The Canon Powershot SX210 is an update on the SX200 model and sits mid-range among PowerShot models. It is, though, the most powerful compact-sized model and comes with an impressive feature list.
The Canon SX210 features a 14.1MP sensor capturing at 4320 x 3240 pixels with a standard ISO range of 80-1600.
The lens is a 14x optical zoom, offering 28mm at its wide end and an aperture range of f/3.1 to f/5.9 at the long end. This is controlled by a small rocker on the top.
For creative shooting the Canon SX210 features full manual, aperture priority, shutter priority and program modes. There’s also a full Auto, Simple mode, and 17 scene modes, including a low-light mode for high ISO shooting at 3.5MP resolution.
On the rear it has a 3in LCD screen – though this is a 16:9 widescreen display, so for still image shooting you only get the equivalent of around a 2.7in display in height.
A rear dial allows quick adjustment of aperture or shutter, and can be used for manual focusing, plus a range of other functions. The dial also doubles up as a four-way d-pad, providing quick access to focusing, flash, self timer and exposure compensation.
As well as a movie mode on the shooting dial, there’s also a quick movie record button to allow for instant access, which can be customised for other uses. When the camera is turned on the flash automatically raises but can then be pushed down and pulled up again manually when needed.
Autofocus features a single centre point selection with face detection and tracking; there’s also lens-based image stabilisation to reduce the chance of camera shake, even at full zoom. Video is recorded in Canon’s native H.264 .mov format at 720p high definition with stereo audio.
Canon SX210 design
The design of the Canon SX210 is in keeping with previous PowerShot models, being simple and clean, with a prominent shooting mode dial that has the same feel as those featured on the DSLR range.
There’s not much in the way of grip, as the front is flush, but the mode dial sits neatly under the thumb and has enough resistance to avoid changing the mode accidentally.
The LCD screen initially looks impressive, as it takes up much of the rear, but its widescreen format is only of benefit when shooting video and, combined with the relatively low 230k-dot resolution, leaves traditional stills shooters a little short-changed.
Canon SX210 performance
In use, the camera is very responsive and a breeze to operate.
To save space and keep a clean design, the quick access symbols have been removed and instead show up on the screen when your finger covers the dial. While this is clever, it does slow the process.
Focusing is quick and reliable, backed up with a powerful low-light AF beam. The creative modes are quick and easy to use thanks to the rear dial, and the range of scene modes includes some useful and fun functions, such as: the miniature mode, for tilt shift effects; a fisheye effect; and high ISO low-light mode.
The HD video feature is easily accessed and simple to use, thanks to the smooth zoom and impressive stabilisation. The .mov Quicktime format also means it’s easy to play back on any machine.
Canon SX210 value for money
This is the second cheapest camera of the four on test and costs just £30 more than its Nikon competitor. Though the SX210 lacks some of the more advanced and fancy features of the more expensive models here, it produces great images and video and is definitely worth considering.
Canon SX210 image Quality
Straight from the camera, images appear bright and natural.
Tough lighting conditions, such as backlighting, are handled with ease and shots appear well detailed and relatively noise free. On close inspection there are some signs of noise reduction which can affect image sharpness on lower-light images.
Skin tones appear natural, even under flash light, and the flash offers good coverage throughout the range.
Video quality is very impressive with a crisp image and bright, even exposure.