Canon's IXUS snappers aren't just cameras -- they're style icons. But the 14.1-megapixel IXUS 130 is a highly practical day-to-day camera too, thanks to its 4x wide-angle zoom and 720p, high-definition movie mode. While it's far from the most expensive IXUS model in the range, it's surely one of the most desirable. It's available now for around £250.
Venus as a camera
Handling the 130 reminds us of those occasions when you pick up a pebble on the beach and spend ages turning it over and over in your hand. The 130's rounded contours, hard, tactile surface and weight and solidity are fascinating. This camera's physical form is so satisfying that you might hardly care whether it's any good or not. It's classic IXUS fare.
The 130 is also one of the most practical IXUS models. With rounded corners and a thickness of just 18mm, this camera slides in and out of any pocket or bag. There's nothing to snag on the lining or get hooked on the zip, and the exterior is so smooth, elegant and understated that it's practically a work of art.
The camera's actually rather good to use, too. There's no awkward spinning control dial on its rear -- Canon has opted instead for a much more straightforward four-way controller for setting the focus mode, EV compensation, flash mode and self-timer. The flush-mounted buttons are clearly labelled and work perfectly.
Optically, the 130 is a step-up from the average 3x compact zoom, sporting a 4x wide-angle zoom range that should cope with the vast majority of everyday snapping opportunities. It comes with Canon's new 'smart flash' system, too, which blends flash and ambient lighting very effectively for more natural-looking results.