It doesn’t look much different to its illustrious predecessor, but the gorgeous 960 IS, which replaces our former A-List favourite the Ixus 900
is an improvement. It’s just as gorgeous, is clad in the same, super-tough titanium shell and has image stabilisation among its armoury of features, allowing you to take handheld shots in far lower light than you’d normally be able to manage.
The playback controls for both stills and video are intuitive and easy to use. Video is superb, giving 30fps at 640 x 480 (with audio). The 960 IS has an enormous 12.1 megapixels, which is pointless but reassuring. You can choose 8-megapixel capture instead, which will still let you enlarge up to A3 prints before you start seeing any pixellation.
Absolute quality isn’t perfect – the camera applies a fair bit of noise reduction, which manifests itself as slight smearing of very fine detail – but you’ll only notice that at 100% magnification or with your nose half an
inch from an A4 print.
More serious photographers won’t be too frustrated by the 960’s feature set, though. As well as the very capable image stabilisation – allowing at least two stops of leeway when it comes to low-light shots without the flash – it offers three metering modes, including spot metering. Image review options include a histogram breakdown and highlight-clip warnings (over-exposed areas of the image flash in the preview). Manual mode is a little limited, though, with no way of setting shutter speed apart from +/-2EV exposure compensation, and no manual aperture control at all.
The maximum wide-angle setting of 35mm-equivalent is average, but it would be nice to see a move to 28mm on higher-end models like this. Maximum zoom is 133mm equivalent for a total of 3.7x.
For the money, you’d expect the 960 IS to offer a lot and it doesn’t disappoint. Cheaper cameras are rapidly catching up in terms of features, but as a point-and-shoot carry-anywhere model the 960 has almost no vices. It may be a touch heavy and it isn’t the slimmest around, but it’s absolutely stuffed with features and has the quality to back it up.