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Canon IXUS 990 IS - Canon IXUS 990 IS

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


There's no doubt that you do get a lot of camera for your money though. The IXUS 990 IS has pretty much every feature you could hope to find on a modern digital compact., apart from a wide angle lens which is found on its sister model the IXUS 110 IS. Like all the best new compacts it has HD video recording, shooting at 1280 x 720 resolution at 30fps, although it only has mono audio and the optical zoom cannot be used, which is a little disappointing at this price level.

Other advanced features include a very effective optical image stabilisation system that operates in both still and video modes. Canon's compact camera IS system continues to improve with every iteration, and the 990 IS can take shake-free pictures at some ridiculously slow shutter speeds. I was easily able to take sharp pictures at full zoom at 1/10th of a second.

As well as the video mode, the 990 IS has a number of still shooting modes, selected by a small and quite stiff slider switch on the top panel. They inclide Program, in which settings including sensitivity, white balance, metering, autofocus and drive modes and a wide range of colour settings can be manually adjusted, a list of 18 scene mode programs, and Auto, in which virtually all camera control is fully automatic. This includes automatic scene selection and a range of face detection features including blink detection and a clever face detecting self-timer. The automatic setting is reliable, and will usually take a good picture almost any lighting conditions, but I found that it had a worrying tendency to turn people's skin bright pink in both indoor and outdoor shots.

The camera's settings are adjusted via Canon's very slick new live menu, which is all partial transparencies and gradient fill. It works extremely well in conjunction with the rotary bezel navigation control around the D-pad. The main menu has also had a facelift, and the whole operating system not only looks good, but it also runs very smoothly and responsively.

The hardware is also impressive, with a high quality 5x zoom f/3.2-5.7 lens, equivalent to 37-185mm, and an exceptionally good monitor with an ultra-sharp resolution of 461,000 dots, adjustable brightness and an anti-glare surface that actually works in bright daylight. The built-in flash is also very good, and surprisingly powerful for its size, easily filling a large living room and balancing well with ambient light in larger spaces or outdoors. The overall feel of the camera is solid and reliable, and at approximately 185g fully loaded it has the reassuring weight of something very expensive and well made.


August 11, 2009, 2:15 pm

It would of been good to see some portrait shots to compare Auto and other settings if there is an issue with this camera.

Cliff Smith

August 11, 2009, 4:05 pm

I have just such a shot, but I don't have the subject's permission to publish it. I'll see if I can get some others before the camera has to go back.


August 11, 2009, 4:41 pm

Great stuff. Thanks.


August 11, 2009, 10:14 pm

Sometimes things just fall into place. I have limited manual dexterity, £260 burning a hole in my pocket and bit of a soft spot for My Little Pony.


August 13, 2009, 12:22 am

reviewers comment on ixus being as much about looks as about the photos it produces, falls flat on it 's face when you have used and compared all the competitors, and still come back to this series. Just the picture quality and how canon handles light and dark areas are reasons enough. good looks is just a bonus. and "optical viewfinder a much requested feature" c'mon.. on a pocket camera most prefer a larger screen.. keep up the good work!


August 14, 2009, 8:29 pm

Purchased an SD990IS from Amazon four weeks ago. The design and build quality are excellent as you point out. The image quality is not up to par. Did a series of test shots with the SD 990 and my Fiji F30, same subjects and conditions. The F30 images in all cases were superior. The reproduced colors were closer to true and less grany when pushed to zoom at 125%.And, as you would expect, the F30 is vastly superior in low light, high ISO conditions. The 990 went back to Amazon. Just not worth the money.

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