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The Canon IXUS 165: a point-and-shoot worth considering

March 30, 2015

Time was when people would go gaga over cameras like the Canon IXUS 165 – a pocket-friendly camera with powerful features like image stabilization, a 20MP sensor, and an 8x optical zoom lens, as well as a bevy of options for manual adjustment of white balance, light metering and so on, especially for its price class.  

Nowadays, however, (no) thanks to smartphones and their ever more powerful and capable cameras – augmented by a rapidly growing selection of apps for picture manipulation, image uploading and sharing to social networks, and so on – point-and-shoot cameras like these are under pressure like never before.

Does the IXUS 165 have what it takes to thrive in this brave new world?

Body and construction
The IXUS 165 may sit on the low end of Canon’s camera lineup, but it’s certainly put together like a far more expensive camera. It’s got a good solid feel to it; gaps between panels are appreciably and uniformly tight, and its body doesn’t flex or creak at all, even when manhandled. Pretty impressive, and exactly what we expect from a top-tier brand like Canon.

Sturdy though this camera may be, users won’t want to be too violent with it when using it. While our candy-apple red test unit is as clean as a whistle, we hear that other units in this color can be scratch magnets, and the glossy finish can be a little slippery sometimes, so unless scratches are your thing, users will want to be gentle with it when out and about. (There’s no finger grip in front, which increases the chance that users might drop it while using it. Use that lanyard loop!) Perhaps the silver variant is less scratchprone than the red one.

A word on the buttons and switchgear – they’re nearly all well sized and are quite responsive without being overly so, none requiring heavy presses to activate. A hallmark of good design and user-friendliness.

The IXUS 165 is small (it’s all of 95.2 x 54.3 x 22.1 mm) and light (less than 130g even with memory card and battery installed), making it extremely pocketable. It’s not super thin, but we feel it strikes a good compromise between being easily stowed and being hard to operate (an extremely thin camera can be more than a little hard to use, after all).

Oh, and the camera even has a tripod mount for the benefit of users who might want or need the added stability when taking pictures.

What it’s like to use
The IXUS 165 is a lifestyle camera that’s really easy to use, even for beginners, and is more than good enough for the purposes of the non-professional users who make up its target market.

Once turned on, the camera settings are easily accessed and changed to suit a user’s needs. Key settings, including those that control the self-timer, Drive Mode, image recording size and movie quality, can be accessed by pushing the Func/Set button that sits in the middle of the directional button pad.

Those users wanting to exercise more control over their shots will be quite happy to learn than the IXUS 165 features options for adjusting light metering, white balance, ISO sensitivity and so on. Most budget cameras, needless to say, don’t come with features like these.

The directional keys can also be used to gain quick access to, among other settings, the flash, the Eco setting (which shuts off the screen to save power), and the Auto setting (which determines a scene and chooses the optimum settings to take good pictures for that scene). Canon has even seen fit to include a dedicated Help key that provides contextual information more information about the type of scene a user might be about to shoot, information regarding how to manipulate images, and so on and so forth.
The LCD display could be better – it’s just 2.7 inches and is fairly low-resolution – but it’s more than adequate for its purpose. Even on a bright day, everything on the screen is still visible.

Taking pictures and video
The IXUS 165 takes less than two seconds to power on and take a shot – and, more importantly, it takes decent photos under most circumstances.

The camera is at its best in well-lit situations, such as during the day or in a nicely lit room. It struggles a little bit when taking pictures in less than ideal conditions, whether inside or outside, or in situations requiring heavy zoom action, such as landscapes or other images of distant objects or subjects. That being said, the IXUS 165’s camera performance does benefit greatly from Canon’s ZoomPlus feature, which doubles the camera’s 8x optical zoom lens to 16x without negatively impacting picture detail (not too much, at least).

Canon’s excellent image stabilization system also takes pride of place here; it effectively reduces the effect of camera shake on pictures, a boon for those who take pictures while in motion or whose hands aren’t steady.

What’s more, users can easily select between several Creative Filters to make their snaps that more interesting – Fish-eye, which shoots with the effect of a fish-eye lens; Miniature, which blurs picture top and bottom for a miniaturized effect; Toy Camera, which darkens image edges for that toy-snapper feel; Monochrome, which records images in single color tones; Super Vivid, which takes photos with “super vivid” colors; and Poster Effect for that “poster-like” feel. Other image-manipulation features include some that focus on adding “snow” effects and a Long Shutter mode for better night photography.

Users who want to take movies can choose between HD and VGA video (if taking the former, it’s best to make sure one has a higher-capacity memory card installed).

The IXUS 165 stores both photos and video on users’ choice of SD, SDHC and SDXC cards (the camera doesn’t permit photos if a memory card isn’t installed). As far as battery life is concerned, this camera is pretty decent as well; with its rechargeable Li-Ion battery fully charged, it can take 200 shots (or 260 shots in Eco mode, which shuts off the screen to conserve battery life), and can also offer 240 minutes of video playback before it shuts down.

The Canon IXUS 165 is a decent camera for non-power users who need or want to snap casual photos. It’s easy to use, takes acceptable pictures under most situations, and showcases key features including manual adjustment options, an optical zoom lens and an image stabilization system. Its quality construction and great fit and finish also ensure enduring value.

Whether the point-and-shoot segment will weather the onslaught of apps and smartphones remains to be seen. But for what it is, for those needing or wanting a dedicated point-and-shoot, the IXUS 165 is definitely worth considering.