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Practical and capable little point-and-shoot but a little under the quality of past IXUS models
on 22 September 2013
My first digital camera was an IXUS 700 in 2005 and, costly as it was, it's still going strong on its original battery. In 2011, shopping for a family gift, I bought the IXUS 115 and again was most impressed (at a more affordable price tag by that point). So I expected much the same general feeling with the 132. In some ways, the 132 is a natural technological progression from its predecessors... but in others it's a bit less impressive and my overall impression is that it only just scrapes the boundary of what Canon should be calling a member of the IXUS range.
First off, if you knew nothing of photography and were just examining build quality, you'd think that the 8 year old IXUS 700 was by far the best made. It had a really well finished casing, extremely precise lens movement and, funnily enough, bore the words `Made in Japan' on the bottom. In the days before decent camera phones, this is the kind of thing you carried around for good opportunity shots. The 115 was a bit more mainstream in price and a little less stunning in build quality but boasted a full HD video mode which I can attest to being very competent. And then comes in the 132 which has some `top level' numbers that would seem to imply a steady progression (more pixels - as if we needed them! - bigger optical zoom at x8) but then lined up against the older 115 things get murky. Moreover, the 132 just feels a less high-quality item; made in China (though that in itself is no reflection on quality) but just more plasticcy with a snap-close body (no tidy little grub screws) and a general lack of finesse.
Then when you look at the spec you see that the 115 boasted a CMOS sensor, bigger LCD, full HD movie quality, slightly longer battery life, a wider aperture and longer exposure times and the same basic processor. In other words, a more up-market machine.
I don't pretend to know how Canon place their cameras in their range but to the uninitiated, I'd expect a newer IXUS to be better than an older one. Not so on spec in this example.
But what about in use? Well here I am more impressed. This is a really easy camera to get to know, especially if you've played with Canons before. In fact, so intuitive was it that I lent it to my five yearold daughter to use on a recent trip to Duxford Air Museum and Little Gransden Airshow. She got the best shots of the spectacular aerobatics at the show out of the whole family. The zoom came into its own and the smart focussing just took care of all the tricky stuff while my daughter delighted in showing me the results. Of course a camera like this doesn't cope so well with indoor shots but it managed better than any smart phone and the video quality isn't bad at all despite the slightly lower resolution.
In summary, the 132 is a very portable, competent and intuitive camera that I shall be packing with me as a matter of course for those unplanned photo-ops but I feel slightly sad that the IXUS range just isn't what it use to be and if you can do without the higher zoom power, I'd recommend the IXUS 115 over this particular model.