Canon IXUS 200 IS

Pairing a pretty touchscreen interface with a competent camera is always a good move, but we're a bit stuck as to what the 200 IS actually is: a touchscreen or a conventional compact.


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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


It certainly took Canon long enough to come up with its first touchscreen camera. Other manufacturers like Nikon, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung have had versions that have been around for years, so can Canon bring anything new to the genre?

Design

There have been a lot of similarities between the IXUS range in recent months; first we had the IXUS 100 IS and 120 IS which would make even the most astute observer rub their eyes in an attempt to spot the difference. Then came the 110 IS with its elongated styling, an obvious influence on the aesthetic of the 200 IS. Has Canon's designers finally run out of inspiration?

Well from just looking at the outside, we'd dare hazard a guess and say yes they have. At the top of the 200 you will find the same configuration as the 110: a power and shutter button sit side by side, and a mode switch that flicks between movie, program and full automatic completes the top plate.

But here's where things start to get a bit fishy. At the back, alongside the 3-inch widescreen touch LCD, are physical buttons. "Buttons!" we hear you cry? "It's a touchscreen camera!" This perplexes us as much as your imagined retorts.

The pretty, pretty interface. Look, it's purple! (Credit: CBSi)

Fortunately, there are some reassurances thanks to the IXUS tag — it's a solid feeling camera with an ever-so-slightly brushed metal casing. Most controls are nicely positioned and within easy reach, except for one relatively glaring omission — there's no thumb rest. So while you're shooting, anything larger than a diminutive digit will have to perch precariously over the buttons, hoping you won't press anything too hard while you're gripping the camera in your right hand. There's also a helpful warning on a sheet of paper surreptitiously slipped into the box that tells you not to cover the flash with your finger as it discharges (which could happen given its position) otherwise something untoward might happen — like the flash burning out.

Moving back to the 200 IS's screen, it's certainly sturdier than the Sony Cyber-shot T90's screen because Canon has covered it with a protective layer that prevents fingernails or wayward digits from protruding too far into areas uncharted. HDMI output is located on the right side of the camera, but as usual you'll need to invest in a separate cable to make use of this functionality.

Features

Now here's a number we haven't seen for a while on a compact camera's lens — 24mm. That's wide-angle, baby, and we love every minute of it. There's also a reasonable reach on this thing too as it extends to 5x optical zoom. We're very glad to see manufacturers finally fulfilling a lot of what consumers are asking for, but there's still some way to go as something like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1 has a wide lens (25mm) and an 8x optical zoom reach. The maximum aperture at the wide end is f/2.8 though, great news for low-light photographers. Do note that there are no manual controls on the 200 IS, so if you're aiming for a soft background against a sharp foreground, it's going to be a tough call trying to get the camera to respond accordingly without manual overrides. We'd suggest switching into portrait mode as the camera is more likely to make use of the wide aperture in the aforementioned situation.

Coupled with a 12.1-megapixel sensor and the Digic 4 processor, the 200 IS can also do HD video at 720p and features a myriad of scene modes to choose from. There's the usual gamut of foliage, fireworks and other such settings, but one that took our fancy was creative lighting effect — turning areas of light into shapes of your selection. It aims to recreate a kind of bokeh effect that a lot of SLR photographers achieve by taping a cut-out shape on top of their lens and using a wide open aperture like f/1.4 or f/1.8.

The touchscreen interface has taken a couple of cues from mobile phones like Apple's iPhone, such as the swipe gesture to scroll through photos, and a tap to zoom in on certain sections in playback mode. Tapping the screen during shooting mode allows the user to select a particular focus point, and AF tracking ensures that the selected point is kept in continuous focus even if the subject moves. There is no pinch to zoom in and out though, and some actions are a tad clumsy at first: swiping downwards from the top of the screen will bring up two options on either side of the image when you are in single-view mode, allowing you to either erase the photo by moving your finger to the left, or view the image in a slideshow format by moving it to the right. The downwards motion was a little tricky for our slippery fingers to get accustomed to, and sometimes the camera wouldn't recognise the motion at first. Trial and error is key.

