Canon Powershot SX210 IS digital camera review

As part of our ongoing series of camera reviews, this review will take a closer look at the new Canon Powershot SX210 IS. The SX210 IS offers some of the best specifications of any point and shoot camera – a compact body with a 14.1 megapixel sensor, 14x optical zoom, HD video, 3″ LCD screen and a variety of smart shooting modes.

Despite housing a massive 14x optical zoom, the SX210 IS is a very compact camera – and as part of this new generation of ultra-zoom point and shoot cameras, its zoom performance is actually very good.

On the back of the SX210 IS, you’ll find the usual controls – a D-PAD/scroll wheel, play, erase, display and menu buttons and a quick mode selector knob.

On the top is the zoom knob, along with power and shutter control. Next to these buttons on the top is a stereo microphone and a pop-up flash.

On the side is where you’ll find a MiniUSB jack and MiniHDMI. Both these connectors already give the SX210 IS high marks in my books – because too many camera manufacturers are sticking with their own proprietary connectors – something Canon moved away from on most of their products.

The LCD on the rear is large and bright – and works fairly well in direct sunlight – which is just as well, because the camera lacks an optical viewfinder. In fact, you’ll have a hard time finding optical viewfinders on any point and shoot camera

Now on to the actual performance of the camera – start up time is quick – under 2 seconds. One annoying part of the start up is the position of the flash – it pops up on the top left, and even after two weeks, I still find myself holding it there when I turn it on. Not a huge deal, it just means I usually have to manually raise it.

Zoom is quick, but the zoom control is very poorly designed. The small zoom rocker is sharp, and after a lot of zooming, you’ll actually hurt your fingers. It takes a lot of pressure to move the zoom at its fastest.

Thankfully those two minor issues are the only negatives – photo quality is fantastic, and video quality is above average for a point and shoot camera.

To prove my point, check out these two photos showing off the zoom capabilities of the camera – both were taken at the same spot:

Menus on the SX210 IS are very easy to navigate, despite being loaded with a ton of features. The layout is such that I never got lost, so kudos to Canon for their user interface design. The menus can be navigated using the D-pad (button) or scroll wheel for quick navigation.

One menu item I do want to point out is the dedicated section for Eye-Fi memory cards – as a huge fan of Eye-Fi cards, having special camera features for these wireless cards is just plain brilliant. The camera stays powered on during transfers, and you can check the wireless status on the display. In addition to this, you can enable or disable the wireless portion of the card, which is perfect if you want to save some battery life.

The Canon SX210 IS retails for $349.99 – street price seems to average about $30 less. This puts it quite a bit above the price of the recently reviewed Nikon S8000 (with a 10x optical zoom), but the 14x zoom on the Canon does justify its higher price.

All in all I’m loving the SX210 IS – so much in fact, that it is finally a camera I’ve settled on (after purchasing and reviewing a whole bunch of others). So, until the next best camera comes along, I’m going to highly recommend the Canon Powershot SX210IS as the best travel friendly point and shoot camera of the summer season. It will not disappoint.