Pros: Crisp output images; excellent colour reproduction; high zoom; attractive design.
Cons: Fiddly and sluggish controls; pricey; poor ‘high-sensitivity’ mode.
Canon’s Ixus line is renowned for its styling, but the Ixus 970 IS’s design is a triumph of style over substance. It looks great but its ergonomics are terrible, which is a shame as the technology inside the pretty shell allows you to capture some great images.
The 970 IS’s chassis is an attractive blue-ish silver with sweeping curves. However, the curved right-hand side (as you hold the camera) makes it hard to get a firm grip on the camera. The lozenge-shaped On/Off button is recessed and fiddly. The zoom rocker wheel has a limited range of motion and a tiny control knob, which fits with the camera’s overall aesthetic but again, is fiddly to use.
On the back of the unit are a mode selection wheel, four buttons and a D-pad with a curious rotary control around it. This is designed to be used to select controls in manual mode, and can also be used to scroll through menus. However, there’s a lag between you moving it and anything happening, making it far too easy to select the wrong function.
Once you fight your way through the 970 IS’s controls, you do generally end up with a decent shot – assuming your subject hasn’t wandered off in the meantime. The inclusion of a 5x zoom lens is great, considering that the 970 IS is noticeably smaller than the Ricoh R8 (and the Coolpix P5100). All of the smaller models have 3x lenses. As usual for a Canon, the IS image-stabilization system is top notch, even at full zoom.
The shots were high quality, capturing clean details and vibrant colours. In low-light conditions, many usable shots were captured – though the ISO 3200 ‘high-sensitivity’ mode is poor. Output is very noisy, and limits the resolution to 1,600-x-1,200 (1.9 megapixels).
The 970 IS is also pricey next to its rivals. It’s the most expensive model in this test, and its performance doesn’t justify this.
Lens zoom: 5x
Lens (35mm equivalent): 37-185mm f/2.8-4.9
Image Stabilization Type: Lens shift
Effective resolution: 10 megapixels
Max image size: 3,648-x-2,736
Autofocus modes: 9-point/centre/Face Select and Track
Face detection: Yes
ISO Range: ISO 80-3200
ISO 3200 mode max mp: 1.9mp
Shutter range: 15-1/1,600 second
Exposure modes: Auto, 12 scene modes
Macro mode (minimum focusing distance): 2cm
Continuous shooting speed (at full res): 2.1fps
LCD size and resolution: 2.5-inch, 230,000 pixel
Optical viewfinder: Yes
Storage media: SD, SD-HC, MMC, MMCplus
Internal memory: None (32MB SD bundled)
Quoted battery life: 320 shots
Colour options: Silver
Dimensions (W-x-H-x-D): 95-x-57-x-27mm
Weight (body only): 155g