The Canon IXUS 800 IS is a very stylish six megapixel digital camera. It is an upgrade to the very popular Canon IXUS 750. Building on the success of its predecessor it has added a longer zoom lens and also image stabilisation. This feature can come in handy when you are taking shots in less than perfect light.
In many ways the IXUS 800 IS is a high quality point and shoot camera. With its metal body and stylish design it is likely to appeal anyone who is looking for a relatively straightforward digital camera and is prepared to pay extra for a step up in quality.
As a rule with Canon digital cameras you know roughly what you are going to get before you turn them on. The IXUS 800 IS is no exception. This camera is capable of producing sharp images and strong colours. For me that is the ideal combination when you are looking to buy any camera.
Looking at my outdoor scenic test shots these strengths are immediately evident. The brickwork on the building in the first photo is sharper than I am used to seeing. An area of this photo that often catches out other digital cameras is the tiles on the roof. Again the IXUS 800 IS makes a very good attempt to bring them into focus.
I think the reason many other cameras struggle in this area is because the tiles are quite dark. Digital cameras can find it hard to bring out details in both light and dark areas. This camera handles both light and dark well. Whereas other models can struggle with the volume of white on the boats here detail again shows up well. The same can be said for the white wooden slats under the roof of the building.
If I had a criticism of these shots it is that the focusing does lose a shade of sharpness as you move away from the centre of the photo.
The dedicated test for colours produces a strong result. As with Canon digital cameras on the whole blues makes a particularly strong showing. This is also reflected in the skies of the scenic shots.
Taking a look at the outdoor portrait shot there are two factors that I especially like. The first is the warm colours and skin tones. The photo was taken on an overcast day and I used the cloudy white balance setting to help in these areas. The second positive point is the level of detail in the shot. From time to time with some digital cameras it is noticeable that as light falls onto the face an area of the shot ends up over exposed (too bright) causing detail to be lost. The IXUS 800 IS copes with this potential problem very well.
Next up are the indoor shots. Again the portrait comes out well. Once more it is the level of detail the camera manages to find that is impressive, especially when taking the lighting conditions into account. There is a definite downside to this shot though. That is the level of red eye that shows up. Although red eye is a fairly consistent feature in this test shot the level of the problem here is above average. The shot of beer bottle is taken in more or less complete darkness. It is sharply focused and well lit considering the extreme conditions.
The macro shot is also a winner. It is one of the better close up shots I have managed to produce. It is another shot where the focusing is spot on. Again the shot is also bright and clear.
My final test is for shots with a high ISO setting. You may need to shoot at higher ISO levels in lowlight when flash cannot be used or the subject is outside the range of the flash unit. This is another area where the IXUS 800 IS does well. The shot at ISO 400 is not perfect, but the quality of the picture is above average. If you step up to ISO 800 the result is not so good. I would only use this setting if there were no other options available allowing me to get the shot.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
I was able to take a single shot in 0.29 seconds and five shots in 7.27 seconds. The first time is a fairly average time. The time for five photos is a bit faster than average.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The four times optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 35 - 140mm in 35mm format. In addition there is also a four times digital zoom feature. For close up work the camera can focus from 2cm away from the subject.
For composing shots you can choose between an optical viewfinder and a 2.5 inch LCD screen. The screen is made up of around 173,000 pixels. The brightness of the LCD screen can be adjusted. This can be useful in difficult lighting conditions. The LCD screen is used to display a range of helpful information. This includes low battery and memory card storage indicators, plus a histogram.
The built in flash unit has a maximum range of 3.5m. This falls to around 2m when the zoom lens is in use. You can boost the power of the flash by picking up an external flash unit. This is the High Power Flash HF-DC1. The flash modes available to you are Auto, Flash On, Flash Off, Red Eye Reduction and Slow Sync Speed.
To help you take the best possible shot there are a variety of scene modes available. When you use a scene mode it indicates to the camera the type of shot you are about to take. The camera will then use what it considers to be the optimum settings for the photo. The scene modes available are Portrait, Night Snapshot, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater, Indoor, Kids & Pets, Color Accent and Color Swap. There is also a Stitch Assist setting available. This helps you to put together panoramic type shots.
