The Canon IXUS 115 HS' power switch is level with the top plate to prevent accidental activation when generally handling the camera. Give this a press and with a sprightly chirp the camera bursts into life, readying itself for action in just over a second, which is fairly speedy for a camera of this calibre.
Fortunately playback is given its own separate dedicated button, which means that with a half press of the shutter release button in review mode the user can jump back to capture mode to take a shot should one suddenly present itself - there's no need to waste precious moments flicking a switch or turning a dial. As on the IXUS 220 HS, there's no bottle top style shooting mode dial here at all; controls have been paired down to the essentials to allow users to take and review shots quickly - and as we've said, more extensive shooting options are secreted away on the function toolbar if you want them.
A half press of the shutter release button and after a satisfyingly short moment, AF points/s are highlighted on the screen in green. Whilst the AF is not lightning fast, it's fast enough. Press down fully to take the shot and in single shot mode the camera takes around three to four seconds to write a maximum resolution JPEG to memory. So again the IXUS 115 HS is not the fastest ever compact in this respect but neither is it something you notice holding you up as you progress from one shot to the next.
In general terms, and given the caveat that this is a snapshot camera, we were very pleased with the pictures we got with the 115 HS. Sure, like any compact camera it has its occasional issues with pixel fringing visible between areas of high contrast, but other than that we haven't really much to snipe about here. At wide angle setting good corner to corner sharpness is for the most part maintained, and even at maximum telephoto setting we were getting nicely crisp detail. You can just point and shot and be safe in the knowledge that exposure and focus will be spot on most of the time, which is all any of us want from a budget snapshot. As with its recent IXUS siblings its performance in lower lighting impressed us too, with its top ISO3200 actually being usable rather than just existing on a list to flesh out the spec. All in all, and again as we found when examining the IXUS 220 HS, this is a better than expected result from a low cost Canon IXUS, that when coupled with the £150 asking price places it very much in 'best buy' territory.
The Canon IXUS 115 HS doesn't set new records in terms of image quality, but as a tiny stylish compact, it was never set to. However, what you do get is a camera that's easy to use - assuming your hands aren't too large, is nicely built, produces reliably good results and packs in more features than you might expect. It's not the cheapest camera in its class but it's definitely one of the most desirable.