It certainly took Canon long enough to come up with its first touchscreen camera. Other manufacturers like Nikon, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung have had versions that have been around for years, so can Canon bring anything new to the genre?
There have been a lot of similarities between the IXUS range in recent months; first we had theand which would make even the most astute observer rub their eyes in an attempt to spot the difference. Then came the with its elongated styling, an obvious influence on the aesthetic of the 200 IS. Has Canon's designers finally run out of inspiration?
Well from just looking at the outside, we'd dare hazard a guess and say yes they have. At the top of the 200 you will find the same configuration as the 110: a power and shutter button sit side by side, and a mode switch that flicks between movie, program and full automatic completes the top plate.
But here's where things start to get a bit fishy. At the back, alongside the 3-inch widescreen touch LCD, are physical buttons. "Buttons!" we hear you cry? "It's a touchscreen camera!" This perplexes us as much as your imagined retorts.
The pretty, pretty interface. Look, it's purple! (Credit: CBSi)
Fortunately, there are some reassurances thanks to the IXUS tag — it's a solid feeling camera with an ever-so-slightly brushed metal casing. Most controls are nicely positioned and within easy reach, except for one relatively glaring omission — there's no thumb rest. So while you're shooting, anything larger than a diminutive digit will have to perch precariously over the buttons, hoping you won't press anything too hard while you're gripping the camera in your right hand. There's also a helpful warning on a sheet of paper surreptitiously slipped into the box that tells you not to cover the flash with your finger as it discharges (which could happen given its position) otherwise something untoward might happen — like the flash burning out.
Moving back to the 200 IS's screen, it's certainly sturdier than the's screen because Canon has covered it with a protective layer that prevents fingernails or wayward digits from protruding too far into areas uncharted. HDMI output is located on the right side of the camera, but as usual you'll need to invest in a separate cable to make use of this functionality.
Now here's a number we haven't seen for a while on a compact camera's lens — 24mm. That's wide-angle, baby, and we love every minute of it. There's also a reasonable reach on this thing too as it extends to 5x optical zoom. We're very glad to see manufacturers finally fulfilling a lot of what consumers are asking for, but there's still some way to go as something like thehas a wide lens (25mm) and an 8x optical zoom reach. The maximum aperture at the wide end is f/2.8 though, great news for low-light photographers. Do note that there are no manual controls on the 200 IS, so if you're aiming for a soft background against a sharp foreground, it's going to be a tough call trying to get the camera to respond accordingly without manual overrides. We'd suggest switching into portrait mode as the camera is more likely to make use of the wide aperture in the aforementioned situation.
Coupled with a 12.1-megapixel sensor and the Digic 4 processor, the 200 IS can also do HD video at 720p and features a myriad of scene modes to choose from. There's the usual gamut of foliage, fireworks and other such settings, but one that took our fancy was creative lighting effect — turning areas of light into shapes of your selection. It aims to recreate a kind of bokeh effect that a lot of SLR photographers achieve by taping a cut-out shape on top of their lens and using a wide open aperture like f/1.4 or f/1.8.
The touchscreen interface has taken a couple of cues from mobile phones like Apple's iPhone, such as the swipe gesture to scroll through photos, and a tap to zoom in on certain sections in playback mode. Tapping the screen during shooting mode allows the user to select a particular focus point, and AF tracking ensures that the selected point is kept in continuous focus even if the subject moves. There is no pinch to zoom in and out though, and some actions are a tad clumsy at first: swiping downwards from the top of the screen will bring up two options on either side of the image when you are in single-view mode, allowing you to either erase the photo by moving your finger to the left, or view the image in a slideshow format by moving it to the right. The downwards motion was a little tricky for our slippery fingers to get accustomed to, and sometimes the camera wouldn't recognise the motion at first. Trial and error is key.
Scroll, scroll, scroll ... get ready to let your fingers do the walking. (Credit: CBSi)
Besides the camera, also included in the box is a wrist strap, battery charger and power cord, mini USB and AV cables, as well as software. There's no printed instruction manual which is a tad disappointing.