If you’re looking for a small camera with a big reach, the Canon SX210 IS doesn’t disappoint. Its 14x optical zoom plonks the equivalent of a 28-392mm 35mm camera lens in your pocket, allowing you to zoom right into distant subjects. You know the sort of thing: animals, planes and unsuspecting sunbathers.
The 28mm at the wide end isn’t quite as wide as some rival models, which means this is probably not the best choice if you’re planning on shooting mainly landscape and other traditionally wide-angle snaps. If you want to get close to the action, though, few of the SX210 IS’s peers can match its reach.
To squeeze that 14x optical zoom into such a dinky shell is no mean feat, but don’t write this camera off as a one-trick pony. While the huge zoom may be its headline-grabbing feature, there are the likes of 720p HD video and a resolution-tastic 14.1MP sensor to keep it company. The latter means you can easily make poster-sized prints of your shots and still retain lots of detail.
Bursting with colour
Photo quality is impressive. While the SX210 IS lacks the low light talents of similar models like the Sony HX5V and Fujifilm F80EXR, it serves up shots that burst with colour and, in good lighting conditions, no noise. Greens and reds leap out with incredible vibrancy and, as long as you keep a steady hand, detail is razor sharp.
That said, the feature hungry won’t find too many bells and whistles to get excited about here. There’s no GPS, no ultra high-speed shooting mode and no AF tracking, and the screen isn’t as brilliantly clear as that on, say, the Nikon Coolpix S8000.
No blur-fest at full zoom
Of course, Canon has packed the SX210 IS with a number of essential features. Optical image stabilisation shifts the lens elements about to counter the effects of unsteady hands. That means you can shoot in relatively low light, or when zoomed right in, without shots becoming a blur-fest.
The SX210 IS stores photos on SD/SDHC/SDXC card and can be connected directly to an HD telly via HDMI – but you’ll need an optional mini-HDMI adapter for that.
It’s pretty user-friendly to boot. The top-mounted mode dial lets you switch between priority modes (including full manual), scene-specific modes, automatic and Smart Shutter. The latter lets you trigger the camera via a smile or a wink (but not a nod, sadly).
The 3in LCD screen is bright and easily visible, even in bright sunlight, and offers roughly as much detail as most rivals – although not the insane crispness of the Nikon S8000.
Canon PowerShot SX210 IS
A tiny camera with huge zoom. Not the most exciting compact otherwise, though