Canon’s new 12 megapixel IXUS 220 HS is a great carry-everywhere camera, and for that reason stands out as a neat gadget to have around if inspiration strikes, whether you use it to capture references or textures. Measuring just 92x56x20mm and weighing 141g, it’s small and light enough to just slip into your pocket without really noticing it’s there, yet its stainless steel body keeps it safe if you really do forget about it.
It’s easy to use and its controls feel well made and responsive. Its wider-than-average stabilised 24-120mm equivalent lens is suitable for recording sweeping vistas and portraits as well as isolating details. It can focus on objects as close as 3cm from the front element in macro mode – perfect for capturing textures for digital art.
When you want to keep things simple and quick, there’s the Smart Auto feature, which uses 32 reference scenes to automatically determine the optimum settings to use.
Alternatively, as well as Program mode, which gives the user the greatest level of control, there’s a healthy selection of shooting modes available including options suited for use when shooting on the beach or underwater (using the optional waterproof case) and to trigger the shutter when the subject smiles or winks. The Tracking AF (autofocus) system is also useful when shooting moving subjects or using the popular focus-and-recompose technique, but face detection AiAF is on hand, and is a great choice for photographing social events, or indeed for capturing facial reference for portraits.
As well as capturing still images, the IXUS 220 HS can record full HD (1,080p) movies with stereo sound and Dynamic IS to help keep the footage shake-free. Movie Digest, which captures up to four seconds of the action before a shot is taken and joins all the clips together into a single VGA movie, is a fun addition.
Like most modern compact cameras, the IXUS 220 HS doesn’t have an optical viewfinder, so images are all composed on the 2.7-inch 230,000 dots LCD screen. Apart from in very bright conditions when reflections become an issue, this provides a clear view of the scene.
Most importantly, the IXUS 220 HS produces high-quality images. Although they become softer as the ISO setting is increased, there’s little sign of coloured speckling. At the lower sensitivity settings, it captures an impressive level of detail. Images are well exposed and the camera’s white balance system puts in an excellent performance under a range of lighting conditions. Colours are generally well reproduced and vibrant without being excessively saturated. It’s a cracking little camera, a small do-all answer to the need to capture new textures and references whenever and wherever the urge takes hold.
- 24-inch display
- 1,920x1,080 resolution
- 3,000:1 contrast ratio
- 20,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio
- Pixel pitch 0.276mm
- 178 degrees horizontal viewing angle
- 178 degrees vertical viewing angle
- DVI, VGA, and HDMI input