To add different effects to your photos Canon have added a number of colour options to the IXUS 800 IS. These are Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red and Custom Color. Canon digital cameras tend to offer a wider range of colour options than their counterparts.
As well as standard 4:3 aspect ratios there is a 16:9 ratio available. This is ideal for reviewing on a widescreen television or for making panoramic prints.
For when you would like to appear in the picture there is a self timer. This can be set to a delay of two or ten seconds. There is also a custom delay setting. This allows you to set an interval of up to 30 seconds and to fire off up to tens consecutive shots. You can add up to sixty seconds of sound commentary to a photo after it has been taken.
Among the more advanced features available to you are Exposure Compensation (+/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments), ISO Speed Equivalent (AUTO, High ISO Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800), three metering modes (Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre)) and white balance (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom).
The maximum aperture setting is f/2.8 (wide) and f/5.5 (tele). Shutter speeds range between 15 seconds and 1/1600 seconds. Although the specifications state that the camera has a manual mode it does not give you access to change the aperture and shutter speed settings.
Continuous shooting is available as well. You can shoot at a maximum speed of 2.1 frames per second until the memory card is full.
Canon have built an advanced movie mode into the IXUS 800 IS. You can shoot movies at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 and at a top frame speed of 30 frames per second. You can record sound with these movies, but zoom is not available. These movies can be recorded up to 1GB in size.
In addition to this mode you can also shoot movies at a resolution of 320 x 240 at a frames speed of sixty frames per second. These movies can be recorded for up to a minute. The advantage of this type of movie is that you can review the movie in slow motion. This can be useful for analyzing activities such as golf swings.
Canon supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the IXUS 800 IS to a computer, television set and PictBridge compatible printer.
If you like the idea of taking a camera diving you will be pleased to know Canon have produce an underwater case for the IXUS 800 IS. This is the WP-DC5 and it is waterproof to a depth of 40m. There are also some weights available to go with the waterproof case. These have the product code of WW-DC1.
Ease of Use
In my view Canon digital cameras are some of the more complicated to use. I have reviewed so many now that I know where to find everything, but if you are new to them it may take you a short while to fully get to grips with the camera.
Zoom is controlled by a ring around the shutter button. Other key controls for setting the flash mode, self timer, ISO and macro are all to be found on the back of the camera. There is also a small dial on the back of the camera at the side. This allows you to set the shooting mode. For example automatic, scene mode, movie or picture review.
You can pick up a Canon IXUS 800 IS for around £280. This compares to around £235 for a Sony DSC W100, £215 for a Panasonic DMC FX01 and £215 for a Olympus MJU 810.
As you can see the IXUS 800 IS is an expensive option when compared against other similar digital cameras. It is likely to be hard to beat in terms of picture and build quality, but whether or not it is worth quite such a premium is hard to say.
In my eyes the IXUS 800 IS is a very stylish camera. On top of that there is a feel of real quality about the camera. There is enough rounding in the design to stop the camera from looking like an identikit shiny silver rectangle. At one end is a different coloured band that also adds interest.
In terms of size it has dimensions of 90.4 x 56.5 x 26.4mm. This is just a bit too large for it to fit comfortably into a medium sized pocket. The camera weighs in at 165g.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Power is supplied to the camera by a rechargeable Li-ion battery (NB-5L). Bith the battery and a charger are supplied as standard with the camera. Canon estimates the IXUS 800 IS can take around 240 shots between charges.
A 16mb memory card is supplied with the camera. I was able to take eight photos before the card was full. I don't think it is too much to ask for a larger memory card to be supplied with the camera, especially when you take into account the price of the IXUS 800 IS. It is compatible with SD cards and I would suggest picking up a high capacity card to go with the camera.
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Points I like:
Advanced movie features
Design and style
Where it is not so hot:
It's not cheap!
Small memory card supplied
The Canon IXUS 800 IS gives you plenty of confidence when it comes to taking a picture. It handles most situations very well. The build quality is excellent too and I also like the design and style. They say you pay for what you get and you will certainly need to dig deeper to buy this camera than you will with other similar models.
Canon IXUS 800 IS Front View
Canon IXUS 800 IS Back View
Canon IXUS 800 IS Top View
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