It's been a while since we saw a compact that produced images with seriously disappointing image quality, and the Ixus 130 barely put a foot wrong during our testing.
For one thing, it's fast to start up, at just 1.6 seconds. Its shot-to-shot time is a little less user-friendly, at a shade under three seconds, but it's by no means the worst we've seen. Its continuous shooting mode, unsurprisingly, suffers as well, at just 0.6fps.
However, the final image is what really counts, and the Ixus 130 is capable of some cracking results. The 4x zoom lens is the equivalent to 28-112mm, which is a good wide-angle to short telephoto. You won't be able to do much wildlife photography, but it's a practical length for walking around with, and it resolves plenty of detail.
Our test images were impressively sharp, although the lens lets itself down somewhat when it comes to purple fringing. Areas of high contrast were frequently marked by chromatic aberration.
However, the Ixus 130's weakness with purple fringing is largely atoned for by its strength when it came to low light performance. Its ISO range isn't exactly a headline-grabber at 80 to a relatively modest 1600, but our test images were excellent.
Images begin to look perceptibly more noisy at around ISO 400 to 800, but even at the latter remained perfectly printable – particularly if you have software with a decent noise-reduction tool. Shots at ISO 1600 kept noise fairly low, but colours began to look muddied and muted, and softness became an issue.
Still, for a compact to offer decent image quality at ISO 800 is remarkable, and with the 130 offering optical image stabilisation there's plenty to like for those who prefer to avoid using the on-board flash.