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Photos: Hands-on with the Canon Digital IXUS 970 IS

The Canon Digital IXUS 970 IS is a 10-megapixel compact camera that's, well, funny-looking. We like funny-looking. It also has an enormous 5x zoom

Some gadgets arrive here and eager Cravers crowd around for a gawp at the latest piece of shiny newness. The Canon IXUS camera range usually elicits this response, with "oohs" and "aahs" at the sleek lines and chic angles of the latest model. The IXUS 970 IS, however, left us scratching our heads. Just what is it supposed to be?

There's barely a straight line on the 10-megapixel 970 IS, with swooshing curves and weird corners. It has a retro feel, but not in the way that many cameras hark back to the classic black/grey camera designs of the film age. Rather it has the bulges and rounded corners of earlier digital compact models, which tried to look friendly and unintimidating to bring cameras bouncing into the consumer-friendly realm they inhabit now. As such, the 970 IS has a slightly toy-like feel. It wouldn't look wrong in two-tone pastel pink and yellow. None of the 860, 75 and 90's hard slick angles and catwalk attitude. This camera is so friendly it's practically wagging its tail.

It does include face detection, red-eye correction and motion tracking. The focal length is the equivalent of 37mm at the wide end, while you have the choice of 18 scene modes.

The Canon Digital IXUS 970 IS is available online now for £270. Click through for more pictures and the big selling point. -Rich Trenholm

Update: Read our full Canon Digital IXUS 970 IS review

Around the back, the old-timey -- but not that old-timey -- feel continues with this 64mm (2.5-inch) screen, round buttons, random bulges and a toytown viewfinder. It's nice to have a proper viewfinder these days. Kids these days just don't appreciate optical viewfinders. It was all fields around here when I were a lad, etc.

The 970 IS may look like a plaything, but it has one serious feature that leaps right out at you: a 5x zoom lens. Just look at that honking great hooter. Canon describes the zoom as 'uncompromising', thanks to advanced UA (Ultra-high refractive index Aspherical) lens technology.

We like zoom collar rockers: that is, the switch that rocks from side to side to control the zoom forms a collar around the shutter button. This one scores points for the way it sits flush with the curved top of the camera.

Canon is also quite pleased with the redesigned optical image stabiliser system that it claims will save you 4 stops. We'll be testing that, along with the rest of the IXUS 970 IS' features, in our forthcoming review.