Canon IXUS 220 HS Review
The Canon IXUS 220 HS is a 12-megapixel compact that's slim, well built and easy to use. It doesn't have a lot of manual features, so it's a true point-and-shoot camera, but you can fiddle with the ISO speed, focus mode, white balance and colour output if you dare.
The Ixus 220 HS is a very good-looking camera that also happens to be very well made. The controls feel neither lose nor stiff, the lens is stable and sturdy, and the camera's general build is of exemplary quality (even the joints). Plus, it had a slightly textured finish, making the camera very pleasant to touch as well as improving grip.
The camera is very easily pocketable, though it still has a three-stage, telescopic, 24mm wide-angle lens. The lens works with a 12.1-megapixel sensor which, combined with the camera's proprietary DIGIC 4 processor, forms Canon's HS System. This is designed to work in lower light, before needing to fire the camera's built-in flash.
At the back is a 2.6in, glass-faced LCD display, which is bright, even on sunny days. Only with full, bright sunlight falling directly on it will you have any trouble seeing what you are shooting.
Controls are few, partly due to the fact that so many of the camera's features are automated. On top are the power button and the shutter release, with a zoom collar set around it, all falling easily under the index finger. Next to the LCD screen are four buttons, a four-way ring and a small slider, which switches between auto and manual shooting modes.
The latest Ixus cameras had particularly fast start-up times and were ready for action in not much more than a second. It was therefore a little disappointing to see the Ixus 220 HS take over two seconds to switch on and take its first photo. Photo-to-photo turnaround takes around two seconds, which is within average for current compacts.
The autofocus is pretty good, focusing in approximately six tenths of a second at all focal length. As with most cameras, this slows down a bit in low light but it's still fairly responsive.
The Canon 220 HS uses a 12-Megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. This sensor is really quite good. Specks of noise and smoothing are visible in full-screen shots at 800 ISO, but 8" x 10" prints remain excellent quality up to 1600 ISO, when only a slight smoothing is visible in prints and picture quality suffers no major degradations. However, you'll probably want to avoid using the 3200 ISO setting.
Under Kaiser ProVision light, which is supposed to recreate natural daylight, a slight variation in color reproduction was noticed: some photos looked very neutral while others looked slightly too warm. However, that's not something noticed when using the Ixus 220 HS out and about in real-life situations, as it consistently took shots that were a little on the warm side.
It is no mean feat for the 220 HS that’s less than 2cm to pack a 5x zoom, 24 mm wide-angle lens. In wide angle, the lens ensures excellent picture quality across the whole frame, with details that are well rendered even in the corners of the shot.
In telephoto, the image has a slight haze over the whole shot. It's not that the shots are particularly blurred; it's just that they could be sharper—something you'll notice when viewing pictures at 100% size on a computer screen or if you look closely at an 8" x 10" print.
There have been mixed feelings about the video mode in this camera, as although it's obvious that Canon has pulled out all the stops, the compact body of the Ixus 220 HS actually lets it down.
Everything that relies on the camera's internal electronics is excellent. The camera films 1080p HD video at 24 frames per second, with a slight speckle of noise but nice, sharp pictures. The optical zoom can be used while filming and the autofocus works well too.
However, one purely mechanical feature lets the camera down, since capturing good sound requires big, bulky (or expensive) microphones, which simply can't fit into this camera.
Overall, there’s barely anything to dislike about the Canon IXUS 220 HS. It takes good-quality pictures, it's very well made and it's user-friendly. Compared to a lot of pocket cameras it has a little extra class.
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