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Canon is no stranger to compact cameras with long lenses, the most recent example being the IXUS 1000 HS. As you can tell by the naming convention, the IXUS 1100 HS supersedes this older camera, adding a few extra bits and pieces, like a longer lens, to the specifications sheet.
For those coming across from the world of mobile phone photography, the IXUS 1100 HS should be an absolute cinch to use. The camera has a 3.2-inch touchscreen panel at the rear, which takes up most of the back panel. There's just enough room for one physical button for playback/picture-review mode. Everything else is controlled from the screen itself.
The top of the camera features a power and a shutter button, a zoom rocker wrapped around the shutter and a switch sliding between full-automatic mode and scene/program modes. Like many other compact cameras, the IXUS 1100 HS is designed to be used primarily in automatic modes. You can tweak options, such as ISO and white balance in program mode, if you so desire, and there are a range of scene modes and filters to use, such as low light, miniature mode and toy camera.
One of the many filters on the 1100 HS, toy camera, which adds a vignette effect to corners and washes out the colours of an image for a more vintage feel.
The body sits nicely in the hand, and is finished in a very pleasing brushed silver, but it is noticeably heavy, weighing 183 grams. With a 12x zoom lens inside, the weight isn't particularly surprising, but what does make you sit back and do a double take is that the camera is just 2.1cm deep, which would be svelte enough to win any beauty contest. Also noticeably absent is any form of grip, so you will need a wrist strap to avoid any unfortunate dropping incidents. Its lens is reasonably wide at 28mm.
The IXUS 1100 HS also features Canon's latest image stabilisation technology, which identifies what sort of stabilisation needs to be applied to the scene: either normal, macro, shooting while walking, using a tripod, panning or shooting with telephoto zoom.
The touchscreen interface hasn't changed dramatically from previous versions that have appeared on Canon cameras, which means that at times it can be a little tricky to navigate. There are options to customise the appearance and placement of some icons, which might help, but this is a touchscreen camera, so if you're not comfortable with the interface (or getting to know it), then it's not the right compact for you.
The pretty touchscreen menu system on the 1100 HS.
Standard options familiar to touchscreen users, such as tap to focus and to shoot, are here.
Connectivity is provided via mini-HDMI and USB-out. The 1100 HS uses a very slimline battery that slots into a separate compartment at the base, on the other side of the SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot.
|Canon IXUS 1100 HS||Nikon Coolpix S8200||Sony Cyber-shot HX7V|
|12.1-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor||16-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor||16-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor|
|3.2-inch touchscreen (460,000 dots)||3.0-inch LCD (921,000 dots)||3.0-inch LCD (921,000 dots)|
|12x optical zoom||14x optical zoom||10x optical zoom|
|Full HD (1080p, 30fps, H.264)||Full HD (1080p, 30fps, H.264)||Full HD (1080i, 60fps, MPEG-4)|
|No GPS||No GPS||GPS unit|
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Canon rates the battery life at 170 shots, which is below average for a camera of this class. The 1100 HS has a range of continuous shooting modes. The one measured above is regular continuous shooting, which captures full-resolution frames. There is also a high-speed burst mode, which captures images at 3-megapixel resolution at the stated rate of 7.8 frames per second. The camera does not stop to process the images, but continues to capture frames until the shutter button is released.
As with the other Canon cameras that carry the HS moniker, the 1100 takes pleasing images on default settings. It delivers photos with good saturation, perhaps a little punchier than reality, but still very easy on the eye. Detail is maintained throughout the telephoto range of the zoom, and exposures are accurate when using automatic mode.
This is how close you can get with 12x optical zoom.
There's a bit of a yellow cast to some shots when using automatic white balance, but this can easily be corrected by taking a manual reading in such circumstances. There's no RAW shooting on this camera, though; just straight JPEG images.
The IXUS 1100 HS does well with macro images. This was taken at the full 12x zoom, with 100 per cent crop inset.
As is often the way with cameras that use backlit CMOS sensors, the 1100 HS exhibits some processing artefacts on its JPEG images taken in ample light. It's not enough to affect prints, but if you want to make dramatic crops, then you might want to consider adding in some noise reduction to your post-processing workflow. Barrel distortion is kept under control at the wide end, and there aren't many other lens issues to notice, apart from a gradual drop in sharpness towards the left side of the frame — not unique to this camera. The 1100 HS also likes to blow out highlights rather a lot. One way to get around this is to deliberately underexpose, using the exposure compensation in program mode, then using the i-Contrast settings in playback to recover some of the detail from shadow areas. Not an ideal solution, but a solution nonetheless.
Video quality is good for a camera of this class. The image-stabilisation system works particularly well when it tries to alleviate movement caused by walking or panning the camera. Given the positioning of the microphones at the top of the camera, it is easy to accidentally cover them and block out the audio recording. The image-stabilisation system is also quite noisy; you can hear it on recordings in very quiet spaces, or if you accidentally cover up the microphone.
As well as full HD video at 1080p, there are a range of other movie-shooting modes, including super slow motion that takes videos at 120 or 240fps, and iFrame recording.
Exposure: 1/50, f/5, ISO 200
Exposure: 1/125, f/5, ISO 250
Exposure: 1/250, f/5.9, ISO 250
Exposure: 1/400, f/3.4, ISO 400
Ideal for photographers who love the flexibility of a touchscreen camera, the IXUS 1100 HS also offers a huge optical zoom and good image quality. The lack of a decent battery life is disappointing, though, and makes the shooting experience more frustrating than it should be.