HandlingThe Canon Ixus 105 holds very few surprises in design, with a smooth metal finish and a fairly understated but perfectly smooth body. The buttons are set flush into the camera casing and only the zoom control (around the shutter release button) protrudes. This ultra-flat finish is definitely very stylish, but there are no little dimples to help you to feel your way around without looking at the camera. Plus, a slight grain or textured area could have made the Ixus 105 a little easier to grip.
A grey plastic switch on the back of the camera allows you to quickly flick between the Auto, Video and P modes, but it lacks precision and finding the middle setting (photo mode P) can be a bit tricky the first time. The 2.7-inch LCD has 230,000 dots, wide viewing angles and a good level of responsiveness ... in daylight at least. As soon as the light starts to fade, the display is plagued with noise, and on-screen movement becomes much less smooth. Lining up a shot of your beloved blowing out their birthday candles could therefore prove particularly problematic. Like many compact cameras these days, the Ixus 105 doesn't have a digital viewfinder (unlike the previous model, the Ixus 95 IS).
The graphic interface is simple and intuitive, and you'll get the hang of using this little Ixus in no time. The interface is the same as in Canon's 2009 range and therefore has the same basic problems: no in-camera help (which is a shame on a camera aimed at non-expert users) and no exposure histogram in shooting modes.
ResponsivenessThe Ixus 105 has no real problems in this field. In strong daylight, in telephoto mode, focusing is fast. It is, however, noticeably slower in low light, but not excessively so. It takes under two seconds to start up and the photo-to-photo time is fine, although still isn't the fasted we've ever seen. As is all too often the case with Canon compacts, the burst mode is a laughable 0.7 fps.
Picture QualityThe Ixus 105 has a decent wide-angle 4x zoom lens. At 28 mm, the picture is sharp on the whole, and even the edges are still pretty well-defined. Distortion is controlled, but chromatic aberration is visible towards the edges of the picture. Switching to telephoto isn't particularly advisable with the Ixus 105 either, as the picture becomes hazier and loses micro-contrast. The telephoto mode also has an unhelpfully low aperture (f/5.9), which in turn pushes up ISO settings.
Electronic noise is handled very well with clean-looking pictures up to 200 ISO. Typically, this starts to change at 400 ISO, but the image remains sufficiently detailed up to 800 ISO. The highest sensitivity setting (1600 ISO) is best avoided, or at least kept for a few exceptional situations.
The compact Ixus 105 does a pretty good job in macro mode and can focus at up to 3 cm from an object. Optical stabilisation does the job fine and helps the camera gain 1 to 2 speed steps, which really isn't bad for a compact.