IXUS i7 Zoom
With a thin, candybar design quite similar to several slim phones on the market at the moment, Canon's Ixus i7 Zoom is an attractive camera for the fashion conscious. Clearly constructed with style and portability in mind, it does suffer a little with regards to image quality, producing noisy and slightly blurry stills that aren't up to the usual Canon standard.
- Small design, Good colour
- Noisy pictures, Only six scene modes
While the form factor of the IXUS i7 is quite appealing, the image noise has a severe impact on the picture quality.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
Considering the i7 sports a 7.1 megapixel sensor its sharpness score of 1386 in Imatest is a little disappointing. It isn't a bad result, but our shots did have a noticeable softness to them that we don't usually see from Canon cameras.
This at least partly stemmed from extremely prominent image noise, which was the most problematic feature of the pictures. Imatest awarded it a score of 1.36% in its noise test when running at ISO 100, which is much higher than we have seen from competing models. It was extremely evident across all of our test shots, causing speckling and blurring along most edges. While at small print sizes such as 4 x 6in it won't be too much of an issue, it will still be visible, and it makes larger prints virtually out of the question.
This issue continued as we increased the sensitivity, with the i7 scoring an extremely high 8.78% at ISO 800 and 15.34% at ISO 1600. At these levels, the photographs were completely unusable even at the smallest magnifications, meaning that the i7 is definitely not a good choice if you often find yourself shooting in low light or high ISO situations.
Conversely, the camera exhibited quite good chromatic aberration performance, scoring .096% in this test. Most units in this price range score over 0.12%, so this is a solid result, and it was reflected in our test shots, which showed a little less fringing and blurring than normal. There was however reasonably prominent haloing in some of our shots, notably in areas of high contrast.
The one area the i7 did manage to impress was colour performance, with Imatest awarding it a score of 6.08 in its colour checker test. Warm colours were the area of most inaccuracy, with reds and oranges exhibiting some small errors. Blue shades were also a little skewed, but overall the i7's colour performance was excellent. Most units struggle to score below 8 in this test, so a result just above 6 is very pleasing.
Equally impressive is the camera's feature set, which is a little more robust than you'd expect from a slim, ultra compact unit. With ISO sensitivities up to 1600, custom white balance mode (along with presets), a 2.5 frame per second burst mode, and a 2.4x optical zoom, it is quite well equipped. Also important is the addition of a new auto focus mode known as Face Recognition, which locks in on any faces in the picture and makes them the focus points. It works quite well and is perfect for a consumer camera like this that will heavily feature people in party and holiday snaps. We were however a little disappointed with the six scene modes. Most units these days come with 15 or more, and they are a great way for novice users to add a little more creativity to their shots.
In our speed tests, the i7 also impressed. With a rather small shutter lag of .05 of a second and a shot-to-shot time of 1.3 seconds, you won't have much downtime between pictures. Meanwhile the 1.3 second power up time is extremely fast, and ensures the camera will be quickly ready if you are caught by surprise.
However the area where the i7 most stands out is its design. As stated before, the slim, boxy shape makes it look more like a mobile phone than a camera. Our test unit came in black with silver etching, but it is also available in blue, red and silver. Measuring 96.1mm x 45.1mm x 23.9mm and weighing about 105g, it is one of the smallest, lightest cameras on the market, and is easily be stored in a pocket or small bag. The largely metal design feels quite sturdy, and we would have no issues with carrying the i7 around for day-to-day use.
The i7 has a relatively simple control layout, and while it isn't as intuitive and well marked as on some other competing models, it gets the job done. The interface is colourful and fairly clear, following a typical Canon tiered layout, with a separate menu for the major imaging options.
Battery life is quoted at 190 shots running on the included lithium ion battery, which is a little under expectations for a small unit such as this. Nonetheless it should be enough to get you through a day or two of happy snapping.
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