HandlingThe Ixus 115 HS is a sleek little compact that feels nice to handle. It's well made and has been built with care. The Ixus 115 HS is, for example, coloured on both the front and the back—unlike the Nikon S5100, which launched at the same price last year. Plus, the buttons are all set flush against the camera body, giving a smooth, flat finish that's very sleek.
The 3-inch screen is certainly eye-catching, taking up almost all of the camera's rear face and effectively determining its height. It's a relatively decent screen too for a camera in this price range (see inset). The huge screen has the inevitable consequence of pushing all the camera's buttons over to the right, making them more bunched together than in the Ixus 105 it'll be replacing.
The small four-way controller can make pressing the Set button a bit of a fiddly operation. Plus, the zoom control ring and shutter-release button fall flat against the camera's upper edge and, like the rest of the buttons, they don't stick up from the camera body. Although this looks great, it's not all that practical, as you have to press the button in from the camera body to find the 'half-press' position then further in to take a picture. As a result, 'half-pressing' to focus without taking a photo requires a bit of practice.
The menus are typical Canon fare since they're as clear and user-friendly as ever. The self-timer has been relegated to the Func menu but has been replaced by a handy video record button. You can therefore leave the switch on the top of the camera set to Auto most of the time, then activate or disable the flash as required before pressing the photo shutter-release button or the video record button. The controls are therefore basic but simple, but some users may be disappointed not to see an in-context help function for tips on taking better photos.
All in all, the Ixus 115 HS is a nice, easy camera to use, even though it's still not a patch on the Ixus 220 HS, which has a bigger, easier-to-use four-way controller and a slightly higher-quality finish.
ResponsivenessSince the Ixus 115 HS is based on the same electronics as the Ixus 220 HS, we're not surprised to see it behaves in a similar way. The two-second start-up time is a little disappointing (the Ixus 105 switched on a bit quicker) although it's still acceptable. Photos take a little while to save, even if the camera is by no means slow, and the autofocus does its job OK. All in all then, the Ixus 115 HS is about average for current compact cameras.
Picture QualityThe various bits and pieces used to build the Ixus 115 HS have already been used elsewhere—the camera's lens comes from the Ixus 105 and the electronics are taken from the Ixus 220 HS.
Picture quality at the camera's various ISO settings is similar to the Ixus 220 HS. Up to 800 ISO, an 8" x 10" print (20 x 27 cm) comes out very well, and it's only at 1600 ISO that things start to get problematic. Smoothing may just be a touch more pronounced with the 115 HS, but this difference could be down to the lens, which is a bit less accurate than the one used in the 220 HS, thus giving the image processing system less room for manoeuvre.
In fact, the 28-112 mm lens used in the 115 HS isn't quite as sharp at wide-angle settings as the 24-120 mm lens in the 220 HS, particularly in the middle of the frame. That said, wide-angle shots still look consistent, and the edges and corners of shots are perfectly clear. This disparity gradually evens out as you start to zoom, and at 112 mm the 115 HS is a rather nice surprise.
All in all, the lens is perfectly fine for 8" x 10" prints. Even if it's not really any better than the Panasonic S1 lens, for example, Canon's superior digital image processing system makes all the difference here.
VideoThe Canon Ixus 115 HS is probably the cheapest option out there for Full HD video right now. That's mainly because competitors don't use BSI CMOS sensors in cameras in this price bracket, and CCDs struggle to film over 720p HD due to slower processing speeds. Picture quality is therefore very good, and is sufficiently sharp in spite of a slightly visible speckle of fuzz and slightly exaggerated contrast.
However, you can't use the optical zoom while filming, which is a major drawback, especially since the digital zoom makes the image over-pixellated. Another let-down is that there's only one microphone, so you can forget about stereo sound. What's more, this mic just isn't sensitive enough, and is prone to capturing breathing and whooshing noises while muffling distinct sounds.
- High-quality build and materials used
- Good picture quality up to 800 ISO
- Good picture quality at telephoto settings
- 1080p HD video mode with sharp picture quality
- Easy to use
- Lens could be sharper at wide-angle settings
- No stereo sound or optical zoom in video mode
- Could be more responsive
- Low-def screen
- Flat buttons set flush into the casing aren't always practical
The Canon Ixus 115 HS is a nice surprise, boasting good internal electronics, a pleasant build and a sleek design, all for a price at which basic CCD sensors, harsh plastics and TN screens are still the order of the day. Canon just needs to improve the video mode and lens quality at wide-angle settings.