Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS Review

May 11, 2009 | Gavin Stoker | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS (also know as the Canon PowerShot SD780 IS) is the slimmest ever Canon compact camera, measuring a mere 18.4mm thick. This 12 megapixel model has a stylish ultra-slim metal body, 3x zoom lens with Optical Image Stabilizer , 2.5 inch LCD screen with optical viewfinder, and new Smart AUTO mode. Face Detection, Blink Detection plus Face Self-Timer and Auto Red-Eye Correction technologies promise to capture better people shots, and the Canon IXUS 100 also features a 720p HD Movie Mode with a built-in HDMI connector for playback on HD widescreen TVs. Available in black, red, silver or gold, the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS officially retails for $279.99 / £299.00 / €349.00.

Ease of Use

Canon's point-and-shoot Digital IXUS range has consistently been as much about style as performance, and as such, coupled with a mainly metal build and rechargeable lithium ion batteries, they have tended to command a price premium over plainer plastic build PowerShot range models with similar headline specifications but AA batteries for power. Barely larger or fatter that your credit card at 18.4mm 'wide', Canon's latest Digital IXUS in the 100 IS ('Image Stabilised') sports a design, with its subtly soft lines and rounded off corners, to makes the eyes light up with anticipation.

The perfect travel camera, perhaps? Well, its manufacturer is claiming the camera as its slimmest ever IXUS, and resting it in your outstretched palm it certainly looks the cutest, with a choice of silver, black, orangey-gold or deep red finishes. However the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS won't stay looking this pretty for long, the metallic finish of the front plate proving prone to scuffs and scratches over the two week period of our assessment.

Sure to appeal as much to teenage girls and young women searching for that all-important 'bling' as it is city bankers or lawyers looking magpie-like for an attractive accessory for their top pocket, the focus here is on beginner targeted user-friendliness. Thus the 12.1-megapixel model features the debut of what Canon is calling its Scene Detection/Smart Auto technology – which appears to be a very close relative of the Intelligent Auto functionality found in Panasonic's Lumix series.

Setting the 100 IS to Smart Auto mode, the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS selects from one of 18 optimised choices depending on the scene and conditions it's presented with. It makes this selection, claims Canon, based on subject brightness, contrast, distance from the lens and overall hue. Keeping operation pulsing along is the inclusion of the latest Digic IV processor, as featured in Canon's latest DSLRs. This also powers handholding functions including Motion Detection, aiding capture of moving subjects whilst avoiding blur, plus iContrast, which lifts shadow areas of an image to even out exposures, face detection plus blink detection, face self timer and, as usually found on entry-level Canon models, auto red eye correction.

Less expected perhaps at this level is a feature also becoming increasingly ubiquitous among DSLRs, namely a built-in HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) port for connecting the camera up to a latest generation TV set, plus, here, the ability for the IXUS 100 IS to shoot widescreen ratio HD movie clips at a not-quite-Full HD resolution of 1280x720 pixels, but a smooth frame rate of 30 frames per second nonetheless (one of the major points of difference between this and the 95 IS model released alongside). Also welcome is the fact that users have access to the full extent of the image-stabilised 3x optical zoom (rather than just a digital variety) when shooting video.

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS
Front Rear

Despite its diminutive size the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS camera additionally features an optical viewfinder window above its 2.5-inch 4:3 ratio LCD, giving users a choice for shot composition. All of the above goes some way to justifying the IXUS' £299 price tag, which, while not cheap, feels fair. With battery and required SD or SDHC media card loaded, the latest Canon snapshot feels reassuringly weighty in the palm and well-built too despite its near microcosmic dimensions, mixing metal and well-disguised plastic to winning effect.

So, with the above in mind, let's take a tour of the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS's features and functions.

At the front the IXUS 100 is an exercise in minimalism, whilst at the same time recalling 'classic' IXUS designs from the series' original APS film incarnation – something to do with the concentric circles (here of brushed metal) surrounding the lens perhaps, and the inclusion of that optical viewfinder. Whatever, it looks like a camera should, whilst at the same time remaining pretty enough to be considered a fashion accessory thanks to the lens itself being hidden within the body when not in use.

Top right of the lens is a thin lozenge shaped sliver of a window housing a built-in flash bulb, whilst to the left is a porthole-shaped window housing the indicator light for the self timer/AF assist lamp. Next along is a tiny window for the optical viewfinder, whilst directly below, and barely visible – as it resembles a pinprick – is a porthole for the built-in microphone.

The top plate of the camera is similarly refined in appearance, controls set into a different coloured 'go faster' strip that runs around the exterior of the camera so that none of them actually protrude and spoil this IXUS' straight lines. Indeed the shutter release button has had one of its rounded corners tapered to 'fit'. It's encircled by a spring loaded zoom lever with a small lip protruding to the front where it falls handily under he forefinger for quick operation.

