A few weeks ago, I cleaned up my photography equipment and found my old Canon Digital IXUS 700. I was wondering, if the camera is still usable today and if the image quality can still hold up to today’s standards.
Canon released the camera in February 2005 and I bought it in the same year for about 400 Euro in Germany. The camera was one of the first compact point-and-shoot cameras that had a 7 megapixel (MP) sensor and I got it mainly as a small camera for traveling. This was also for me the reason to get into digital photography. I still used a film SLR and hesitated to switch to digital, because of the high costs for a new camera system, the not so great image quality, and constant upgrades of image sensors making cameras quickly obsolete.
A resolution of 7 MP doesn’t sound great in the year 2019. Every smartphone has one or more cameras with a much higher resolution. However, in 2005 it was a big deal. Especially for a compact camera. At that time, most compact cameras had 5 MP sensors. Even most entry level DSLRs had sensors with resolutions of around 6 to 8 MP, and professional DSLRs had sensors with 12 to 18 MP resolution.
Compact cameras or point-and-shoot cameras had a good reason to exist in 2005. Smartphones did not exist and people had to wait until 2007 for the first iPhone. However, regular mobile phones had already cameras, but with sensor resolutions between 0.5 and 1.3 MP. Moreover, the image quality from those old mobile phone cameras was far away from competing with any digital camera.
The Digital IXUS 700 was very attractive because of its stylish design, very compact size, and useful functions.
How does the camera perform today?
After many years of not using the camera, I find its design and compact size still amazing. The body is made of metal and the camera is therefore quite heavy for a compact model. The whole camera fits nicely into my hand and feels just good. The button layout is great, which makes it easy to operate the camera with one hand.
When using this camera today I was still very surprised about the amount of useful functions. Of course, it does not have all the possibilities as a DSLR had, but it has many features that allow you to control the image taking process, such as different exposure modes (center weighted, evaluated, and spot) or exposure compensation. Since this is a point-and-shoot camera, there is no way of choosing the aperture or shutter speed. If the IXUS 700 would have this, it would be an awesome camera.
What I also like is how fast the camera works. It boots up very quickly, focus is fast, as well as writing to the memory card is fast. Even for today’s standards, I would say the camera is not a pain in the ass to use.
The image quality is not that bad. I think that it is still good enough for websites and social media. However, due to the small sensor and poor ISO performances at that time, the low light quality is bad. Even in bright scenes, shadows show some noise. No wonder that the ISO settings of this camera allow only a maximum of 400. The sharpness of the lens is good, but it seems to depend which focal length and aperture the camera chooses. Some images are very sharp, but others can be a bit soft. The color reproduction is good, colors are very natural, but can be a bit dull when the lighting is poor.
Video is not great, but what do you want to expect from a camera of that era. Video is recorded with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels at 30 fps. I think at that time it was acceptable. Nevertheless, I also made a test video with it. But I had some trouble editing the video. The camera records only in AVI format, but this format is not supported in Davinci Resolve. I used Handbrake to convert each vide file from AVI to mp4 and edited these files in Davinci Resolve. Not sure if the video quality would be different, if it was edited using the AVI files without conversion. On the other hand I think that this does not matter anymore.
The camera is now almost 15 years old and it still works well. The images are still usable for websites or social media. With some care during picture taking and post processing, I think that the photos do not look, as you would expect from a 15-year-old digital camera. The camera is still somewhat useful today, but every modern smartphones outperforms this camera. However, if you want a true early 2000s vintage digital look, then this camera could come in handy.
All example photos are straight out of the camera. No post processing was done, only downscaled to fit this blog.
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