Canon’s Ixus line is renowned for its styling, but the Digital Ixus 970 IS’s design is a triumph of style over substance. It looks great but its ergonomics are terrible, which is a shame as the technology inside the pretty shell allows you to capture some great images.
The Canon Digital Ixus 970 IS’s chassis is an attractive blue-ish silver with sweeping curves. However, the curved right-hand side (as you hold the camera) makes it hard to get a firm grip on the camera. The lozenge-shaped on/off button is recessed and fiddly. The zoom rocker wheel has a limited range of motion and a tiny control knob, which fits with the camera’s overall aesthetic but, again, is fiddly to use.
On the back of the Canon Digital Ixus 970 IS are a mode selection wheel, four buttons and a D-pad with a curious rotary control around it. This is designed to be used to select controls in manual mode, and can also be used to scroll through menus. However, there’s a lag between you moving it and anything happening, making it far too easy to select the wrong function.
Once you've fought your way through the Canon Digital Ixus 970 IS’s controls, you will end up with a decent shot – assuming your subject hasn’t wandered off in the meantime. The inclusion of a 5x zoom lens is great, considering that the 970 IS is noticeably smaller than the Ricoh R8 and the Coolpix P5100. All the smaller models have 3x lenses. As usual for a Canon, the IS image-stabilisation system is top notch, even at full zoom.
The shots were high quality, capturing clean details and vibrant colours. In low-light conditions, many usable shots were captured – though the Canon Digital Ixus 970 IS's ISO 3,200 ‘high-sensitivity’ mode is poor. Output is very noisy, and limits the resolution to 1,600x1,200 (1.9Mp).
The Canon Digital Ixus 970 IS is pricey next to its rivals, and its performance doesn’t justify this.