Canon IXUS 160 Review

March 10, 2015 | Jack Baker | Rating star Rating star Rating star


Recently introduced alongside the new IXUS 165 and 170 models, the IXUS 160/PowerShot Digital ELPH 160 sits in the middle of Canon’s super-slim and stylish IXUS line-up. It boasts a 20MP 1/2.3” CCD sensor and an 8x optical zoom lens with a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 28-224mm, however you don’t get proper image stabilisation. The camera will record HD 720p video though, and it includes six creative effect filters to help spice up a bland shot. Other nifty features like blink detection and an automatic self-timer help capture great snaps of friends and family. Available in silver, black, white and red finishes, the Canon IXUS 160 will set you back around £100/$120.

Ease of Use

The IXUS 160 is identical to the IXUS 165, except it does without image stabilisation, saving you around £30. Predictably the existing IXUS 155 costs even less, but weirdly it does sport a stabilised lens and its 10x optical zoom range beats the IXUS 160’s 8x optic. Confused? So are we.

Putting aside its dubious value for money, the IXUS 160 still has plenty going for it, starting with that IXUS trademark style. It’s sleek 95.2 x 54.3 x 22.1mm dimensions make it comfortably small enough to slip into a jeans pocket, whilst a 127g ready-to-shoot weight means it won’t weigh you down either.

Part of the lightness is down to the plastic casing, but this is well screwed together and doesn’t flex. You do get a metal tripod mount which is a nice treat, even if a camera like this is unlikely to spend much time tied down. It’s a pity the glossy plastic casing won’t wear so well though, as it picks up scratches very easily, which are especially obvious on the red version. The shininess also makes the IXUS 160 pretty slippery to hang on to, with no gripping points on the front or back of the camera, apart from the raised lip around the LCD screen.

Canon IXUS 160
Front of the Canon IXUS 160

The screen itself is bright enough to see under direct sunlight, and colour accuracy is pretty good too, but only if you’re facing the monitor square-on. Tip the camera up or down and the screen’s restricted viewing angles cause colour and contrast to vary massively. The problem isn’t too bad when viewing from the side, but the overall experience is disappointing if you’re expecting an improvement over using a smartphone camera. An average smartphone screen also shames the pitiful 230k-dot resolution of the IXUS 160’s monitor, though this and the other screen complaints are typical of many compact cameras at this price.

Alongside the screen are several good-sized buttons that don’t require you to sharpen your finger nails to use. There’s the usual playback, video record and menu controls, but also an intriguing button labelled with a question mark. This accesses the camera’s Help menu, where in shooting mode you’ll be given a description of the type of scene that Auto mode has detected you’re about to capture. You’re probably going to want to get on and shoot rather than worry about what the camera is doing behind the scenes, but the Help system is more useful in Playback mode. Here it gives you information like how to navigate, magnify and rotate images, plus plenty more useful tips that make learning the IXUS 160 a little more intuitive. It’s certainly easier than getting bogged down with a traditional manual, especially as the IXUS 160 uses Canon’s tried and tested menu design that’s clear and simple.

Central to the IXUS 160’s controls is a normal 4-way directional dial, and within this is the Func/Set button. This is your gateway to the camera’s main shooting options which have been separated from the rest of the lesser-used settings contained in the main menu. In Auto mode, the Func/Set button stores options for the self-timer (including a custom mode that lets you pre-set your own time delay and also the number of shots to automatically fire), single vs. continuous shooting (at 0.8 frames per second), image size and video resolution (HD 720p or VGA 640x480).

Canon IXUS 160
Rear of the Canon IXUS 160

But, press the 4-way dial up and the IXUS 160 switches from Auto to the last-used alternative shooting mode. Now the Func/Set menu includes additional options for controlling light metering (evaluative, centre-weighted or spot metering), white balance (including a custom setting), ISO sensitivity, exposure compensation and focus range. The Func/Set menu also stores the various shooting modes other than Auto, including Live View Control that lets you alter the tone of images and FaceSelf-Timer which starts the self-timer automatically when a face is detected. Low Light mode limits image capture to 5MP to help minimise image noise in photos taken at high ISO sensitivities. Finally, there’s the Long Shutter mode if you’d prefer to take night-time shots at low ISO sensitivities and have a tripod to hand.

It’s a pity Canon has opted to hide away most of the shooting modes and creative effects in the Func/Set menu, where many similar cameras provide a dedicated mode button. However, it’s great that the IXUS 160 does include options to delve in and tweak shooting settings, letting you get the most out of the camera as your photography skills develop.

