The Canon IXUS 55 is an ultra compact digital camera. This type of model is often described as pocket sized as it is small enough to fit into just about any pocket you have. This is a five megapixel digital camera with a three times optical zoom lens.
The IXUS 55 is aimed at anyone who is looking for a camera with a good build quality, is fairly easy to use and offers the convenience of being able to take it anywhere. It is likely to appeal more to someone who enjoys taking photos for fun rather than to a more serious photographer.
86.0 x 53.5 x 21.6 m
While I was testing the IXUS 55 I was also taking test shots for the Canon Powershot A610 and the Canon Powershot IXUS 750. In the past I have often felt that the images taken by ultra compact models fall a little way short of those taken with other types of digital cameras. Although the shots taken with the IXUS 55 compare fairly well with those taken with other digital cameras there is a noticeable difference when compared to the IXUS 750 and the Powershot A610. The biggest difference is the clarity of the images. This is highlighted most clearly if you look at the brickwork in the first outdoor test shot showing some boats. While the other two cameras managed to produce pin sharp photos this camera was unable to match that bit of extra quality.
All in all though the IXUS 55 compares well against other models in its class. There were only two problems worth mentioning. The first shows a fall off in light towards the outer edges of some photos. This is especially noticeable in the second outdoor scenic shot. This is a shot taken looking down a river. This was an issue with the IXUS 50 as well. The second issue is a degree of red eye showing in the indoor portrait. This problem appears on a regular basis with this type of camera. It is caused in the main by the proximity of the built in flash unit to the lens.
As with most Canon digital cameras the colours produced by the camera are very strong. In fact sometimes blues can be a little too vivid. This shows up in the test for colour. On the whole though this bodes well for all types of photography. Landscape style shots will definitely benefit from the strong colours and you should be able to produce rich photos full of colour.
Red eye apart the camera produced good portrait shots both inside and outdoors. The indoor photo is very sharp and clear. In this instance the IXUS 55 performs better than most similar cameras. The outdoor photo was taken with the flash on. This helps to add a bit of life to the shot. It also helps to produce a pleasant warm tone to the shot.
The ability of the camera to focus in lowlight is underlined by the shot of bottles. This is taken in almost total darkness, but again the camera manages to focus extremely well in the conditions. The picture is also lit well too.
Finishing on a high note this camera is also capable of taking a clear bright macro shot.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
The IXUS 55 managed to take a single shot in 0.38 seconds. This is average time. To be honest I would have liked to have seen a time a little faster. This is faster than the time I achieved with the Canon IXUS 50 though. It took 7.46 seconds to take five consecutive shots. This works out at a rate of one photo more or less every 1.49 seconds. This is a fast time. Although there are faster cameras around for taking a single shot I would say shutter lag is not an issue that should stop you from buying this camera.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The 3x optical zoom has a focal length equivalent to 35 - 105mm in 35mm format. The maximum aperture of the lens is f/2.8 - f/4.9. As well as the optical zoom there is a four times digital zoom. For close up and macro photography the camera can focus from 3cms away.
On the back of the camera you will find a large 2.5" LCD screen. This is made up of approximately 115,000 pixels. The brightness of the screen can be adjusted to help compensate in lowlight or over bright conditions.
In addition to the LCD screen the IXUS 55 is one of a very small number of ultra compact digital cameras that have a viewfinder. This is an optical viewfinder.
The built in flash unit can be set to automatic, always on and always off. Slow sync and red eye reduction modes are both available. The maximum range of the flash unit is 3.5m. This drops down to around 2m when the zoom lens is fully extended. To supplement the built in flash unit you can buy Canon's High Power Flash (HF-DC1).
In addition to the automatic shooting mode there are a range of preset scene modes available to use. These help you take the best possible shot in different photographic conditions. All you need to do is select the most appropriate scene. The camera does the rest. The scene modes available are Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks and Underwater. Stitch assist is available to help you put together panoramic type photographs.
As well as the scene modes there are a number of effects you can apply to your photos. These are for vivid colour, natural colour, low sharpening, sepia and black and white.
Each still image can be annotated with up to sixty seconds of voice memo. This helps you to preserve the memory of the moment.
For when you would like to appear in the picture yourself there is a self timer. This can be set to a two or ten second delay. There is also a custom delay setting. This allows you to set a delay time between one and thirty seconds and to specify up to ten shots to be captured in rapid succession.
Movies can be shot at a maximum resolution of 640x480 pixels. Movies at this resolution can be recorded at a speed of 30 frames per second. This provides enough quality to review the movies on a television screen. You can zoom in and out while the movie is being recorded. A separate feature allows you to capture short one minute clips at a resolution of 320x240 pixels and at a speed of 60 frames per second. These movies can then be played back in slow motion.
Among the more advanced features are three metering modes (Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Spot), exposure compensation (+/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments) and ISO equivalents (AUTO, 50, 100, 200, 400). Shutter speeds range from 15 seconds to 1/1500 seconds. There are a selection of white balance controls these are Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H and Custom.
There is also a continuous shooting mode that allows you to take a maximum of 2.1 frames per second until the memory card is full.
Canon supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the IXUS 55 to a computer, television set and a PictBridge compatible printer.
A waterproof case is available. This is the AW-DC50. It is waterproof to a depth of 3m.
Ease of Use
All the key controls for the camera are situated on the back. These include controls for flash, macro and self timer. There is a slide to control the camera mode (still photo, movie or review mode). Zooming in and out is controlled by a ring on the top of the camera. There are two separate buttons for accessing the camera's functions and menu system. I wonder if these two areas could be combined. Once you get to grips with which options fall under functions and which ones fall under the menu it is easy enough to find what you are looking for.
You can pick up a Canon IXUS 55 for around £225. This compares to around £255 for a Sony DSC T7, £200 for a Fuji Finepix Z1 and £175 for a Pentax Optio S5z. This camera is one of the more expensive five megapixel ultra compact digital cameras. Whether it is worth the extra money depends on what you are looking for. If you like the style of this camera and you feel a viewfinder is very important then it could be worth the money. Overall I feel there are better value for money cameras to be had.
I think the IXUS 55 is a very stylish camera with a stainless steel body. It somehow manages to feel more substantial than many other ultra compact models. In many ways it is a typical shiny, silver rectangle, but the edges are rounded enough to stop the camera from appearing too stark. All in all this is an impressive camera in terms of style.
It weighs 140g and has dimensions of 86.0 x 53.5 x 21.6 mm.
Batteries and Memory Card
A rechargeable lithium ion battery is used to provide power to the camera. Both the battery and a charger is supplied with the camera. Canon suggest you should be able to get around 150 shots before the battery needs to be charged.
Images are recorded on to SD cards. Canon supplies a 16mb card with the IXUS 55. I managed to store seven images on the card before it was full. This was using the cameras default settings. Therefore I would suggest buying a high capacity card to go with your camera. Click here to save money on SD cards.
Points I like:
Where it is not so hot:
Small SD card supplied with camera
The Canon IXUS 55 throws up no real surprises and is very similar in performance to the IXUS 50. Picture quality is good without being exceptional, but I like the design and build quality. This is also one of the very few ultra compact digital cameras offering a viewfinder.
Canon IXUS 55 Front View
Canon IXUS 55 Back View
Canon IXUS 55 Top View
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