Canon Digital Ixus 980 IS

      Photo Review 8.8

      In summary

      An elegant, high-resolution digicam with a wider-than-normal range of adjustable controls.The first Ixus with genuine manual controls, Canon’s Ixus 980 IS features a 14.7-megapixel (effective) CCD sensor and 3.7x optical zoom lens that covers focal lengths from 36mm to 133mm in 35mm format and focuses to 5 cm. Equipped with the new DIGIC 4 image processor, the 980 IS also sports a 2.5-inch TFT colour LCD with 230,000 dots and a wide viewing angle. . . [more]

      Full review


      The first Ixus with genuine manual controls, Canon’s Ixus 980 IS features a 14.7-megapixel (effective) CCD sensor and 3.7x optical zoom lens that covers focal lengths from 36mm to 133mm in 35mm format and focuses to 5 cm. Equipped with the new DIGIC 4 image processor, the 980 IS also sports a 2.5-inch TFT colour LCD with 230,000 dots and a wide viewing angle.
      Goodness knows why anyone needs 14.7 megapixels in a compact digicam when few users are likely print their pictures larger than A4 size (and even fewer to go to A2 size, which the camera claims to be capable of). The effective resolution difference between the two models is slight, since both sensors have the same physical dimensions. However, the new model’s photosites are marginally smaller.


      Front view of the Ixus 980 IS, showing the black colour option.


      Rear view showing the LCD panel and main button controls.

      The new model replaces the 12.1-megapixel Ixus 960 IS but its redesigned body is slightly larger and five grams lighter. Like its predecessor, the Ixus 980 IS looks stylish (particularly in the black version) and is very well built. However, some people will find the button controls small and difficult to operate and the viewfinder very cramped. The Control Dial around the arrow pad also moved a little too easily on the review camera, making it easy to change settings inadvertently, although the on-screen information display (if you have selected it) soon alerts you to what’s happened.
      The mode lever on the rear panel carries five settings: Auto, P/M, Quick Shot, Scene and Movie. The manual controls on the Ixus 980 IS are a genuine bonus – although they have some limitations. You can adjust both lens aperture and shutter speed settings in manual mode, although you get only two aperture settings at any focal length. These range from f/2.8 and f/8 at the wide angle to f/5.8 and f/16 at the telephoto position.


      The manual mode lets users adjust both aperture and shutter speed settings, using the Control Dial and arrow pad.


      The Program AE (P) mode, showing the live histogram overlay.


      Aperture adjustment in the Av shooting mode.

      The Quick Shot mode allows users to shoot using the viewfinder. This enables them to keep the focus and exposure adjusted, even without pressing the shutter button halfway and almost eliminates capture lag. It’s also useful for shooting in bright conditions when the LCD is difficult to view.


      Selecting the Quick Shot mode displays a reminder to use the viewfinder for shot composition.

      The Scene mode contains the standard selection of 15 settings, which include Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater, ISO 3200, Digital Macro, Color Accent, Color Swap and Stitch Assist. Access to these modes is the same as in the Ixus 870 IS model.


      A new Sunset mode has been added to the Scene menu in the latest models.

      Other functions accessed through the Func./Set button are essentially unchanged. The DIGIC III processor in the 960 IS has been replaced with the latest DIGIC 4 chip, which has enabled Canon to add Face Select and Track autofocusing and improve motion detection. A new Face Self-Timer mode makes group and self portraits easy by automatically triggering the shutter until a little after a new face enters the frame.
      As in other Ixus models, face detection must first be selected in the AF Frame menu. In this mode, the AF system can identify human faces, identifying them by superimposing a green frame on each face detected (up to nine frames). If the metering mode is set to evaluative, it will adjust exposures accordingly. White balance will also be adjusted in AWB mode and the flash exposure will be set to give a balanced level for all faces detected. If a face is not detected and up to two grey frames appear and the AF frame setting will change to AiAF.
      Canon’s Motion Detection technology works by registering both camera and subject movement and then automatically setting an appropriate ISO value to minimise blurring. Switching on Servo AF sets the camera to continuous autofocusing, allowing the system to track moving subjects more easily. DIGIC 4 also powers Canon’s new iContrast function, which has been covered in the review of the Ixus 870 IS.
      Power management has been improved in the new model, which claims a CIPA rating of approximately 280 shots/charge with the LCD on against 240 shots/charge for the Ixus 960 IS. However, the rechargeable NB-5 battery is the same in both cameras.

