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Christmas Gift Guide

Sometimes we can be rather hard on Canon. But we've now had our hands on the new range of IXUS and PowerShot models announced yesterday, and we're impressed that Canon is expanding beyond the stylish but only incrementally improving point-and-shoot cameras of recent times.

Let's be clear: Canon dSLRs are things of wonder, to be stared at and stroked lovingly and generally coveted by anyone with an interest in photography. Canon's compacts are similarly brilliant in the image quality department, which after all is the first and most important requirement of a camera. But we've increasingly felt that the IXUS range has lagged behind other manufacturers in terms of features and innovation, especially when paying the premium price the IXUS name and style demands.

The most obvious departures are the superzoom SX200 IS and waterproof D10. The SX200 packs a 12x zoom into a body that feels, to us, lighter than its closest competitor, the Panasonic Lumix TZ5. It's sleeker than the Lumix, and as much as we love the TZ5, we've already got a crush on the SX200.

The D10's looks won't be for everybody: it has a bulbous, slightly toy-like feel that Olympus' waterproof range is at pains to avoid. Still, if anyone can overcome the limitations of underwater photography, Canon can.

The other IXUS models on show are as classy as ever, with new colours to appeal to a wide range of consumers. We'd like to see better than 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screens on the 100 and 95, but the 110 and 990 sport 76mm (3-inch) screens and optical image stabilisation is standard across the new models. 720p high-definition video is included in the 100, 110, 990 and SX200.

Two new PowerShot models also debuted. We struggle to get excited about the lower-end PowerShots, which to us are chunky and undistinguished. The 12-megapixel A1100 and A210 do make up for their larger size with 4x and 6x zooms, although you only get 64mm screens and VGA video for £220 or £260.

Until the new models hit the shops, we won't have an idea of how much you'll actually be paying for them, but consumers are generally happy to pay that little extra for Canon quality. With these new models, we're happy you'll be getting your money's worth.

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This is the PowerShot A1100 IS, which joins the PowerShot A2100 IS in the chubby end of the Canon stable.
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This is the colourful and slimline IXUS 100 IS. We'll have more on this later, as we snagged one of the only models in the UK.
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Slightly confusingly, the IXUS 110 IS replaces the IXUS 95.
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The 110 includes a new interface, relying on just two buttons and a nifty scroll wheel.
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Here's the waterproof PowerShot D10, complete with bulbous protective cover for the lens.
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The D10 comes with an attachment for this lanyard, sold separately. There's a carabiner at one end and an anchor point at each corner of the camera, which locks the sturdy rope in place with a simple twist and squeeze.
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This is the ginormous lens of the superzooming compact SX200 IS.
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Cop a load of that. That's the SX200's 12x optical zoom at full extension.
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It's hard to show this in a picture, but we had to point out the supremely classy pop-up flash, which in fact doesn't do anything as prosaic as 'popping up'. No, when you turn the SX200 on, the flash langourously stretches, teasingly unfolding in an elegantly fluid two-stage motion. Swoon.
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