Canon PowerShot SX210 IS Review

It’s safe to say that the Canon PowerShot SX210 IS has a lot going in its favor. To begin, there is the remarkable 14x optical zoom, which provides everything from a practical wide-angle to a strong telephoto, and is comparable to a range of 28mm to 392mm on a 35mm camera.

Canon has included a genuine optical image stabilization system within the lens in order to counteract blur caused by camera shake. This will allow for steadier photos even when zoomed in. The Canon PowerShot SX210 is designed to be the only camera you’ll need because the aperture ranges from f/3.1 to f/5.9 across the entire zoom range. This means that whether you’re taking wide-angle shots of the Grand Canyon or zoomed-in close-ups of wildlife, the Canon PowerShot SX210 is up to the task.

The SX210 IS utilizes a 14.1-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CCD image sensor that is capable of shooting between ISO 80 to 1,600. This feature is shared by several of Canon’s most recent PowerShot digital cameras. In addition to the traditional pre-set scene modes that can be found on the majority of point-and-shoot cameras, Canon has added a few fun new settings to the SX210 IS. These settings, such as Fish-eye and Miniature, simulate the effects that can be achieved by using expensive specialty lenses with digital SLR cameras.

In addition to the Face Detection self-timer that was available on earlier versions, the Canon SX210 also has Grin and Wink modes. In these modes, the camera will wait to take a photo until it either detects a smile or after the subject has winked at it before taking the image. In the meantime, Canon’s Smart FE (Flash Exposure) function is designed to optimize and not overuse flash so that you don’t “nuke out” your subject; and the Low Light mode increases ISO to 6,400 while dropping the resolution to 3.5 megapixels. Both of these modes are designed to prevent you from accidentally “nuking out” your subject.

The camera does not have an optical viewfinder; rather, the LCD screen has a resolution of 230,000 dots and measures 3 inches in size. This makes it easier to frame your photos. Because the LCD coverage is so near to one hundred percent, everything you see on the screen is virtually identical to what you’ll get when you hit the shutter button.

When capturing still photographs, the screen will display a 4:3 aspect ratio; however, when utilizing the Canon SX210’s movie mode, the LCD will display a complete 16:9 widescreen coverage. And the movie mode is a nice one, allowing high definition video capture at 720p (1280 x 720) or standard definition video capture at VGA (640 x 480) or QVGA (320 x 240) quality, depending on your preference. The standard frame rate for movie clips is 30 frames per second, and the audio is captured in stereo. Movie clips are saved in the Motion JPEG AVI format.

If you want to watch your high-definition film from the camera on your HDTV with a flat screen, all you have to do is utilize the mini-HDMI connection on the Canon SX210. However, much as with the vast majority of digital cameras, there is not an HDMI cable supplied in the box. The Canon SX210 features one of the most significant advancements in its mechanical department.

The fact that the pop-up flash on the SX200 IS couldn’t be turned off even while the camera was switched on was a significant source of frustration. Now, with the SX210 IS, all that is required of you to keep the flash from going off is to place a finger over the flash.

Look and Feel

The Canon SX210, which comes in three distinct colors (traditional black with silver trim in our review unit), has the potential to be confused for a “style” camera due to its appearance; yet, it is far more powerful than that designation suggests. The Canon SX210 is easily compact and lightweight enough to fit in a small purse or a coat pocket, with dimensions of 4.2 by 2.3 by 1.3 inches (106 by 59 by 32 mm) and a weight of 7.5 ounces (212 grams) with the battery and card included.

The camera has the shape of a rectangle with smooth, rounded corners, which makes it ergonomically pleasant. However, the protruding lens housing might make it difficult to remove the camera from a pocket or bag because of its location. The shallow trough that was located on the top and sides of the Canon SX210, which provided for a strong hold on the camera, was one of my favorite features of the camera.

Even if some of the camera’s features, like the zoom toggle, are a bit tiny for my large hands, it is still pleasant to grip and use the camera. The camera is constructed of polycarbonate and aluminum, despite the fact that it seems and feels like it is made of solid material. However, the circular shutter button made of metal is a good size for such a little camera, and the Canon SX210 gives the impression that it is ready to snap images as soon as you turn the power on.

