Canon Ixus 860 IS

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

      A stylish slimline digicam with image stabilisation, automatic face detection and in-camera red-eye correction.Canon’s Ixus 860 IS replaces the Ixus 850 IS model but offers slightly higher resolution for a lower price. The 850 IS’s optical viewfinder has been dispensed with, in favour of the new model’s larger, 3.0-inch LCD monitor. Continuous shooting speeds are slightly slower in the 860 IS, which has a top burst rate of 1.3 Large/Fine JPEG frames/second. However, the new model can record longer video clips – up to 4GB per recording. It also offers time lapse recording at VGA resolution, with a limit of two hours. . . [more]

      Full review


      Canon’s Ixus 860 IS replaces the Ixus 850 IS model but offers slightly higher resolution for a lower price. The 850 IS’s optical viewfinder has been dispensed with, in favour of the new model’s larger, 3.0-inch LCD monitor. Continuous shooting speeds are slightly slower in the 860 IS, which has a top burst rate of 1.3 Large/Fine JPEG frames/second. However, the new model can record longer video clips ““ up to 4GB per recording. It also offers time lapse recording at VGA resolution, with a limit of two hours.

      Body styling is slightly different and more plastic appears to have been used in the new model, although the overall Ixus look is retained. Instead of bulging out slightly, the panel carrying the strap eyelet is recessed and the USB and AV-out terminals sit beneath a lift-up plastic hatch on one side. The front panel of the camera is a tad lower than the back, giving a streamlined appearance. With no viewfinder, the lamp used for AF-assist, red-eye reduction and self-timer alert has been moved away from the lens axis and closer to the shutter button.


      The 860 IS is also slightly larger and heavier than its predecessor, no doubt as a result of its larger screen. A wider range of storage media is supported, including the latest MMCplus and HC MMCplus memory cards, as well as SD and SDHC. Canon has replaced the mode dial with a slider on the top panel, which selects between camera, scene and movie modes. The Func/Set button is now used to choose between full auto and camera manual modes, while quick review is now accessed via a button on the rear panel.


      Print/share, menu and display buttons and the arrow pad are similar to the 850 IS (although not quite in the same positions). Scene modes and colour adjustments are the same. The new model has the latest DiG!C III image processor, which supports face detection autofocusing (AF), auto exposure (AE) and flash exposure (FE) to provide optimal portrait shots. It also applies noise reduction processing at sensitivity settings up to ISO1600. (Dark-frame subtraction appears to be used for long exposures.)

      The centre of the print/share button blinks blue to indicate the possibility of camera shake and a new Auto ISO Shift function lets you increase sensitivity when this warning appears. The function must be switched on in the shooting menu and it only works when ISO settings of 400 or lower are used. To view the new ISO setting, you simply press the print/share button and take the shot. Pressing the print/share button again returns the camera to the original ISO setting.

      Image files can only be saved as JPEGs and both file sizes and compression ratios are the same as the PowerShot SX100 IS. The table below shows typical file sizes.


      Super Fine



      3264 x 2448 (L)




      2592 x 1944 (M1)




      2048 x 1536 (M2)




      1600 x 1200 (M3)




      640 x 480 (S)




      1600 x 1200 (Postcard)


      3264 x 1832 (W)




      Video compression rates are marginally lower than the PowerShot SX100 IS but the same sizes and frame rates are provided in both cameras. You can record up to one hour ““ or 4GB ““ of VGA video at 30 fps in a single clip. The camera will automatically adjust exposure and white balance settings while a video clip is being recorded but focus and zoom settings are fixed at the start of a video clip to prevent camera noise from being picked up by the built-in microphone. You can use the digital zoom and apply Colour Accent and Colour Swap adjustments.

      Before starting a video recording, you can lock the exposure with the ISO button and adjust the exposure level with the horizontal buttons on the arrow pad. This facility is handy when shooting video clips in the snow or on the beach. If you register the movie function with the print/share button you can record video directly by pressing the print/share button, even when the shooting mode is set to still camera or scene mode. Typical video sizes are shown in the table below.


      Frame Rate

      File Size

      640 x 480 pixels (VGA)

      30 fps

      1.963 MB/sec

      640 x 480 pixels (VGA)

      30 fps (LP)

      1.003 MB/sec

      320 x 240 pixels (QVGA)

      30 fps

      0.703 MB/sec

      160 X 120 pixels (QQVGA)

      15 fps

      0.131 MB/sec

      Playback options have been expanded in the Ixus 860 IS, with in-camera red-eye correction and image re-sizing. The usual single and index playback, playback zoom with up to 10x magnification and slideshow playback. In index playback you can jump from one screen of nine thumbnails to the next with the zoom lever. A new Focus Check tool, lets you enlarge part of the shot in playback mode using the zoom control and move the magnified section with the arrow pad. This control is accessed.via the Display button.

