Canon Digital IXUS 800 IS
- Great colours, Low noise level, Speedy operation, Nice design
- Chromatic aberration higher than normal, Control layout could be better, Noise at high ISOs
Whilst it has some minor flaws, the IXUS 800 is a very attractive choice in the compact camera space, offering lightning fast operation with great colour balance and a nice design.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
The IXUS 800 IS managed to impress us, much like the other Canon cameras we've looked at recently. Canon's performance in this space is one of the most consistent across all our categories, and this camera fortifies that position. While it isn't perfect, as an overall package in the compact camera market this is a pretty good choice.
Obviously image quality is vital to the success of any camera, and the IXUS 800 held up quite well in this regard. As with the Digital IXUS 65, colour reproduction was the strongest element of our pictures. Scoring 6.2 in the Imatest colour check it performed better than any compact we have tested so far. Greyscale reproduction was all but flawless, and the rest of the spectrum suffered only minor errors that were invisible to the naked eye unless compared with the proper shades. Reds were, as usual, the problem colours, although blues had a similar, albeit still small level of inaccuracy. Overall we couldn't ask for better colours than those produced by this camera.
Unfortunately our shots didn't exhibit quite the same levels of sharpness. The score of 1238 on our Imatest sharpness test was quite good, however it was let down by the above average levels of chromatic aberration, which received an Imatest rating of .108%. These scores were reflected in our test shots. The level of detail in certain areas of the shots wasn't quite as high as it should have been and whilst other areas had precise, defined edges the overall level of clarity weighed against the camera slihgtly. Chromatic aberration seems to be the one problem Canon hasn't quite ironed out of their latest models and if they can improve in this area they will have some monster products on their hands.
The Image Noise test was more in line with the colour results. A score of .58%, although not quite as impressive as the .48% scored by the IXUS 65 - is excellent nonetheless. Our pictures were clean and speckle-free. When switching to the higher ISOs however, this score quickly shot up. At the ISO-Hi setting (the highest option available) the IXUS 800 scored a massive 2.77, and the pictures were what we would define as unusable. The performance of this camera at the upper range of ISO setting does not make it well suited to sports or night photography.
Features and Performance
This is one incredibly speedy camera. With a shutter operation time of .05 seconds you won't be missing any of the action (although this would be better if complemented with useable ISO levels of 800 or 1600) and the 1.4 second startup is barely noticeable. The 1.3 second shot to shot speed rounds out a lightning quick package, which ensures you'll be ready to capture anything at any time.
The features presented by the IXUS 800 aren't quite as stunning, but it is still a well rounded list. With a three frames per second continuous shot mode, high ISO levels and a variety of white balance settings, there are enough options to keep the user busy. The restriction to 11 pre-set scene modes is slightly limiting, but the several colour modes and widescreen shooting are a nice touch. Canon has also included anti-shake technology, which is great for those with less than steady hands.
The IXUS 800 has a chrome/silver and black colour scheme similar to the Digital IXUS 65. The design doesn't come close to the extremes of some fashion cameras such as Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-T5, nevertheless Canon's black bezel surrounding the LCD seems to be an attempt to jazz up the product; and it works. With an almost entirely metal chassis, the IXUS 800 is a robust and well constructed unit, although it was quite a bit heavier than we expected. You'll definitely notice the difference when carrying it in a pocket. Still, we like heavy cameras as they tend to take steadier shots, so unless you are specifically looking for a lightweight camera don't be put off.
The controls are fairly basic. A scroll wheel provides navigation between functions, and two menus split between camera settings (Image review, sounds, etc) and image settings (ISO, white balance, etc). This dual system makes taking shots a whole lot easier and is an improvement over older single menu models. We did however think some of the buttons were poorly placed. The On button for example is on the back, next to the viewfinder, rather than occupying its traditional place along the top: not nearly as intuitive. Similarly, the scroll wheel is housed in the upper right corner of the camera's rear and requires you to shift your entire right hand to operate properly. These aren't big issues, but they can be irritating over time.
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