When it comes to turning on the Canon SX210, you’ll notice that after the camera is activated, it becomes less compact since the 14-times optical zoom extends outward. (This comes as no surprise.) You could also feel the flash trying to come up if you position your left finger in a certain spot. When compared to the old model, which constantly extended the flash when it was switched on, even when you didn’t want it to, the fact that applying a tiny bit of pressure to it will keep it down is a significant improvement. Another feature of the Canon SX210 that can catch your eye is the recessed stereo microphone that is located on the top of the camera. This microphone is used for recording sound along with videos.


It was said in the prior section that the controls, notably the zoom toggle on top, are a bit tiny for individuals who have large hands and fingers, but it turns out that adjusting them isn’t too difficult. If you press the power button, which is located in a little recess on the top of the device, the 14x zoom will be activated, as will the pop-up flash. (If this is not the case, simply depress the button next to the little flash.) When the small zoom toggle on top of the Canon SX210 is moved to the right, the camera zooms in closer on the subject, and when it is moved to the left, the camera zooms out further.

Although it requires some pressure to adjust the settings, the knurled mode dial that is located on the top right rear of the Canon SX210 is within easy reach with your thumb. It is better to have a mode dial that is tight and locks in settings rather than a loose one that may be mistakenly shifted, especially since the dial is located under the thumb; it might have been made a bit looser, but this is a minor concern.

On the other hand, switching between taking images and HD video on the Canon SX210 is a very smooth procedure owing to the dedicated Movie button on the back of the camera, which is denoted by a red dot and is located in the center of the camera. When you press the button, the LCD screen nearly quickly switches from the standard 4:3 aspect ratio to the widescreen 16:9 ratio, which indicates that the video mode has begun. When I was photographing a performance, this came in quite helpful since it made it simple for me to start filming a video clip whenever one of my favorite songs was being played by the performer.

When you press the Playback button, which is located to the right of the movie button, the excellent, spacious 3-inch screen will bring up either photographs or videos. The LCD has a resolution of 230,000 dots per inch, which makes pictures and video playing appear clear. During picture playback, you may utilize the toggle for the zoom function to focus in on a specific close-up detail of a shot.

A little Command dial can be found just below the Playback button. This dial allows you to navigate among photos and manage certain parameters. A Function/Set button can be found in the middle of the dial. Pressing this button while filming or playback will bring up the function menu overlay on the left side of the LCD screen. Below the command dial is a Display button that allows you to change the data read-out that is displayed on the screen, as well as a Menu button that allows you to bring up menus.


The lens that comes along with the Canon SX210 is capable of zooming in even farther than its predecessor thanks to an increase from 12x to 14x optical zoom, making it exceptionally flexible. It is remarkable that such a compact camera can have a focal length range that is similar to 28mm to 392mm on a 35mm camera.

(There is also an extra digital zoom of 4x, but we choose not to use it because it lowers the picture quality.) The aperture of the lens has a range of f/3.1 to f/5.9, and as one would anticipate, the aperture will become narrower (reaching higher f/stop values) as one zooms in. The end effect is photographs that are somewhat darker when zoomed in, but this is the trade-off for having such a compact camera with such a wide focal range.

However, while working in well-lit environments, the lens generated images of exceptional clarity and an astonishing degree of sharpness. If there was any softness in the corners of the photographs, it wasn’t much more obvious than what you’d get with other small cameras that had shorter zooms. This was true whether you were using the wide-angle or telephoto setting.

Even better, even with the magnification dialed all the way up to 14x, the image stabilizer in the camera did an excellent job of preserving the quality of the image. Birdwatchers and anyone who enjoys nature will discover that this camera more than meets their needs for taking photographs of animals. (We were able to capture some beautiful images of a timid robin that was hiding in the overhanging branches of a tree.) At the same time, the wide end of the lens, which is 28 millimeters, is fantastic for taking pictures of landscapes or group portraits.

The lens performed somewhat less well than expected when taking macro photographs. In the same way, as it was the case with the model before it, although close-ups of flowers and other forms of plant life were crisp on the LCD of the camera when seen in their entirety on a computer display, they appeared unsatisfactorily blurry. Even while this lens may not be the best choice for shooting subjects up close, it excels in so many other areas, including outstanding sharpness, precise color reproduction, and rich detail that it is difficult to criticize it.


Canon does not scrimp on the mode options for the SX210 IS, giving a large number of presets for novice photographers in addition to sufficient manual settings to satisfy more experienced photographers.

The primary settings can be accessed through the mode dial located on the back of the camera. These settings include industry-standard options like Easy, Auto, and Program, as well as popular, presets like Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, and a setting that optimizes the camera for shooting indoors.