Scroll, scroll, scroll ... get ready to let your fingers do the walking. (Credit: CBSi)

Besides the camera, also included in the box is a wrist strap, battery charger and power cord, mini USB and AV cables, as well as software. There's no printed instruction manual which is a tad disappointing.

Performance

It takes the 200 IS 1.9 seconds to awake from its slumber and take its first shot, which isn't that impressive, and the rest of the performance stakes followed suit: shutter lag was a disappointing 0.15 second, and in continuous mode the camera could only manage to capture one frame every 1.2 seconds.

And with monocle in hand we come to the most perplexing part about this camera — why does it have physical buttons alongside the touchscreen? There's a playback button (understandable), a menu button (somewhat understandable) and a scroll wheel surrounding a round directional pad that acts just like any other Canon IXUS you may have used in the past. It's definitely not a fully immersive touchscreen experience like a lot of the other manufacturers have wheeled out, but it works. The scroll wheel around the directional pad is pleasingly resistive, doing away with that free-wheeling vibe that's been a problem on previous IXUS cameras.

The touch-to-focus and track worked particularly well, following a subject around despite our frantic hand-swaying and moving. If the subject exits the frame though, there's an unceremonious "Touch AF cancelled" that appears on the screen. Also, another aspect to the 200's performance that we found puzzling was the shutter release which appeared intermittently on the screen — a red box with a camera on the right-hand side. While we appreciated having the shutter release at easy reach without needing to move our finger up to the shutter button, we found that the on-screen prompt only appeared when we turned the camera to a portrait or tilted orientation, and even then only appeared after some time. Shutter lag while using the screen release was noticeably increased, too.

Image quality

The 200 delivered some very nice, even exposures without needing to tinker with exposure compensation on automatic and program mode (though, of course, exposure compensation is available as an option by pulling and pushing the meter on-screen). There was a bit of an over-processed feel to images at full magnification, which we only encountered in outdoor or everyday situations — it wasn't visible in studio shots.

The noise profile of the 200 IS. Click image to enlarge. (Credit: CBSi)

Colours appeared nice and natural, without too much of that Canon punch that's characterised many of its cameras of old. The widescreen LCD proved a lot more useful than we expected in terms of framing shots and seeing a whole lot more of the scene, and lens distortions were pleasingly low. Chromatic aberration was very low and the lens coped well with areas of high and low contrast in the one shot.

Comparing the image quality to Panasonic's Lumix FX65, for example, shows that the Canon has slightly more saturated colours, though the Panasonic exhibits an increased dynamic range.

The same image taken with the Canon (top) and the Panasonic FX65 (bottom). (Credit: CBSi)

Then if we compare it to another touchscreen camera like the Sony Cyber-shot T90, we can see that the Canon copes better with controlled lighting and accurate colours — the Sony tends to wash them out just a little bit more.

The Canon (left) and Sony T90 (right). (Credit: CBSi)

Movie quality was good, though we are still puzzled as to why Canon disables the use of the optical zoom while filming. Touch autofocus doesn't work during filming either. The microphone picked up a lot of background as well as foreground noise, though we were pleased with the lack of digital artefacts on the video. The 200 saves movies as .mov files.

Conclusion

We're a little caught between feelings for the 200 IS — on the outside it looks just like any other IXUS, and you can completely get away with never touching (pardon the pun) any of the touchscreen capabilities. Then again, the touch interface is one of the nicest and easiest to use that we've encountered on a compact camera. So this is a bit of a "do it all" camera, that delivers nice images, has some great specs under the hood, but is a little slow to get off the mark. We'd recommend it for the indecisive buyer who isn't quite sure if they want a touchscreen or not, provided you're happy to part with that much cash.

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WongM posted a comment   

Got this camera back in 2009 and had survived till 2012 now and still going.It never fail me. Of course, technology had caught up these few years but canon IXUS 200 IS isn't really out of the show.