Other settings controlled by the 4-way dial include the flash, as well as playback and shooting overlays, which include a histogram display. Finally, the IXUS 160 gets Canon’s Eco system that helps extend battery life using power-saving measures like switching off the screen faster than usual. This helps boost battery life from a fairly average 220-shot lifespan up to a respectable 300 shots-per-charge.

Canon IXUS 160
Top of the Canon IXUS 160


Canon IXUS 160
The Canon IXUS 160 In-hand

When it’s time to start shooting, the IXUS 160 powers up and fires a shot in a spritely 1.7 seconds. This is partly thanks to the camera’s quick focussing speed, which manages to be almost instantaneous in good light and doesn’t get too bogged down in dimmer conditions. The autofocus system can come a cropper when you zoom in on a dimly-lit subject though, hunting for a focus point and sometimes failing.

However, the autofocussing is most annoying when trying to shoot a close-up. Sure, the camera has a minimum focus distance of 5cm, but that’s only when the lens is set to maximum wide angle. Zoom in just a fraction and you’ll have to back up around a foot from your subject before the camera will focus, and a little more zoom requires much more distance. This is a typical trait of compact camera lenses, but the IXUS 160 seems more reluctant than its rivals to focus on close subjects when zoomed in. It’s especially annoying when you’re trying to avoid casting a shadow over your subject by holding the camera too close to it, but it’s also a pain when attempting to use a longer focal length to create an attractive background blur with a shallower depth of field.

Image Quality

In good light the IXUS 160’s 20MP CCD sensor manages to resolve a decent level of detail and reproduces colours with accuracy and vibrancy. Zoom in to 100% images size and you’ll see some grain noise even in shots taken in bright conditions, but this is normal for small-sensor compact cameras. What’s good is that Canon hasn’t chosen to apply more aggressive noise reduction processing to hide this, as that means more distant detail in shots like landscape stays relatively crisp and isn’t smoothed to the point of looking painterly.

But it’s not all good news, as in dimmer conditions grain noise is much more evident. Even at sensor sensitivities below ISO400, colour speckling is visible in areas of neutral tones, and you don’t have to look that hard to spot it. Detail also starts to get smudged at around ISO400, and inevitably things get softer at ISO800. This is really the cut-off point for acceptable image quality, as at the top-most ISO1600 sensitivity images look so soft that they could have been captured at 5MP and crudely enlarged to 20MP dimensions.

Part of the problem is actually down to the IXUS 160’s lack of image stabilisation. Without it, the only way the camera can maintain sharp shots is to use faster shutter speeds, but that in turn requires higher ISO sensitivities in order to produce bright images, resulting in shots with more grain and colour speckling.

At least the lens produces fairly low levels of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) in high contrast areas, whilst sharpness is also quite consistent with only minor drop-off towards the corners of frame. Distortion is minimal too, both at the wide angle and telephoto ends of the zoom range.


The IXUS 160 has a sensitivity range of ISO100 to ISO1600. That’s a relatively low maximum sensitivity and some similar cameras will go higher, but often excessive image noise at such settings make them almost unusable.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The camera’s 8x optical zoom lens gives you a focal range of 28-224mm (in 35mm-camera terms). Canon’s ZoomPlus feature can double this to 16x without considerable detail loss, whilst an additional 2x conventional digital zoom will give a combined maximum 32x zoom, albeit at the expense of image quality.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


A 5cm minimum focussing distance means you can capture a decent close-up shot, but this figure only applies when the lens is set to maximum wide angle. Zoom in just a fraction and you’ll need to pull back to around 30cm from your subject, and any extra zoom requires you to be at least a metre away.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The camera’s built-in flash includes four modes: Auto, On, Slow Synchro and Off. There’s no conventional red-eye reduction where the flash fires multiple times, so instead you get a red-eye correction feature which needs to be activated via the camera’s main menu. This digitally removes red pupils, and in our testing it did a fairly good job, though minor amounts of red-eye can go undetected.  Shooting a white surface from a distance of 1.5m revealed that the flash can produce noticeable wide-angle vignetting.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (224mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (224mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

We did get some red-eye when taking portraits. Using the red-eye correction function does reduce it, but a correction system suggests it removes it. However, it does this digitally, so will be programmed to look for certain colours and it's quite possible that this was outside of the gamut.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red-eye Correction

Red-eye Correction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


Activate the IXUS 160’s Long Shutter mode and the camera will lower the ISO sensitivity and record using a longer shutter speed; in this instance it was one second. You’ll need to use a tripod to hold things steady, or you can try and wing it like this shot, balance the camera on some railings and end up making a mess of it!


