Canon's Digital IXUS 990 IS boasts all the usual IXUS virtues: elegant design and straightforward controls combined with hi-tech automation. That's an appealing mix for those who want an idiot-proof camera with a touch of class. The 12.1-megapixel 990 also gives you a 5x image-stabilised zoom and a high-definition movie mode. It sounds good, but, at around £280, so it should.
Canon's IXUS models offer no wild gimmicks or experimental technology. But they're not cheap, either. They are, however, pretty safe bets when you're not so worried about the price but you do want a solid, dependable and respectable camera that's not going to embarrass you at posh parties and will turn out good-quality pictures in anyone's hands.
There's plenty to like. The semi-matte metal finish looks good and the external controls have been kept to a minimum. On the top is a three-position slider for selecting the movie, standard stills and full auto modes, while, on the back, are Canon's usual directional/rotary controller and just four triangular buttons for direct printing, playback mode, the main menus and the display options. Most routine adjustments are made using the 'func' button in the middle of the controller. The great thing about Canon compacts is that this basic control system hasn't changed in years.
The 76mm (3-inch) LCD is especially good, and a check of the specs reveals why -- it has twice the resolution of most rivals' screens, with 461,000 pixels. And the 990 is smart on the inside as well as the outside. Like most compacts now, it offers automatic scene recognition, but it picks the right scene from all 18 available-- not just a handful of the most common ones.