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Canon Digital IXUS 200 IS / PowerShot SD980 IS ELPH Ken McMahon, January 2010
   
 

Canon IXUS 200 IS / PowerShot SD980 IS ELPH verdict

The Canon Digital IXUS 200 IS / PowerShot SD980 IS Digital ELPH is a 12.1 Megapixel compact with a stabilised 5x optical zoom lens, and a 3in 16:9 touch-sensitive screen. It's the first Canon compact to feature a touch-screen LCD which allows you to select options, manually focus and control playback, all by tapping or sliding your finger - although all functions are also available using the camera's physical controls.

Like most recent Canon compacts, the IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS has automatic scene recognition to improve metering of difficult subjects and face detection for better focusing, exposure and white balance of people shots.

It's a capable video camera too, with 720p HD recording as well as standard definition modes and an HDMI port for connection and playback on a suitably equipped TV. And the widescreen LCD panel is perfectly proportioned for shooting HD video, providing a much better view than 'letterboxed' 4:3 screens.

If the touch-screen were the only special thing about the IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS we'd be inclined to say there are better value cameras out there that perform just as well - Canon's own IXUS 120 IS / SD 940 IS for one. The Touch-screen may be fun to use, and you could even go as far as to say indispensible for manual focusing, but as a means of navigating menus and controlling playback it isn't a big improvement over the physical controls.

But the IXUS 200 IS /SD 980 IS is far from a one-trick pony. The super-wide angle 24mm equivalent lens with a 5x zoom range will make it an obvious choice for anyone looking for a capable compact with a wider than average field of view and first-rate image quality.



 

Compared to Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS Digital ELPH

 
 
     

The Canon IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS produces photos that are, in terms of size and quality near identical to those of the IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS. But these are two very different cameras in almost every other respect.

First, the IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS is bigger and not as pretty as the IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS. That's the only downside though, as the rest is all positive.

The IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS has a broader 5x optical zoom range, which may not outreach the IXUS 120 IS /SD940 IS by a great deal at the telephoto end, but which offers unusually wide 24mm equivalent coverage.

But the thing that most clearly sets these two cameras apart is the IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS's touch-activated wide screen. For HD movie shooting and playback, this wide screen can't be beaten and for 4:3 photo capture it provides space on either side of the image for touch activated icons, providing a totally different user experience - indeed for manual focusing on a compact it can't be beat.

This all adds up to considerably more camera for only a little over the asking price of the IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS, although if you can live without the touch-screen and 24mm coverage, it's still well worth considering. See our Canon IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS review for more details.


Compared to Nikon COOLPIX S570

 
 
     
     

If you're looking for a camera that offers 12 Megapixel images of a comparable quality to the IXUS 200 IS /SD 980 IS for considerably less money, then the Nikon COOLPIX S570 could be the answer. The COOLPIX S570 gives nothing away in terms of image quality, its 12 Megapixel photos are every bit as sharp, detailed and distortion-free as those of the IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS and it matches the more expensive Canon compact on high ISO noise performance, at the lower end of the ISO sensitivity range at least.

The COOLPIX S570 also matches the 5x total range of the IXUS optical zoom but, although it goes longer, the maximum wide angle view is only 28mm equivalent - respectable enough, but nowhere near the 24mm wide angle coverage of the IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS. The COOLPIX also falls short on user-friendliness and video performance is limited to standard definition at 640 x 480 pixels.

That said, you're getting great great-quality images at a relatively low price-point, and that's why the COOLPIX S570 has become one of the best-selling compacts at the time of writing. If you're after a bargain and can live without HD video, it's well worth a look. Watch out for our upcoming full review of this model for further details.

Canon Digital IXUS 200 IS / PowerShot SD980 IS verdict

The Canon Digital IXUS 200 IS / PowerShot SD980 IS is the first Canon compact to feature a touch-screen LCD panel. This is the feature that everyone will be talking about and it provides the camera with one very useful feature - quick and simple manual focusing - all you have to do is point where you want it to focus and it's done. Beyond that, the touch-screen's utility is, well, let's say arguable. There's little, if anything it can do that can't be done just as easily with the physical controls.

If you shoot a lot of movies on your camera though, the 16:9 aspect ratio of the screen will make this a much more rewarding experience. With 2.5 inches of view in the 4:3 modes it's still as large a screen as you'll find on many mid-range compacts, plus much of the information and icons can be moved to the sides, leaving an uncluttered view for composition..

Look beyond the touch-screen though and you'll realise the real star feature of this model is the 5x optical zoom with its super wide angle (24mm to 120mm equivalent) range. There are only a handful of models that offer a field of view as wide as that. Together with the camera's 3in display, 720p video and exceptionally good image quality, it's a combination that's hard to beat.



Good points
3in 16:9 touch-screen with tap-focusing.
5x zoom with 24mm equivalent wide angle.
720p HD video with matching screen shape.
Excellent image quality.

Bad points
Beyond focusing, touch-screen is a bit of a novelty.
Slow continuous shooting.
Poor battery life.
Modest 5cm macro mode.



Scores

(relative to 2010 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:
Handling:
Specification:
Value:

Overall:

18 / 20
18 / 20
17 / 20
17 / 20
17 / 20

87%


 

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