Canon IXUS 220 HS £150

4th Mar 2011 | 13:36

Canon IXUS 220 HS

A stabilised 24-120mm lens on a stylish IXUS body

TechRadar rating:

5 stars


Stainless steel body; High image quality; Back-illuminated CMOS sensor; 32 scene modes


Limited exposure control; 8fps shooting limited to 3MP; No self-timer button; No delete button

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Overview

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Overview

The new Canon IXUS 220 HS enters the market with a 12.1MP resolution, 5x zoom lens with an equivalent focal length of 24-120mm and stabilisation technology.

It also has Full HD movie mode, program, scene and creative shooting modes and a high-speed burst rate that boasts eight frames per second.

Priced at a reasonable £199, the compact positions itself neatly in line with the brand's current IXUS portfolio and looks set to contend with several higher-end, higher-priced compacts from rival manufacturers.

The Canon IXUS 220 HS caters for a wide demographic of user with its healthy supply of shooting options.

For the beginner shooter there is a Smart Auto feature that instantly detects from 32 different scenes and installs the optimum settings for each, whereas for the creative enthusiast we find a catalogue of inspired filter effects including our particular highlights: Fish-eye, Miniature, Toy Camera, Monochrome, Color Accent, Color Swap, Poster and Super Vivid.

A full HD movie mode with crystal clear stereo sound and Dynamic IS to stabilise against shake is supplied; offering full HD 1920 x 1080 at 24fps, or HD 1280 x 720 at 30fps. Additionally there are a range of intriguing movie mode creative controls, including the ability to slow down movement up to 1/8th of the real speed using Super Slow Motion Movie mode and Movie Digest, which captures up to 4-seconds of the action before a shot is taken, joining all the clips together into a single VGA movie.

For those craving manual control, shooters can alter a series of options using Program mode, including: drive mode, metering, colour, white balance, ISO and self timer, which compared to its peers is actually an exciting and extensive array of variables to exploit.

More importantly perhaps, these options offer up an explanation of their purpose and thanks to the enhanced resolution of the LCD, users can instantly see the effect of utilising them, ensuring that the device will make a fantastic choice for novices who want to increase their understanding of basic photography principles such as metering, white balance and exposure.

Elsewhere we enjoyed the camera's impressive high-speed burst mode of 8 frames per second, however were slightly disappointed that these were delivered at a maximum resolution of just 3MP. The camera's accompanying manual suggests the battery life should extend to 220 images and after our rigorous testing we'd agree that this is certainly viable.

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Build and handling

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Build and handling

In terms of design the Canon IXUS cuts a petite and attractive figure, encased in a smooth stainless steel shell available in the choice of red, silver or matte black.

One of its most obvious assets is its weight, or lack of, weighing in at a very modest 141g with battery and memory card installed and its small stature; exuding dimensions of just 92.2 x 55.9 x 19.5mm.

Although the camera is enviable svelte and lightweight it still manages to exude a genuine rugged durability and what is more it's neat positioning of adequately sized buttons and controls shouldn't faze those with larger digits.

Operating the camera is actually very enjoyable, mainly thanks to the intuitive menu layout, incredibly responsive shutter and quick processing times.

A 6.7 cm (2.7") PureColor II G tempered glass-covered LCD screen consumes the majority of the rear of the IXUS 220 HS, only making way for a moderate selection of buttons that include a D-Pad (four-way controller) style ring featuring: exposure compensation, flash, display, macro/normal/landscape shortcut and function/set button.

Flanking the four-way controller are four additional controls: movie record, shooting mode switch, playback and Menu. The arrangement lacks dedicated self-timer and erase buttons, but we found these could both be quickly accessed through the on-screen menu facility, which helpfully only stacks a sensible selection of options and settings; enhancing overall ease of use.

Overall there is nothing obviously out of place with the IXUS 220 HS and as far as feature-packed compacts go this is undoubtedly one of the easiest to navigate.

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Performance

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Performance
We encountered very little to grumble about the auto exposure modes, possibly due to the incorporation of Canon's DIGIC4 processor and high sensitivity sensor.