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg


Six filter effects are hidden away in the IXUS 160’s functions menu. These are: Fish-eye, Miniature, Toy Camera, Monochrome, Super Vivid and Poster. All are previewed live and recorded at full resolution.



effects_01.jpg effects_02.jpg

Toy Camera


effects_03.jpg effects_04.jpg

Super Vivid


effects_05.jpg effects_06.jpg

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Canon IXUS 160 camera, which were all taken using the 20 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 1280x720 pixels at 25 frames per second. Please note that this 19 second movie is 36Mb in size.

Product Images

Canon IXUS 160

Front of the Canon IXUS 160

Canon IXUS 160

Front of the Canon IXUS 160 / Turned On

Canon IXUS 160

Side of the Canon IXUS 160

Canon IXUS 160

Side of the Canon IXUS 160

Canon IXUS 160

Rear of the Canon IXUS 160

Canon IXUS 160

Rear of the Canon IXUS 160 / Image Displayed

Canon IXUS 160

Rear of the Canon IXUS 160 / Main Menu

Canon IXUS 160

Top of the Canon IXUS 160

Canon IXUS 160

Bottom of the Canon IXUS 160


Canon IXUS 160

Side of the Canon IXUS 160

Canon IXUS 160

Side of the Canon IXUS 160

Canon IXUS 160

Front of the Canon IXUS 160

Canon IXUS 160

Front of the Canon IXUS 160

Canon IXUS 160

Memory Card Slot / Battery Compartment


Budget compact cameras rarely set the world alight with exceptional performance or innovative features, but the IXUS 160 is even more lacklustre than the norm. Aside from including a respectable amount of manual shooting options and a few nifty features, it’s an unremarkable camera.

Image quality is average at best, with reasonable performance in good light, but disappointing indoor and low light results. The lack of proper image stabilisation only compounds the problem, and focussing can be a pain when shooting close-ups.

The IXUS 160 isn’t especially enjoyable to use either. It’s got some good-sized buttons and a logical menu structure, but you’ll have to put up with slippery ergonomics and a thoroughly average LCD screen.

But the camera’s biggest problem is value. Sure, at £100/$130 it’s keenly priced, but remember the older IXUS 155 can be had for similar money but comes with a 10x zoom range and image stabilisation. Nikon’s direct rival, the Coolpix S3700, also has a stabilised lens, plus you get features like Wi-Fi image sharing with NFC pairing.

All in all, the IXUS 160 performs fairly well and is easy to use, but that’s not enough to make it a compelling buy when compared to its direct rivals and also slightly older, better-specced cameras reduced to the same price.

3 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 3
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3
Value for money 2.5

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Canon IXUS 160.

Canon IXUS 155

The Canon IXUS 155 is a new stylish and affordable point-and-shoot compact camera. Stand-out features include a 20 megapixel sensor, 10x 24-240mm zoom lens, and a metal body, all for just £110. Read our in-depth Canon IXUS 155 review now...

Canon IXUS 165

The new Canon IXUS 165 is a stylish, slim and affordable point-and-shoot compact camera. Stand-out features include a 20 megapixel sensor, an 8x 28-224mm zoom lens, and a metal body, all for around £130. Read our in-depth Canon IXUS 165 review now...

Fujifilm FinePix T400

The Fujifilm FinePix T400 compact camera offers a 10x zoom, 16 megapixel sensor, 3 inch LCD screen and 720p movies, all for a street price of just £70 / $90. Read our Fujifilm FinePix T400 review to find out if it's a genuine bargain or one to avoid...

Nikon Coolpix S3700

The Nikon Coolpix S3700 is an affordable point-and-shoot compact camera with built-in wifi and NFC connectivity. Featuring an 8x, 25-200mm lens and a 20 megapixel CCD sensor, the S3700 also offers 720p HD movies and a range of special effects. Read our Nikon Coolpix S3700 review to find out if this budget shooter is worth looking at..

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9 is a brand new travel-zoom compact camera. The stylish Panasonic SZ9 offers 16 megapixels, a 10x zoom lens (25-250mm), 3 inch LCD screen, built-in wi-fi connectivity, 10fps burst shooting and 1080p HD movies. Read our expert Panasonic DMC-SZ9 review now...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX60

Entry level cameras don't have to be big and ugly, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX60 is a case in point. This stylish compact packs an 8x zoom lens, 16 megapixel sensor, 2.7 inch screen and a wealth of beginner-friendly features into its svelte frame. Priced at around £150, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX60 review to find out if its performance matches its good looks...



