One of the most read-about cameras on the CNET.com.au Web site, Canon's 6-megapixel IXUS 65 is a compact little shooter notable for its three-inch LCD screen. Similar to a Sony PlayStation Portable display, the wide-screen gives you immediate appreciation of your shots. It's also pivotal in catering to those who prefer to configure/edit their photos on the device.
With the LCD taking up most of the real-estate on the back of the camera, only a few small buttons and a control dial sit adjacent to it. The shutter button, power button and mode switch (for photo, video and playback) can all be found along the top.
There aren't too many cameras more pocket-sized than this. You could easily carry the IXUS 65 in your shirt pocket without looking lop-sided. As there's not a lot of camera to grip though, you'd be well advised to use the included wrist strap. Being a camera of short-stature, it's quite easy to take shots with one-hand, again suggesting this is a camera for the masses, not the experts. While a tripod socket is located underneath, using a stand for a camera this small would look unusual.
Both the rechargeable battery and memory card are inserted by sliding open a cover on the bottom of the camera.
As observed in our earlier First Take, the IXUS 65 lends itself to those who prefer to view their photos on the camera, and who perhaps don't have much time for enhancing their shots later.
One way it caters to the time-poor is through a multitude of colour options. Ten pre-defined colour modes can be set while shooting such as Sepia, Positive Film, Black & White, and some variations of Vivid and Skin Tone. There is also a custom colour option.
If this isn't enough however you can also experiment with the Colour Accent and Colour Swap modes. Colour Accent allows you to focus on a colour in your shooting subject and have all other colours transformed to black and white. More practical though is Colour Swap, useful for capturing colours in a subject you might have trouble replicating on a computer. In Swap mode, you focus the camera on the colour in the subject you wish to change, before focusing on the desired replacement colour. The resulting shot replaces the first colour with the second. These effects can be used in video mode, which coincidentally shoots at 30 frames per second (640 x 480 pixel resolution), as well as with still shots.
Further compelling you to get the perfect shot first time are seven available white balance settings.
All these ways of producing quality images before they're even sent to a computer make the slideshow capability on the camera even more inviting. The ability to rotate photos on the camera is an important function here. Slideshows let you to adjust image display time and transition effects. If there's some audio ambience you'd like to go with your photo, you can also record sound memos and assign them to images (though you'll have to load them to a computer to hear them).
When it comes to the camera lens, the IXUS 65 has the average zoom capabilities you'd expect from the mid-tier of the digital camera market, with a retractable 3x optical zoom lens, and 4x digital zoom.
With so much screen space and so few buttons, it's easy to overlook the many shooting options that exist if you delve deeper into the IXUS 65 menu. Colour Swap however was particularly interesting, and could bypass the time spent laying one colour over another's area in desktop editing software.
General camera operation went smoothly. We'd often half-press the shutter button to focus on our subject, and the orange focus squares would frame the same portion of the subject we were interested in. The pleasing thing about this focus mechanism was once we decided to focus on another part of the subject, we'd only have to half-press again and the focus squares would frame another part of the subject. The camera's guesswork was automatic and meant we didn't have to move it in order for it to change focus.
With no viewfinder, one of our first concerns with the IXUS 65 was how quickly the LCD would consume battery life. We managed to get one good day of shooting at a minimum from a single battery charge during our tests, yet we were still concerned about unnecessary power consumption. While the LCD will "sleep" after a minute of inactivity, moving it suddenly will cause it to "wake up". This is handy for late notice photo opportunities in that you don't need to find a tiny switch, but if you're walking around the screen will usually stay on. In this case you could set the camera to turn off automatically after another two minutes, but switching the device on and off again would surely be more draining on the battery. As innovative as the "sleep" function may be, we can't help but feel we'd get longer battery life between charges if there was an LCD on/off switch.
Shooting at night was quite easy thanks to the camera's automatic night display mode. While the darkness would often make our subject hard to see through the LCD, after a few seconds the camera would brighten the LCD monitor to allow us to see our subject properly. While this has no impact on the recorded image, it helped us frequently throughout our tests.
If you plan on photographing many things from long distance, this may not be your ideal shooter. While we had no problem focusing the optical or digital zoom, the IXUS 65 does not have the strongest lens in the pack. In addition to this, the lever was at times a hassle to control the level of zoom, particularly when we wanted to find a point between 0 and 3x (not zoom all the way in). When you consider what else is available, and in some cases at lower price points, the 3x optical zoom here is nothing to write home about.