You may go a little bit farther by rotating the dial to the SCN position, which gives you access to the Special Scene modes. Some of these modes are Low Light (maximum ISO of 6,400 at 3.5-megapixel resolution), Beach, Foliage, Snow, and Fireworks. The Smart Shutter mode, which provides you the Face, Smile, and Wink self-timer choices, is even more distinctive than the other modes. In addition, there is a Fish-eye setting, as well as a Miniature model that simulates the effect of a Tilt-Shift lens on digital SLR cameras. Both of these modes are available to you if you really want to experiment with something unique.

The Miniature mode, which intentionally blurs the borders of a picture to produce a very narrow plane of focus, did not perform as well for us as the Fish-eye option did when it came to capturing amusing, distorted close-up photos.

Shooting down on a scene from above, ideally anything with people or cars in it to “miniaturize,” is the best way to achieve the “toy” or “miniature” effect with this mode, just as it is with actual tilt-shift lenses. If you truly want to generate the “toy” or “miniature” look. The fact that Canon has maintained the option to shoot in Aperture Priority (AV), Shutter Priority (TV), and Manual (M) on the mode dial of the Canon SX210 will be appreciated by more experienced photographers.


Because Canon does not take too many creative liberties with the menu options on the SX210 IS, even customers who have never used a digital camera before should have an easy time figuring out how to adjust the settings. When you are in shooting mode, pressing the menu button will bring up a two-tab layout. The photographic settings will be located under the icon of a camera, and the internal adjustments will be located under the icon of a wrench and hammer.

On the shooting settings page, you have the opportunity to make changes to a variety of aspects of the camera, including Continuous AF, AF-assist Beam, Safety MF, Flash Settings, Image Review Length, Review Info, and Display Overlay, amongst other things. If you go down further, you will be able to change the mode for the image stabilizer (IS), add a date stamp, and apply individualized settings for the movie button. (It is important to take note that the menu displays in a format that is far broader on the camera than it does in our animation.)

Within the Playback mode, you will find fundamental choices that allow you to select favorites, delete, lock, rotate, or present a slideshow of your photographs. You can also do some simple picture editing directly in the camera, such as auto-adjusting the contrast, correcting for red-eye, cutting, and resizing the image. Within the Playback menu, there is a tab that provides you with some fundamental printing options for your pictures that are taken immediately from the camera.

In playback mode, look for the icon that looks like a wrench and hammer. This is where you can make adjustments to certain camera operations, such as turning the sound on or off and adjusting the sound options, turning “hints and tips” on or off, formatting your memory card, lens retract time, power-saving modes, time zone adjustment, date and time setting, language selection, and other settings.

Under the Func/Set button is where you’ll find the Function menu.

It is an updated version of the previous Function menu that included a user interface that was far simpler to navigate. This one has a more polished appearance but is somewhat more challenging to use. The menus rotate like the wheel on a slot machine, and once you’ve located the setting that needs to be changed, you’ll need to use the right-most button on the Multicontroller to choose the next wheel so that you may make your choice there.

Not the best

Even if the Multi-controller lacks silkscreened icons on or around it, it may still be used to access the choices for Focus, Exposure adjustment, Flash mode, and Self-timer. Simply applying a gentle touch to the Multi-controller will cause an icon depicting the dial to emerge on the screen. It’s not a horrible concept for a camera, since the extremely broad screen takes up such little space.

Both the Storage and the Battery

A normal SD memory card with a capacity of two gigabytes or less may be inserted into the Canon SX210 IS through a slot on the camera’s underside that is located adjacent to where the battery is located. A plastic door that can pull out and lock over the gap provides protection for the opening. Additionally, the camera is compatible with Eye-Fi wireless transfer cards, SDHC memory cards with capacities greater than 2 GB and up to and including 32 GB, and SDXC memory cards with capacities greater than 32 GB. When using the SX210 IS and setting the resolution to Large (4,320 x 3,240), a memory card with a capacity of 4 gigabytes is capable of recording up to 1,058 JPEG photos. (There is no option to shoot in RAW.) A memory card with 16 gigabytes of storage space may capture up to 4,334 large JPEG images.

The Canon SX210 utilizes a proprietary NB-5L Lithium-ion rechargeable battery that has been rated by the CIPA to produce 260 shots on a single charge. The slot for the battery is located on the underside of the Canon SX210, just next to the slot for the memory card.

