X
CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Canon IXUS 210 IS review: Canon IXUS 210 IS

The IXUS 210 is a decent touchscreen compact camera, but without any whiz-bang factor it may just pass you by.

Lexy Savvides Principal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
Expertise Wearables | Smartwatches | Mobile phones | Photography | Health tech | Assistive robotics Credentials
  • Webby Award honoree, 2x Gold Telly Award winner
Lexy Savvides
5 min read

Canon's second foray into touchscreen cameras is a lot more proficient than its first, last year's IXUS 200 IS. For a photographer who can do without most physical buttons and wants a mammoth screen, this is one of the biggest you can get.

7.9

Canon IXUS 210 IS

The Good

Large 3.5-inch touchscreen. Nicely designed interface. Lots of playback options.

The Bad

Performance can be a little slow. Blows out highlights.

The Bottom Line

The IXUS 210 is a decent touchscreen compact camera, but without any whiz-bang factor it may just pass you by.

Design

The star of the show is undoubtedly the 3.5-inch touchscreen at the back. Unlike last year's model, the 210 IS has gotten rid of the physical buttons at the side and dedicated itself fully to the screen, which takes up pretty much all of the available real estate. At 461,000 dots it's a reasonable resolution, but not as high as other touchscreen cameras like Samsung's ST550.

On the side, HDMI out and AV/digital out sit under two dedicated flaps, with the wrist strap attachment in the centre. Underneath, alongside the Lithium-ion battery, is the card slot, which can take SDXC cards (plus the more common SD/SDHC cards).

Up top sits the shutter button, flanked by the zoom rocker. To the side, the power and playback buttons accompany the mode switch that can be flicked between Auto, Program and Movie modes. The rest of the external accoutrements are pretty nondescript; the small sliver of a flash and the AF detect light are the only other points of note on the front fascia, which is coated in a brushed metallic finish, different to the dark brown plastic that clads the rear and sides.

Canon IXUS 210 IS

The back of the IXUS 210 IS shows off the huge 3.5-inch screen. (Credit: Canon)

Features

Main specifications haven't changed dramatically from last year's model, though resolution has been given a bump to 14.1 megapixels. The lens stays the same at 5x optical zoom and is a generous 24mm at the wide end (in other words, very wide for a compact camera).

All the standard features you would expect on an IXUS are here; image stabilisation and intelligent auto, with an overhauled automatic that has dedicated face, scene and motion detection modes. The interface, down to colours and navigation, is almost identical to the 200 IS. Plus, to make the most of the screen's available real estate, you may want to shoot in the special widescreen (16:9) format which produces a shot at 4320x2432 pixels. The camera has five other shooting configurations, large (full resolution), M1 (9-megapixel), M2 (5-megapixel), M3 (2-megapixel) and small (0.3 megapixel, VGA resolution).

As is relatively common amongst touchscreen cameras, tapping or touching the screen on a desired focus point sets the focus accordingly. Even nicer is the way it tracks the subject you've selected, following it around the screen a bit like a lost puppy dog. The screen can also be calibrated to your touch.

Canon IXUS 210 IS tracking

Tap to focus on the toy, and when you move the camera around the subject, the square will follow the focus point. (Credit: Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia)

The touchscreen really comes into its own in playback mode, as finger swipes seem to be the most intuitive way to navigate through images. Unlike a device such as the iPhone, pinching or pulling to zoom in and out isn't a part of the package. Multi-touch detection is also not an option here; the camera will just get confused if you try and use more than one finger at a time.

Canon's i-Contrast mode aims to boost detail in shadow areas, and can be switched on and off within Program mode, or applied to images in playback mode. There are also a myriad of options available in playback mode, including slideshow effects, display by shooting date, and category playback to name just a few.

Canon IXUS 210 IS image sample

A comparison between i-Contrast turned off (top) and set to auto (bottom). (Credit: Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia)

HD video is a part of the package, as is becoming standard on the IXUS range, at 720p, 30fps. Canon states the maximum recording time for HD video is 21 minutes 23 seconds.

Canon IXUS 210 IS i-Contrast screen

In the settings screen, you have the option to turn i-Contrast off, or leave it on auto. (Credit: Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia)

Performance

While the IXUS 210 starts up and takes its first shot in 1.75 seconds, it doesn't follow suit in the rest of the performance stakes. Shutter lag in adequate lighting sits between 0.5 and 0.6 second, and in dim lighting this increases to around one second. While not unacceptable for a compact of this class, you will want to take note that it's not the best camera to be using for fast-moving or action-critical shots.

The interface is responsive but in some situations it does lag — for example, changing shooting modes results in a descriptive screen that tells you exactly what options like "Night Snapshot" actually does, before it switches into the mode for use.

Image quality

In ample light, the IXUS 210 is capable of delivering some excellent images. The bump in resolution, to 14 megapixels from the IXUS 200's 12, has only really served to accentuate the slightly digital, over-processed feel from images at full magnification. For small prints and web use though, the 210 will be more than adequate for your needs.

Canon IXUS 210 IS image sample

A 100 per cent crop (top right) of the image shows the slightly digital, processed feel of the image. (Credit: Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia)

Colour and saturation of images was very pleasing, with a nice, natural feel. Blown-out highlights were common, though that is not a surprise from a camera of this class. The camera also chose to use slower shutter speeds than was necessary in indoor situations, even when the flash could have fired, resulting in slightly blurry photos. Due to the design of the camera it was possible to accidentally cover both the flash and the microphone when shooting.

Given the wide-angle lens, there was noticeable barrel distortion at this extreme. However, it's not detrimental to image quality. Sharpness and clarity was the best at the centre of the frame — there was some particular smudginess on either side, particularly towards the corners (again, not uncommon for a compact of this class). Chromatic aberration was also an issue in situations where there was a lot of light reflecting off objects, though not too prominent in controlled situations.

Video quality was acceptable for a camera of this class, though we're still perturbed by Canon disabling optical zoom while filming video.

Conclusion

The IXUS 210 is a perfectly good compact camera, with the added bonus of having a touchscreen. But, it doesn't do anything new or exciting that we haven't seen before.