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.