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Canon IXUS 1100HS review: Canon IXUS 1100HS

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Detail test
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Evidence of a 'halo' effect as the IXUS 1100HS focuses the different light wavelengths on slightly different parts of the sensor.

It was also evident on both edges of the gate in the countryside shot below, where the red light has been split off to the left and green to the right. Fortunately when viewed full screen rather than zoomed to 100 per cent, neither was particularly evident.

Detail test

Again, we're seeing light fringing here as different tones are focused slightly out of line with one another (click image to enlarge).

In macro mode, the lens will get you to within 1cm of your subject, and throw the surroundings out of focus to draw your eye to the focused area, as we would expect.

This allowed it to capture a stunning level of detail, with one of the best renderings of a teasel -- one of our standard test shots -- we have seen. Not only were the individual spikes sharply captured, but the hairs that line their leading edges were also clear to see.

Detail test

An excellent level of detail in this macro shot, which throws the parts of the image on which we didn't focus into a deep blur, as we hoped (click image to enlarge).

At the same time, the IXUS has balanced the exposure well, capturing both deep shadow at the bottom of the frame and bright highlights in the upper right quadrant, without clipping either.

Clipping occurs where either the level of light is so high that detail is lost in highlight areas, or so low that parts falling in shadow are subsumed by black. The 1100HS did an excellent job of avoiding either trap, even when we set out to find deliberately tricky subjects.

In the shot below we could reasonably expect the white characters to be burned out as the camera compensated for the darker wall, but they aren't. Neither is detail lost in the shadow area, as increasing the exposure in post-production reveals a clear gridded walkway, allowing us to recover what might have been lost by a lesser camera. (Although sadly, there is again evidence of the visible light spectrum being split here, with a pink fringe to the right and top edges of each character.)

Detail test

A particularly tricky shot generally well handled. There is no burn-out on the white letters, and it's still possible to recover detail in the underside of the walkway (click image to enlarge).

Turning to our portrait shot, the IXUS performed very well under studio lighting, as we expected, and also put in an excellent performance when using both ambient light and the onboard flash.

These latter two results were actually almost identical, with the flash balancing out some of the harsh highlights that we had seen in the ambient light test. In both cases the results were a little warmer than they had been under studio lighting, but to our eye they enhanced the finished result, and certainly brought out a greater level of detail.

Detail test

This portrait was warm and welcoming when shot under ambient light and using the on-board flash (click image to enlarge).

We performed our still life test under the same conditions, shooting a range of textures and colours using all three light sources. Here we were particularly impressed by the way in which the 1100HS had made best use of the available ambient light.

Although it increases the sensitivity from ISO 100 to ISO 800 and there was a very slight increase in noise, it didn't come anywhere close to the undesirable results we would expect to see from rival snappers at such high levels. Detail, such as the writing on our book page, was preserved, and colours were richer and more satisfying than they were in the studio-lit shot for a first-class performance all round.

Detail test

The IXUS 1100HS put in a great performance under ambient light. Despite having to increase sensitivity to ISO 800, the resulting image was clean, with very low levels of noise (click image to enlarge).

Movie mode

The IXUS 1100HS gives you the option of two high-definition formats: both 1,920x1,080 pixels, 24 frames per second and 1,280x720, 30fps. It also has a 640x480 mode for Web use and a super-slow 240fps option, which shoots at a resolution of just 320x230. We chose 1,920x1,080 at 24fps for our tests.

The image results were truly impressive. Detail remained sharp and clear through significant camera movement, such as filming while walking, and colours were as good in moving pictures as they were in stills.

When shooting videos, the camera has the added complication of smoothly adjusting on the fly for changing light levels. When you're shooting stills it doesn't matter if this is done in steps, but it simply wouldn't get away with that on film. Fortunately the 1100HS doesn't fall into this potential trap. Corrections are smooth and unstepped, with the IXUS also making great use of available light in darker scenes.

As we noted in our review of the IXUS 230HS, however, the wind noise reduction feature was underwhelming, doing little to cut the noise of a passing breeze on the in-built microphone.

Conclusion

The HS system built into both this and the IXUS 230HS really pays dividends. Colours are great and the pictures themselves are remarkably clean and free of undesirable noise.

Yet when stood beside its more compact sibling, it looks like the poorer relation. We were disappointed by the colour fringing we experienced in some areas of high contrast and we found the touchscreen difficult to use. It left us feeling that this had perhaps been included to set this camera apart from its competitors with the result that it has pushed up the price further than we could easily justify. That unfortunately leaves it with a fairly middling score.

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