Moving to the left we find a similarly recessed and much smaller on/off power button, and, to the left again, a grouping of three holes for the built-in microphone. Press the power button and the 100 IS readies itself for the first shot in barely more than a second. While busy scenes can add confusion, it's equally quick to determine focus and exposure with a half press of the shutter release button. With a full press, full resolution still images are committed to memory in a fairly standard three seconds, the screen momentarily freezing and displaying the captured shot while this is taking place.

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS
Front Top

While the left hand side of the camera – if viewed from the back – is devoid of any features apart from small screws top and bottom, the right hand side adds merely a means of attaching a wrist strap.

Things get more interesting with an examination of the back plate, dominated as expected by that aforementioned 2.5-inch LCD monitor, with a teeny tiny window for the optical viewfinder ranged directly above, nestling alongside a pair of built-in indicator lights. Since the view delivered by the optical viewfinder is so small and murky it requires the user to squint, I can see most users quickly forgetting about its presence entirely.

The top right hand corner of the IXUS' back features a clever incorporation of A/V out, USB and HDMI connections; basically their flip-open plastic cover forms part of the back itself. Beneath this is a three-notch slider switch for the camera's various shooting modes that mirrors that provided on the simultaneously-released IXUS 110 IS. Running from top to bottom are the unit's 'smart' auto mode, regular program auto and, lastly, video mode.

Neatly mirroring the shape and size of this control, and ranged to the left, is a familiar playback button, while below is a four way directional control pad for tabbing through menu options and captured images, with a familiar function/set button at its centre. Press the latter when in basic auto mode and a L-shaped toolbar that will be immediately familiar to Canon compact users appears down the left hand side and across the bottom of the screen. In auto, all the user has access to from this is the ability to alter image size and ratio, from 12 megapixels down to 640x480 pixels, and from 4:3 ratio to a widescreen 16:9 with minimal drop in resolution to approximately nine megapixels.

Flip the shooting switch to program auto meanwhile and, via the same toolbar, the user additionally has access to pre-optimised scene settings (the standard portrait, night snapshot, kids & pets, indoor or sunset settings). Also available for manual selection are the camera's range of ISO settings, ranging from ISO 80 to 1600, white balance, the regular Canon 'My Colors' effects – including the ability to bias red, green or blue separately plus a custom option – plus evaluative, centre weighted or spot metering. Here too is the ability to switch from single to continuous shooting.

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

The last capture option among the trio is for shooting movies as noted, which also – unusually for a video mode – provides access to manual white balance and 'My Colors' options. Crucially, there's the choice to adjust the capture quality from humble 320x240 pixels at 30fps, through the standard definition 640x480 pixels, and up to an HD 1280x720 pixels, at which points the black bands cropping each side of the view presented by the LCD screen (to provide a 4:3 ratio) drop away to present a 16:9 image. Though a 4x equivalent zoom is provided in video mode, unfortunately it's of the digital variety, so by using it you're compromising on quality.

Returning to the function pad and four-way directional controller. At north, south, east and west around this are, in that order, a means of leap-frogging bunches of images when in playback mode or adjusting exposure compensation (+/- 2EV) when in capture mode. Next, at the bottom of the pad, is a means of deleting duff images on the fly or selecting the self-timer options, whilst the ability to adjust the flash settings and switch focus from infinity to macro (and back) complete the package.

Below these are a self-explanatory final pairing of buttons – marked 'display' (with an initial press turning off the shooting icons littering the screen, and the second the LCD itself) and 'menu' respectively. Pressing the latter brings up two folders on-screen – the first containing the shooting menu, the second the more general purpose set up menu.The first folder contains the ability to activate the digital zoom, call up grid lines on screen, i-Contrast, image stabilisation modes (continuous, shoot only, active when panning, or off), plus face and blink detection. The second available folder contains the set up menu, offering the ability to tweak various sound and start up options – for once on a Canon compact, there's not an extraneous separate menu folder for doing this – plus format the SD or SDHC card in use.

The base of the camera meanwhile features a familiar screw thread for attaching this IXUS to a tripod, plus a sliding door protecting both the SD/SDHC card port (with no internal memory to fall back on) and slender rechargeable lithium ion battery, good for an underwhelming but not disastrous 210 shots from a single charge.

But how about the pictures themselves – do the results suggest that this is a camera that transcends its exterior good looks, and is, indeed, as cute where it counts? Let's find out…

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 3Mb.

