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Canon Digital IXUS 95 IS / PowerShot SD1200 IS ELPH Ken McMahon, November 2009

Canon Digital IXUS 95 IS / PowerShot SD1200 IS verdict

The Canon Digital IXUS 95 IS / PowerShot SD1200 IS is a 10 Megapixel compact with a stabilised 3x zoom lens, 2.5in screen, and an optical viewfinder. The latter is something of a rarity on modern compacts, and while the view is tiny, it can be invaluable when shooting in bright sunlight or for conserving battery power.

The IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS has no manual controls, but in Program mode provides access to some settings including image size, ISO and white balance. This isn't a camera aimed at photography enthusiasts who would no doubt also take a dim view of the basic zoom range and lack of HD video.

But the IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS is designed for those who want an inexpensive, very compact, lightweight camera that looks great and can be taken anywhere. It takes excellent quality photos for posting on the web or producing small prints and, perhaps most importantly, it's very simple to use. No wonder it's become one of Canon's best-sellers, impressively occupying several top slots in sales charts thanks to its numerous colours.

Compared to Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220 appears to have the edge on the Canon IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS in many ways. Though slightly larger and heavier than the IXUS / ELPH, and lacking its style, it packs an extra 2 Megapixels of image resolution, has a 25 percent longer optical zoom range and a larger LCD panel.

There's no doubting the advantage of a longer zoom, with the Cyber-shot DSC-W220 going slightly wider and significantly longer than the Canon. But whether the extra resolution offers a real advantage is less clear cut. Both cameras have the same size CCD sensor and the clear result of packing a larger number of smaller photo sites on the Sony's sensor is that it's images are noisier than than those of the IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS.

And while the Cyber-shot DSC-W220 has a marginally larger LCD panel, it's not as clear and bright as that of the Canon, added to which IXUS / ELPH users can fall back on the, albeit tiny, optical viewfinder when the situation demands it.

There are other differences between the cameras that may sway you one way or the other depending on personal preference. Like all Sony compacts the Cyber-shot DSC-W220 uses Memory Stick Duo media and a proprietary USB and video connector. But overall, we think the Canon IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS is the better choice of these two budget compacts. Look out for our upcoming review of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W220.

Canon Digital IXUS 95 IS / PowerShot SD1200 IS ELPH verdict

The Canon IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS is a small, light and very stylish ultra compact camera that will appeal to people who place a premium on looks, portability and ease of use at an affordable price. But its beauty is more than skin deep. It's a capable little compact that produces great quality photos with the minimum of fuss. Its automatic mode features scene recognition, ensuring that even tricky subjects like backlit portraits and night shots come out looking good.

Sure, the zoom range could be a little longer and some manual exposure controls might be appreciated by those who share a passion for advanced photography as they do for stylish gadgets. HD video would be nice too, or failing that, at least the ability to optically zoom during video recording. But those aren't features you'd realistically expect to see on a camera in this price bracket. For our money, Canon has got it right where it matters - style, portability, ease of use and great picture quality. The IXUS 95 IS / SD1200 IS is one of the best affordable compacts right now and comes Highly Recommended.

Good points
Compact, light and stylish.
Decent picture quality.
Small but useful optical viewfinder.
Scene recognition make it easy to use.

Bad points
Basic 3x zoom range.
Tiny optical viewfinder.
Red-eye sometimes a problem
No optical zoom while filming.


(relative to 2009 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:


17 / 20
16 / 20
17 / 20
16 / 20
17 / 20



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