Utilizing the Canon SX210 IS for the photography

As has been stated previously, the Canon SX210 is an excellent choice for a small camera to take on trips. I used it on a few sunny days to take pictures and videos of my friends, family, children, canine companions, people going about their daily lives in New York City’s streets and parks, and even a musical performance. The Canon SX210 was able to comfortably fit into the inside pocket of my coat right next to my iPhone despite the fact that it is jam-packed with features such as its outstanding 14x zoom lens.


The 28mm lens on the Canon SX210 is rather helpful, despite the fact that it does not have the same field of view as other lenses.

I took a few candid pictures of the people I was riding the train with as I made my way down to see an old acquaintance for lunch. I did this by sneaking the camera out of my pocket and firing it off as inconspicuously as possible. When I turned off the sound and held down the flash button at the same time, no one appeared to notice that I was taking their picture. It was almost as if the camera was completely silent. Due to the inadequate illumination in the subway, I increased the ISO to 800, switched the optical image stabilizer to the Continuous setting, and began taking pictures.

Walker Evans may relax since none of these photographs were works of art; they were satisfactory, and the picture noise was discernible at ISO 800 but did not interfere with the viewing experience. At an ISO of 1,600, there was a significant increase in the amount of noise; nevertheless, taking into consideration that the Canon SX210 packs 14 megapixels onto such a small picture sensor, it might have been much worse. Even though the lighting in the restaurant was far better than what it had been on the train, it was still a touch dim. Despite the fact that I could have added a little fill with the camera’s little and slightly weak pop-up flash, I chose not to do so.


This kind of interior photography is made possible by the exceptional high ISO performance that is becoming standard in an increasing number of cameras. Especially impressive given that it was taken with a 14x long zoom.

My friend and her kid, who is three years old, were the subjects of my flashless, ISO 800 photographs. The photographs were not as sharp as I would have liked them to be — there was some motion blur despite the high ISO and image stabilizer — but they weren’t terrible either. The images had a raw, unposed quality that really appealed to me, and I thought the colors were vibrant without being overly saturated, and the skin tones were spot on.

The general sluggishness of the Canon SX210 is perhaps the camera’s most glaring flaw when used as a candid photographer. Starting up the camera takes approximately a second or two, focusing in dim light takes about a second or two, and cycling through individual shots takes about a second or two. All of that adds up to a lot of seconds, so if you plan to photograph a skittish subject with the Canon SX210 — my friend’s son had missed his nap time and was getting restless — you’re going to have to do a lot of pre-focusing to keep up with them. If you’re planning to photograph a skittish subject with the Canon SX210, you’re going to have to do a lot of pre-focusing to keep up with them. (Once you have prefocused, you won’t have any issues with shutter lag.)

Even while it wasn’t exactly a speed demon, the Canon SX210 was noticeably quicker when shooting outside in broad daylight. I was strolling around Chelsea when I came upon a lovely dog. It was holding a newspaper in its mouth and was wandering down the street. After confirming with the owner that it was all right to take the picture, I knelt down and took a few pictures of the dog that were good enough to frame.

Wider? There were occasions when I wished I had a 24mm lens.

After that, I took the camera with me to the High Line, a park in Manhattan that was fashioned out of decommissioned elevated subway rails. It was certainly broad enough to picture the park and the surrounding metropolis when I pushed the zoom back to 28mm; nevertheless, I would have preferred it to be just a notch or two wider, as on some competitive models that go as wide as 24mm. It’s possible that such a request is too much to make of a camera that already provides such a wealth of features, but it sure would be lovely if the next model had it.

In the evening, I carried the camera with me to a concert, and because to its stealthy design, surprisingly good performance in low light, and lengthy zoom, I was able to take pictures and films of the artists without making too much of a disturbance. When it comes to films, the 720p HD movie option provided bright and crisp footage that maintained its stability even when zoomed up to 14 times its original size. Fortunately, in contrast to the earlier model, this one allows you to use optical zoom while you are recording videos.

The Canon SX210 performed admirably as an outdoor landscape and nature camera, and as a result, I was able to get some pleasing images of the George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River, and other local flora and fauna, such as birds and squirrels. On the other hand, I really wish it had a better macro camera. Even though many of my photographs of flowers and other plant life were crisp and bright on the 3-inch screen of the Canon SX210, I was surprised to find that they were somewhat blurry when I saw them on the screen of my computer.