      Image Capture
      The Ixus 960 IS can only record image files as JPEGs and supports five resolution settings with a 4:3 aspect ratio plus a Widescreen setting that records images at 4416x 2480 pixel resolution. Three compression levels are provided: Superfine, Fine and Normal. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.








      4416x 3312





      3456 x 2592





      2592 x 1944




      M3 (Date stamp)

      1600 x 1200





      640 x 480





      4416x 2480




      Not unexpectedly, the continuous shooting speed for the Ixus 980 IS is slightly slower than its predecessor. The claimed burst rate is approximately 1.3 frames/second, against 1/5 frames/second for the Ixus 960 IS.
      Movie capture is identical to the Ixus 870 IS and uses the same H.264 + Linear PCM recording system, which allows up to 40% more ‘footage’ to be stored on a memory card than its predecessor – with no apparent reduction in quality. The widescreen format provided in the 960 IS has been dropped. Two resolution settings are provided for movie clip recording: VGA and QVGA. Only one frame rate (30 frames/second) is supported but you can use the colour accent and colour swap settings with both resolutions. Typical recording times for a 1GB memory card are shown in the table below.

      Movie mode

      Recorded pixels

      Frame rate

      Recording time with 1 GB card


      640 x 480

      30 fps

      11 minutes 54 seconds

      320 x 240

      30 fps

      36 minutes 17 seconds

      Maximum length of video clips is one hour and recording will stop when the file size reaches 4GB. Use of SDHC cards with speed class of 4 or higher is recommended.

      Playback and Software
      Pressing the Playback button on the rear panel displays the last image taken. Playback options are essentially the same as on the Ixus 870 IS. The camera supports single, 9-frame index and video playback, playback zoom of up to 10x, focus check playback (with magnification), slideshows with three selectable transition effects and the same range of Jump options.
      In playback mode you can also erase or protect single shots or a selection of images, allocate images to categories, resize, rotate and trim images, add voice memos up to a minute long to selected shots or apply iContrast or red-eye corrections. Images can be tagged for automatic printing via a dedicated Print menu and the camera is fully PictBridge compatible.
      The software bundle includes ZoomBrowser EX 6.2 (Windows) and ImageBrowser 6.2 (Macintosh) for organising and editing images, movies and slideshows, or creating and printing digital photo albums. The PhotoStitch panorama stitching application is also provided. The IXUS 980 IS also supports driverless transfer to Windows XP and Macintosh OS X, along with MTP for image and movie transfers to Windows Vista.

      The test camera’s LCD monitor provided a sharp display with good colour rendition and above-average readability in bright outdoor conditions. Neither the AF system nor the image stabiliser delivered perfect performance in challenging conditions.
      The AF system often selected the wrong target and we estimate the stabiliser provided only a stop or two of shutter speed advantage in overcast or low light conditions – which is when you really need it. However, the face detection system delivered good exposures with and without flash.
      Pictures taken with the test camera were sharp and clean with natural-looking colours and the slightly elevated saturation that typifies compact digicams. Plenty of detail was recorded but the dynamic range in shots of contrasty subjects was limited – as you would expect from a camera with such tiny photosites. Blown highlights and blocked-up shadows were common in such shots.


      A sample shot showing the blown-out highlights and blocked shadows that characterise small-sensor digicams.
      Imatest showed resolution to be up to expectations and indicated a relatively low level of post-capture processing, which resulted in very clean image files. Resolution began to fall off at ISO 400 and had declined sharply by ISO 1600. The graph below shows the results of our tests.


      Colour accuracy was fair in our Imatest assessments, which revealed elevated saturation, particularly in reds and blues. Skin hues were also slightly off the mark. Lateral chromatic aberration was low in our Imatest tests but we found some colour fringing when shots were enlarged to 100%. An example is shown below. Backlit subjects were handled with ease and we found little evidence of flare in test shots.