      The jump function contains a useful search function for users who wish to find a single shot when there are a large number of images on the memory card. You can jump by date, by category, by folder, by movie or in increments of 10 and 100 shots. Images can be organized into one of seven categories: People, Scenery, Events, To Do and three user-defined categories.

      Three transition effects are provided for slideshow playback ““ fade in/out, cross-blinds and horizontal blinds. You can also opt for no transition effects. Selecting detailed playback displays a thumbnail image with shooting data and a small brightness histogram. You can also apply My Colours effects to images and attach a sound bite up to a minute long to selected shots. Sound bites can be added to image files and you can record (and play back) up to two hours of audio alone.

      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 and dynamic range in bright lighting was wider than average for this type of camera. Imatest showed resolution to be slightly below expectations but indicated a low level of post-capture processing, which resulted in very clean image files. Resolution declined sharply at ISO 1600.

      Colour accuracy was good in our Imatest assessments, which confirmed the slight over-saturation. Some hue shifts were found in the cyan sector of the spectrum and saturation was elevated in reds and purples. Lateral chromatic aberration was low but we found some colour fringing when shots were enlarged to 200%. The test camera’s LCD monitor provided a sharp display with good colour rendition and above-average readability in bright outdoor conditions.


      Coloured fringes were detected near the edges of shots at 200% magnification.

      The face detection system was effective in delivering good exposures both with and without flash. However, low-light autofocusing was occasionally hesitant when the flash was set to off. We estimate the image stabilisation system allowed us to shoot at between two and three f-stops slower than we could with a non-stabilised camera

      Close-up performance was excellent and digital zoom shots were relatively artefact-free ““ although slightly soft. The flash required an ISO setting of 200 before it could illuminate an average-sized room but flash exposure levels were uniform to ISO 1600. Flash exposures at ISO 1600 had blown-out highlights and blocked-up shadows and an obvious granular appearance.

      Low-light performance was very good for long exposures between ISO 80 and 400, when 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. Blocked-up shadows were also apparent at this setting.


      Long exposures at ISO 1600 were affected by image noise and blocked-up shadows.

      The auto white balance failed to eliminate the orange cast of incandescent lighting and left a residual green tinge with fluorescent lights. Under both types of lighting, the pre-sets delivered neutral colours. We were unable to match the pre-sets results when using the manual measurement system, which proved difficult to engage on the test camera.

      Overall response times were above average for a compact digicam. The test camera powered up in less than a second and shot-to-shot times averaged 1.6 seconds without flash and 2.5 seconds with. We measured an average capture lag of 0.2 seconds, which changed to instantaneous capture when shots were pre-focused. The continuous shooting mode recorded shots at 0.75 second intervals, regardless of image size or compression

      It took 2.2 seconds to process and save each shot and just under four seconds to process and store a burst of 10 shots.








      Resolution at low sensitivity.



      Resolution at ISO 1600.





      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.




      Digital zoom.


      Short exposure time at ISO 80.


      Short exposure time at ISO 1600.




      Image sensor: 5.76 x 4.29mm CCD with 8.3 million photosites (8.0 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 4.6-17.3mm f/2.8-5.8 zoom (28-105mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 3.8x optical, approx. 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.2); Movies ““ Motion JPEG/WAV (monaural)
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3264 x 2448, 3264 x 1832, 2594 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480, 1600 x 1200 with date imprint; Movies ““ VGA at 30 fps (SP/LP), QVGA at 30 fps, QQVGA at 15 fps; time lapse VGA
      Shutter speed range: 15 – 1/1600 seconds
      Image Stabilisation: Optical (lens shift type)
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV increments
      Focus system/range: TTL Autofocus with Face detect / 9-point AiAF / 1-point AF (fixed: centre); range 45 cm to infinity; macro 3-60 cm
      Exposure metering/control: Evaluative & Centre-weighted average metering; Program AE plus Auto, Camera Manual, Digital Macro, Stitch Assist and 10 scene pre-sets
      ISO range: Auto, Hi ISO Auto, ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent (x2), Custom
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, On, Off, Slow-synchro (Red-eye reduction, Face Detect FE and FE lock available); range 30 cm to 4.0 m
      Sequence shooting: Approx 1.3 shots/sec (Large/Fine)
      Storage Media: SD/SDHC/MMC/MMCplus, HC MMCplus cards
      Viewfinder: n.a.
      LCD monitor: 3.0-inch Low-temperature polycrystalline silicon TFT colour LCD
      Power supply: NB-5L rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery (C.I.P.A. rated for approx. 270 shots)
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 92.6 x 25.9 x 58.8 mm
      Weight: Approx. 155 grams (without battery and card)





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