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Canon SX210 IS Review

June 5, 2011

Update 5/31/2011 You may want to consider the new SX230. It has a FASTER CMOS chip which will give you better low light picture quality. This was my biggest complaint with the SX210is.

Update: 7-19-2010 The video that I posted today is to answer questions about the camera’s CYCLE rate. It is not an overall camera review but a demonstration of how long it takes the shutter to fire and a demonstration of the “wicked fast” continuous mode. I posted the continuous mode photos on my Google Picasa account which can be viewed by going to my Amazon profile page.

I am a professional MOTION picture camera assistant and an advanced hobby photographer. I own a Nikon D90 and several other compact cameras. There are times that I wanted to bring a decent camera but didn’t want to haul my SLR kit around with me. I have always felt like I had to make a big compromise until now. This camera captures amazing images for such a compact device. If wanted it also allows for full control of all aspects of your shots including ASA, shutter time and aperture. The HD video it captures is fantastic and it does this without the need to hand focus like my D90.

The first thing that you will notice when you get the camera is that it is very SMALL. It is the size camera you can put in a belt case and forget you have it with you.

Controls – I am use to more direct access to the controls but anyone who is familiar with SLR photography can easily navigate the controls without a manual. Amateurs or those unfamiliar with SLR CONTROLS have two great options, Auto or EZ mode. You can put this camera into the hands of an inexperienced photographer and if they can compose a shot, and have fundamental consideration of lighting, they can get technically great pictures.

Colors are ACCURATE with excellent black detail for this price range camera. This camera achieves a level of image quality that was available only from professional SLR cameras a few years ago.

Once you turn on the camera, you are going to be IMPRESSED with the wide end of this cameras lens. For vista shots, it does not show wide lens distortion. For close wide shots, it does show an acceptable amount distortion that is fun to shoot with. When I took this camera on a family trip, I was easily able to hold the camera myself and get all 4 of us in the shot. The only issue that I have with this wide mode is that it will not fully translate in a standard 4X6 print. You will loose the sides of the pictures when you print. I hope that the 16X9 HD ratio will become a standard for future photo prints. Of course you can set the camera to shoot a standard 4X6 print

The long end of the zoom is equally amazing. The image STABILIZATION seems as good as Nikon’s VR system.

The SX210is focuses almost as quickly as my SLR Nikon D90 in still mode.

Contunuous Mode- The camera can record 2 FPS in continuous mode. It is a lot of fun to record action sequences or take a series of photos if you have the need to grab a lot of shots in a short time. I posted a few series of shots on my Google Picasa site that can be viewed through my profile page, or paste:


Movie Mode – The camera really SHINES in video mode, it focuses quickly and tracks action well. This Canon camera can continuously focus the image rather than having to press the button halfway to activate focus.

In video mode, the exposure shifts in steps rather than gradual transitions. In other words, the exposure could be good for a particular scene and as it transitions to a different lighting scenario the exposure clicks to the proper exposure. Dedicated video cameras transition more SMOOTHLY between different lighting conditions than still camera shooting in video mode.

It shoots 720p movies that rival a dedicated video camera. The optical 14X zoom is amazing. This camera could take the place of a stand-alone video camera for many people. The audio quality is good but NOT fantastic. You can notice the steady shot while shooting videos. It works well until you get to long end of the lens where you will notice that the image jumps around when you try to hold a steady frame. In reality, you would never want to shoot zoomed in all the way.

Con’s- I’m getting picky here but you should know…

I would have liked a VIEWFINDER. Shooting in bright sunlight can be difficult with the LCD screen. I also find that resting the camera against your head helps steady shots.

I wasn’t really crazy about the exposed LCD screen. The screen is made of GLASS rather than plastic, which is nice. If placed LCD side down it does not rest flat on the screen. It instead rests on the mode rotary dial and the opposite corner of the camera. I wish manufactures would engineer a slightly raised screen bezel to prevent scratches to the screen.

I think it could have been better if the microphones were in front of, rather than on top of the camera. There isn’t enough separation between microphones to realize stereo sound capabilities. The microphone is very SUSCEPTIBLE to wind noise.

Low light mode is still slightly noisy compared to the D90. Don’t expect a miracle low light camera and you won’t be disappointed. Still it is a lot BETTER than other compact cameras. Please see the low light photo I posted.

The pop-up flash for the camera is positioned where your left index finger would typically grip the camera. I keep forgetting to relocate my fingers when I turn on the camera. It works well for ILLUMINATING snapshots. I have found that it is a bit inconsistent. Sometimes it gracefully lights shots and other times it performs as a typical compact camera flash.

I really love the camera and would purchase it again if I manage to destroy it or loose it. The zoom range is AMAZING and very useful. The color this camera captures is realistic and detailed. It is compact, easy to use and fun to shoot. It is not equal to a quality SLR camera but is clearly better than all of the compact camera’s I have used. My impression is it’s in-between quality in a compact body. It definitely sets a new standard.

If you have any questions or want other information that will help improve this REVIEW, please leave a comment. I’d be happy to repost any improvements.

My review is intended to give a overall consumer IMPRESSION of this amazing little camera. I could have gone on for pages and there are plenty of professional reviews on the internet if you want to find out very specific information.

Don’t forget to order a CASE or SD card when you order this camera as it comes with neither.

I tried SD cards that ranged from a class 2 Panasonic to a class 10 SanDisk 30MB/s. It didn’t make a lot of difference in the cycle rate the camera was able to shoot at.

I have 4 Transcend 8 Gig Class 10 cards that I primarily use with this camera. 10 Mbs write 16Mbs read. I would recommend them because they are a good value and download at a reasonably fast pace. If you decide to the card in the future for another application (like a video camera) you won’t be stuck with a slow card that is obsolete.

If you get a spare battery get the OEM Canon Battery. I was tempted to save and bought the Lenmar replacement battery. I would suggest you save your money. After the first few cycles it would read full on the camera’s battery indicator but not be able to power the camera.

The Canon PSC-3100 PowerShot Case for Canon SX200IS Digital Cameras is really too large for this camera. See the posted pictures on Amazon’s consumer photos. I went to an electronics store and tried all of the cases. I liked the Lowepro D-Pods 20 best. Amazon sells it for $9.23 and it’s Amazon Prime too. This case is snug fitting and offers spare battery and card storage. I posted some snapshots and a video.

Avoid the temptation to put a compact camera unprotected in a jacket pocket. The dust and dirt contained within can work itself into the camera and optics. There is no easy way to address this.

I posted a video review there also.

Lowepro D-Pods 20 Camera Case (Black)

Lowepro D-Pods 20 Camera Case (Black)

Some sample photos are at my Picasa account that can be found in my profile page.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 13, 2011 10:26 am

    Excellent blog! It’s a great place to visit before one decides to buy a camera. Full of useful information and written in a very clear style (with bold words in capital letters, etc.). I sure will come around again 🙂

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