The Canon IXUS 980 IS is a 14.7Mp compact camera.

Canon has been making Digital IXUS models since 2000, a widely imitated range of sleek and simple to use take-anywhere cameras. Today there are eight models available in the UK, starting at around £150 for the IXUS 95 IS, with two similar models staking out the ground as flagship models.

The IXUS 990 IS, at around £350, is a 12.1Mp model with video capture up to 1280x720, while the 980 IS reviewed here offers higher resolution 14.7Mp stills but video only to 640x480.

Unlike most such compacts, the Canon IXUS 980 IS includes an optical viewfinder, useful for taking shots in bright sunlight and allowing you to switch off the 2.5in LCD screen in order to conserve power. Battery life from the lithium-ion battery was long, able to take several hundred shots between charges.

And while many compacts major on straightforward point-and-shoot operation, taking the stress out of photography by capturing good pictures without twiddling dials, the Canon IXUS 980 IS also offers a modicum of manual override. This means more creative shots can be tried; by stopping down to F2.8, for instance, you can experiment with foreshortened depth of field to get just your subject in focus.

Earlier IXUS models had a rectangular slab look. The Canon IXUS 980 IS takes on a more rounded form, gentle curves softening the lines. Interesting to behold by the eye and hold by the hand, it does mean it's more likely to roll over when placed upright on a table.

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Startup time is excellent, with the Canon IXUS 980 IS ready to shoot in under 2 seconds from cold.

The massive pixel count means you can really zoom into pictures, although at 1:1 resolution you'll see the effects of Digic 4 processing. While noise is low, even at comparatively high ISO settings of 800 or so, there is a kind of oil-painting effect to photographs. That's not to say the Canon IXUS 980 IS can't take great photos, of course, but just be aware that despite the 14.7 million pixels, this is no digital SLR.

The Canon IXUS 980 IS got into trouble in some high contrast setting, such as a bright window in a darker room, over- and under-exposing the same picture. In terms of colour vibrancy most images were on the more subdued side of neutral.

Video clips were handled well, with exposure compensated live to suit the scene, and mono sound was very clear thanks to the 16-bit/44.1kHz uncompressed PCM audio, although wind noise outdoors was conspicuous.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Canon IXUS 980 IS: Specs

  • 14.7Mp digital stills camera
  • 1/1.7in CCD
  • 3.7x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom
  • 2.5in colour LCD screen, 230,000 pixels
  • live histogram
  • SD card slot (32MB card included)TTL focusing
  • 15-1/1600 shutter speed
  • 7.7-28.5mm focal length (35mm equivalent 36-133mm)
  • ISO 80-3200
  • auto/manual flash
  • Auto, P, M, Quick, Movie, Special Scene modes
  • 640x480, 30fps video, H.264 with 16-bit.44.1kHz mono linear PCM audio
  • 97x62x28mm
  • 184g
  • 14.7Mp digital stills camera
  • 1/1.7in CCD
  • 3.7x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom
  • 2.5in colour LCD screen, 230,000 pixels
  • live histogram
  • SD card slot (32MB card included)TTL focusing
  • 15-1/1600 shutter speed
  • 7.7-28.5mm focal length (35mm equivalent 36-133mm)
  • ISO 80-3200
  • auto/manual flash
  • Auto, P, M, Quick, Movie, Special Scene modes
  • 640x480, 30fps video, H.264 with 16-bit.44.1kHz mono linear PCM audio
  • 97x62x28mm
  • 184g

OUR VERDICT

The Canon IXUS 980 IS is chunkier than earlier or cheaper models, but can boast a very high pixel count and good SD video capture. Manual controls allow more creativity while auto modes still provide click and forget convenience. Still images lacked some colour crispness, and despite a larger than normal CCD, high-contrast scenes could be a little hit and miss.

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