Canon Ixus 210 IS Touch

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

      A high-resolution point-and-shoot camera with a 3.5-inch, high-resolution touch screen and 720p HD video capabilities.Hard on the heels of the Ixus 200 IS Touch (which we didn’t review) comes Canon’s Ixus 210 IS Touch, which shares many features with its predecessor but is $100 cheaper. The sensor size remains the same as its predecessor but resolution is increased from 12.1 to 14.1 megapixels. The LCD touch screen is also larger; with a 3.5-inch diagonal instead of 3-inch and its resolution is 461,000 dots, up from 230,000 dots. . . [more]

      Full review


      Hard on the heels of the Ixus 200 IS Touch (which we didn’t review) comes Canon’s Ixus 210 IS Touch, which shares many features with its predecessor but is $100 cheaper. The sensor size remains the same as its predecessor but resolution is increased from 12.1 to 14.1 megapixels. The LCD touch screen is also larger; with a 3.5-inch diagonal instead of 3-inch and its resolution is 461,000 dots, up from 230,000 dots.

      Unlike previous models, the 210 IS Touch is one of the first Canon digicams to support the new Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) card format, which was unveiled roughly a year ago. These new cards offer faster data transfer speeds and higher capacities (up to 2TB promised), making them ideal for video recordings.

      The touch screen has required some camera settings to be changed, but the new model retains the small size and light weight of its predecessor. The front panel has the standard Ixus styling, with a brushed metal face plate and shiny stainless steel ring surrounding the lens. A small LED AF-Assist lamp is recessed into the upper right edge of this ring. Above it is a slim built-in flash.


      Front view of the Ixus 210 IS Touch. (Source: Canon.)


      Colour options for the Ixus 210 IS Touch. (Source: Canon.)

      The Ixus 210 IS Touch will be offered in three colours: black, pink and silver. However, only the face plates are coloured; the rest of the camera is made from black, high-density plastic. Build quality is up to the Ixus standard – and, like other Ixus models, it’s built for users with small hands and good manual dexterity. No thumb rest is provided.


      Rear view of the Ixus 210 IS Touch. (Source: Canon.)

      The monitor covers the entire rear panel of the new camera, leaving no space for any button controls. Those that remain are now located on the narrow top panel. Almost all of them have been recessed into the camera body and they’re so tiny they have to be operated with the tip of a fingernail.

      Here you’ll find a reasonably large shutter button with surrounding zoom lever, a tiny on/off button, a playback button and a slightly raised mode switch slider that lets you select between the movie, camera manual (which lets you select camera settings) and auto shooting modes. Two microphone holes are also located on the top panel.

      The 5x optical zoom lens retracts into the camera body behind a split-flap shield. It’s the same lens as in the Ixus 200 IS, with a maximum aperture range of /2.8 to f/5.9 and minimum aperture of f/8 and covers angles of view equivalent to 24-120 mm in 35mm format. Recessed covers protecting HDMI and USB sockets are located on either side of the tether point for the wrist strap. A fingernail is required to lift them but the tethers appear to be reasonably strong. The camera comes with a USB cable but if you wish to play images and video clips on an HD TV set, factor in an additional $50 or so for the required HDMI cable.

      Touch Controls
      Touch screen operations have been expanded from the previous model to make up for the dearth of button controls. Just about everything is controlled through the touch panel via three operations: touch, double-tap and drag. Touching the panel briefly lets you choose control icons or magnify displayed shots. Some examples of the touch screen menu are shown below.


      Selecting image size via the Function menu.


      Setting the AF frame via the main menu.


      Adjusting review settings via the main menu.

      A single tap also selects the AF point and the camera will hold focus on the subject even if it moves. Half-pressing the shutter button lock focus and exposure. Tapping the screen twice in quick succession (double-tap) switches between single and index display in playback mode.


      Single image display in playback mode.


      Index display in playback mode.


      Scrolling through images in playback mode.
      Touching the screen and dragging your fingertip across it switches between one shot and the next in playback mode. It is also used to move the magnified section of the image for focus checking.


      Tapping the screen magnifies the image for focus checking.

