Canon Powershot SX210 IS
The Canon IXUS range of luxury compact cameras has always been distinguished from the PowerShot range but the lines have been blurring recently thanks to lower cost IXUS models like the 105 and 130.
The Canon Powershot SX210 IS offers a step up from the standard compact, providing a 14x optical zoom and some great features.
Look and feel
The camera weighs about 215 grams, heavier than a standard compact, but understandable considering the length of the lens. It’s also quite slim for what it offers.
Design-wise, it looks pretty good. The front and back of the camera are either black, beige or purple, depending on the model you buy, and the edges are curved, slightly concaved and silver.
Its 3-inch widescreen looks well and is large enough to show the quality of the image. It has the fairly standard Canon camera layout. At the top, there’s the on button, the zoom and the shutter release button.
At the back, there’s a dial for switching to different modes, a record button to film straight to video, the playback button and the menu and display buttons. The navigation function works as both a scrolling wheel and traditional buttons, providing choice for whichever is your preference.
While the design works well overall, there were two issues I had with it. First, the flash is placed on the top left-hand corner and pops up when you turn it on. However, I naturally place my finger on this corner, which prevented it from popping up at times when I turned it on, which got annoying.
The other issue was the zoom function which, as opposed to a circular wheel, is a smaller toggle from left to right to zoom in and out. It didn’t seem intuitive and felt a bit small and awkward to use.
The 14x optical zoom is pretty impressive, though somewhat soft when zooming right in. The image quality is extremely high – though at 14 megapixels, I was expecting it to be. Small details within each shot look quite crisp and clear.
The colours of the photos are quite accurate, if just a little bit saturated, but there are several different colour modes to toggle through. Its wide-angle lens works great for landscape shots, capturing a lot of detail.
Canon’s Image Stabilisation technology is effective. It reduces blur incredibly well, even when I deliberately shook my hands while taking the image.
There are also several modes on the camera, too, suiting different circumstances and the type of camera owner. Manual mode offers a huge amount of settings to adjust for experienced camera users. On the other end of the spectrum, easy mode eliminates complexity for new users.
Other settings include portrait, landscape, kids and pets and indoor shooting. There’s a mode that prioritises the shutter speed and a mode that focuses on the aperture. All are very useful, but one of the most interesting features is the Smart Shutter mode, which detects when you smile and takes the picture automatically.
It’s highly responsive, taking the shot when smiling slightly or broadly. It may not be for everyone, but it’s a lot of fun to show off.
This camera offer 720p HD video with stereo sound. It looks quite good onscreen – the wide display works especially well for this mode.
The quality of the video is superb – bright and sharp, making it a great camera for filming special events. The Image Stabilisation also prevents blurred video while moving it around.
However, many of the effects from the photo mode can’t be used here, which is a pity, though there are different colour modes to flick through, too.
The Canon Powershot SX210 IS is a great device for those who want to go beyond compact cameras without approaching the more professional DSLR territory. Its settings are varied enough to appeal to those who are a dab hand at photography and its easy and auto modes work well for beginners to break themselves in and wish to learn more about cameras.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7
Though it’s small enough to slip into a pocket, the Panasonic Lumix DMC- ZS7 has a 12.1-megapxiel sensor and a Leica-branded 12x optical zoom lens, including a very wide-angle setting equivalent to a 25mm lens. There’s sadly no optical viewfinder, but this is understandable given the strength of the zoom. The Panasonic ZS7 opts instead for a roomy 3.0-inch LCD display with excellent 460,000 dot resolution on which images and videos are both framed and reviewed. The Panasonic ZS7′s lens has a maximum aperture that varies from f/3.3 to f/4.9 across the zoom range. The minimum focusing distance for the Panasonic DMC-ZS7 is ordinarily 50 centimeters, but drops to just three centimeters when switched to Macro mode.
The Panasonic ZS7 is the company’s first camera to include a built-in GPS receiver, allowing automatic geotagging of images with the location at which they were shot. The Panasonic ZS7 has an 11-point multi-area autofocus system which also includes a single-point “high speed” focusing mode. As with many digital cameras these days, there’s also a face detection function, with Panasonic’s implementation using the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects’ faces. The Lumix DMC-ZS7 can also be programmed to recognize specific individuals’ faces, and prioritize these over other detected photos when capturing photos, or search for photos containing a specific face in playback mode. The Panasonic Lumix ZS7 also has an implementation of autofocus tracking, which can monitor a subject as it moves around the frame, continuing to update autofocus as required.
ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 80 to 1,600 equivalents, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6,400 equivalent in High Sensitivity Auto mode. Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to 60 seconds are possible. The Panasonic ZS7 uses Intelligent Multiple metering, with Center Weighted and Spot metering options available. The Panasonic ZS7 offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A whopping selection of twenty nine scene modes let users tailor the look of their images with a minimum of effort, and the Panasonic ZS7 also offers aperture-, shutter-priority, or fully manual modes when more control is desired. There’s also an Intelligent Scene Selection function, which can automatically select from a subset of the available scene modes. A five mode flash strobe includes red-eye reduction capability, and has a rated range of up to 5.3 meters at wide-angle, or 3.6 meters at telephoto. There’s also digital red-eye correction, and Panasonic’s Intelligent Exposure, Intelligent ISO, Intelligent Auto functions as seen on past models.
As well as JPEG still images, the Panasonic ZS7 can capture movies with stereo sound at up to 1280 x 720 pixel resolution or below, with a choice of AVCHD Lite or QuickTime Motion JPEG compression. A new Video Divide function allows in-camera movie splitting, letting users trim away the unwanted portions to keep just the parts of movies that they desire.
The Panasonic ZS7 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. There’s also 15MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC / PAL video output. The Panasonic ZS7 can also output high-definition video via an optional HDMI cable, and is compatible with Panasonic’s proprietary “VIERA Link” system that allows the connected TV’s remote control to be used to navigate the camera’s slideshows.
Power comes from a proprietary lithium-ion battery with ID-Security feature that prevents use of counterfeit or third-party batteries, and is rated as good for 300 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO 5.1 HD Edition.