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Cameras

Canon Digital IXUS 800 IS

Canon includes image stabilisation and a 4x optical zoom lens on the compact, 6-megapixel IXUS 800IS.

Canon's stylish range of IXUS cameras for 2006 start with 5-megapixel models and range up to a 7-megapixel shooter at prices from AU$499 up to AU$799.

Upside
The 6-mexapixel 800 IS is the first IXUS model from Canon to feature anti-shake capabilities. Optical image stabilisation technology is built into the 4x optical zoom lens of the 800IS, and aims to combat blurry images that often result when shooting in low light. Image stabilisation is a feature commonly seen on megazoom cameras, where camera shake is hard to avoid with the optical zoom maxed out in telephoto mode.

The 800 IS is closest in design to the IXUS 750, with a smooth curve sweeping down one of the sides of its sturdy, metallic case. There are 12 preset shooting modes for a range of environments, such as beach, indoors, foliage, fireworks and underwater (the optional waterproof case is sold separately).

Another little camera with a big screen, the 800IS's 2.5-inch LCD spans most of the rear of the camera, which really does but put older models with smaller displays to shame. Aside from giving a more accurate representation while composing a shot, the large display makes it easier -- and more impressive -- to share photos with friends.

Downside
The large LCD has made Canon squish the optical viewfinder down to an excruciatingly small size. Perhaps Canon would have been better off eliminating it all together, as in the case of the IXUS 65, which sports a 3-inch LCD. Another niggling problem we noticed with a pre-production model Canon let us play with was the mode dial on the side of the camera that felt a little flimsy and awkward to control accurately.

Outlook
Price-wise, the 800 IS sits alongside the IXUS Wireless and IXUS 750 at a recommended retail price of AU$799, which are 5- and 7.1-megapixel cameras, respectively. Specs-wise, image stabilisation is the feature that sets this model apart from the crowd, but you'll need to look elsewhere for advanced controls.

The IXUS 800 IS will be available from April. Other 6-megapixel options from Canon include the AU$629 IXUS 65 and the AU$579 IXUS 60.

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