUS 980 (i am slightly put off by it's dimensions as I am looking for an alterantive to my superzoom)





Any suggestions on that little mix?





Olly

James 16

June 11, 2009, 12:47 pm

It's just not wide enough - again Canon! I'd love to have this camera if it's range started at equiv 28mm - 25mm, but having 36mm is a joke for this day and age. This is why I'm probably going to get the Ixus 870IS.

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