The old adage of good things coming in small packages seems right at home with the 95 IS. This little camera is really quite small, measuring 88.5x54.8x21.8mm. At first, you'd be forgiven for thinking it seems a little flimsy as you take it out of the box, revealing the plastic front panel — it is certainly a bit of a shock considering the all-metal construction of other IXUS cameras. Any doubts are soon put to rest with the significant weight advantage offered by the new materials — at 120g it is also lighter than a lot of the Canon compacts that have come before it.
Turn this little pocket rocket around and you'll see that the buttons at the back all sit flush with the camera body and have a nice rubberised feel to them. It's the standard Canon compact configuration, with the LCD screen situated at the back left and the buttons arranged to the right, along with a mode switch that changes the camera from fully automatic to program and movie options. The power and shutter button sit toward the top right, with the zoom rocker nestled around the shutter.
At the bottom is the standard battery/SD card slot arrangement and a small tripod attachment. Colour choice is varied, and follows the lead from the rainbow-styled IXUS 80 IS — silver, blue, green, pink and grey.
Much to our enjoyment, the 95 IS features an optical viewfinder, something which has been much missed on a range of the IXUS cameras previously. While it's incredibly (and we mean, incredibly) small, it is still very useful in bright situations when the screen is hard to view, or when the battery is running low and you're trying to conserve energy for just a few more shots. On the topic of small, the LCD screen is 2.5 inches — it suits the footprint of the camera, but we are left wanting just a little more.
In terms of the lens, 3x optical zoom is what you'll get here which is relatively standard on a camera of this size and price. So too is the focal length of the lens, which is 35mm at its widest — slightly disappointing. Indeed, when we look at the specifications it's really quite similar to the popular IXUS 80 IS, but instead has two extra megapixels (topping out at 10 megapixels on the 95 IS) and an improved processor (Digic 4) to name the most obvious differences. A new Canon technology called intelligent contrast correction is also included, which is purported to automatically correct the exposure for dark and light situations.
Unlike the IXUS 100 IS, the 95 IS doesn't have high-definition movie mode, only 640x480 at 30fps. The two other modes that you'll need to acquaint yourself with on the 95 IS are the automatic and program modes. Full automatic is fairly self explanatory, with the camera adjusting all settings depending on shooting conditions. In this mode you can only adjust the recording size of the photo, activate or deactivate the flash, and use the self-timer.
Program is a little different, and while not affording full control over aperture and shutter combinations, the 95 IS allows a little more flexibility. You can adjust ISO, white balance, camera colours, metering mode, single or continuous shots, and recording size as well as scene modes, exposure compensation and all the above mentioned options available to you in automatic.
Performance and image quality
Start-up time on the 95 IS was particularly good, with the time taken from pressing the power button to the camera being ready to shoot being just over 1 second. In continuous shooting mode, the 95 IS averaged just under 1 second for sequential shots.