Canon IXUS 115 HS £149.99

1st Mar 2011 | 16:06

Canon IXUS 115 HS

Metal bodied style with low-light performance

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

The IXUS 115HS is a fine example of a why the IXUS line has proved to be such a smash all these years

Like:

Low image noise Responsive High quality images

Dislike:

Few direct controls Fiddly operation Slight distortion at lens's widest point

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Overview

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Overview

Canon's IXUS 115 HS is one of the company's latest models to incorporate its High Sensitivity technology, which debuted in last year's IXUS 300 HS.

Rather than simply increasing the available sensitivity range - which often just results in nosier images - the technology combines a modest pixel count with a backlit sensor design, which theoretically makes the imaging device more sensitive to light and less prone to producing noise.

The principle behind backlit sensors is simple. The wiring which is usually found on the front of the sensor is moved behind the photosites, away from the path of incoming light. This construction means there are fewer obstacles for incoming light, which in turn makes the sensor more sensitive.

Canon joins Casio, Nikon and others in implementing the technology into its compacts, and although it's still in its infancy it seems likely that other manufacturers will soon follow suit.

Canon has chosen to limit camera's resolution to 12.1MP. the logic being the fewer the pixels on a sensor the larger they can be, thus improving their signal to noise ratio. The sensor also allows for full HD video shooting at 24fps, as well as a Super Slow Motion mode which captures movies in 120fps and 240fps options for super slow playback, and employs a Dynamic IS system while recording movies to keep everything steady.

The more standard Optical IS system also makes an appearance, helping to stabilise the camera's 28-112mm objective by up to three EV stops when shooting still images.

The Smart Auto system claims to detect 32 separate scenes before making all necessary adjustments to help better picture quality, while those wanting to get a little creative may call upon the fisheye, miniature and toy camera processing options, which each display their treatment as images are composed.

There's also a high speed burst mode which captures 3MP images at an 8.2fps burst rate, and full-resolution 3.7fps burst rate should 3MP be too limiting.

Sensitivity may be adjusted to a maximum ISO 3200, while a 3in PureColor II G LCD lies on the back of the camera, fronted by a tempered layer of glass for protection. HDMI mini and USB 2.0 ports are located to the camera's side for transferring images and movies to other devices, and support is provided for the full SD family of memory cards, right up to the most recent SDXC variety.

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Build quality and handling

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Build quality and handling

With the rear dominated by the LCD, little space has been left for controls. This is a shame as the menu pad is small and stiff, and is a little awkward to operate due to the lack of definition against the body around it. A similar problem occurs with the zoom rocker which encircles the shutter release button, in that it only protrudes around a millimetre or so from the edge of the camera. Otherwise, the slim, sturdy metal body and the camera's simplistic design is a winning combination.

The menu system also scores points, presenting enough functionality to tailor the camera to taste but not so much to overwhelm the less experienced.

As with other IXUS models, a press of the Func button brings up all standard shooting options, with icons, titles and brief explanations to make sure everything is fully explained, while movie recording is effortlessly started by a quick press of the dedicated button.

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Performance

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Performance

There's almost no waiting around for the camera to ready itself once switched on, and a similarly fast response upon powering down also impresses.

The zoom glides swiftly from one end to the other, and makes a little noise as it does so, but not so much to bring attention to itself. With focus fixed to the centre point the camera doesn't take long to focus on a subject, and when instructed to find the subject itself speed is similarly good, doing well to recognise the appropriate elements in the scene. Processing times are similarly prompt, with just under a second or so between images when a fast SDHC card is used.

The advantage of the backlit sensor is clear. While noise is visible in images at all sensitivities and it rises very steadily through the range, even at the highest sensitivity of ISO 3200 there's practically no chroma noise and just a patterning provided by a little luminance noise and some noise reduction artefacts.

As usual, images become less detailed as more noise reduction is applied, images shot at night suffer the most, but they're not noisy as we normally see. There's also the usual drop in colour accuracy at the highest sensitivity, too, but at smaller print sizes the lack of visible noise is a great benefit.

