Canon PowerShot: Image and Video Quality

by Allison Johnson Reads (1,230)
Editor's Rating
7.50

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 7.50
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Image Quality
Images are vibrant and pleasantly sharp. In good outdoor lighting, the SX210 won’t let the casual snapshooter down. Saturation is boosted at default settings, making reds in particular pop.

Canon SX210 Test Image

Sharpness and color are a little more subdued moving indoors or under cloudy, grey lighting as ISO is increased and noise suppression kicks in. For those looking for more natural color reproduction, the SX210 offers a “Neutral” setting under the “My Colors” menu.

Metering at the default evaluative setting was generally accurate. I saw a tendency to overexpose and burn out highlights, a not uncommon problem in this camera class. Tinkering with the metering setting helped under some circumstances.

White balance at the auto setting was reliable. It was accurate in most cases and was my go-to setting under any condition. It did shoot a warm image under our studio incandescent lights, and shots indoors were similarly warmed up.

Canon SX210 Test Image
Auto White Balance, 3200k incandescent light

Images I captured in the field showed evidence of sometimes aggressive noise-reduction after ISO 400. This proved true in studio tests as well. ISO 80 and 100 are pretty clean in both the thumbnail and crop. By ISO 200, the edges of the playing card show a little bit of “fraying.”

Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 80
Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 80, 100% crop
Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 100
Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 200
Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 400
Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 800
Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 1600
Canon SX210 Test Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop

From ISO 400 and up, the 100% magnification images are quite smoothed over. I wouldn’t hesitate to use anything at ISO 400 or 800 for posting online at a reduced size. By ISO 1600, even the downsized image is looking flat and smoothed over. This setting should be reserved as a last resort.

Video Quality
Video quality is good. My sample video, shot under grey skies in an open courtyard, looks fluid and the sound is fine. Highlights are blown out, but the overall scene looks good. It won’t put your HD camcorder out of work, but it will record nice clips with the touch of a dedicated record button.

Additionally, the SX210 has a significant advantage over the SX200 – it allows you to zoom during video capture. To some, that may be worth the extra $20 in sticker price alone. Zoom is only available at the slowest speed possible, probably to keep the noise of the lens extending and retracting to a minimum in the audio track.

Without much background noise, the sound of the zoom will be pretty obvious in your videos. Image stabilization really shines in video mode. Leaving it off and zooming out to full telephoto creates (predictably) a nausea-inducing shaky effect, while turning IS on cuts down on shake tremendously. The camera live focuses as focal length changes in video recording.

Video resolution tops out at 1280x720p at 30 fps, with 640×480 at 30 fps and 320×240 at 30 fps settings also available. Aside from standard mode, the SX210 will record videos in “Color Accent” mode (the user selects a color to keep in a scene and everything is will be black and white) or “Color Swap” mode. They’re both fun to play with about once. Overall, the SX210’s video capabilities are very strong.

Additional Sample Images

Canon SX210 Test Image Canon SX210 Test Image
Canon SX210 Test Image Canon SX210 Test Image
Canon SX210 Test Image Canon SX210 Test Image
Canon SX210 Test Image Canon SX210 Test Image


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