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Canon Ixus 90 IS - great camera, but only good images!

24.02.2009 (10.02.2009)

Lightweight, easy to use, good shortcut buttons

Buttons occasionally difficult to use, odd white balance underwater

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Picture Quality

Range & Quality of Features

Ease of Use


Overall Look & Design


SizeVery Small

WeightVery Light

Value for MoneyExcellent

Instruction ManualSatisfactory

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I've had a couple of months using this camera, and have been fairly impressed, though have also found a couple of small niggles.

My previous camera was the Canon Ixus 75 - I was lucky enough to win this one which is why I've upgraded. As such, I wil make some of this review a comparison of the two cameras.

The Ixus 90 IS is a 10 MP camera, with image stabilisation as implied by the name. In size and weight it's fairly similar to previous models. The rear of the camera, as with the 75, is taken up largely by the 3 inch LCD screen, leaving no space for an optical viewfinder. This is personal preference; I think a lot of people don't care about optical viewfinders nowadays, and I mainly use the camera underwater, so it's not an issue. I think this screen is better than most at deflecting glare, making it easier than some cameras to take pictures in bright sunlight.

A major difference for me is the layout and style of the buttons at the back. There's a central scroll wheel, which is used to move between modes (auto to manual etc). It's easy to use, but also regularly overshoots the setting you want, which ends up taking longer than it should. The other buttons are actually flat to the camera, and I find them a little fiddly to use on land - when you first start out it's easy to hit the wrong one, as they're just divided by a thin rubber strip.

One of the best new features is the print shortcut button - not for its main function, but because you can assign it to be a shortcut for a separate function that would otherwise take a while to set up. I use it for manual white balance, as I do this a lot underwater, but you can use it to instantly enter video mode and start recording, as one example. (It also acts as a shortcut for the scroll wheel - hold it down and then press the left or right buttons of the wheel and it "rotates" the wheel for you - effectively this means you can use it underwater when in a housing, but could be useful for someone struggling with the wheel.)

This camera will not switch itself on if you press the review button - you have to press the power button then review your photos. I think this is to prevent the camera from switching on accidentally, but I rather liked that function of the older camera.

In terms of picture quality, I have to say I can't notice a real difference between the 2 cameras. The Ixus 90 gives some great photos - but then so did my old camera. I think it's a little faster at focussing.

One of the features that is very specific to underwater use is the manual white balance; useful at times on land but I rarely use it then. I found the Ixus 75 very good in this regard. I took the Ixus 90 on a trip to Mozambique; the water was fairly low visibility most of the time. However, any white/ very light areas came out PURPLE - I'm not sure why. The Canon cameras do have a habit of "over-warming" pictures a little - I'm not sure if this is an extreme version of this or whether it was related to the low visibility. But my old camera never did that - it sometimes, in very low light, added little red patches of noise to the images. I could get round it by underexposing the pictures but it wasn't ideal. I'm going on a dedicated dive holiday next month and will take both cameras, comparing them in similar conditions.

There's a separate video mode which is fairly good; you can zoom in and out while recording, which some older models couldn't do. It's also possible to white-balance video.

I'm not so keen on the slightly more "modern" look of this camera - it's a bit too angular, and I preferred the black/ silver of my other camera to the plain silver. But as with others of the Ixus range, it's small and very lightweight.

The Quickstart manual that comes with the camera is adequate, but doesn't give a full run-down of available features, and I was left puzzling my way through some of the menus. The lithium battery is charged via a separate charger, and the battery life appears fairly good.

The Ixus 90 IS is getting progressively cheaper. It was released nearly a year ago, and as Canon have announced a newer range of cameras a few days ago, it will probably come down even further in price. It currently retails for less than £200.

If you own an earlier Ixus model, it's probably not worth upgrading; while some of the features are useful, there's not a great improvement in image quality, and I think it's worse in certain areas, such as underwater photography (with the purple areas when white-balancing). If you're looking for a first camera, I think this i a great place to start. However, if you're used to manual control, this camera still lacks a lot of features, and this may be rectified with the newer models - worth waiting?

In answer to one comment - the underwater housing from Canon costs about £150 and is very easy to use; other available housings by Ikelite and possibly other companies.
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Comments about this review »

redeyes22 24.02.2009 12:33

great review aggy xxx

retireduser 24.02.2009 06:18

Great review. ^_^

mythdata 24.02.2009 01:22

I am looking for anew camera, can you tell me can you get the waterproof cover for this as i need one that can go in the water.:O)

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Product Information »

Manufacturer's product description

A new benchmark in crafted camera design, the digital IXUS 90 IS has a smooth, solid feel. Its chiseled look is com...


MPN 2555B006AA, 2555B008, 2555B009AA, IXUS90IS-AU
Product Type Digital camera - compact
Sensor Resolution 10.0 Megapixel

Exposure & white balance

Light Sensitivity ISO 100, ISO 800, ISO 400, ISO 200, ISO 80, ISO 1600, ISO auto, ISO 3200 (2Mpix)
Exposure Metering Evaluative, centre-weighted, spot
Exposure Modes Programme, automatic

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