Not that's it's expected on such a model at all, but it's shame there's no raw mode to see how much of all this is down to the sensor and how much to clever processing, although the noise reduction artefacts do suggest that the latter is required.

Images are generally bright and pleasing, although, as is often the case with small-sensor cameras, this does tend to force highlights to lose detail a little prematurely. When the scene is dominated with brighter areas the camera does well to reduce exposure and try to keep everything balanced, and while it doesn't slip up easily with regards auto white balance, now and again it does produce the oddly cold image, particularly when there are fewer coloured elements in the scene. Otherwise colour leans more towards accuracy than vibrancy on default settings.

The lens shows slight distortion at its widest angle, although against most subjects this shouldn't be too apparent, while chromatic aberrations are reasonably controlled but a little visible in the edges of the frame, which includes a little purple fringing in contrasty areas. Detail is generally very good, though, and at times excellent, while the Smile Capture mode does an superb job to recognise and instantly capture happy faces.

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Image quality and resolution

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Image quality and resolution

As part of our test we shoot our resolution chart at every sensitivity setting. The higher the value quoted in the caption score, the greater the level of detail being resolved and the better the image quality.

Full resolution chart image

ISO 100: score 22
Resolution chart at iso 100Full resolution image

ISO 200: score 22
Resolution chart at iso 200Full resolution image

ISO 400: score 20
Resolution chart at iso 400Full resolution image

ISO 800: score 20
Resolution chart at iso 800Full resolution image

ISO 1600: score 20
Resolution chart at iso 1600Full resolution image

ISO 3200: score 18
Resolution chart at iso 3200Full resolution image

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Noise and dynamic range

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Noise and dynamic range
These graphs were produced using data generated by DXO Analyzer. We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using the DXO software.

Signal to noise ratio
A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and usually better quality image.

Signal to noise ratio graph

Dynamic range
A high dynamic range indicates a better ability to reproduce a wide range of tones. These cameras do not produce raw files, only JPEGs which are automatically processed in-camera to produce the best image possible in the view of the manufacturer.

Dynamic range graph

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Sample Images

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Sample Images
Full iso 100 image

ISO 100
ISO 100Full Image

ISO 200
ISO 200Full Image

ISO 400
ISO 400Full Image

ISO 800ISO 800Full image

ISO 1600
ISO 1600Full image

ISO 3200
ISO 3200Full image

Plums image

Tiles image

Lake image

Dog in landscape image

Tree image

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Specification

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Specification

Sensor - Approx 12.1MP effective, 1/2.3in type back-illuminated CMOS type
Lens –
28-112mm f/2.8-5.9
Memory –
SD, SDHC, SDXC
Viewfinder -
No
Video resolution -
1920 x 1080 at 24 fps, 1280 x 720 at 30 fps, 640 x 480 at 30 fps, Super Slow
Motion Movie at 120fps and 240fps
ISO range -
ISO 100-3200
Focus modes –
9-point with Face Detection, Single, continuous, servo AF/AE, AF tracking
Max burst rate -
Approx. 3.4fps (3MP High-speed Burst approx. 8.2fps)
LCD -
3.0in TFT, approx. 230,000 dots
Shutter speeds –
1-1/1500sec, (max 15 sec available in scene mode)
Weight -
Approx. 140g (including battery and memory card)
Dimensions -
93.1 x 55.8 x 19.9mm
Power supply -
Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-4L (supplied)

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Verdict

Canon IXUS 115 HS: Verdict

The IXUS 115HS is a fine example of a why the IXUS line has proved to be such a smash all these years, and with the High Sensitivity sensor Canon seems determined to prove that the camera is as much about its images as it is its sleek design.

Its diminutive body and the high-sensitivity capabilities makes the IXUS a fine contender for a camera to take on a night out, but getting the balance right between style and operation is tricky, and the streamlined body is sadly only friendly for the nimble fingered. It's a real shame, as otherwise its small size, large LCD screen and reasonably high standard of image quality make for a winning combination – particularly in this price bracket.

Canon IXUS Compacts Cameras
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