      You can also ‘register’ certain right-angled dragging patterns on the screen as Touch Actions to call up particular functions in playback mode. Options include tagging/untagging images as favourites; erasing, protecting and rotating images, slideshow viewing and starting smart shuffle playback. Most touch functions also work when the camera is connected to a TV set.

      Owners of iPhones will find using the touch screen very intuitive – although the screen doesn’t support pinch-in/pinch-out zooming. For everyone else, it takes a while to get used to changing settings in this way but, since there aren’t many settings to adjust, it’s reasonably straightforward.

      Sometimes you have to scroll through a couple of screens to locate the setting you wish to change. And, if you want to access the menu, you may need to touch the Func. button to force the Menu icon to appear.


      White balance adjustments via the Function menu. Note the Menu icon in the lower right corner.

      Aside from the touch panel interface, the control suite in the Ixus 210 IS Touch is pretty basic. Only three shooting modes are provided: auto and camera manual (Program AE) for stills, plus movie. In the auto mode, the camera will automatically select the appropriate settings for the type of scene detected from a database of 22 pre-sets. An icon for the selected scene type is displayed on the touch screen. In the camera manual mode, you can choose the scene pre-sets.

      For shots containing people, a white frame appears around the main subject and grey frames around other detected faces. A warning icon is displayed when shutter speeds are too slow for hand-holding the camera and the camera will beep if it can’t focus on close subjects. The Long Shutter scene mode is the only way to set shutter speeds slower than one second.

      Sixteen pre-sets are provided in the on-board memory, along with the P mode setting. Among the scene pre-sets is a Smart Shutter mode that includes smile recognition and blink detection, both of which activate the shutter when a smile or wink is detected. Face self-timer is also included. It detects when the photographer has entered the frame and fires the shutter two seconds later.

      A new feature is Intelligent Flash Exposure, which automatically detects whether flash is required and adjusts the flash output, shutter speed, aperture and ISO speed accordingly. There’s also a Low Light scene mode, which automatically sets the sensitivity above ISO 400, depending on ambient lighting. Image size is fixed at 2144 x 1608 pixels.
      Other new scene pre-sets are Miniature Effect and Fish-eye Effect. The former blurs the top and bottom of the image to replicate the effect of a scale mode. The latter applies fish-eye distortion to the shot. The Creative Light Effect setting lets you apply one of six shapes to points of light in night shots taken with flash – and you can adjust the size of the shapes via the touch screen.

      Users can also apply any of the 11 My Colours tonal changes or adjust contrast, sharpness, saturation and colours via the Custom Colour sub-menu. Three digital zoom options are provided. The Standard setting is a cropping zoom that magnifies up to 4x. The two ‘digital tele-converter’ settings provide 1.7x and 2.1x magnification with better picture quality.

      Auto image rotation is supported and the camera will re-orientate shots so they display right way up if you turn the screen through 90 degrees. It takes a second or so to sort out which way to rotate shots but the end result can be excellent, particularly when vertical shots are displayed at full screen size.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      The 1/2.3-inch type CCD appears to be the same sensor as used in the Ixus 130 IS and PowerShot SX210 IS, which were announced concurrently with the review camera. Measuring 6.16 x 4.62 mm, it means each photosite is around 1.4 microns square, which is very tiny. Unlike other Ixus models, the top ISO setting is 1600 to minimise the influence of high-sensitivity noise.

      The Ixus 210 IS Touch only records still images as JPEGs, offering six image size settings (including one 16:9 ‘widescreen’ option), each at Fine or Normal compression. Image size and compression are adjustable via the Function/Set menu. Compression levels are standard across the Ixus range, yielding the image sizes shown in the table below.

      Camera setting






      4320 x 3240




      3456 x 2592




      2592 x 1944




      1600 x 1200




      640 x 480




      4320 x 2432



      Users can choose between three movie modes: standard, Colour Accent and Colour Swap. The latter modes let you select a particular hue and change all other colours to black and white or swap the chosen colour for a different hue. Processing takes a little longer in these modes and movie clips may be jerky.


      Setting video quality.

      Video clips can be recorded in 720p quality (not Full High Definition but, at 1280×720 pixels, good enough to display on a widescreen HD TV set). A frame rate of 30 frames/second ensures smooth capture of moving subjects and use of the H.264 video compression standard provides greater recording times for memory capacities. Audio tracks are monaural. Typical recording capacities are shown in the table below.


