When you think of ultra-compacts, you think of slim, pocketable cameras. The Canon IXUS i7 breaks the norm and comes up with a cute candy bar model that boasts a number of impressive new features. But before we get there, a little more on its looks.
At a mere 96 x 45 x 24 mm size, the IXUS i7 is as small as a regular candy-bar phone, only a little thicker. It sports a dual colored/textured metal body that's available in 5 colors. The small form, as in all ultra-compacts doesn't allow much room for a proper grip, but the small size, with a relatively good thickness level never really lets the camera slip through.
The IXUS i7 has minimalistic buttons on the back. Unlike most other Canon cameras, where you usually have a jog dial for selecting the right shooting mode, you'll have to access them in the functions menu here. It's not that big a deal, unless you're the type who needs to change shooting modes for almost every shot.
The one feature I wanted to try out first was the face recognition technology that zeros in on the subject's face and uses it as the point of focus. This is a great feature especially at times when a person is standing towards the edge of the shooting frame instead of at the center, which is traditionally considered as the point of focus in autofocus cameras.
Then there's the ISO 1600 sensitivity level, which is pretty impressive if it manages to also fit in some essential noise reduction to avoid the digital grain that tends to plague images at that sensitivity level.
The 7.1 megapixel seems good enough for today's shooting needs, though the 2.1x optical zoom seems a tad less.
Keeping these features in mind, I put the camera through a few performance tests to see if it lives up to the claims. This is what I found out—
The first thing I noticed in the test results and came to like about the IXUS i7 was the image clarity. The results were sharp from edge to edge, without any kind of blurring that you notice when you shoot complex similar-colored objects. The clear straight lines I could see on the pictures here is hard to find even on regularly-sized cameras of similar or higher budget.
It didn't skimp on the colors either. Though all the shots were taken in the 'Natural Colors' mode, the results were vibrant where they mattered. It reproduced all the greens, pinks, reds and oranges as expected.
The funny thing is that even though the camera has a macro mode, it's not very good at it. It had trouble focusing on objects that were as far as 5 inches away from the lens, which it pretty bad considering that most cameras can focus on anything between 1-2 inches in macro mode these days.
It's also very sensitive to slight hand jitters. Even though the Face Recognition manages to locate the face and keep up with it when the subject is moving around the frame, it still doesn't create much of a dramatic difference in the focus. Its a fun feature to have, but I don't think it's going to help you take better shots.
One thing I liked about the camera was that in night mode, instead of just souping up the ISO sensitivity level, the IXUS i7 tries to make the most of the available lighting at a low ISO instead. It's nice, but not very affective as you can see in the test shot below. The image below may be noise free but the visibility is not too high either.
Ironically the camera supports sensitivity levels of up to ISO 1600, but at that level you're simply inviting noise to your images. I would suggest shooting at a maximum level of ISO 200 on this one.
Being an ultra-compact, it also has the typical trait of slow performance time. You'll have to wait around two and a half seconds between every consecutive shot, which may not sound like much, but is enough to miss an essential shot of a subject in motion. Still, that's a complaint that you'll hear from advance photographers. Casual users may not even notice the delay.
It may sound like the camera has a lot of negative points, but the fact is that none of them are significant enough to overcome the good points. In the end, the IXUS i7 is as small a cell phone and clicks better than a lot of cameras in its range. It has an MRP of Rs. 18,995, but I suspect that you may be able to find it at a street price of Rs. 16,000. At either price points, the Canon Digital IXUS i7 zoom is definitely worth it.
Canon Digital IXUS i7 zoom
|LCD Type||1.8", 118,000 px|
|Effective Pixels||7.1 Megapixels|
||Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|Shutter Speed||15-1/1600 sec|
|Aperture||F3.2 - F5.4|
||Auto, Manual, Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Color Accent, Color Swap, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater|
|White Balance||6 positions, plus manual|
|Flash||Auto, On, Off, Manual (Red Eye On/Off)|
|Self Timer||2-10 secs|
|Video Resolution||640x480 @ 30fps|
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