The Canon IXUS 50 is an ultra compact digital camera. Its slim body means that it is very easy to slip the IXUS 50 into a pocket almost without noticing it is there.
It is a fairly straightforward digital camera and with its fully automatic mode you can be up and running with it very quickly. With a standard set of features it should prove perfectly adequate for covering holiday snaps, social gatherings and pictures for the family album.
It is likely to appeal most to anyone who would like a camera that is very easy to carry around, looks good and also produces high quality photos.
The IXUS 50 produced a perfectly acceptable set of test photos. For some reason this type of digital camera (ultra compact) just falls a shade short of the quality produced by more standard models in the same price bracket.
As with the vast majority of digital cameras the IXUS 50 performs well outdoors. The photos produced are accurate reflections of the conditions at the time each photograph was taken. One shot I was particularly impressed with was the outdoor portrait. It managed to produce a warmer shot than is typical. The outdoor shots taken on the river also come out well. The camera handles scenes with high contrast well and you should have little problem with shots taken outside.
Indoors the camera performs well too. The indoor portrait is slightly above average. There is a loss of details in the dark areas of the hair, but this is normal. The camera also handles red eye very well. The test shot of the bottles is taken in very low light indeed. Again the camera makes a good attempt at the picture. If anything it overcompensates for a lack of light and overexposes the image. Overall the IXUS 50 is likely to handle most standard indoor shots as well as the majority of digital cameras in this price range.
The macro shot is acceptable without being anything special. There is an element of purple fringing in places in this shot.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
Shutter lag is the time it takes to take each picture. A constant criticism of digital cameras is the delay in between clicking the shutter button, the picture being taken and also the camera being ready to take the next picture. From a pure shutter lag view the IXUS 50 took a picture and recorded it in 0.48 seconds. This is a relatively new test, so I feel a degree of caution is called for, but I have to say early indications are that this is a standard time.
In terms of recycling times I was able to take five pictures in the space of 8.89 seconds. That works out at a rate of 1.77 seconds per picture. I am not claiming that this is the most scientific tests, but it should give you an indication of the recycling speed of the camera. This is one of the fastest recycling times to date. My test is carried out indoors under standard conditions and it is possible that you would see better results outside.
The IXUS 50 has a three times optical zoom lens. This is equivalent to a 35 - 105mm lens on a 35mm camera. This is backed up by a four times digital zoom capability. The shortest focusing distance for macro or close up shots is three centimeters.
To help you line up shots there is a viewfinder as well as the 2" LCD screen. The LCD screen is also used to access the menu system. One useful feature is the brightness control for the LCD screen. This can help you to adjust the display in poor light or in strong sunlight.
The built in flash system has a maximum range of 3.5m. This reduces to around 2m when the optical zoom is in use. The different flash modes available are automatic, always on, always off, slow sync (usually used at night when you would like to illuminate the background as well as the foreground) and red eye reduction. To boost the power of the flash unit you can purchase separately an external flash unit. There is also an AF assist beam that helps the camera focus in poor light.
There are a small number of pre programmed scene modes available to you. These help you to take the best possible photos in different conditions. The scene modes are: Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids and Pets, Indoor, Underwater and Digital Macro. The specification states that the IXUS 50 has a manual mode. This is not a fully manual mode in the sense that it does not give you control over aperture and shutter speeds. This mode just gives you access to additional controls such as white balance and exposure compensation.
There are also some photo effects that you can experiment with. The effects are Vivid, Neutral, Low Sharpening, Sepia, Black and White and My Colors (9 settings).
To help preserve the memory of each photo you can add up to sixty seconds of voice memo to each picture. For when you would like to appear in the shot there is also a self timer with a two or ten second delay.
The IXUS 50 is capable of shooting TV quality mini movies. A range of resolutions are available including 640x480. Movies can be captured at a rate of 60 frames per second. The maximum amount of footage that can be taken is 1gb of storage.
Some of the more advanced features and functions include three types of metering (evaluative, centre-weighted average and spot), exposure compensation (+/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments), shutter speeds between 15 seconds and 1/1500 seconds and ISO Speed Equivalents of Auto, 50, 100, 200 and 400.
White balance is catered for by settings of Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H and Custom. Continuous Shooting at a rate of 2.1 frames per second is available. You also have access to a histogram.
Canon supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the IXUS 50 to a computer, PictBridge compatible printer and a television set.
One useful accessory that you may consider is a waterproof case that allows you to shoot underwater.
Ease of Use
The Canon IXUS 50 is relatively easy to use. There are more buttons on the back of this camera then you will find on other similar models. Once you have come to terms with these you will be well on the way to mastering the camera. The menu system is fairly straightforward and you should be able to get up and running without too much time spent referring to the manual.
You can pick up a Canon IXUS 50 for around £230. This compares to around £170 for a Konica Minolta Dimage X50, £215 for a Casio EXILIM EX Z55 and £235 for a Sony DSC T33.
The IXUS 50 is one of the slimmest digital cameras you are likely to find. It will slip easily into a pocket or small bag. It has a metal body and a sleek, shiny finish. This will prove to be one of the main selling points of the camera.
It has dimensions of 86.0 x 53.0 x 20.7 mm and weighs in at 130g.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Power is supplied by a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. Canon supplies a battery and charger with the IXUS 50. The upside of this type of battery is that it keeps running costs to a minimum as you do not need to keep buying replacements. The downside is that spare batteries are expensive, so it pays to make sure the battery is fully charged before you set off to take some photos.
Secure Digital (SD) cards are used to store images. The one that is supplied with the camera has a capacity of just 16mb. This will soon fill up when you are taking five megapixel pictures or shooting short movies. You are strongly advised to pick up a high capacity SD card to go with the camera. Click here to save money on SD Cards
Points I like:
Slim design makes it easy to carry around
Advanced movie mode
Takes good photos indoors
Where it is not so hot:
16mb memory card supplied with the camera will soon become full.
As with most things you get what you pay for. The IXUS 50 is one of the most expensive five megapixel, ultra compact digital cameras. It is though one of the best performers in terms of picture quality. It is an attractive camera with a very good build quality too. This is certainly one of the leading models of its kind and one for your shortlist.
Canon IXUS 50 Front View
Canon IXUS 50 Back View
Canon IXUS 50 Top View
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