Canon IXUS 165 Review

February 19, 2015 | Jack Baker | Rating star Rating star Rating star


The IXUS 165 is a new entry in Canon's sleek and sexy IXUS line-up of compact cameras and will set you back around £130. It boasts a 20-megapixel CCD sensor with a maximum sensitivity of ISO1600, which is paired with Canon's Digic 4+ image processor. You also get an 8x optical zoom lens capable of a 28-224mm focal range (in 35mm camera terms) which is equipped with Canon's lens-shift image stabilisation system to help tame the effects of camera shake. Other extra features include HD 720p video recording, a power-saving eco mode and six effects filters to help spice up your shots. Available in silver or red case colours, the Canon IXUS 165 certainly looks the part, so let's see how it performs.

Ease of Use

This sleek snapper enters in the middle of Canon's style-orientated IXUS range just above the IXUS 160, which is actually an identical camera, except the IXUS 165 adds image stabilisation. Strangely, its 8x zoom lens is beaten by the 10x optic in the cheaper IXUS 155, and the two cameras share very similar specs elsewhere, yet the IXUS 165 costs noticeably more.

If you get the feel you're being short changed, at least it won't be due to the camera's build quality. The only issue we found was the glossy red paint job on our review sample which was more scratch-prone than Edward Scissorhand's CD collection. Otherwise the plastic casing feels well made with no flex and you get a metal tripod mount. At 95.2 x 54.3 x 22.1mm and 128g ready to shoot, the IXUS 165 is also small and light enough to carry in a jeans pocket without a problem.

Canon IXUS 165
Front of the Canon IXUS 165

The Canon IXUS 165's controls are another strong point, being nice and large and well-spaced across the rear panel. The downside of this is there's no place to rest your thumb, other than the raised edge of the screen surround. This, combined with the glossy finish and lack of any front finger grip makes the IXUS 165 worryingly easy to drop. If you ever wear gloves whilst shooting, it's not a question of if the pavement will add even more scratches to that pretty paint job, but when.

Assuming you can keep hold of it, the IXUS 165 is very easy to use, once you learn where to find key settings. Rather than a have normal mode button, all the camera's scene modes and image effects are accessed via the Func/Set button located in the middle of the 4-way directional buttons. In addition to typical modes like programmable auto, there's settings like 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. Use Low Light mode to limit image capture to 5MP and help minimise image noise in photos taken at high ISO sensitivities. There's also the Long Shutter mode if you'd prefer to take night-time shots at low ISO settings and have a tripod to hand.

Canon IXUS 165
Rear of the Canon IXUS 165

Also contained within the Func/Set menu are options for controlling light metering (evaluative, centre-weighted or spot metering), white balance (including a custom setting), ISO sensitivity, exposure compensation and focus range. These kind of manual shooting settings are often omitted from budget point-and-shoot compacts, so it's good to see that Canon has included them with the IXUS 165 to help you get the most out of the camera and develop your photography.

The Canon IXUS 165's scene-detecting automatic mode is activated by pressing the 4-way directional dial upward. Now the options available on the Func/Set menu are restricted to 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). Press the directional dial again and you'll return from Auto to your previously used alternative shooting mode.

Canon IXUS 165
Top of the Canon IXUS 165

Other functions operated using the directional dial are the camera's flash, display overlay content (which includes the option of a histogram), and Eco mode. Activate this and the camera saves energy using tricks like turning the screen off faster, increasing battery life from a very mediocre 200 shots-per-charge to a more respectable 260.

If you need to change other camera settings like enabling or disabling image stabilisation or muting sound effects, they can be found in the main menu, accessed using the Menu button. Next to this 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 shoot. Chances are you'll probably want to get on and snap the shot, rather than worry about what the camera is doing behind the scenes, but the Help feature is more useful in Playback mode. Here it gives you information like how to navigate, magnify and rotate images, as well as plenty more useful tips that make learning the IXUS 165 a little more intuitive. It's certainly easier than getting bogged down with the traditional manual, especially as the IXUS 165's tried and tested menu design is a doddle to learn.

