Canon Ixus 55

After having used plenty of digital cameras of my family and friends, I finally wanted a camera of my own. As I grew up using Canon cameras and my mum's Ixus 330 worked quite well, I went for an almost current Ixus, the Ixus 55 (known as PowerShot SD 450 Digital Elph in other parts of the world).

Of course I didn't expect any wonders of that camera. After all I didn't buy it for a low-noise sensor, for a good autofocus or for a good lens. I got it because it's a tiny camera that can be taken anywhere in my pocket. In fact, I was thrilled that it was a lot thinner and had a much larger screen than my mum's older Ixus 330. And it also takes decent pictures. When there's enough light they can even be quite good. Even the manual settings – while not including manual focus or exposure settings – aren't too shabby and it does rather nice macro shots. I was quite happy.

Until things started going wrong, that is. The first thing I noticed was that the camera was much less sturdy than its predecessor which my mum uses. Just carrying it around in my pocket (and that's not the pocket with the change or the keys) left me with considerable scratches on the case and the screen. So I started handling the camera more carefully than I intended to (after all, the only point of these cameras is their pocket size, so they should be able to stand such treatment).

But things still broke. First, the flash stopped working and I had to send the camera in to get that fixed which was reasonably trouble free. A few months later the camera just stopped working completely and I had to send it in again to have the main board replaced. Obviously I wasn't too ipressed by that.

A bit later, the total disaster happened: The camera's screen broke while I was travelling. This must have happened while it was in my rucksack – a crowded rucksack perhaps but not exactly being thrown around. The internet suggests that this is isn't entirely uncommon but Canon takes the position that this is due to inadequate handling of the camera. I'd say it's due to poor engineering. If a camera that's made to be carried around breaks due to the stresses of being carried around that's a bad thing.

And the broken screen also reveals a number of conceptual problems with the camera. Putting most of the camera's controls and the feedback for them in the on-screen display, means that is becomes pretty much impossible to do anything non-trivial with the camera once the screen is broken. The only workaround I found was to use the camera's TV adaptor to at least make sure I have useful settings when taking it with me. I have to hope that I don't accidentally change those settings when I am on the road though. I found it essential to turn the photo-display after taking a photo off, for example, as the screen's bright backlight really hurts when your eye is close to the screen while looking through the viewfinder. A viewfinder which is really tiny and somewhat imprecise, by the way.

Looks like Canon are trying hard to turn me into an unhappy customer after all these years.

In the end I sold the camera (as broken) on eBay and got a surprising 70 Euros for it. I used those to buy one of the follow-up models that was on special offer.