Producing images with true to life, vibrant colours, I was pretty impressed with the IXUS 145's performance during my testing. It's speedy to focus as well as quick to process shots, something I'm always happy to see in a compact camera. The majority of exposures are well balanced and it appears to meter correctly - I did see some over-exposure when shooting on Portrait mode against a backlit horizon, but nothing that couldn't be corrected for with exposure compensation.
Macro mode works really well, allowing you to really get up close and personal, with no long zoom lens to cast a pesky shadow over your subject. There is a little bit of blurring towards the edges in these shots, but nothing major that looks out of place.
While several white balance modes on the IXUS 145 are available, I found that I didn't often have to employ them as the auto white balance did a fine job at judging most scenes, only really faltering on an overcast scene which rendered colours a little cooler than it appeared in real life. I was, however, able to boost the colours by switching to the 'cloudy' white balance setting.
Sensitivity on the IXUS 145 ranges from 100-3200 (although it's worth noting that it's only manually adjustable up to 1600). You'll find quite a lot of noise if you're viewing the images at normal printing size, when shooting at ISO 1600 and above. shooting in good light at ISO 800 or below should keep noise to a minimum unless you're viewing the images at 100%. Likewise, the 145 does show some levels of noise at 100% when shooting ISO 400 in low light, but it's still a pretty good performance.
The filters provided are the standard IXUS set, but each brings something different to the images. Each filter is shown as a preview before you shoot, which is helpful as there are no options with the IXUS 145 for in-camera editing or post processing.
When viewed at 100% there is a tiny amount of chromatic aberration on some images, but it's pretty unlikely that it would be noticeable when printing at A4 size or below. The IXUS 145 produces no noticeable distortion or fringing.
The screen is clear and bright and easy to see at most angles, although it does become a little mirrored during extreme tilting, which makes it harder to view, and the colours displayed on screen do become a little muted when viewed in bright sunlight.
Zoom performance on the IXUS 145 is generally good, especially when using the 8x optical zoom. While the digital zoom can reach 32x, it's pretty noisy at that range, so best to stick to 16x or below if you're planning to print those shots later.
Proving the old adage that good things comes in small packages, Canon has once again produced a great all round compact in the IXUS 145 – it's easy to use, takes great photos, fits in your pocket.
While it's always nice to see some other features – perhaps panoramic mode or the ability to apply filters after you shoot, you can't really argue on value; the IXUS 145 delivers quality photos during a wide range of conditions.
If you're looking for a bit more for a just a little more money the Nikon Coolpix S3600 is slightly more but offers 20 million pixels compared to the IXUS' 16, plus the ability to retouch on camera, while the Panasonic SZ8 boasts Wi-Fi capabilities, a bigger LCD screen and longer optical zoom performance.
We've long been impressed by the quality of the IXUS range and the 145 has done nothing to dampen that. It might have a limited set of functions but what it does it does very well, producing clear, vibrant, sharp images time after time.
As always, it would be good to see a little more innovation. We know Canon has the technology to produce some great features, it'd be nice to see some of those appear in their budget compact range like the ability to upload to social media, or a touchscreen.
The Canon IXUS 145 is a perfect camera for a novice user - with its easy to use menu system, well performing auto mode and enticing price point, you can't go far wrong. Also undeniable is the image quality, and its size and weight makes it a great camera to take with you, whatever the situation.