ixus

The Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS makes no apologies for its stylish appearance and the kind of camera it's aiming to be. It belongs in skinny jeans and designer handbags on a night out, and its desirable looks and perfectly sculpted edges make it a perfect fashionable lifestyle accessory.

But it's also perfectly capable of taking excellent photos and video, and while its glamorous exterior inevitably means a higher price tag than we'd like, crucially it hasn't been accompanied by any significant compromise on features. The 120 IS is a smart and capable compact, with plenty of substance to go with its undoubted style.

We liked:

Its look and feel, particularly in the black of our test model, make a lasting impression. Even after a week of regular use, the cold feel of the brushed metal finish in our hands was a pleasant sensation.

This is a simple camera to use, too. Yes, it's very small and cosmetic appeal is a big part of its makeup, but it's functional and sensible in how it goes about its business, and can wear its Canon badge without shame.

It's also pleasing to see features from more serious Canons trickling down into the IXUS range. Some of the shooting modes and colour settings allow for a degree of creative control that will come as a pleasant surprise. Most important of all, it's capable of taking some excellent pictures, with the lens, sensor and processor doing an excellent job in concert in almost every situation we threw at it.

We didn't like:

This is not a cheap camera. Consider the touchscreen 200 IS for just £30 extra and suddenly you might question just what difference a camera's looks actually make to your photos. And as functional as it might be, the decision to recess all the buttons to leave the camera surface flush doesn't make them easy to get at. In addition, its pack-of-cards dimensions aren't suited to bigger hands at all.

Verdict:

Using the Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS is a positive experience even before you've turned it on. And once you do, its Canon heritage delivers broadly impressive results without ever really bowling us over.

It doesn't do anything that rival cameras can't – and other Canon compacts too, for that matter – but it beats all comers when it comes to looks.

Whether that's enough of a reason to go out and buy one depends entirely on just how much that matters to you. If it's worth paying a bit more money for, then this is the compact camera for you.