Something that looks this good on the outside must have an Achilles heel, right, and would that be the images delivered themselves? While the IXUS 100 IS' lens doesn't appear to be the sharpest ever, close-ups working slightly better than landscapes, it's certainly not one that's letting the side down. The familiar bug-bear of purple fringing is present between areas of high contrast, though it's certainly no worse than competing models and only noticeable if you're actually looking closely for it. This being a Canon camera, primary colours are well to the fore in each shot – especially if selecting the 'Vivid' colour setting – and though highlight detail tends to suffer in bright conditions this again is nothing you wouldn't expect to see from images from a point-and-shoot model not much larger than a credit card. In terms of low light sensitivity, results are clear of noise practically up to and including IS0 800. With the jump to ISO 1600, detail is noticeably softening, but results are once again usable at a push. Generally speaking, we preferred the look and feel of the images from this cheaper more accessible camera than the IXUS 110 IS we were testing it alongside. Bargain!


There are 6 ISO settings available on the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


Here are two 100% Crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes via the My Colors menu option.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Chromatic Aberrations

The Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS handled chromatic aberrations quite well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)


The Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 3cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


The flash settings on the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS are Auto, Flash On, Slow Synchro, and Flash Off, with Red-eye Correction and Red-Eye Lamp settings available via the Flash Settings main menu option. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (33mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (33mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (100mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (100mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye Correction settings caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Correction

Red-eye Correction (100% Crop)


The Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS's maximum shutter speed is 15 seconds in the Long Shutter mode, which is good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 800. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like. The camera takes the same amount of time again to apply noise reduction, so for example at the 5 second setting the actual exposure takes 10 seconds.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1280 x 720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 21 second movie is 61Mb in size.

Product Images

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Front of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Front of the Camera / Turned On

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Isometric View

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Isometric View

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Rear of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Top of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Bottom of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Side of the Camera


Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Side of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Memory Card Slot

Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS

Battery Compartment


Those who choose the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS as their travel companion of choice are obviously favouring portability (or fashion) above all else, but luckily the camera doesn't fall down on performance, and, given its diminutive dimensions, it's a surprise that there aren't more inherent compromises. For example, even though the operational buttons and controls are small, they never feel too small.

This camera then is rather inoffensive and rather lovely. Its asking price feels about right given its weight, build and sophisticated finish – with the choice of colours lending a dash of frivolity. The ability to shoot HD video clips (if, sadly, not quite full HD) also pushes ahead of the 640x480 pixel pack and ticks another of the latest 'must have' boxes. You'll have to supply your own dedicated HDMI cable of course, plus removable media in the shape of an SD or SDHC card, but the latter are now thankfully two-a-penny.

In summary then, the camera is pleasingly responsive, intuitive to use for anyone who has handled a Canon IXUS before and, being small enough to slip into a shirt top pocket is the kind of camera you'll carry with you anywhere and everywhere. The result? A greater likelihood of taking that winning shot. It all adds up to a Photography Blog Recommended award for the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4
Value for money 3.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS from around the web. »

Canon’s Digital IXUS 100 IS (or PowerShot SD780 IS Digital ELPH as it’s known in North America) is a 12.1 Megapixel compact with a 3x optically-stabilised zoom and 2.5in screen. Announced in March 2009, it’s the successor to the IXUS 85 IS / PowerShot SD770 IS. The new model adds two extra Megapixels, HD video recording in the 720p format, an HDMI port for HD slideshows and Scene Recognition in Auto. At just 18.4mm thick, it’s also the slimmest compact in Canon’s current range.
Read the full review » »

Go into any camera store and you won't be able to move for pocket-friendly super-slim cameras, practically all of which are cheaper than the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS. But the 100 IS has class in abundance. This camera's styling, finish, controls and results are just right
Read the full review » »

Though it looks completely different, the Canon PowerShot SD780 IS replaces the previous SD770 model in the company's lineup. The Canon SD780 IS is at first strikingly small and slim, and it includes much of what makes Canon PowerShots so very popular: high build quality, fast and reliable autofocus, innovative features, and optical image stabilization. New to the list of features is High Definition movie capability. This little camera is capable of capturing 1,280 x 720 pixel movies which you can play on your television or computer later.
Read the full review »


