Customer Review

226 of 226 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My thoughts on SX210 + update, July 31, 2010
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This review is from: Canon PowerShot SX210IS 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 14x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD - Black (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Camera)
First off - background on me and what I was looking for: I would classify myself as an intermediate photographer. I own a Nikon DSLR which I use primarily for low light situations having learned the hardway at my son's 18th birthday that my old point-and-shoot did a lousy job of photos in low light situations. I am planning a trip to Europe in the fall and simply did not want to lug my Nikon camera around with me along with all the other stuff - like map, dictionary, travel guide - that I would have to take with me as I wandered around whatever town I was in. So I started my search for a really good PNS camera. What was I looking for in the PNS ? My goal in picture taking is to have a terrific photo of what I actually saw. So when I got home and looked at the photo, I would say: Yes, that's exactly what it looked like when I was there. So onto my criteria: First size. I wanted it to be small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket. Second, confidence that it would take good to great photos under normal (not low-light) conditions. Third, I liked the idea of HD videos of my trip, so I wanted that capability. Fourth and finally, at least decent performance in low light conditions as I expected to frequently want to take photos inside a museum or art gallery.

The search turned out to be much more difficult than I had expected. Frustratingly difficult I will add. No one camera is loved by all reviewers. So those of you reading this review, who are still searching, I feel your pain. I came to the conclusion that currently there is no perfect PNS that does it all. I would do hours of research on the web and then go to the local camera store to actually play with the PNS cameras that had caught my interest. In the end I concluded that there are 3 or 4 reasonably good PNS cameras out there, but all of them required me to compromise on something I wanted. So figure out what your must-haves are and sort through the available cameras accordingly.

Obviously I chose the Canon SX210. I have had it about 3 weeks now and have taken about 200 photos and about 6 HD movies. My comments in no particular order:

1. the Canon does a good but not outstanding job of taking photos under normal daylight conditions. I did play with several photos on my computer and kept zooming in on a particular point to see when the picture would deteriorate. Of course it did eventually, but again, since 8.5 x 11 is the max size I expect for any enlargement, I do not see any problem with the picture quality.
2. the HD video capability is more fun than I had expected. Again as already noted, the mic's are located on the top of the camera. Great for recording my commentary, but not so good for recording sounds coming from whatever you are videoing. One other point: the Canon allows you to zoom in while taking an HD video. That's great, but with 14X optical zoom, the more you zoom, the more susceptible the camera and the video you are taking is to shaking. If you zoom all the way to 14X, I found it impossible to avoid shaking when holding the camera in my hand. At no zoom, there is no problem with shake when taking a video. Bottom line: limit your zooming in when taking a video.
3. I agree with everyone else that placement of the pop-up flash and the telephoto zoom in-and-out mechanism is NUTS. What were the Canon engineers thinking ? However both are annoyances rather than deal-breakers.
4. the battery life is reasonable but not outstanding. I never ran out of battery life during a day of shooting photos and the battery re-charges in about 2-3 hours. Not bad.
5. Speed - I bought 2 Sandisk Extreme III 4 GB Class 6 SD disks. I agree with the suggestions that you have to step up to a Class 6 disk to avoid serious delays when writing the photo to the disk. I also decided against one 8GB disk since I did not want all my pics on one disk. Back to speed - I also turned off the automatic review after each photo taken, and found that improved the speed of the picture taking noticeably. You can also turn on continuous picture taking and take a "burst" of photos if so desired. Bottom Line: speed is fast enough for my needs.
6. Definitely buy a plastic shield (or cover?) to protect the 3" LCD screen on the back. The Apple Store has them if you can't find them cheaper any place else.
7. The camera feels surprisingly heavy to me. But solid. I guess 14X optical zoom does create some weight.
8. I set the camera on 9MP pictures since 14MP is overkill for me. I would never enlarge a photo to more than 8.5 x 11 anyway. I left the movie on HD settings however. Dumming down the photos to 9MP also improves the write-to-disk speed BTW.
9. Expect a serious learning curve with this camera. I printed out the manual from the PDF file and it is 180 pages. Not all was relevant to me and my interests, but still I have spent several hours reading and re-reading sections of the manual. Since I will not take the manual with me on my upcoming trip, I have to know how to manipulate this camera.
10. The 14X optical zoom is really impressive. While that was not a top consideration for me, having that capability is very cool. You can easily zoom in to an amazing degree on something from a considerable distance away.
11. Low-light - I am still working on this one and how to manipulate the camera to get the best LL photos. In dim lighting it does OK - by upping the ISO, so you pay a price in the quality of the photo. In the black of night - it does OK if the subject of the photo is not more than 6-8 ft away from you. But I tried a photo at night of the moon shining off the Pacific ocean from my balcony and that did not work. Not a real surprise, but like I said, I need to experiment more in this area.