      Frame rate

      Capacity with 4GB card

      Maximum clip length

      1280 x 720

      30 fps

      21 minutes 23 seconds

      10 minutes

      640 x 480

      30 fps

      46 minutes 46 seconds

      1 hour

      320 x 240

      30 fps

      2 hours, 23 min. 41 sec.

      1 hour

      Recording stops automatically when the clips file is 4GB in size or when the recording time reaches 10 minutes in HD mode or one hour with VGA or QVGA resolution. Class 4 or faster SD or SDHC cards are recommended for video recording. The camera also supports the new SDXC cards.

      Although you can use the optical zoom while shooting video clips, the sound of the zoom motor may be recorded so the user manual recommends using the digital zoom instead. The touch screen doesn’t work for focusing in movie mode but exposure levels can be adjusted via a bar on the screen.

      Playback and Software
      Aside from using the touch screen, playback options are essentially unchanged from previous Ixus cameras and include single and index displays, searching by scrolling, up to 10x playback zoom and advancing and reversing through magnified images. Most touch screen operations have been described above.
      New additions in this camera include image advance with tilt of camera (which works a little sporadically), filtered playback and Smart Shuffle playback. Filtered playback is handy when you have lots of image files on a memory card and need to locate one quickly. You can filter by date, category, file type) still or movie) or favourites tag.

      Smart Shuffle playback displays four images similar to the one displayed on the monitor. If you select one of those images, the camera will choose four more. This function only works for still image playback and requires at least 50 images on the memory card.

      The software disk contains the standard Canon Digital Camera Solution Disk, which includes an electronic version of the full user manual in PDF format plus the latest versions of ZoomBrowser EX (Windows) and ImageBrowser (Macintosh) for organising and editing images, movies and slideshows, or creating and printing digital photo albums. A Personal Printing Guide is also provided, along with a software guide plus the PhotoStitch panorama stitching application.

      Pictures straight out of the review camera were a little soft but colourful to the point of being slightly over-saturated. This was confirmed by our Imatest testing, which showed most hues to have elevated saturation. Yellow and cyan were the least affected, while reds and purplish blues showed the most over-saturation. Skin hues were slightly off the mark.

      Close-up performance was adequate and digital zoom shots were relatively artefact-free. Although backlighting was generally well handled, highlight details were frequently lost in bright outdoor scenes, even when the iContrast function has been engaged.

      Imatest showed resolution to be slightly below expectations for a 14-megapixel camera and revealed considerable edge softening across all focal lengths. Best overall performance was obtained at mid-range focal length settings. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.


      Low light performance was above average, particularly between ISO 80 and ISO 200. Resolution began to decline at ISO 400 and fell sharply thereafter, although noise wasn’t particularly visible until the highest ISO setting. The graph below shows the results of our tests.


      Noise-reduction processing – using dark-frame subtraction – kicks in at the lowest sensitivity settings for all shots taken with the Long Shutter mode. While it reduced apparent image noise in long exposures images were visibly softened.

      Lateral chromatic aberration was mostly in the ‘low’ band but we detected noticeable cyan fringing when test shots were enlarged to 100%. An example is shown in the Sample Images section below.

      The built-in flash had difficulty providing enough light for our test shots at ISO 80, 100 and 200 but thereafter delivered well-balanced exposures. Flash shots taken with the highest ISO settings fared slightly better than long exposures but were still a little soft.

      The review camera’s auto white balance was unable to correct the orange cast of incandescent lighting but produced close-to-natural colours under fluorescent lights. Corrections provided by the pre-sets and Custom measurement produced neutral colours with both lighting types.

      Video quality was generally good, despite the camera’s limitations, particularly with the HD 720p setting. It was less impressive with the Colour Accent and Colour swap modes. Unfortunately, the camera’s microphone often picked up more ambient noise than we’d like, affecting the overall impression of the video clips. (This defect could be overcome by dubbing in a soundtrack later.)

      Overall response times were about average for Ixus models. The test camera powered up ready for shooting in approximately 0.9 seconds and we measured an average capture lag of 0.4 seconds, which was reduced to a consistent 0.1 second lag when shots were pre-focused. Shot-to-shot times averaged two seconds. High-resolution images took an average of 3.3 seconds to process.

