Canon PowerShot SX210 review

One of the best compact cameras of the year so far

TODO alt text

Canon powershot sx210

It's deceptively slim, for a start. The SX210 IS might only be 3.2cm deep, but the 14x lens zooms out a long way. In 35mm terms the lens is a stabilised 28-392mm optic. That's more zoom power than any Canon lens, including the lenses available for its SLRs.

The ability to go from wide-angle to long telephoto is a real pleasure from anyone who's ever wished for a bit more length from their compact camera. It makes, for instance, a real difference to wildlife and zoo photography, besides giving you the flexibility to re-compose a shot without having to move around much.

Canon powershot sx210

The TFT, unusually, is a 16:9 LCD with a diagonal of 3in and 230,000 dots. That wide-angle aspect ratio certainly looks striking, and is useful when employing the SX210 IS's 720 HD video, but is a bit of wasted space much of the time.

In normal stills mode, the preview takes up the middle of the screen with a pair of black bars running down either side. In fairness, Canon uses the extra space to display information such as shooting mode and battery life.

Canon powershot sx210

However, the extra screen space does mean there's no iconography on the four-way D-pad on the back. Short of memorising which direction does what (press left to change focus mode, down to set the self-timer and so on), you have to lightly press the D-pad to show an on-screen prompt showing what to do next.

Build quality is excellent. The SX210 IS feels like it should survive the odd tumble, even if it can't match the metallised ruggedness of the PowerShot G11. Its size - and the size of the lens - means it feels well-balanced and comfortable. Just about the only chink in the armour is the flash.

Canon powershot sx210

This pops up when you turn the SX210 IS on whether you're going to need it or not, potentially making it a bit of a hazard if the SX210 IS turns on in your pocket, or you stuff the camera into a bag without turning it off first.