In summary - I would describe this camera as being a really solid good versatile PNS. You can put it on full Auto and snap away happily, or switch to one of several pre-defined settings (landscape, portrait etc), or if you are really into it, go all the way to completely manual and set everything yourself. That's not for me - but you do have that capability. The HD Videos are great, but even a short one takes up about 80-90MB of disk space. And as noted, you are unlikely to pick up the sounds from whatever it is you are videoing. PS: I have never encountered the much discussed problem with lens shadow.

All-in-all a solid performer in an amazingly small form factor that will do what I am looking for and more on my upcoming trip to Europe.

10/10/2010 update: Just returned from my 3 week trip to Europe and wanted to update my review. Took about 1,500 photos and about 30 movies. And right now I am in the midst of reviewing them on my home computer. So how did the Canon perform ? It was terrific. First off - I really appreciated the small form factor on the trip. It easily fit into a slot in my messenger bag that I used on the trip or into a front pants pocket. I was able to quickly retrieve it and snap photos very rapidly. Never missed a shot I wanted to take. Second - the zoom feature turned out to be very useful when I wanted to take a photo of something in a museum or art gallery along with 1,000 other tourists. I would stand as tall as I could and zoom in over the heads of the crowd and 90% of the time could snap a great photo. Third - I took a lot of photos inside churches and art museums where flash was not permitted. Especially stained glass windows in several cathedrals. When I took the photo I could tell from the sound of the shutter, that the camera was using a very slow shutter speed. Most times I was taking the photo with only my hands to hold the camera - and always hoping that the image stabilization software would do a good job. Now that I am home I can tell you that the IS software did a remarkable job. I have had to delete about 5-10 photos at most. It truly is impressive. Fourth - the movie feature turned out to be very worthwhile. As I look at the movies now, I am impressed with how faithfully the camera captured what I was viewing at the time. Fifth - battery life was terrific. Never had any problem during the day when I would be taking the photos. However I did recharge the battery most every night. Overall - for me and what I am looking for in a point and shoot camera with a compact form factor - the Canon SX210 turned out to be a perfect choice. Highly recommended.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 19, 2010 4:24:57 PM PDT
n8rwatcher says:
What is a "PNS" camera?????

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2010 8:48:43 AM PDT
PNS = Point and shoot.

Posted on Jan 29, 2011 2:10:05 PM PST
Tomfrom66 says:
The pop-up flash problem can be solved by holding down the flash before you switch on.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2011 2:17:47 PM PST
Thanks. I discovered that also after a little experimenting, but always was concerned that doing that might injure the mechanism that raises the flash in some way. So I just decided that for me, I preferred to always place my finger off to the side.

Posted on May 25, 2011 1:35:29 PM PDT
Me says:
Canon PowerShot SX210IS 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 14x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Gold)
I found your review and update very interesting. Do you think this camera would be good for online auction photos? I need to take low light indoor macro close-ups of items, and indoor mid-range photos (like 5 - 8 ' away). thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2011 8:45:06 PM PDT
Good question. So I just shot 4 photos of 2 different statues I have in my house. Photos taken at 8:30pm CA time - which is after sundown but there is still some outside twilight coming in through the windows. However that was the only light available. I did not turn on any lights in the room. I took one photo on straight Auto and one on "Indoor". Flash was on auto and of course, the camera triggered the flash. The statues are each about 6" tall and I took the photos from about 1.5-2ft away. Hand held with no bracing or tripod used. All photos came out just fine. So it would seem that the SX210is would do what you need. Best wishes.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2011 11:07:07 AM PDT
Me says:
THANKS! You can't post the photos into this forum? I appreciate your help

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2011 9:19:04 PM PDT
If there is a way to post a photo, I don't see it - as I am making this post. I tried to paste it in to this post, but the paste command was not available. If you know a way to post a photo - let me know and I will post it.

Posted on Jun 19, 2011 3:06:52 PM PDT
Traci B. says:
I can't tell you how much I appreciate your review. I too have spent many frustratingly difficult HOURS researching a compact point & shoot camera. Reading your review after purchase - and after your trip was tremendously helpful. Practicing prior to use helps, but reading how the camera performed in real time is reassuring. The examples about low light/indoor shots and relying on the IS when taking a picture from a distance or in a crowd are good to read. (I take a lot of both) Also - experience with the battery is appreciated. Losing a shot to a dead battery is no fun.

Your review is almost like a Q & A session - Thank you!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 20, 2011 10:03:01 AM PDT
Thank you for the kind compliments and taking the time to write. I am happy that my review was helpful to you. I can also add that as of today I have not experienced anything with the Canon that would cause me to change what I wrote in the review. It is still - a solid performer with more capabilities than I need. And I really appreciate the form factor. It easily fits in any pocket or slot in the messenger bag that I bought for the Europe trip (and still use for week long trips that I have been taking this year). That sure beats lugging around a Nikon SLR ! Only caveat I would add is that when I bought the Canon I stopped all that frustrating camera research. So if a new absolutely fantastic PNS camera has come on the market in the intervening time, I am blissfully unaware of it.

Best wishes in your camera search.
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