Type 1/2.3” CCD
Effective Pixels Approx.12.1M
Colour Filter Type Primary Colour
Type DIGIC 4 with iSAPS technology
Focal Length 5.9 – 17.9 mm (35mm equivalent: 33 – 100mm)
Zoom Optical 3x. Digital approx. 4x ² (with Digital Tele-Converter approx. 1.5x or 2.0x and Safety Zoom ¹)². Combined approx. 12x
Maximum f/number f/3.2 – f/5.8
Construction 6 elements in 5 groups (1 double sided UA element, 1 single sided UA element)
Image Stabilisation Yes (shift-type)
Type TTL
AF System/ Points AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point), 1-point AF (fixed to centre)
AF Modes Single, Continuous¹, Servo AF¹
AF Point Selection Size (Normal, Small)
AF Lock On/Off Selectable
AF Assist Beam Yes
Closest Focusing Distance 3cm (W) from front of lens in macro
Metering modes Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre)
AE Lock On/Off Selectable
Exposure Compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments.
i-Contrast for automatic dynamic range correction
ISO sensitivity* AUTO, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
Speed 1 - 1/1500 sec (factory default)
15 - 1/1500 sec (total range - varies by shooting mode)
Type TTL
Settings Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
Viewfinder Real-image zoom, optical viewfinder
Monitor 2.5” PureColor LCD II (TFT), approx. 230,000 dots
Coverage 100%
Brightness Adjustable to one of five levels
Modes Auto, Manual Flash On / Off
Slow Sync Speed Yes
Red-Eye Reduction Yes
Flash Exposure Compensation Face Detection FE
Flash Exposure Lock Yes
Built-in Flash Range 30cm-3.5m (W) / 45cm-2.0m (T)
External Flash Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1
Modes Auto*, P, Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Sunset, Fireworks, Long Shutter, Beach, Underwater, Aquarium, Foliage, Snow, ISO 3200¹, Digital Macro, Color Accent, Color Swap, Stitch Assist, Movie.
*with Scene Detection Technology and Motion Detection Technology
Photo Effects My Colors (My Colors Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Color)
Drive modes Single, Continuous, Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer
Continuous Shooting Approx. 0.8 shots/sec.¹ (until memory card becomes full)²
Image Size (L) 4000 x 3000, (M1) 3264 x 2448, (M2) 2592 x 1944, (M3) 1600 x 1200, (S) 640 x 480, (W) 4000 x 2248. Resize in playback (M3, S, 320 x 240)
Compression Fine, Normal
Movies (HD) 1280 x 720, 30fps, (L)640 x 480, 30fps, (M)320 x 240, 30fps
Movie Length (HD) Up to 4GB or 29 min. 59 sec ¹
(L and M) Up to 4GB or 1 hour ²
Still Image Type JPEG compression, (Exif 2.2 [Exif Print] compliant) / Design rule for Camera File system, Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant
Movies MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (monaural)]
Canon Printers Canon SELPHY Compact Photo Printers and Canon Inkjet Printers supporting PictBridge (ID Photo Print, Fixed Size Print and Movie Print supported on SELPHY CP & ES printers only)
PictBridge Yes
Red-Eye Correction Yes, during shooting and playback
My Camera / My Menu Start-up image and camera sounds customisation
My Category Image tagging feature
Intelligent Orientation Sensor Yes
Histogram Yes
Playback Zoom Approx. 2x – 10x
Self Timer Approx. 2 or 10 sec., Custom or FaceSelf-Timer
Menu Languages English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Chinese (traditional), Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, Ukrainian, Romanian, Farsi
Computer Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible)
Other HDMI Mini Connector. A/V output (PAL/NTSC)
Type SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus
PC & Macintosh Windows XP SP2-3 / Vista (including SP1)
Mac OS X v10.4 - 10.5
Browsing & Printing ZoomBrowser EX / ImageBrowser
Other PhotoStitch
Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-4L (battery and charger supplied)
Battery life Approx. 210 shots ¹
Approx. 300 min. playback
A/C Power Supply Optional, AC adapter kit ACK-DC10
Cases / Straps Soft Leather Case DCC-1200, Digital IXUS Metal or Leather Strap
Waterproof / Weatherproof Case Waterproof Case (40m) WP-DC31, Waterproof Case Weight WW-DC1
Flash High Power Flash HF-DC1
Power Supply & Battery Chargers AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC10
Other Canon HDMI Cable HTC-100
Operating Environment 0 – 40 °C, 10 – 90% humidity
Dimensions (WxHxD, excl. protrusions) 87.0 x 54.5 x 18.4mm
Weight (body only) Approx. 115g
Zoom ¹ Depending on the image size selected.
² Digital zoom available for still image and standard movie modes only. Optical zoom may not be available during movie recording.
AF Modes ¹ Some settings limit availability
Modes ¹ Recording pixels fixed at 1600 x 1200.
Continuous Shooting ¹ Under conditions where the flash does not fire.
² Depending on memory card speed / capacity / compression setting.
Movie Length ¹ The following Speed Class memory cards are required for maximum record time: 1280 x 720, 30fps Speed Class 4 or above. 1920 x 1080, 30fps Speed Class 6
² Depending on memory card speed / capacity / compression setting.
Battery life ¹ Using the batteries and memory card format supplied with the camera (where included), except where indicated.
* Standard Output Sensitivity / Recommended Exposure Index.
According to ISO 12232:2006 (20th April 2006) which specifies the method for assigning and reporting ISO speed ratings for digital still cameras.
All data is based on Canon standard testing methods (according to CIPA Standards) except where indicated.
Subject to change without notice.

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