Canon Digital Ixus 860IS / PowerShot SD870 IS Digital Elph

Canon Digital Ixus 860IS / PowerShot SD870 IS Verdict


From the first moment you pick up the Canon Digital Ixus 860IS / PowerShot SD870 IS, it’s clear you’re dealing with a quality product. It feels well built and comfortable to hold, starts very quickly, offers decent wide angle coverage and boasts a huge screen which looks great in use.

There’s quick access to what settings you can change, the face detection works well, and the time lapse movie mode is pretty neat. After taking some photos and examining them on-screen, it’s also clear the camera is capable of decent quality that’s as good as the best 8 Megapixel compacts out there.

In these respects the 860IS / SD870 IS is undoubtedly one of the best compacts we’ve tested, but this degree of quality and performance doesn’t come cheap. Canon cameras can be heavily discounted, but in terms of official RRPs, the 860IS / SD870 IS comes in at a comfortably higher price than most rival 8 Megapixel models.

Before we get too carried away, it’s also important to note the 860IS / SD870 IS has issues beyond a higher than average price. There’s no manual control over aperture and shutter, the continuous shooting speed is so slow it’s hardly worth bothering, there’s no live histogram, and the zoom lurches with relatively coarse increments. Then there’s the touch-sensitive wheel which technically may be interesting, but in practice we just couldn’t get to grips with.

There are also a handful of worthy rivals to the Canon, so before wrapping-up, let’s see how it compares.

Compared to Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33

Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-FX33 has several things in common with the Canon. Both have the same 8 Megapixel resolution and share similar optically-stabilised ranges which zoom-out to an equivalent of 28mm. The Panasonic is noticeably shorter and a tad thinner too, but has a smaller 2.5in screen to the Canon’s large 3in display. In terms of special features, the FX33 boasts widescreen movie recording, while the Canon has time-lapse, although neither allows you to manually adjust the aperture or shutter.

It’s a tough one to weigh-up, although the Panasonic FX33 is cheaper – its smaller 2.5in screen playing a factor in price. The ultimate decision will however boil down to which model you personally prefer the look and feel of. For more details, check out our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 review.

Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

Compared to Fujifilm FinePix F50fd


Also coming-in cheaper is Fujifilm’s FinePix F50fd. Go for the Fujifilm and you’ll get 50% more Megapixels (12 to the Canon’s 8), manual control over the aperture and shutter, and some neat approaches to using the flash for indoor portraits. So for the same money it’s the better camera, right?

Not quite. The Fujifilm F50fd is let down by a pedestrian 3x optical zoom which misses out on the Canon’s 28mm wide angle coverage. Its sensor-shift stabilisation certainly works, but in our tests wasn’t as effective as the Canon. And the 2.7in screen didn’t look anywhere near as good, nor were the controls as well thought-out. That said, the good points are pretty compelling, so if they outweigh the cons for you personally, then the F50fd is well worth considering. See our Fujifilm FinePix F50fd review for more details.

Canon Ixus 860IS / PowerShot SD870 IS final verdict

The Canon Ixus 860IS / PowerShot SD870 IS has a lot going for it. The great build quality, large screen, quick response, wide angle coverage and respectable quality will be sufficient to sell it to many people.

Photographic enthusiasts will miss full manual control, but then the 860IS / SD870 IS does a great job in automatic. The slow continuous shooting, lack of a live histogram and relatively coarse zoom steps will also annoy some, but won’t bother the majority. And as for that touch wheel? We may not have got on with it, but it could work just fine for you.

So the biggest issue facing the Ixus 860IS / SD870 IS is really its higher price. It comes in more costly than most rivals including Panasonic’s Lumix DMC FX33, although in its favour it does have a large 3in screen.

Ultimately you’ll need to weigh up the differences in feature-sets for yourself and crucially see which model looks and feels best in your hands – all the cameras mentioned on this page are contenders. It’s also important to carefully check prices as the Canon models, while often having higher than average RRPs, can enjoy some of the biggest discounts.

The bottom line is Canon’s produced a superb compact here, with the Ixus 860IS / PowerShot SD870 IS justifying its higher cost to most buyers. If the design appeals to you and the price is right, we can Highly Recommend it.

Good points
28mm wide angle and optical stabilisation.
Large and great quality screen.
Very good build quality and design.
Quick and easy access to settings.

Bad points
Higher RRP than rivals.
Little or no manual control.
Slow continuous shooting.
No Live Histogram; coarse zoom steps.

(relative to 2007 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:


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