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

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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.

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7.0 Overall

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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.

Design
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.

Features
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.

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