Home | Reviews | Q&A | Links | Gallery | Free Photo Hosting

Canon Digital IXUS 30 - Digital Camera Review
a.k.a: Canon Powershot SD200 / Canon IXY Digital 40
Review Date: 26/05/05
Rating: Recommended!

Buy Now: £146 | $249

Introduction: The Canon Digital IXUS 30, is available for around £146 / $249 - and is an ultra-compact 3 megapixel digital camera, with a 3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 35-105mm on a 35mm camera), and a large 2" TFT screen. The camera is enclosed in a silver metal body. It records unlimited 640 x 480 / 30fps videos with sound. The camera's size is: 85.8 x 53.4 x 21.1mm. (without protruding parts - thinest section: 19.9mm), and weighs 115g (without the battery and memory card)

Canon have this to say about the camera:

"With 3.2 Megapixels, the superbly styled Digital IXUS 30 is perfect for detailed prints up to A4 size. A new UA (ultra-high refractive index aspherical) lens offers outstanding image fidelity in an incredibly petite form, making this one of the smallest Digital IXUS cameras with a 3x optical zoom."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: It's very compact and made out of silver metal.
(Photos of the camera taken with a Panasonic Lumix FZ3)

Front - Camera off.

Front - Camera on, lens extended, flash, focus-assist lamp, optical viewfinder, microphone.

Back - the 2" TFT screen, optical viewfinder, mode, menu, 4-way controller, Func/Set button, Display, Direct PRint, Speaker.

Top - on/off, zoom control, shutter.

Bottom, under the camera there is a metal tripod mount, and the battery and memory compartments.

Left Side (from back).

Strap loop, AV out and Digital (USB) Connector.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic.

Size comparison.

Size comparison.

Size comparison - S100 is thinner.

Size comparison next to the Casio EX-S100 - the IXUS 30 is not as high, nor long as the S100.

Specifications / Features:

  • 3.2 Megapixel sensor
  • UA lens for ultra slim body & 3x optical zoom
  • Extra large 2.0" LCD
  • Long VGA movie clips at 30fps
  • 9-point AiAF
  • 6 scene modes
  • PictBridge/Canon Direct Print compatible
  • Print/Share button

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Strap
  • Battery charger
  • Battery pack
  • Audio/video cable
  • USB Cable
  • 16mb SD Memory card
  • CD-ROM
  • 177 page printer manual

Average box contents - a larger memory card and a case would have been nice. It's nice to see a printed manual.

Battery usage: Up to 140 images with the LCD screen on and 400 images with the screen off according to Canon - this is very good considering the small size of the Lithium-Ion rechargable battery, which is rated at 760mAh. Battery life seemed very good.

Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the Play/Movie/Photo switch top right.

Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:

Photo mode (manual - function options) Photo Menu

Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen is a good resolution, and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate. There is no live histogram available and the screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. Optical Viewfinder: The electronic viewfinder is a bit small for me as I wear glasses - although on this size of camera, it's quite rare to get an optical viewfinder.

Photo menu options are: AiAF, Self-timer, AF-assist beam, Digital Zoom, Review, Date Stamp, Long shutter, Stitch assist.
Photo function options are: Scenes: Auto, Manual, Digital Macro, Portrait, Night snapshot, Kids&Pets, Indoor, Underwater (for use with the optional underwater case), Exposure compensation, White balance (including custom), ISO (auto,50,100,200,400), Effect (Off, Vivid, Neutral, Low Sharpening, Sepia, Black and White), Compression, Image size.

Theme setup Setup Menu

Setup menu options: (shown on the right, above) Mute, Volume, LCD Brightness, Power saving, Date/Time, Clock Display, Format, File No reset, Auto rotate, Language, Video system.

Theme options let you customise the start-up image, sound, and other camera sounds.

Movie options are: Standard, Fast Frame Rate, and Compact - In standard further options are: White Balance, Effect, Frame rate (30 or 15fps), Size (640x480 or 320x240).

Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:

Playback mode Playback Menu

Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is quick. The zoom is fairly quick up to 10x.

Playback menu options: Protect, Rotate, Sound memo, Erase all, Slide Show, Print Order, Transfer order.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the 16mb memory provided with the camera:

Size / Quality: Number of Photos Stored
  SuperFine Fine Normal
3mp (2048x1536) 8 15 30
2mp (1600x1200) 13 24 47
2mp (1600x1200 - postcard) 24
1024x768 23 42 74
VGA (640x480) 52 81 128
Video 640x480 30fps 6 seconds
Video 320x240 30fps 20 seconds

You can fit a small number of images on the 16mb memory card - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / higher compression options in order to fit more pictures in memory. There is a good choice of image sizes, and there is a very good choice regarding image compression.

A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 128mb or 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, or larger, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Canon Digital IXUS 30:

128mb SD memory card - £11.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
256mb SD memory card - £19.00 from Amazon.co.uk.
512mb SD memory card - £33.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
1gb (1000mb) SD memory card - £59.99 from Amazon.co.uk.

Speed: The camera is very quick to switch on and take photos - however the camera can occassionally 'hunt' for the focus in darker indoor conditions. The screen updates are quick and smooth (in good light). The playback mode is also fairly quick. Playback mode allows you to zoom as close as 10x - this seems quick. The camera has a very quick continuous shooting mode (2.8fps). The camera shutter response seemed quicker than normal when pre-focused (although slightly slower than the Casio Exilim EX-S100).

Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, although the camera does have a lot of options and features. The controls on the back of the camera are fairly easy to use - the menus are responsive and easy to read. The camera is ultra-compact, although not as small as the Pentax Optio S series, and not as thin as others. The menus are also easy to use once you get used to them, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's a fully automatic mode as well as various scene modes for simple point and shoot operation.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well. I thought the camera felt good ergonomically despite the cameras small size, the camera felt solidly built. I especially like the zoom control on the IXUS series cameras - however the design seems fairly conservative compared the the Olympus Mju Mini or the Casio Exilim EX-S100.

Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!


Heather and Flower Group photo

Inside: The camera has good colour. It has a fairly powerful flash, although don't expect too much, as it struggled with the indoor photo above which was taken from the other side of the room. The camera did a good job at focusing the majority of the time, thanks to it's focus-assist lamp. Red-eye didn't seem to be a problem. Images had fairly high noise, especially when left on automatic, although it wasn't too bad.

Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO50, 100, 200, and 400) - below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings.

Noise test photo - flash on (area shown in red, top right)

ISO50 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels

Noise levels appear low at ISO50. At ISO100 noise is just visible, and at ISO200 noise becomes more noticable and in my test photos it was acceptable, at ISO400 noise seems high - but not terrible.


Row of Shops Fruit Stand

Outside, the camera had very good colour, with good contrast and saturation. There was good detail, although images were slightly soft. Noise seemed quite low. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images.

Zoom: This camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of.

Wide-angle 3x Optical zoom 3x optical + digital zoom

Lens noise and zoom: The lens is quite loud. The lens is quick at going from wide to telephoto - there are 6 steps between wide and telephoto. This gives you good control on how you frame your subject.

Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing was slightly more evident than I would have hoped for.

Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you switch to macro mode - you can use the macro mode at wide angle, all the way to telephoto. You can use the flash in macro mode. The camera can be roughly as close as 4cm away from the subject from the front of the lens in Macro mode.

Macro Watch Actual Pixels (100%)

The macro mode is very good - the camera does a good job of toning down the flash (as long as you leave ISO on auto), and colours and detail are good.

Movie: 640x480 - 320x240 - 30fps / 15fps (with 11khz / 8bps mono sound) - you can't use the optical zoom / digital zoom with sound. The movie is recorded as an .AVI file. Length is only limited by the memory card size. The quality of the movie(s) is good - the VGA mode is also good, 30fps is also good. The movie mode is further enhanced with a 60 frames per second movie mode (at 320x240)!


Image Quality: Image quality is good, the images have very good colour, saturation, contrast and good detail although with slightly higher than normal purple fringing. There is fairly low noise but images are a bit soft. The camera did a good job focusing. There is a good range of image sizes and a very good choice of compression options. The macro mode is very good. Auto white balance and metering seemed to be good. Red-eye was controlled well. The movie mode is very good as the resolution and framerate is very good at 640x480 / 30fps with sound - this is further enhanced with the 60fps mode!

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is very compact and is designed well - the camera feels comfortable in my hands. The camera is easy to use, the menu system is easy to use and there is a good layout of buttons and controls. There is a good choice of features and options to suit most levels of experience, although there are very limited manual controls. The camera speed is very good, with a good switch on time, very good focusing time, very good shutter response, and an impressive continous shooting mode (even when using flash).

Alternative ultra compact digital cameras:

Canon Digital IXUS 40
/ 50 (4 and 5 megapixel versions of the IXUS 30),
Canon Digital IXUS i / i5
(4 or 5 megapixel ultra compact with no zoom),
Pentax Optio S5n
(5mp ultra compact),
Casio Exilim EX-100
(Ultra slim 3mp, 2.8x optical zoom lens - one of the world's smallest with optical zoom lens),
Sony Cybershot DSC-T7
(Ultra slim 5 megapixel - one of the world's smallest with optical zoom),
Olympus Mju Mini Digital
(4 or 5 megapixel versions available in various colours),
Fuji Finepix F440
/ F450 (4 or 5 megapixel),
Nikon Coolpix S1
(5mp ultra slim),
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX7
(5mp with image stabilisation).

Check amazon.co.uk / kelkoo.co.uk or amazon.com for the latest prices. See more suggestions sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Canon Digital IXUS 30 is a very compact 3 megapixel digital camera, with a 3x optical zoom lens, and a 2" screen. The IXUS 30 offers very speedy performance, good image quality, excellent video modes, and a very good macro mode. The camera is excellent value for money for an ultra compact camera and should consistantly produce good results. The camera's only weaknesses are: a weak flash, some purple fringing, slightly soft images, and lack of more advanced controls.

I would recommend the Canon Digital IXUS 30 to anyone looking for a fast and easy to use ultra compact digital camera - the small size is especially useful if you want a camera that will easily fit into any pocket or purse that you may have, especially if it means you're more likely to take the camera with you as you're more likely to get the photo you want.

This camera almost recieved the Highly Recommended rating, however I feel that the camera is unnecessarily limited in controls, meaning that more advanced photographers may find themselves feeling limited by the camera. (Especially if compared to the slimmer, and more stylish Casio Exilim EX-S100)

Canon Digital IXUS 30 Rating: Recommended!
Buy Now from Pixmania: £146 Amazon: $249

What I like:

  • Very compact
  • Good value for money
  • Optical viewfinder
  • Focus assist lamp
  • Custom white balance
  • Excellent movie mode(s)
  • Very fast
  • Good quality screen
  • Good image quality (good colour)

What I don't like:

  • Shutter / Aperture speed isn't displayed on screen which makes it difficult to tell whether you can successfully handhold the camera.
  • Plastic battery cover
  • Purple fringing is higher than expected
  • Slightly soft images
  • Weak flash

Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.