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Canon PowerShot SX210 IS - Canon PowerShot SX210 IS

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


The SX210's overall performance is very good. It starts up in well under two seconds, which is impressive for a long-zoom camera, while in single-shot mode at maximum image quality it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately 2.4 seconds which is also pretty quick, although not as fast as the TZ10 or Ricoh CX3. In continuous shooting mode it can manage a shot every two seconds and keep it up apparently indefinitely (or at least until the memory card is full). It has the option for continuous shooting with autofocus too, which also shoots at the same speed.

Canon PowerShot SX210 IS top

The autofocus system is very good, but then this is usually the case with Canon cameras. Canon seems to have finally abandoned its much-maligned and frequently unreliable AiAF system in favour of a much simpler centre-zone AF, but this is at least is quick and accurate. Low light focusing is also nice and fast and doesn't slow down much even at full zoom. The AF assist lamp has a range of approximately three metres in total darkness.

One concern on some other recent zoom compacts has been battery life. The SX210 is powered by a 1050mAh Lithium ion battery which is slightly smaller than the battery from the SX200, but it still has a good duration. I used the camera over a period of about a week and managed to get over 200 shots out of it, many of them with the flash and with a lot of image playback. After a couple of charge cycles to come up to peak performance Canon's claim of 260 shots on a full charge sounds reasonable.

I once referred to the ever-increasing resolutions of compact camera sensors as “megapixel willy-waving”, and was assured by a couple of Canon designers who read it that they found that very amusing, but unfortunately it looks like the waving isn't quite over yet. The Sx210 has a tiny 1/2.3-inch sensor, the same size as the SX200 and most of Canon's other compacts, but the resolution has been increased to 14.1 megapixels, cramming even more photocells onto an already crowded chip. I had hoped that the camera manufacturers had grown out of this sort of thing, but annoyingly Canon appears to have got away with it, because the image quality of the SX210 is generally very good, although there are a couple of issues.

Canon PowerShot SX210 IS bottom

Colour rendition is excellent, with bright vibrant hues in most lighting conditions, and high-ISO noise control is much better than it has any right to be, with good image quality at 800 ISO and even usable shots at 1600 ISO. Dynamic range is also surprisingly good, and is improved even further by the i-Contrast feature. The only real problem is the lens, which suffers from a general overall softness, has significant chromatic aberration in the corners at wide angle and produces visible vignetting (the edges of the frame being darker than the middle) at longer zoom ranges. This is undoubtedly due to the optical compromises that had to be made to produce a flush-folding 14x zoom, so one has to wonder if an extra few millimetres of focal length is really worth it.


The Canon PowerShot SX210 is an expensive camera but it does offer more genuinely useful features than almost anything else in its class. Build quality and handling are excellent, overall performance is superb and the picture quality is better than expected for such a densely populated sensor. The only image quality issues are caused by the lens, which may just be a zoom factor too far.

Simon Hall

March 28, 2010, 3:31 pm

This Camera fails for me at the first hurdle.

The pop up flash is exceptionally ugly, so in my case it would even get to the stage of being tried out.

Call me shallow if you like, but there are far better looking camera's out there.


March 28, 2010, 10:44 pm

@ Simon

I agree. The pop-up flash looks ridiculous.


March 29, 2010, 3:58 am

"Call me shallow if you like, but there are far better looking camera's out there"

So obviously you value more what other people think about you, with your 'ugly flash', than have a great camera that takes great pictures?! Nuts. Do you own Apple products by any chance?

Kevin Gordon

March 29, 2010, 5:24 pm

The pop up flash may be pugly, but when the advantage is that you can take pictures with flash that have less or no red eye and shadows, then who the hell cares if its fugly. Most people take shots during the day anyway, and you can close the flash in that case.

I'm more concerned about the ridiculous mega pixel count (who, in all seriousness, needs to print up to A0? Come on, if you need that, then you'll probably buy a higher end DSLR?), and the price. You can get DSLRs for not a lot more.

I'll stick with my Ixus 120.


March 29, 2010, 8:42 pm

Cliff, you rated the Panasonic TZ10 an "8" for image quality, the same image quality rating as this Canon SX210 IS. Judging only that aspect of each camera, how would you choose between them?


April 2, 2010, 9:41 pm

I can't see the front of a camera when I'm using it, so that aspect is immaterial. How come Canon saw the light with the G11, didn't go "headline hunting" and reduced the MP count to get the best IQ, and then went "headline hunting" with this one and its irrational zoom numbers, softening off the focus right the way through all the focal lengths? Panasonic get one sigh of relief, with one competitor not making the most of the botched development of the Panasonic TZ10.

Simon Hall

April 4, 2010, 9:42 pm

@ lifethroughalens I don't own any Apple products actually. I just think that manufacturers in this day and age should be able to make asthetically pleasing products that also perform well.

Why should you have to put up with an ugly camera if you want one that performs well?


April 10, 2010, 2:52 pm

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June 3, 2010, 7:22 pm

I prefer to take pictures without flash, by increasing the ISO setting or Dynamic Ratio etc to get a better looking natural photos to be proud of. That flash is not for taking good photos. I find it is only suitable for snapshots.


September 24, 2010, 10:13 am

Hi, im looking for some help getting a new camera, im torn between this one and the Panasonic Lumix TZ8, i love the features of this one and the 14mp etc and zoom compared to the 12 of the Lumix, im on a tight budget of around £210 ans seen these both on amazon for under that... im just a point and shooter for concerts, parties and some of the wonders i see outside on hols, the Lumix has such a better review, so I really cant decide... am i just being greedy with the extra 2 mp and zoom this one offers ??

I would appreciate amyones expert opinion to help my final purchase :)


December 12, 2010, 8:38 am

Neophyte about to buy his next P&S, wants as much zoom as possible, and to be able to zoom and record, for the wife to use while I'm surfing.

I didn't even know this cam had 14x, and was about to buy the Fujifilm FinePix

F300EXR but have held back due to wildly varying reviews.

Any recommendations?


February 3, 2011, 5:25 pm

A few days back i bought a new canon SX210is,but i am unable to capture the moving objects.The pics seems to become blurred.can anyone please tell me how to capture the moving objects on canon sx210is.


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