Canon IXUS 165
The Canon IXUS 165 In-hand

The only downside of navigating the menu is you'll have to view it on a 2.7” LCD screen that falls well short of the quality of an average smartphone's display. The screen's 230,000-dot resolution is fairly typical for a camera at this price point, but it's the lowest quality you'll find nowadays and both menus and images appear pixelated as a result. The screen's viewing angles also leave a lot to be desired, with average side-to-side clarity but a considerable colour and contrast shift when viewed from above or below. On the plus side, when viewed square-on, colours are fairly accurate and the screen is bright enough to use on a sunny day. It's also only fair to point out that you'll be hard-pressed to find a sub-£150 camera that has better viewing angles.

You won't be wanting for speed though, as the Canon IXUS 165 powers up and fires a shot in 1.7 seconds. Autofocussing is almost instant in good light, and unlike some budget compact cameras, it doesn't slow too much in darker conditions. Only if you zoom in on a very dimly lit subject does the camera struggle to focus and occasionally it fails altogether. However, there are other times when autofocussing can be frustrating. Whilst the IXUS 165 can focus as close as 5cm from a subject, that's only if the lens is at its widest focal length. Zoom in even a fraction and you'll need to back up about a foot before the camera manages to focus, and further still if you zoom in any more. This is by no means an issue unique to the IXUS 165, but it seems more reluctant than many similar cameras to focus on close subjects when zoomed in. It's especially annoying if you want to take a macro shot without having the camera so close as to cast a shadow over your subject, but it's also a pain when trying to blur a background by using a longer focal length to force a shallower depth of field.

Image Quality

The Canon IXUS 165’s headline 20-megapixel specification sounds mighty impressive for such a small, reasonably-priced camera, but don’t be fooled. The sensor itself is still the same physical size as you’ll find in almost any compact camera at this price, so increasing the megapixel count just means each pixel has to be smaller to fit. That then reduces their light sensitivity, making your images more prone to grain and noise, which in turn cancels out any potential increase in detail from the higher megapixel count.

Only when shooting close subjects in the brightest of environments can the IXUS 165 really exploit all its megapixels. Shoot a more distant scene like a landscape and fine detail is already starting to get obscured by grain, though, unlike many similar cameras, at least the IXUS 165 doesn’t attempt to smooth this noise too much and end up with an ugly, painterly effect.

But it’s when you come to shoot indoors where image quality really suffers. Even at ISO200, grain and colour speckling can be spotted in areas of dimly-lit neutral tones, and by ISO400 you won’t need to scrutinise that closely to spot the noise. The interference is just about acceptable at ISO800, but here the camera’s battle with noise takes its toll on detail, with shots appearing much softer. ISO1600 is the highest sensitivity on offer, and it’s a good job, as low light images look so soft that they could almost have been captured at 5MP and crudely enlarged to 20MP dimensions.

Fortunately the lens performs better, producing fairly low levels of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) in high contrast areas. Sharpness is also quite consistent, with only a minor drop-off towards the corners of frame, and distortion is minimal too. Image Stabilisation is a must when shooting at maximum zoom or in dim conditions and thankfully the system works well. Not only does it iron out any camera shake, but it also helps the IXUS 165 avoid using higher ISO sensitivities, giving you shots with less image noise.


The IXUS 165 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 reach, 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 165’s Long Shutter mode and the camera will lower the ISO sensitivity and record using a longer shutter speed to minimise image noise.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Image Stabilisation

Canon’s Intelligent IS lens-shift image stabilisation system does a great of compensating for camera shake, allowing a 2.5-stop reduction in shutter speed before blur becomes a problem. This shot was successfully captured handheld at 1/10th second with Intelligent IS activated, but switch the system off and things can get very fuzzy.

Off (100% Crop)

On (100% Crop)

antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg


Six filter effects are hidden away in the IXUS 165’s Func/Set 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 165 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 23 second movie is 42.3Mb in size.