      Close-up performance was patchy, largely because of autofocus problems. However, the digital macro setting produced some good results. Digital zoom shots were slightly soft and artefact-affected. The flash was capable of illuminating an average-sized room at ISO 100 and produced evenly-balanced exposures up to ISO 1600.
      Low-light performance was very good for long exposures between ISO 100 and 400, where traces of image noise became visible. With this setting – and at ISO 800 – noise would be unlikely to interfere with print quality at enlargements up to A4 size. At ISO 1600, image noise was very obvious in night shots and most fine detail was lost.
      The auto white balance failed to eliminate the orange cast of incandescent lighting but produced close-to-neutral colours under fluorescent lights. With both types of lighting, the pre-sets delivered neutral colours, as did manual measurement.
      Overall response times were about average for the latest digicams. The test camera powered up in approximately half a second and shot-to-shot times averaged 1.8 seconds without flash and 3.5 seconds with. On average, it took 3.4 seconds to process each image file.
      We measured an average capture lag of 0.4 seconds, which changed to instantaneous capture when shots were pre-focused. The continuous shooting mode recorded 10 shots in 6.1 seconds. It took 3.4 seconds to process this burst of 10 shots.





      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.




      Digital macro.


      Digital zoom.




      Flare: 7.7mm focal length, 1/360 second at f/8, ISO 100.


      7.7mm focal length, 1/160 second at f/8, ISO 80.


      28.5mm focal length, 1/320 second at f/5.8, ISO 80.


      15-second exposure at ISO 200.


      2-second exposure at ISO 1600.


      Night Snapshot mode: 7.7mm focal length, 1/8 second at f/2.8, ISO 250.


      Portrait mode: 19.5mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/4.5, ISO 200.


      Aquarium mode: 7.7mm focal length, 1/25 second at f/2.8, ISO 200.


      Overcast conditions: 20mm focal length, 1/80 second at f/4.5, ISO 200




      Image sensor: 7.6 x 5.7 mm CCD with approximately 15 million photosites (14.7 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 7.7-28.5mm f/2.8-5.8 zoom (36-133mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 3.7x optical, up to 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.2); Movies ““ MOV (Image data: H.264; Audio data: Linear PCM) (Mono)
      Image Sizes: Stills ““ 4416 x 3312, 3456 x 2592, 2592 x 1944, 1600 x 1200 (Date Stamp), 640 x 480, 4416 x 2480 (Widescreen); Movies ““ VGA, QVGA at 30 fps
      Shutter speed range: 15″“1/1600 sec.
      Image Stabilisation: Lens-shift type
      Exposure Compensation: ±2 stops in 1/3-stop increments
      Focus system/range: TTL autofocus with Face Detect/AiAF (9 points); range 50 cm to infinity; macro 2-50 cm
      Exposure metering/control: Evaluative, Center-weighted average or Spot metering; Auto, Program AE/Manual plus 12 Scene pre-sets (Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Sunset, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater, ISO3200)
      ISO range: Auto, High ISO Auto, ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      White balance: Auto, Day Light, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H or Custom
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, on, off; Red-eye reduction/Red-eye correction/Slow Synchro settings available; range 0.5 to 4.6 m
      Sequence shooting: Approx. 1.3 images/sec.
      Storage Media: SD/SDHC/MMC
      Viewfinder: Real-image optical zoom
      LCD monitor: 2.5-inch TFT colour LCD (wide viewing angle type), approx. 230,000 dots (Picture coverage 100%)
      Power supply: NB-5L rechargeable lithium-ion battery
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 96.7 x 62.2 x 27.9 mm
      Weight: Approx. 160 grams (without battery and card)





      Digital cameras, lenses and accessories with 100% genuine Australian manufacturer’s warranties.
      Ph: (02) 9029 2219

      Camera House


      Ph: 133 686
      The largest speciality photographic retail chain in Australia.

      Camera Pro

      CameraPro Pty Ltd
      Suite 607, 180 Queen St, Brisbane 4000
      Tel: 07 3333 2900
      Australian owned and run company based in Brisbane.



      Retailer of digital camera equipment and more.
      Secure online shopping and delivery across Australia.
      Ph: 1300 727 056
      Ph: 1800 155 067



      Comprehensive range of digital cameras and accessories online ( and an online print service (

      Digital Camera Warehouse

      174 Canterbury Road 367 High Street
      Canterbury Northcote
      NSW 2193 VIC 3070
      Ph: 1300 365 220

      Electronics Warehouse

      1300 801 885
      Australian retailer of Vapex rechargeable batteries offering factory direct prices and fast, free shipping Australia wide.



      Photographic Equipment & Supplies – Retail & Repairs. Click here for list of stores.

      Ted’s Cameras



      1800 186 895
      Big range of cameras and photographic products with stores in most states and online.



      RRP: $599

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 9.0
      • Ease of use: 9.0
      • Image quality: 8.5
      • OVERALL: 8.8