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Canon Powershot SX210 Digital Camera Review

canon20100916.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Simon Vrantsis

 

The compact super-zoom market has, seemingly, stagnated over recent years. With the inclusion of feature such as GPS taking the focus away from what should be the main agenda, image quality, improvements in this area have been few and far between, with new iterations in many company lines treading water. This is, admittedly, a tough end of the market that deals with a customer base that wants ultimate flexibility; Good image quality and a massive focal range to go along with a convenient size.

Canon again hit this section of the market promising to lead the way with its combination of high resolution and large focal range. Fitted with a 14.1-megapixel CCD sensor along with a 14x zoom lens, with a 35mm equivalent of 28-392mm, the SX210 delivers good image quality at lower ISOs and a great focal length in a relatively compact body. The inclusion of optical image stabilisation allows consistent result throughout the zoom range as well. The drawback to the focal length that the SX210 has is that the lens is relatively slow, meaning that achieving good results consistently in dim light can be difficult. Along with photos being a tad on the noisy side in general, things really get noticeably soft when you edge over ISO 400. In saying this, Canon has delivered quality, pretty much, on par with most of the cameras in its class.

Build wise, Canon has delivered a good, solid feel in the SX210. The 3.0”, 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen LCD display dominates the back of the camera, and is great when used in HD movie mode. It also has good low light visibility making the overall experience, during composing and playback, an enjoyable one, though its size could have been used more effectively. Minor annoyances in the overall design comes in the form of a relatively weak flash, popping up even when its not activated, and an extremely small zoom controller which gets tiresome after a while.

Where the SX210 excel is its overall performance, and this is possibly the cameras strongest aspect. The auto focus system is very accurate, while metering and white balance is reliable and consistent. Because of these factors, shooting in its Easy mode is quite a treat with the SX210 delivering good results for the point and click photographers out there. When in this mode, all menus and options are removed leaving the user with a very streamlined approach. The nice inclusion of wink mode has been added to the already useful face-detection self-timer, and features such as fisheye and the panorama assistant are available for the more creative at heart.

If you’re to be hypercritical, you’ll notice a leaning toward overexposure in brighter conditions, though this does mean results straight out of camera are vibrant. One area of the SX210’s performance that is a head scratcher is the continuous shooting mode, which is pretty much null and void at 0.7fps, although the size of the high-resolution files goes part way toward explaining the lack of speed.

As mentioned earlier, the LCD is fantastic when paired with the HD movie mode, which records at 720p with stereo quality sound. Canon has included a dedicated movie-record button that allows for transitioning to movie recording from any mode. The optical zoom and image stabiliser are in full effect here as well. Ultimately, the mode won’t replace your existing camcorder but definitely adds to the convenience.

Those wanting to tread away from an auto-shooting mode have the ability to manually control the shutter speed and aperture, as well as choosing tmedal-gold-r.jpghe appropriate white balance and, even, manually focus. But the budding photographer, out there, after full control will be left wanting due to the lack important features such as a live histogram, bracketing and, most importantly, a RAW capture mode.


Battery life is estimated at 260 shots per charge, which is below average compared to its peers, and the SX210 doesn’t have any built-in memory nor is bundled with a memory card. This isn’t anything new from Canon and, considering the price of memory cards, isn’t a major issue but is worth noting.

For its market, the PowerShot SX210 IS does a good job of meeting what most people want from their super-zoom compacts. It produces consistent images in its automatic setting and the results straight out of camera should look pleasing in a 6x4 print. The disappointment lays in the level of improvement Canon have made since its predecessor, the SX200 IS. Apart from the upgrade from a 12 & 12 camera to a 14 & 14 version we have now, only smaller, nice to have features can been seen as a differentiator. Is it worth the upgrade from the previous model? Only SX200 users can really decide that. But as a camera to document your travels, and celebrations, along with the ability to get really close to the action without being noticed, the SX210 does a fine job.

 

Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
3.5 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
View finder / LCD screen 4 stars
Value for money 4 stars
RRP (AUD) $599
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 14.1 megapixel
Image Sensor
1/2.3-inch type Charge Coupled Device (CCD)
Image Sizes 7 Sizes
Lens - zoom wide [mm] 28mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens -zoom tele [mm] 392mm (35mm equivalent )
Resolution Settings

4,320 x 3,240 (Large)

3,456 x 2,592 (Medium 1)

2,592 x 1,944 (Medium 2)

1,600 x 1,200 (Medium 3/Date Stamp)

640 x 480 (Small)

4,320 x 2,432 (Widescreen)

2144 x 1,608 (Low Light)

Shooting Modes 12 standard modes
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Range f/3.1 (W) - f/5.9 (T)
Aperture Priority Yes
Exposure Metering System
Evaluative*, Center-weighted average, Spot**
* Facial brightness is evaluated in Face Detection AF
** Metering frame is fixed to the center
Exposure Bracketing
+/-2 stops in 1/3-stop increments
Exposure Metering Range Manual Exposure, i-Contrast, Program Shift, Safety Shift; AE Lock
Shutter Speeds 1 - 1/3200 sec.
15 - 1/3200 sec. (Total shutter speed range); Long Shutter operates with noise reduction when manually set at 1.3 - 15 sec.
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO ISO 80/100/200/400/800/1600
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size 3.0-inch TFT color LCD widescreen with wide viewing angle
Viewfinder NA
Flash Control
Auto, Manual (3 levels), Red-eye Reduction, Auto Red-eye Correction, Flash On, Flash Off; FE Lock, Safety FE, Slow Synchro
Flash Sync Modes
NA
Hot Shoe NA
White balance Auto*, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
* Facial color is evaluated in Face Detection AF
Self Timer Approx. 10-sec. delay/approx. 2-sec. delay/custom*
* Shooting start time (0-10 sec. (in one-second increments), 15/20/30 sec.) number of shots (1-10 shots (in one-shot increments)) can be specified.
Movie Options 1920 x 1080 - Available in frame rates 30 / 25 / 24 fps      1280 x 720 - Available in frame rates 60 / 50 fps               640 x 480 - Available in frame rates 60 / 50 fps
Video Out Yes
Storage Type SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card, MultiMediaCard, MMC Plus Card, HC MMC Plus Card
Image / Audio Formats Large / Medium 1 / Medium 2/ Medium3 / Small / Widescreen / Low Light
Connectivity USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (mini-B jack)
Power Source AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC30 (optional)
Battery Options Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery NB-5L
Weight Approx. 7.58 oz./215g (including battery and memory card)
Dimensions (W) 105.8 x (H) 59.3 x (D) 31.9mm
 

 
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