Canon Digital IXUS 85IS

A powerful yet slim compact

Canon Digital IXUS 85IS
  • Canon Digital IXUS 85IS
  • Canon Digital IXUS 85IS
  • Canon Digital IXUS 85IS
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Sharp 10-megapixel shots, great colour, speedy performance, stylish design, intuitive interface, optical image stabilisation

Cons

  • Some noise issues (particularly above ISO 400), purple fringing somewhat prominent outdoors

Bottom Line

The Canon Digital IXUS 85 doesn't do anything revolutionary, but it follows the trend of its predecessors by offering a combination of stylish design, great image quality and some nifty features in a petite design, making it a compelling purchase for anyone looking for a compact camera.

Would you buy this?

It may be a cliche by now to use the phrase "if it ain't broke don't fix it" in a review context, but nothing better sums up Canon's approach to their latest line of IXUS units. The IXUS 85 doesn't really diverge too much from the trend set by past models — but that's a smart choice, because there really is little that needs changing. Instead this model has a few small improvements including the same Optical Image Stabilisation found on the IXUS 80 IS, as well as an improved 10-megapixel (Mp) sensor.

10Mp is more than just about anyone will need, particularly on a compact, happy-snap camera such as this. A sensor of this resolution is more than capable of making some fairly hefty enlargements if necessary, provided the other components perform well.

Of course that isn't a concern here: the IXUS 85 takes fairly impressive images. Shots were crisp and sharp, with Imatest finding no under- or over-sharpening. They satisfied our expectations of a 10Mp sensor and should be perfect for anyone but professional photographers in this regard. There were some chromatic aberration problems; this was most noticeable on high contrast edges where a little haloing was present, and purple fringing outdoors was at times relatively strong. However, corner softening was kept to a minimum, and the camera's overall performance met our expectations.

Image noise was kept well under control at low sensitivities. Shots became a little grainy at ISO 400, but it was still fairly fine. It wasn't until ISO 800 that the noise ramped up sharply; we wouldn't recommend taking it this high unless you aren't too fussed about the image quality.

As usual for a Canon unit, colours were richly and accurately rendered. Imatest gave an impressive result in its colour checker test. The IXUS 85 didn't score quite as well as some of its predecessors, but it was still better than the majority of other models on the market. The overall look tended towards being bright and vivid, particularly in warm shades; however, this can be tweaked a little using the colour mode option.

In our speed tests this model was impressive. It exhibited a pretty standard 0.09sec shutter lag and just 1.5sec between shots. The start-up time was also extremely speedy at 1.8sec. Menu navigation was seamless, as always.

The features list is relatively comprehensive for a compact camera, although it won't satisfy the enthusiast. The image stabilisation is lens based and operates very well, although only a 3x optical zoom is included on this unit. It also has the standard array of white balance presets, along with a custom mode, ISO sensitivities up to 1600, and metering and focus modes (including face detection).

Another noteworthy feature of the IXUS 85 is its design. Billed as the slimmest IXUS model ever, it is both lightweight and compact. Following the design trends of its predecessor the Digital IXUS 75, it has a boxy silver design with black rims and it looks stylish and fashionable. The body is built almost entirely from metal and feels sturdy, and the controls are laid out in the standard intuitive IXUS fashion. There is also the added benefit of a viewfinder — a feature often lacking from compacts these days. It is, however, quite small.

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