Type 1/2.3 type CCD
Effective Pixels Approx. 20.0M¹
Effective / Total Pixels Approx. 20.5M
Colour Filter Type Primary Colour


Type DIGIC 4+ with iSAPS technology


Focal Length 5.0 – 40.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 28 – 224 mm)
Zoom Optical 8x
ZoomPlus 16x
Digital Approx. 4x
Combined Approx. 32x¹
Maximum f/number f/3.2 – f/6.9
Construction 8 elements in 7 groups
(1 double-sided aspherical lens)
Image Stabilisation Digital (Digital IS Mode)


Type TTL
AF System/ Points AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point), 1-point AF (fixed to centre)
AF Modes Single, Continuous (Auto mode only), Servo AF/AE, Tracking AF¹
AF Lock Yes
AF Assist Beam Yes
Closest Focusing Distance 1 cm (W) from front of lens in Macro


Metering modes Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre)
AE Lock Yes
Exposure Compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments.
Enhanced i-Contrast for automatic dynamic range correction
ISO sensitivity AUTO, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600


Speed 1 – 1/2000 sec. (factory default)
15 – 1/2000 sec. (total range – varies by shooting mode)


Type TTL
Settings Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom


Type sRGB


Monitor 6.8 cm (2.7") LCD (TFT), Approx. 230,000 dots
Coverage Approx. 100%
Brightness Adjustable to one of five levels. Quick-bright LCD


Modes Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Slow Synchro
Slow Sync Speed Yes. Fastest speed 1/2000 sec.
Red-Eye Reduction Yes
Flash Exposure Compensation Face Detection FE, Smart Flash Exposure
Flash Exposure Lock Yes
Built-in Flash Range 50 cm – 3.0 m (W) / 1.3 – 1.5 m (T)
External Flash Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1
Canon High Power Flash HF-DC2


Modes Smart Auto (32 scenes detected), P, Portrait, Live View Control, FaceSelf-Timer, Low Light (5.0 MP), Digital IS, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Snow, Fireworks, Long Shutter
Modes in Movie Smart Auto (21 scenes detected), P, Portrait, Miniature Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Snow, Fireworks
Drive modes Single, Continuous, Self-Timer
Continuous Shooting Approx. 0.8 shots/sec. (until memory card becomes full)¹²


Image Size 4:3 - (L) 5152 x 3864, (M1) 3648 x 2736, (M2) 2048 x 1536, (S) 640 x 480, (W) 5152 x 2896
Resize in playback (M2, S)
Compression Fine
Movies (HD) 1280 x 720, 25 fps, (L) 640 x 480, 30 fps
Miniature Effect (HD) 5 fps, 2.5 fps, 1.25 fps
Miniature Effect (L) 6 fps, 3 fps, 1.5 fps
Movie Length (HD) Up to 4 GB or 29 min. 59 sec.¹
(L) up to 4 GB or 1 hour²


Still Image Type JPEG compression, (Exif 2.3 [Exif Print] compliant) / Design rule for Camera File system, Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant
Movies MOV [Video:MPEG-4 AVC / H.264, Audio: Linear PCM (monaural)]


Canon Printers Canon SELPHY Compact Photo Printers and Canon Inkjet Printers supporting PictBridge
PictBridge Yes


Red-Eye Correction Yes, during shooting and playback
Intelligent Orientation Sensor Yes, with Auto Rotate
Playback zoom Approx. 2x – 10x
Self Timer Approx. 2 or 10 sec. or Custom
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, Malaysian, Hindi, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Hebrew


Computer Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible)
Other A/V output, dedicated connector (PAL/NTSC)




PC & Macintosh Windows 8 / 8.1 / 7 SP1
Mac OS X 10.8 / 10.9


Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-11L/ NB-11LH (NB-11L battery and charger supplied)
Battery life Approx. 220 shots
Eco Mode: Approx. 300 shots
Approx. 240min. playback
A/C Power Supply Optional, AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC90


Cases / Straps Soft Case DCC-1370
Soft Case DCC-1350
Soft Case DCC-1320
Flash Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1
Canon High Power Flash HF-DC2
Power Supply & Battery Chargers AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC90, Battery Charger CB-2LFE / CB-2LDE
Other Canon AV Cable AVC-DC400
Interface cable IFC-400PCU


Operating Environment 0 – 40 °C, 10 – 90% humidity
Dimensions (WxHxD) 95.2 x 54.3 x 22.1 mm
Weight Approx. 127 g (including battery and memory card)
Effective Pixels ¹ Image processing may cause a decrease in the number of pixels.
Zoom ¹ Depending on the image size selected.
AF Modes ¹ Some settings limit availability.
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: (HD) 1280 x 720 Speed Class 4 or above. (Full HD) 1920 x 1080 Speed Class 6 or above. (iFrame) 1280 x 720 Speed Class 6 or above.
² Depending on memory card speed / capacity / compression setting.
  • 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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