For complete piece of mind we tested the metering system in a variety of lighting conditions and for the most part were extremely satisfied with its performance, only in some high contrast situations did we find a tendency to underexpose, but the unit is fitted with exposure compensation to ease any quibbles.

Similarly, the 220's white balance and colour systems performed above, and in some situations, beyond our expectations for a camera of this price point, producing a realistic representation of colours and a wide gamut of tones in a variety of lighting scenarios, including natural, artificial and mixed.

The auto focus system is fast, and for the majority of occasions very efficient, in fact we only encountered a few minor problems in extreme low contrast lighting conditions, a handful of macro scenarios, and the odd occasion where the subject was moving incredibly fast. For the most part however the AF system performed consistently and successfully for a unit docked in this calibre of compacts.

The images presented on the LCD screen show details to be crisp and colours to be accurate, and offer a fair representation of what we are presented with on the computer screen, with only a very small percentage of images that had originally appeared in focus, later showing as blurred.

Looking at both the image results on screen plus our signal to noise ratio tests we can see that the quality of image produced by the new Canon shooter is extremely clean and only at ISO 1600 and above did we begin to encounter some disturbance of noise, yet surprisingly the images produced at this sensitivity are certainly of a usable quality.

In our night and low light tests the camera's built-in optical stabilisation did for the most part counter-act blur, but users should not expect the same standard of results that can be gained from using a tripod for example, as inspecting details at closer proximately revealed a moderate degree of blur and noise infiltration.

Unlike many of its price-point peers we discovered little evidence of fringing, with only slight levels chromatic aberrations appearing in high contrast frames.

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Image quality and resolution

Canon IXUS 220 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

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

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

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

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

ISO 1600: score 18
Resolution chart at iso 1600Full resolution chart

ISO 3200: score 16/18
Resolution chart at iso 3200Full resolution chart

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Noise and dynamic range

Canon IXUS 220 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 better quality image.

Signal to noise ratio graph

Dynamic range 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.

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Sample images

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Sample images

Full iso 100 image

ISO 100 image

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

Auto macro mode 1

Auto macro mode

Auto macro mode 2

Bus shelter

ISO 100

Toy camera effect

Toy camera effect

Window - auto mode

Auto mode

Window - monochrome mode

Monochrome mode

Window - selective colour brown

Selective colour - brown

Window selective colour green

Selective colour - green

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Specification

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Specification

Sensor: 1/2.3 type back-illuminated CMOS

Lens: Canon Zoom 24mm lens 5x IS; 4.3 – 21.5mm (24-120mm equiv) f2.7-5.9
Memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus and HCMMplus

Viewfinder: n/a
Video resolution: 1920 x 1080 24fps, 1280 x 720, 30fps, 640 x 480 30fps, 320 x 240 30fps

ISO range: Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 

Focus modes: Single, Continuous, Servo AF/AE, Tracking AF

Max burst rate: 8 fps (3MP)

LCD: 6.7cm (2.7") PureColor II G LCD (TFT)
Shutter speeds: 15-1/2000 sec

Weight: 141g (with battery and memory card)

Dimensions: 92.2 x 55.9 x 19.5mm

Power supply: AC adapter kit, rechargeable Li-ion battery

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Verdict

Canon IXUS 220 HS: Verdict

It is rare to find a compact camera, especially one that docks in at under £200 that seemingly ticks all the boxes. Yet the Canon IXUS 220 HS is perhaps proof that such a device does exist. Users of every level will undoubtedly find the unit easy to use, whilst providing an abundance of creative options to keep photographers of every skill level entertained. The quality of images produced exceeded expectation and go some way to rivalling higher-tech counterparts thanks to its high quality lens, 12.1MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor and Digic4 processer. Combine this with the tidy assortment of creative shooting modes, Full HD movie-making facility and adjustable semi-manual controls and the Canon IXUS 220 HS is certainly fantastic value for money.

Canon IXUS Compacts Camera
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