Hands on: Canon IXUS 255 HS review

Stylish point and shoot is a decent all rounder

What is a hands on review?
Canon IXUS 255 HS review
The Canon IXUS 255 HS has a 10x optical zoom

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The IXUS camera range has always traditionally performed well, and the Canon IXUS 255 HS is certainly no exception. The shot to shot time is quick, and a full battery charge enables you to shoot for a few days of moderate use, including some video shooting, before needing to be recharged.

The Canon IXUS 255 HS doesn't come with the option to charge the battery in-camera, but charging via the cradle only takes a couple of hours.

We were impressed by the image quality from the Canon IXUS 255 HS, where colours are vibrant and accurate and the majority of the time the shots are well exposed, as you can see in our sample images and resolution and sensitivity tests on the next pages. The default focusing mode, Face AiAF, puts in a slick performance. Whether you're using full Auto mode, Program mode or one of the scene modes it's quick and accurate, locking onto the subject with ease in the majority of cases.

Canon IXUS 255 HS review

In instances where the lens is aimed at large sections of light (towards windows, for example) the camera can struggle to meter and expose the scene accurately while in Auto mode. But switching to spot mode for light metering can help to compensate for this when using Program mode.

There are several white balance options to chose from, including the opportunity for a custom white balance, all of which work fairly well to keep colours accurate. Generally we found the automatic white balance function was more than capable at selecting the right balance for the situation. The custom white balance is a snip to use, accessed by a single menu click.

When zooming in to 100% on high contrast edges, a small amount of chromatic aberration can be seen, but certainly nothing that would be visible at normal printing and web sizes, such as A4 (US letter size) and below.

Canon IXUS 255 HS review

Since it's part of the High Sensitivity system (HS) range from Canon, you'd expect the Canon IXUS 255 HS to produce good images even when shooting in low light, and it does.

Sensitivity ranges from ISO 80 to ISO 6400, and retains a good amount of detail even when shooting at higher sensitivities, such as ISO 1600. The Auto sensitivity setting does a good job of selecting the appropriate sensitivity for the scene too, which some compact cameras can have trouble with. It does start to struggle with moving objects while shooting in low light, losing a little detail, but that's to be expected.

We didn't have much need to use the flash on the Canon IXUS 255 HS because the low light performance was so impressive, but when we did it fired quickly, and the slow synchronisation option gives some nice results for portraits.

Canon IXUS 255 HS review

Although the IXUS comes with Stitch Assist, enabling you to take panorama images, it's worth noting that it doesn't actually assemble these images in the camera into one shot, which was a little disappointing. You have to use editing software to achieve this effect, which, considering you can now take seamless panorama shots on several smartphones, seems a little outdated. The Sweep Panorama function on Sony Cyber-Shot cameras is vastly easier to use.

The optical zoom performance is impressive, with image stabilisation helping to keep the view steady while you compose your shot at the far end of the telephoto optic. The resulting images remain as sharp and in focus as those taken at the wide end of the lens.

Image quality starts to suffer once you're in the realms of digital zoom, but this isn't uncommon with compact cameras, and the 10x optical zoom is pretty much sufficient for most uses.

Canon IXUS 255 HS review

We were a little underwhelmed by many of the filters available for use on the Canon IXUS 255 HS. We used the Toy Camera mode several times (which gives you the option of a cool, warm or standard filter) but Fish Eye, Soft Focus, Colour Accent and Colour Swap seemed more like gimmicky options than choices that could enhance your photos, and remained relatively unused.

Of course filters and overlays do come down to personal preference, so it's nice that they're included if you'd like the option to play around with your photos a bit.

We liked Super Vivid mode but noticed that (especially those with a blank background) the colours were a little blown out in some photos, making the image appear cartoonish. For the most part it worked well though, bumping up the contrast for a pleasing effect. Miniature Effect mode, which enables you to simulate the effect of a tilt-shift lens with the click of a button, also works well and is fun.

Canon IXUS 255 HS review

With the macro mode enabled, the Canon IXUS 255 HS is able to capture a decent amount of fine detail without distortion, and was great at capturing close up shots.

Video options on the Canon IXUS 255 HS are limited - you get three sizes to choose from and a wind filter. However, the HD video is superb, and you can shoot while the camera is in many of its scene modes, which enables you to have some control over the overall look of your video footage without having to do any post production off-camera.

The Canon IXUS 255 HS adjusts well to changes in exposure and focus during shooting, which is something we've seen lacking in other compact cameras. The only disappointment is the Super Slow Motion Movie mode, which works well but shoots at a low resolution that you can't alter.

There's no in-camera editing to really speak of, although you can rotate images via the menu structure.


Overall, the Canon IXUS 255 HS is a solid, dependable, easy to use point and shoot camera. With its full price of £230/US$230/AU$280, it sits comfortably in its price bracket, shared by rival cameras such as the rugged Fuji XP200, stylish Nikon Coolpix S9500 and ultra wide-angled Panasonic SZ9.

You can power on and take a shot within a matter of seconds, making it almost as quick to use as your always-to-hand smartphone, but with a resulting image quality that far outstrips its mobile competitors. It also offers an array of useful functions without cramming too much in for gimmick value, making it simple and easy to handle.

The Canon IXUS 255 HS is capable of producing some excellent images, with plenty of detail and vibrant colours. Pleasingly, we also found the HD video shooting to be good, making it useful for those who want to shoot the occasional home movie too.

Yet compared to the Panasonic SZ9, for example, the IXUS appears to offer a little less for your money, with only 12.1MP to the SZ9's 16.1MP, and without the ability to take photos remotely via Wi-Fi that the SZ9 enjoys.

We liked

The overall performance of the Canon IXUS 255 HS is hard to beat, offering the ability to capture sharp photos, rich colours and high quality HD video.

We disliked

But the camera's Wi-Fi options could be stronger - we'd like to see the ability to use your smartphone as a remote trigger for it to be a really worthwhile feature.

Final verdict

If you're looking for a good all rounder then the Canon IXUS 255 HS is a great little camera that won't break the bank. The latest addition has earned its spot in the well known, trustworthy Canon IXUS lineup.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.