Canon Digital IXUS 125 HS: Stylish, But What Else?

 
Canon Digital IXUS 125 HS

Canon Digital IXUS 125 HS

Ambarin Afsar walks around the city with the Canon Digital IXUS 125 HS and tries to find out whether its features justify its price tag.

Announced earlier this year, the IXUS 125 HS is one of Canon’s latest additions to its compact camera lineup. With Full HD video and 5x optical zoom, the 16.1MP camera is strangely priced at Rs. 16,995. This is considerably more than other cameras offering these features.

This is a strange transitory period where the sales of snapshooters like the 125 HS are gradually being eaten up by cameraphones. In such an unstable market, is it wise to price a camera more on the basis of its style quotient rather than its feature set?

Features
The 125 HS has a 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS sensor, coupled with Canon’s DIGIC 5 image processing engine. In terms of focal range, the camera sports a 24–120mm lens (in 35mm parlance). Also on the table are Full HD video and 240fps slow motion movies. However, the camera shoots only at 2fps, while its competitors offer radically fast frame rates. An image stabiliser that offers a 3.5-stop advantage, a 461k dot LCD screen and a Smart Auto mode that detects 58 Scene modes complete this package. Creative effects like Toy Camera, Miniature and Super Vivid are expected extras. But, Canon’s exclusion of a self-stitching panorama mode sticks out sorely.

Handling
A mere press of the power button and the camera flutters to life in little less than a second. The exterior of the camera is relatively uncluttered—there is no shooting mode dial, merely a switch that offers you a choice between Smart Auto and the more customisable Program Auto mode. The camera weighs 135g despite its metal construction, making it a solid, yet featherweight body. As with all credit card-sized compacts, it feels distinctly slippery and lacks anything in the way of a handgrip. The thumb of the right hand gets inadvertently pressed against the video recording button and if you are not careful enough, your left hand can end up covering the flash or the AF-assist beam.

All the buttons on the camera are recessed, including the four-way control pad with a non-customisable Function button at its centre. Now, while this is meant to prevent one from accidentally pressing the wrong button, it can also prove to be quite trying. You need to apply some amount of pressure or even use your fingernails to get the buttons to respond.

Performance
While the camera is almost fully automated, the Program mode gives you some degree of control over ISO, White Balance, metering and exposure compensation.

Featuring Center, Tracking AF and Face AiAF, the camera’s autofocus system performs decently in most situations. However, when shooting at the telephoto end, despite not using continuous AF, the focus tried to hunt while recomposing. So, an entirely unintended part of the frame ended up being in focus. While this occurred rarely, it was certainly befuddling. Other than this glitch, the colours are a joy to behold, straight out of the box. Flare is visible in quite a few high contrast situations and there is considerable fringing at both ends of the zoom.

In terms of overall sharpness, the lens performs admirably well, but an overenthusiastic image processing engine performs aggressive noise reduction, even at base ISO values. Additionally, there is a great deal of compression being done. This leads to ungainly artefacts, colour smearing and jagged edges, where detail should have been rendered crisply.

While the 125 HS offers a maximum of ISO 3200, it is best to stick to ISO 800 or less, in order to keep the camera from giving you softened, smeared images.

Conclusion
It is slightly saddening that cameras like the Canon IXUS 125 HS are losing to smartphones, yet this is only understandable. It is only a matter of time till cell phone cameras catch up in terms of speed, image processing and video features—all in an affordable budget. Priced at Rs. 16,995, the camera even lacks basic WiFi connectivity, and falls quite short of being the affordable variety. Ultimately, it has little to offer to a target audience with tight purse strings.

The Toy Camera mode adds a pleasing vignette. It also produces images with considerably low contrast. Exposure: 1/80sec at f/2.7 Ambarin Afsar (ISO 100)

The Toy Camera mode adds a pleasing vignette. It also produces images with considerably low contrast. Exposure: 1/80sec at f/2.7 Ambarin Afsar (ISO 100)

Final Ratings
Features
Full HD video but only in MOV, slow motion movies, only 2fps, no panorama mode
16/20

Performance
Great colours marred by aggressive NR, compression and sharpening
36/40

Build Quality
Metal construction, lightweight yet solid
14/15

Ergonomics
Streamlined, but recessed buttons area hindrance
14/20

Warranty & Support
Two years warranty with a wideservice network
4/5

OVERALL: 74%
Value For Money: 2.5/5 stars

Who Should Buy It?
Someone who does not mind spending extra money for a metal body and elegant looks.

Why?
The IXUS 125 HS is a reliable, unobtrusive tool for snapshooting, however, there are better options in the market that offer more at the same price.

 

 

Tags: Review, Camera, Ambarin Afsar, May 2012, Canon Digital IXUS 125 HS, basic compact mcaera, 16MP