Canon has unveiled two new high-end models in its popular IXUS range of compact cameras: the Digital IXUS 980 IS and Digital IXUS 870 IS.

The flagship, 14.7-megapixel Digital IXUS 980 IS brings several 'firsts' to the IXUS range - including manual control, and a striking design available in stylish, head-turning black, as well as traditional IXUS silver. The Canon IXUS 980 IS (see two pictures below) a second new mode - QuickShot - uses the optical viewfinder for framing and focusing, virtually eliminating shutter lag.

The 10-megapixel Digital IXUS 870 IS features a 4.0x wide-angle (28mm) optical zoom, a high-resolution three-inch PureColor LCD screen, and comes finished in gold or silver. The Canon IXUS 870 IS (pictured below) features a wide-angle (28mm) 4x optical zoom, ideal for large group shots, atmospheric interiors or architecture.

Both cameras use Canon's new DIGIC 4 processor, for fast performance and richly detailed, clean images in a huge number of shooting situations. As well as ensuring ultra-fast operation and superb, low-noise images, DIGIC 4 drives several intelligent technologies that Canon claims "make great photos easier than ever".

And both cameras feature Canon's optical Image Stabilizer technology, for blur-free shots throughout the zoom range and in low-light conditions.

People shots benefit from improved Face Detection Technology, which even detects faces positioned at an angle to the camera, or in profile. Face Select & Track tracks a specific subject even more accurately, while a new FaceSelf-timer function - which automatically triggers the shutter shortly after a new face enters the frame - makes group shots and self-portraits easy.

Canon's improved Motion Detection Technology delivers improved results by registering camera and subject movement, then automatically adjusting ISO to prevent image blur.

Blur is further guarded against by new Servo AF, which continuously adjusts focus on subjects moving towards or away from the camera. DIGIC 4 also powers Canon's new i-Contrast feature, which brings out great, natural-looking detail in dark areas of pictures - without blowing out lighter areas.

The IXUS 980 IS is available from late September for around £350 (US$536), while the IXUS 870 IS is available from late September priced at £270 (both prices include VAT).