      The continuous shooting mode recorded 10 shots in 10.2 seconds, which is close to one frame/second. Image processing appeared to be on-the-fly as it took 3.9 seconds to process this burst.

      Buy this camera if:
      – You’re looking for a slim, pocketable digicam with a large monitor screen and touchscreen controls.
      – You’d like a digicam that can record widescreen high-definition video clips.
      – You want effective image stabilisation.
      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You want the ability to capture raw files.
      – You want plenty of adjustable controls.
      – You require an optical viewfinder.
      – You need a camera that can record a wide dynamic range in outdoor shots.
      – You require high performance levels in dim lighting.





      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      Close-up; 4.3mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/50 second at f/2.8.


      Close-focusing limit; 4.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/403 second at f/4.


      4.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/318 second at f/4.


      21.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/101 second at f/5.9.


      2.1x telephoto zoom; 21.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/5.9.


      4.3mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/636 second at f/5.


      100% crop from the above image showing coloured fringing and edge softening.


      ISO 100, 15 second exposure at f/3.2; 9.8mm focal length.


      ISO 800, 8 second exposure at f/3.2; 9.8mm focal length.


      ISO 1600, 4 second exposure at f/3.2; 9.8mm focal length.


      Flash exposure; ISO 100, 1/60 second at f/4.8; 21.5mm focal length. (Note slight under-exposure.)


      Flash exposure; ISO 1600, 1/60 second at f/5.9; 21.5mm focal length.


      Skin tones; 21.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/50 second at f/5.9.


      Backlighting with iContrast function engaged; 12.8mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/251 second at f/5.


      Blown-out highlights in a normal exposure; 21.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/159 second at f/5.9




      Image sensor: 6.16 x 4.62 mm CCD with 14.5 million photosites (14.1 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 4.3-21.5mm f/2.8-5.9 zoom lens (24-120 mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 5x optical, up to 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif 2.2); Movies – MOV (Image Data: H.264; Audio Data: Linear PCM monaural)
      Image Sizes: Stills – 4320 x 3240, 3456 x 2592, 2592 x 1944, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480 (10245), Widescreen: 4320 x 2432; Movies – HD 1280×720, 640×480, 320×240, all at 30fps
      Shutter speed range: 15-1/3000 second
      Self-timer: Approx. 10 sec or 2 sec delay, Custom, Face Self-Timer, Wink Self-Timer
      Image Stabilisation: Optical (Lens Shift Type), approx 3 stops
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3EV increments
      Focus system/range: TTL Autofocus with Touch AF, Face Detect AiAF, Single point AF; 5 cm to infinity (W), 90 cm to infinity (T), Macro: 3-50 cm, Digital Macro: 5-10 cm
      Exposure metering/control: TTL metering with Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Spot modes
      Shooting modes: Intelligent Auto (with Scene Detection), P, Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Smart Shutter, Low Light, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Creative Light Effect, Fireworks, Long Shutter, Beach, Foliage, Snow, Colour Accent, Colour Swap; Movie (Standard, Colour Accent, Colour Swap)
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, on, off, Auto Red Eye Correction, Red Eye Reduction, Face Detect, Slow Synchro, FE Lock; range – 50 cm to 3.5 m
      Sequence shooting: Approx 0.8 shots/sec
      Playback options: Touch operations (Touch Action), Red-eye Correction, Intelligent Contrast Correction, Trimming, Resize, Slideshow, Index, Magnified, Image Inspection Tool, Favourites, Hints and Tips display, Auto Rotate, Histogram, Overexposure Warning, Auto Play, Transition, MyCategory, MyColours, Filter by Date, Smart Shuffle, Image advance with tilt of camera
      Storage Media: SD/SDHC/SDXC and MMC cards
      Viewfinder: No
      LCD monitor: 3.5 inch Pure Colour LCD II Touch screen with 16:9 aspect ratio (approx 461,000 dots)
      Power supply: NB-6L rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 220 shots/charge
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 99.3 x 55.7 x 22.0 mm
      Weight: Approx. 137 grams (without battery and card)





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      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Image quality: 8.0 (stills); 8.0 (video)
      • OVERALL: 8.5