In general, though, working with the Canon SX210 was a really enjoyable experience, and if you’re looking for a tiny and reasonably priced “do-everything” camera, the most recent SX-series model from Canon offers everything you could want or need in a device of this kind.

Quality of the Image

It was difficult for us to find fault with the results that the SX210 IS produced when used for a general selection of subject matter. If anything, the pixel count-reducing (and therefore image softening) low light mode was less successful than the other recording mode options. Images appeared warm and colorful in the main, without appearing unnatural at any point, and displayed a good level of sharpness to boot. The tiny and fisheye effects are a wonderful addition to Canon’s, um, cannon in adding a fun aspect, and we found that our test attempts while utilizing such settings were fairly effective in most cases.

Even though Canon assured us that the construction of the lens has guaranteed that such aberrations are kept as modest as possible, our test photos of a white wall reveal that there is apparent barrel distortion when reviewing photographs recorded at the maximum wide-angle setting. They have reached a point where we are able to accept them, especially given the fact that busier situations conceal anything that would be considered “wrong.”

The ISO range of 80–1600 that the SX210 IS makes available to us is not very impressive considering the price of the camera. However, a higher pixel count might imply that there is a greater risk of picture noise damaging a shot when the settings are adjusted to higher levels, and Canon has taken precautions by setting the maximum ISO at 1600. In the same way that we receive a clean bill of health in terms of intrusive noise up until ISO 800 when shooting at full resolution, we get a clean bill of health here. Despite the fact that detail starts to blur at ISO 1600, we were still able to take shots that were usable after that setting.

When considered as a camera that can be used for a variety of different scenarios, the Canon PowerShot SX210 IS is able to perform at its highest level of efficiency. This leaves open for the possibility that one could occasionally be pleasantly surprised with the outcomes, which is exactly what happened to us.


Body typeCompact
Max resolution4320 x 3240
Other resolutions4320 x 2432, 3456 x 2592, 2592 x 1944, 2144 x 1608, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480
Image ratio w:h4:3, 16:9
Effective pixels14 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors15 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeCCD
ProcessorDigic 4
ISOAuto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
White balance presets5
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal
Focal length (equiv.)28–392 mm
Optical zoom14×
Maximum apertureF3.1–5.9
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)SingleLive View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Normal focus range50 cm (19.69″)
Macro focus range5 cm (1.97″)
Number of focus points9
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots230,000
Touch screenNo
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/3200 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject / scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash range3.50 m
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-eye, Fill-in, Slow Syncro, Manual (3 levels)
Continuous drive0.7 fps
Self-timerYes (2 sec or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Resolutions1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps), 320 x 240 (30 fps)
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC/MMCplus/MMCplus HC
Storage includedNo
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
WirelessEye-Fi Connected
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-5L battery & charger
Weight (inc. batteries)220 g (0.49 lb / 7.76 oz)
Dimensions103 x 61 x 38 mm (4.06 x 2.4 x 1.5″)
Orientation sensorYes


When considered as a capable all-in-one solution for both still photographs and videos – and as a result, the only camera that many families may ever need – the price that at first seems to be excessive for the SX210 IS begins to make more sense. And, once you’ve become accustomed to a camera with such a broad focal range that it’s possible to frame up subjects near or far in pretty much an instant, it’s a drag to go back to your common-or-garden 3x zoom snapper, the usual tool of choice for ‘family friendly’ photography. This is because the focal range of such a camera allows you to frame up subjects near or far in pretty much an instant.

To continue focusing on the positives, due to this Canon PowerShot’s larger physical size (in comparison to, for example, a slimline IXUS), it should be easier to grip and operate than the most recent credit card-sized camera alternative. This should be especially helpful for younger users and those who are older.

And although having proportions that are larger than typical, it is still a more portable solution than any DSLR, Micro Four Thirds, or another competing system hybrid for individuals who are searching for a capable travel companion. The SX210 IS will also let you achieve a larger spectrum of photography than is possible with a standard-issue compact, and it will allow you to have fun while you are doing it, which, once again, helps to alleviate some of the discomfort caused by the camera’s rather high price tag.

Pros & cons

Good For
  • Image Stabilization
  • High Shutter Speed of 1/3200 of a Second
  • Focusing by Hand (Manual)
  • 220 grams for a Light Body
Need Improvement
  • Lack of a Screen That Articulates
  • No wireless connection was established.
  • No Full HD Video
  • There is not an external flash shoe.

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