With an almost glacial, cough sweet-inspired sheen to the maroon camera we tested - blue, black or silver being the alternatives - the 10.1 megapixel Canon IXUS 500 HS is deeply fashionable.

Since the IXUS was first introduced as an APS film camera in the late 1990s, the range has consistently majored on stylishness as much as specification. Indeed, the boxy design harks back to the very first digital IXUS.

Here the pack of playing cards-sized chassis squeezes a 12x optical zoom into its 19.2mm depth. That's a significant step on from the standard 3x zoom of 10 years ago.

The IXUS 500 HS' 35mm equivalent focal range of 28-336mm arguably nudges it into travel zoom territory. Not that it's quite up there with the 20x reach of, say, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30, which adds integral GPS.

Canon ixus 500 hs review

The other chief talking point for the Canon IXUS 500 HS is the better than average low light capability suggested by a back illuminated 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor not over-burdened with pixels - a sensible choice, since 10.1MP is perfectly adequate on a snapshot camera.

Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels video capture at 24fps also features, and is, like stills shooting, composed via the 460k-dot resolution 3-inch LCD.

While this is perfectly fine as a framing device outdoors, the screen image does get noticeably grainy in lower light.

Usefully, HDMI output is provided for hooking the camera up to a flatscreen TV, while Canon once again includes its Movie digest function, whereby a four second clip is captured each time a still's taken. Fun if you've got the feature activated while spending a day sightseeing and snapping - think of it as a sped up video diary of your day's shooting.

What may give you pause is the price - £305 in the UK, or $300 in the US, where it's called the Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS. So, as usual with Canon IXUS cameras, it seems we're paying a premium. Particularly when set against similarly-spec'd compacts such as the Nikon Coolpix S6200, Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX9V and Samsung EX1.

So does the Canon justify the cost?