The IXUS 220 HS's stainless steel body lends the camera a sturdy yet lightweight feel, but there's no hand grip here. Coupled with the camera's smooth-as-a-pebble surface, this makes it hard to get a firm grip when shooting handheld. As a result, the rear LCD quickly becomes covered in fingerprints as you try and steady the IXUS with both hands instead - so you'll be constantly rubbing the screen clean.
On the IXUS 220 HS's back is a simple slider switch allowing you to alternate between standard Smart Auto mode, which uses face and subject detection technology to compare the scene to 32 on-board presets and selects the most fitting for optimal results, and Program Auto. The latter allows a greater degree of hands-on control - a press of the 'func/set' button to the right of the camera's backplate providing access to a much wider range of manually selectable options. Manual control is welcomed, but this remains a camera for those who want to point and shoot and achieve respectable results with the minimum of fuss. Photo enthusiasts wanting a more feature-packed portable model should direct their gaze towards the Canon PowerShot S95 and G12 cameras.
The Canon IXUS 220 HS does offer a few advanced skills that will be of interest to casual snappers though. Among these is a high-speed burst shooting mode for action fans, which captures up to 8fps at a lower three megapixels. If you'd rather stick at full 12 megapixel resolution then speed drops to 3.4 fps.
Speed also adds to creativity when filming video clips, thanks to the 240fps Slow Motion movie mode - although footage is shot at a low-quality 320x240 resolution. When played-back, it produces footage an eighth normal speed, giving that The Matrix-style bullet time effect. Higher-definition 640x480 pixel clips 120fps can also be captured. As in the new 310 HS model, there's an esoteric Movie Digest mode on the camera too, which records a short video burst at the point a still image is taken and then automatically stitches these clips together to form a little movie to tell the backstory of your day.
This feature of the IXUS 220 HS may appeal to travel snappers wanting to record a bit more of their surroundings, but the camera doesn't feature the latest must-haves of GPS, nor is it moisture resistant. However, Canon offers a couple of waterproof cases for the 220 HS, recommended pricing ranging between £55 and £225 (dearer than the camera itself!) dependent on which option you go for.
This IXUS 220 HS, like the rest of the Canon compact range, provides the ability to adjust colour tones via the function toolbar. Tucked away beyond the shooting modes, there's also a range of digital effects that mirror those on its pricier 310 HS, taking inspiration from the 'creative studio in a box' Art Filters and Magic Filters of the Olympus Pen and Tough compacts.
There are the usual fisheye and pinhole camera style effects, plus a super vivid setting and monochrome for those who want to inject an artistic moodiness into shots. Our favourite was the miniature effect, which apes the result from a specialist tilt and shift lens, narrowing the portion of the image in-focus to give the illusion that you're looking at a photograph of a model rather than an actual building, car or landscape. This can be applied to video clips as well as stills, at 1.5, three or six frames per second to provide a time-lapse movie style effect, further extending the camera's creative uses.