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Canon Digital IXUS 80 IS: Let's face it

The Canon Digital IXUS 80 IS has shown its face in the run-up to PMA 2008, with a face-detection system that works out white balance, tracks faces and looks for subject movement

With the gargantuan PMA 2008 photography trade show looming, a number of camera manufacturers have already fired out the first announcements of new snappers. Following Canon's launch of the new 450D SLR comes the latest entry to the ever-popular IXUS range, the 8-megapixel IXUS 80 IS -- and it's all about faces.

The 80 IS also follows the slinky 860 IS in looking great. Canon has given it a 'perpetual curve' design that comes in two-tone black and silver, pink -- for the ladies -- or the tasty-sounding chocolate or caramel. The screen is a slightly disappointing 64mm (2.5 inches), but at least it keeps the overall size down.

We like the sound of the souped-up face-detection system. It has all sorts of knobs on, including real-time red-eye correction and tracking of an individual face. It also adds white balance adjustment to the usual exposure and focus settings optimised for faces spotted in the image.

Canon is also unleashing new motion-detection technology, which draws information from all over the shop to work out if camera or subject are moving. Data from face detection, scene brightness, subject movement and the optical image stabiliser all let the 80 IS calculate the settings necessary to avoid the blight of blur in your pictures.

Optical image stabilisation also strategically joggles the lens to compensate for hand jitters, which is something we missed from previous IXUSes (IXi?).

Thankfully Canon has sidestepped the trend to treat ISO capability as the new megapixels, trumpeting ever higher numbers that look good on paper but actually harm your pictures. Instead, the new range of Canons demonstrate a shift in emphasis to boosting ISO as little as possible. It's a welcome about-face, and we're looking forward to getting our phizogs in the frame when the 80 IS turns up in March 2008, priced at £219. -Rich Trenholm

Update: Read our full Canon Digital IXUS 80 IS review.