The Canon PowerShot SX210 IS just arrived and our first impressions are here. There are plenty of reasons to look at the camera closely. A wide-aspect 3.0-inch LCD, manual exposure modes, and a bold 14x wide angle zoom lens are packed into a slim, and (in our case) unabashedly purple camera body. Take a look at some sample images as well as the new features.
We've published our full review of the Canon PowerShot SX210. Check it out for a thorough analysis of the camera's performance and image quality.
The PowerShot SX210 has a 14x optical zoom, slightly ahead of the SX200's 12x zoom. Impressively, it slims down the already-slender form factor of the SX200. While the SX200 had a slightly curved handgrip, the SX210 is straight and narrow. The mode dial has been moved from the top of the camera to the back panel, leaving only the on/off switch, shutter release, and zoom toggle. The 3.0-inch LCD covers most of the camera's back panel. There's no thumbrest, which means you'll be placing your thumb on the mode dial during one-handed shooting.
When the camera is powered on, the flash mechanically rises from the top of the camera body. Turning it off will lower the flash, and you'll be able to push it back down manually at any time. The four-way control on the back panel is round and encircled by a rotating dial. The four direction points offer shortcuts to functions like self-timer and flash, but the control itself isn't marked. Instead, place your thumb on any of the four directions and an icon pops up on-screen with indicators marking each button. The button that you're in contact with is highlighted on-screen.
You'll also be able to assign a custom function to the red movie recording button. If you would rather have easy access to white balance than one-button movie recording, then you're free to re-assign that control.
The 14x zoom lens adds some weight to the SX210. The camera overall feels very solid and durable. It takes a firm grip on the side of the mode dial to turn it to a new position. Other than that, I didn't run into potential usability issues. The user interface is attractive and well-ordered, with Canon's two-layered menu system at work. Shooting in manual mode, shutter speed and aperture are changed easily through the sub-dial, and users can toggle between them with the "up" directional button.
I put the SX210 through a couple of quick different shooting situations for our first look. Outside in daylight, the SX210 produced the strong colors and nice contrast we've come to expect from Canon. There's a little bit of highlight clipping and chromatic aberration in the shots below, but the effects are minimal. Staying in automatic settings for white balance and evaluative metering, the camera handled a transition into a dark interior setting very nicely. Noise isn't too intrusive at ISO 400, though details are noticeably softer.
A painted mural offered a chance to push the camera from wide angle to telephoto to test the distance of a 14x lens. The shots below were taken in ideal conditions, so the telephoto image is crisp and detailed.
Review under construction
On its own, the SX210 looks like a strong contender in the pocket high-zoom category. The SX200 remains in the PowerShot lineup for now, so we'll be putting it through the trials of a full review to see if changes to the camera's exterior and interior add up to a substantial improvement.
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