Product Images

Canon IXUS 165

Front of the Canon IXUS 165

Canon IXUS 165

Front of the Canon IXUS 165 / Turned On

Canon IXUS 165

Side of the Canon IXUS 165

Canon IXUS 165

Side of the Canon IXUS 165

Canon IXUS 165

Rear of the Canon IXUS 165

Canon IXUS 165

Rear of the Canon IXUS 165 / Image Displayed

Canon IXUS 165

Rear of the Canon IXUS 165 / Function Menu

Canon IXUS 165

Top of the Canon IXUS 165

Canon IXUS 165

Bottom of the Canon IXUS 165


Canon IXUS 165

Side of the Canon IXUS 165

Canon IXUS 165

Side of the Canon IXUS 165

Canon IXUS 165

Front of the Canon IXUS 165

Canon IXUS 165

Front of the Canon IXUS 165

Canon IXUS 165

Memory Card Slot / Battery Compartment


Times are tough in the compact camera market. Smartphones continue to offer comparable image quality with greater convenience, so if a traditional camera is going to sell, it needs to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately there’s little to give the Canon IXUS 165 that kind of edge.

Image quality is average at best, with acceptable detail, colour and dynamic range in bright conditions, but lacklustre low light performance and noticeable noise levels at and beyond ISO400. An 8x zoom range with image stabilisation is the minimum you should expect at this price point, and to be fair to the IXUS 165, its optical performance is good.

This is also an easy camera to use, with a clear, logical menu system and well-sized buttons. It’s also nice that Canon has given the camera a few manual control options too, so you can override the automatic modes if you want to.

Trouble is, pretty much any camera at this price point is simple to use and includes similar features, plus much more besides. Shop around and you’ll find the Nikon Coolpix S5300 for similar money, yet it offers Full HD 1080p video recording compared to the Canon IXUS 165’s 720p quality, plus a higher resolution monitor and built-in Wi-Fi for image sharing and remote camera control. Then there’s the excellent Sony Cyber-shot WX220. This includes the same extra features as the Nikon, but in an even smaller package that manages to pack a 10x optical zoom lens and terrific image quality, and all for a comparable outlay.

Against rivals like these, it’s tough to make a compelling case for the Canon IXUS 165 . It’s perfectly pleasant to use and doesn’t do anything particularly badly, but that’s just not enough for it to deserve your hard-earned cash.

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 165.

Nikon Coolpix S5300

The Nikon Coolpix S5300 is a stylish and fully-featured compact camera. The S5300 offers 16 megapixels, an 8x zoom with 25mm wide-angle setting, built-in wi-fi connectivity, 1080p HD movies and a 3 inch LCD screen. Read our expert review of the Nikon Coolpix S5300 to find out if it's a bargain or not...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZX3

The new Panasonic Lumix ZX3 / ZR3 is a tiny camera that packs a big punch, with an 8x, 25-300mm wide-angle zoom lens and 14 megapixel sensor. Capable of recording 720p HD movies in the AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG formats, the ZX3 (called the ZR3 in North America) features Panasonic's newly introduced Intelligent Resolution function which can boost the zoom to 10x with minimal loss of image quality. Mark Goldstein takes an in-depth look at the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZX3.

Samsung ST96

The Samsung ST96 is a 14 megapixel compact camera with a wide-angle 5x zoom lens and a BSI CMOS sensor, claimed to be twice as sensitive as conventional sensors and therefore better for low-light photography. Priced at £179.99 / $199.99, the ST96 also offers Full 1080p HD video and fast 10fps burst shooting. Read our Samsung ST96 review complete with full-sized sample photos and video...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX220

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX220 is a slim and stylish compact camera with wi-fi and NFC connectivity. The WX220 also features a 10x zoom lens, 18 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, 10fps continuous shooting and Full 1080p HD movie recording. Priced at around £179, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX220 review to find out if it's worth considering...



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 Yes (lens shift-type), approx. 2.5-stop¹. Intelligent IS plus Enhanced Dynamic IS


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), 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. 200 shots
Eco Mode: Approx. 260 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. 128 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.
Image Stabilisation ¹ Values at maximum optical focal length. Cameras whose focal length exceeds 350 mm (35 mm equivalent) are measured at 350 mm.
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.

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