Rakesh
7
Rating
 

Rakesh posted a review   

The Good:Nice camera! Good pictures! Image colours are also bright. Video quality also good

The Bad:For moving objects very bad.

Image stabilization dosent work at all!!! Dont even have a sports mode, which i was having in my previous Nikon camera for moving object.

Masud
8
Rating
 

Masud posted a review   

The Good:Great picture and video, small size, rich colour, large wide screen and option for HDMI out.

The Bad:Lack of Landscape option, a lot of external noise during video capturing, picture quality comes down to 9MP in 16:9 mode and video sound is mono.

I bought this camera just couple of weeks ago when I returned SONY H55 to the seller due to distortion in the picture while in the wide angle zoom particularly for group photography. This camera satisfied me in comparison to SONY H55 compared to colour and picture quality. Touch screen was very easy to use. I started enjoying taking pictures in 16:9 mode but was very disappointed to notice that the picture quality comes down to 9MP compared to 4:3 mode that delivers 12.1MP. The HDMI cable should have been supplied by the manufacturer. Besides all these, I highly recommend this camera.

Masud Reza
Dhaka
Bangladesh

 

rikvee posted a comment   

This camera is sweeeet, it has doubled or tripled the percentage of shots that end up being keepers for me.
I love the color as well as the texture of the picture quality, the auto function works very well, the extreme wide to zoom ability really helps to compose a shot, it has a big screen while still fitting in a shirt pocket and the street price is awesome too, a complete winner in my book!

 

ZXT posted a comment   

The Good:Price ($350)

The Bad:little bit large than other Ixus

I like it so far. I just got it 5 days ago. I just want to mention that you can use the optical zoom while filming a video. You said

"Movie quality was good, though we are still puzzled as to why Canon disables the use of the optical zoom while filming."

Maybe yours was the first batch and they already allow it?

farazarshad
10
Rating
 

farazarshad posted a review   

The Good:Excellent, Excellent, Excellent

The Bad:No Bads :))

This is best camera of all time, either you can use touch screen or buttons.

 

Ellie posted a comment   

I bought mine in an extreme hurry after I'd dropped my old Fujifilm Finepix V10 in the floor and really needed a camera for this year's easter mountain trip. I basically ripped it off the shelf and went on holiday.
I bought it not knowing it was a touch screen camera; and had I known, it had probably changed my esteem of it in the shops. Then I got home and realised it had a touch screen, and I suppose I was pleased, but I can't see the trouble with buttons that you describe. I'm very happy that I can switch between screen and buttons so I don't need to press the screen that accurately all the time.

I'm very happy so far, especially with the size of the screen (I'm spoiled from my Finepix V10) and the HD-video. Disappointing that it's hard to set the camera to "picture" mode instead of "auto" mode whith I rarely use; the normal picture mode is in the middle and easy to skip over.

 

Will posted a comment   

The Good:Auto mode takes care of most photography needs

The Bad:Big HD video size

Bought the camera last week and took it out for an outing to the local zoo. Pictures turned out good overall but the battery did not last the whole trip. Enjoyed the color accent functions best. Aquarium mode took decent shots.

 

jay posted a reply   

you can always set it to lower resolution.

Rach
10
Rating
 

Rach posted a review   

The Good:Great qualty photographs

The Bad:Touchscreen takes a little getting used to, expensive

Fantastic camera, takes great quality snaps. Althought it is a little expensive the proof is in the pudding.


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User Reviews / Comments  Canon IXUS 200 IS

  • WongM

    WongM

    "Got this camera back in 2009 and had survived till 2012 now and still going.It never fail me. Of course, technology had caught up these few years but canon IXUS 200 IS isn't really out of the show."

  • Rakesh

    Rakesh

    Rating7

    "Image stabilization dosent work at all!!! Dont even have a sports mode, which i was having in my previous Nikon camera for moving object."

  • Masud

    Masud

    Rating8

    "I bought this camera just couple of weeks ago when I returned SONY H55 to the seller due to distortion in the picture while in the wide angle zoom particularly for group photography. This camera s..."

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