“Do these point and shoots still sell?” – asked a colleague when watching me use a red Canon IXUS 180. Before I began reviewing this gorgeous looking red device (I have a thing for red products, just ask MKBHD), even I started wondering its utility given that that there are already phones that do a lot better job than a point and shoot today. And phones that could shoot 4K under the bracket of Rs.12,000 price point already exist! So why would anyone use a point and shoot today?
Despite my initial inhibitions, I figured that despite, these point and shoot cameras may seem a tad bit outdated right now, but they still offer the best optical zoom range and optical image stabilization (OIS) for the price. A smartphone, on the other hand, cannot and will not have that crazy amount of a zoom range. These two features are the only thing that could attract a customer to buy it. Not even the “enhanced WiFi and NFC functionality” as our phones already do a brilliant job of sharing images, even though they are a welcome add on. If you are looking for high dynamic range, or decent zoom or OIS at a good pocketable price, these kind of cameras are for built for you!
A bit of background on this little IXUS, first. Back in January, Canon refreshed their basic point and shoot line of cameras with the launch of new trio in the IXUS range – IXUS 285HS, IXUS 180 and IXUS 175. All the three cameras have a new DIGIC 4+ image processor, which is an update of the older DIGIC 4 used in older generation Powershot models. While most of the specs are the same, the 285HS has the advantage of shooting in Full HD 1080p thanks to a slightly bigger sensor capable of 20.2MP.
BOX & HARDWARE
Coming to the product, the IXUS 180. Along with the camera and regular items, it ships with an 8GB Sandisk SD card and a soft pouch. There were no indication on which side of the battery and SD card to slide in and I put it the wrong direction on my first try which almost caused the battery door to creak a bit. Not good! The lanyard comes pre-attached to the camera. In a matter of few minutes from breaking the box seal, you’d be good to go. The camera starts up in under a second which is great.
The hardware is pretty and basic but neatly done. It is a glossy plastic body painted hot red which looks very catchy, when compared to a black or blue model. The shutter button and the zoom controls are easy to operate. The camera has a focal range 24-240mm which translates to 10x optical zoom but there is a feature called ZoomPlus which gives extended zoom functionality. Extended zooming, however, dampens the quality a bit. There is also another zoom feature called AutoZoom which intelligently zooms in or out to compose your shot according to the number of people within the frame. This works best if you are shooting 2 people at max in the frame. As and when the face is detected the camera zooms in or zooms out depending on the camera’s last known zoom position.
The Auto Mode did a fantastic job at figuring out the best settings for any given scene. While the branding “DIGIC” instantaneously makes you feel like this is a DSLR level spec, it is not. A sensor and a processor are often confused in terms of a camera. DIGIC 4+ is said to be 60% faster than the DIGIC 4. The primary job of this processor is to process images and it does it job well and quick. There were barely any lags between shooting and viewing. The Presence of Image Stabilizer is quite prominent as on default setting it is always on.
The images shot on the IXUS 180 outdoors are neat with no noise at all. Of course, that’s because the ISO is all the way down to 100 (less noisy/grainy images at less ISO setting). The camera does a really good job at keeping the details in highlights intact. Post zooming into the photos, you can see the 20MP sensor doing a great job at giving details to the photo.
Indoors however, you might feel the need to turn on the inbuilt flash to make things visible without grains as the photos without flash highly disappoints and begs to make use of the flash. People are moving away from flash in general as the low-light capabilities are highly picking up on latest devices so we don’t really like the flat feel the photos with flashlight brings to the table.
If you want to explore a bit of photography, you have some interesting modes deep dug in the Program Mode. You have options like fisheye, monochrome, miniature, etc to play with. None of the modes, made sense to me as the effects were either too bad or easily achievable even in the most basic editing software these days. Macro performance is decent and focusing is accurate most of the time.
Here is a good news for budding photographers, this camera takes fantastic long exposure shots. You have the option to set till 15 second which is some 15 seconds shy of semi-professional DSLRs. Once you start using that setting, it will lure you to keep clicking some beautiful shots in a long exposure. It’s that good. All you would need to do is go to Program Mode and find yourself a steady Gorillapod to keep the camera rock steady.
Here are some of the long exposed shots from the IXUS 180
Comparison with Moto G 3rd Gen
Just for kicks we tried comparing the IXUS 180 with Moto G 3rd Gen, a smartphone in a close-ish price range and the results were quite in favor of the little IXUS 180. The images looked better in every way – the tone, the sharpness and the contrast. Here are a few image comparison.
The dedicated movie recording button starts shooting at touch of a button when the camera is on. We wish that it worked like the push and go WiFi button on the device that works when the camera is on standby. The zoom toggle is relatively smooth and it won’t change its pace even if you move the zoom toggle quickly. So, along with the smoothness of OIS, you also get a smooth zoom to go along.
You’d be happy to see the viewfinder until you find that it just shoots at 720p 25fps recording at max. We at least expected 1080p as that resolution is now a norm. This according to me is the biggest fall back of this product and left us dissatisfied.
The IXUS 180 comes with built-in WiFi. The WiFi connectivity could help you either transfer the images to your phone, PC or another Canon camera (no idea why). It also connects to WiFi Printers connected to the same network to print the images wirelessly. Connecting to one WiFi access point is quite time-consuming as you need to navigate the alphabets by the navigation keys which is painstakingly boring. But good thing is that once you’re connected to a network, it always remembers it so that you won’t have to go through the same pain again and again. It shows your last connected device and automatically connects to WiFi access point the moment you hit the WiFi button. Viewing the photos on the Canon app, Camera Connect, is great. It’s the same app that is engineered for its DSLR range. You can download the images as a resized photo or original size but it is needed to be set under the settings menu.
Another use of Camera Connect app is to use the phone to remotely for shooting. Coming from using a GoPro Hero 4, the lag is a major miss. There is a good one-second lag even when hitting the shoot button. You can control the zooming but it cannot focus from the application. I won’t refocus at all, instead you have to zoom out a bit and try again. Should have been great if there was touch to focus from the application.
What do I say about the battery life on the IXUS 180? One of the strongest point of any “P&S vs Smartphone” argument you’d hear is that a dedicated camera will have a better battery life when compared to a smartphone which would barely last a day with solid shooting. But, the twist here is that this camera comes with a relatively small battery, MB-11L consisting of 680 mAh of power. You just can’t have it shooting the whole day without charging it overnight. So if you are in the mood to be all touristy with this camera, you need to buy an extra pair of batteries. There is nothing like having a USB charging capability, as it would have been a matter of plugging into a power bank while on-the-go. Considering it goes out on eBay for 400 bucks, I don’t see a point not buying them. In my experience with the camera, I was sure it would last a day, but it died on me after continuous shooting 3 hours (mix of videos and photos). Its that bad.
The point and shoot category is not something that will strike you until and unless you are who really looking for the convenience of optical zoom. You really NEED this convenience to buy the IXUS 180. It holds up to the test of time by adding features like WiFi and NFC for quick sharing on social media. Not only that, it proves to be a lot better than a lot of mobile phone cameras under the same budget. So if you are looking forward to up your photography game on a budget, this is definitely a worth buy!
This story has been filed by Saif Khan of Pricebaba.com and edited by the author. Saif is a professional photographer and can be reached on Rhythmic Focus here. The review product was shared by the PR team of Canon India.