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Canon Digital IXUS i7 zoom review: Canon Digital IXUS i7 zoom

Canon's i7 zoom is a chic, compact camera that looks great, but is let down by its slow performance and speckly pictures.

Zennith Geisler
5 min read

Improving on last year's i zoom, Canon's i7 zoom gets its name from the jump to seven megapixels, up from five megapixels on its successor. This upgrade also features Canon's new Digic III image processor (also present on the recently launched PowerShot G7, Digital IXUS 900 Ti and Digital IXUS 850 IS, and comes in a new selection of colours.


Canon Digital IXUS i7 zoom

The Good

Small and lightwieght. Stylish design with range of colours. Impressive video recording. Includes remote and docking station.

The Bad

Tiny LCD. Narrow lens. Slow startup and shutter lag. Substantial image noise.

The Bottom Line

Canon's i7 zoom is a chic, compact camera that looks great, but is let down by its slow performance and speckly pictures.

The i7 zoom is available in hot pink, navy blue, and grey, complimented with glossy stainless steel accents, and sepia with gold-plated accents (the flavour we reviewed). We quite like the brown (come on Canon, if you're going to make a brown camera, at least call it what it is) but we did have a few scrunched up faces and unsavoury comments during our testing. Is brown the new black? As more and more brown tech gadgets emerge (MP3 players, mobile phones and laptops to name a few), we wouldn't be surprised. The gold-plated accents also give this snapshooter an air of sophistication, without screaming of tack like Motorola's blinged out D&G RAZR V3i mobile phone.

Keeping the same form factor as the i zoom, the 23.9mm by 96.1mm by 45.1mm, 105 gram i7 zoom is compact, lightweight and slips easily into your bag or jacket pocket. The trend of being tiny doesn't stop there. The LCD takes up most of the real estate on the back of the camera, but don't be fooled into thinking that means its size is notable. We were less than impressed with the 1.8-inch display which is positively miniscule compared to the 2.5- and 3-inch screens becoming standard on ultracompacts. The layout of the controls are fairly standard and don't differ from that of the i zoom -- a navigation pad sits to the right to the LCD and is surrounded by a PictBridge direct-printing shortcut, menu button, function settings and mode selector to switch between camera, video and photo review modes. Topping off the tiny trend is the lens itself -- a narrow 38mm-to-90mm-equivalent with 2.4x zoom.

Possibly the biggest (most notable?) feature of the i7 zoom is the new image processing chip Canon has included in all of its new cameras. The Digic III image processor claims to improve not just image quality, but performance and battery life too. Part of the new imaging technology is the Face Detect function which identifies people framed in the shot, locks their faces into focus and adjusts the exposure. We quite liked this function to help in dealing with the stark contrast that can be found between human subjects and their backgrounds. Another new feature is the addition of the Aquarium scene mode, made for the frequently in-demand need to shoot water through glass (or so we assume).

Jokes aside, the i7 zoom offers 14 scene modes, a good selection of manual controls (with light sensitivity up to ISO 1600), and support for SDHC memory cards.

Included accessories come in the form of a wrist strap, docking station and remote control. While handy for displaying the camera, the dock is also necessary for using any connections with the camera. This means you need to set the camera in the dock and connect the USB cable, AV cable, or power plug into the dock in order to transfer images or charge the unit. We found this annoying as we like to carry our camera everywhere and don't appreciate adding almost twice the bulk to our luggage by having to also carry the dock. It's not a camera we'd want to take travelling. The remote is pretty flimsy and we didn't use it a great deal, but it could come in handy for taking narcissistic self-portraits and for those group shots where you want everyone in the picture. As with most cameras these days, Canon does not include a carry case for the i7 zoom. It's a consistent complaint of ours, as there is nothing to protect the camera from getting all scratched up.

Fashionable form factor and generous features aside, the i7 zoom begins to lose appeal. As soon as we powered up the camera, we found ourselves impatient with the time it took to "wake up". There was considerable shutter lag, and shot-to-shot time was slow, painfully so when using the flash. The burst mode was also very slow, and we were tempted to say it could have been omitted altogether.

However, the movie mode did please us quite a bit. Capable of up to 640 x 480 resolution (VGA) and 60 frames-per-second (QQVGA) we found our video recording to be clear and accurate, as well as capturing sound very well. Even in low-light we were able to shoot decent movies -- if you shoot a lot of video on your digicam and aren't fussed about still image quality, the i7 zoom might work as a great -- and extremely small -- camcorder.

Shooting speed
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Time to first shot  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon Digital IXUS i7 zoom
Sony Cyber Shot DSC-T30
Note: In seconds

Typical continuous-shooting speed
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Canon Digital IXUS i7 zoom

Performance charts courtesy of CNET.com

Image quality
The i7 zoom's photos were its biggest downfall -- not something to be taken lightly as you can have all the bells and whistle you like, but when it comes to the crunch, that is a digital camera's primary function. Although our images were bright and colours were accurate, the auto white balance leaned a little towards the yellow side, sometimes making subjects look slightly jaundiced. Clarity also didn't fare too well, with noticeable image noise on lower ISO settings and an extremely grainy effect when trying to use the impressive-sounding ISO 1600 sensitivity.

All in all, the i7 zoom isn't much more than an incremental upgrade from the i zoom -- however we would recommend it over its predecessor, if not for the increased megapixel count, new image chip and suave sepia tone, for the mere fact that it retails for AU$50 less than last year's model.

If you care more about what your camera looks like than what your photos look like, need something compact, and will take advantage of the video recording features, the IXUS i7 zoom may be worth a look.