Well, the main reason for me wanting to test the Canon IXUS 210 is really that it is a camera that is equipped with a touch screen! I have always been keen to find out how well such a camera would work during ordinary every day usage – and now I got the chance to do that – without having to buy the camera myself! 😉 I should admit that I am a little doubtful about how well a touch screen will work on a camera – it will be exciting to see if I will have to revise that opinion!
First of all: the screen is just huge! Its 3.5″ covers the absolute major part of the cameras rear side! The only area not covered by the screen is a small, slightly rounded area on the right – that is adorned with a slightly raised edge – to improve the grip.No buttons of any kind can be found on the rear! It is of the nowadays quite common 16:9 widescreen format. The screen has a reasonable resolution of 460 kpixels – that being quite necessary for that big screen to keep the resolution up! It is a good screen but not as good as the S95 screen that has the same number of pixels but on a smaller 3″ screen giving it better resolution – a slightly crispier image. The difference can easily be seen! This is no great issue though – the IXUS 210 screen is good enough!
I have to say that I did not find it easy to figure out a good way to hold the camera while gripping it front and back – the area on the right is not big enough to give a good grip. Top and bottom is the way to hold this camera – because it is otherwise very easy to accidentally press the touch screen and achieving some surprise settings!
The wide-screen screen (is that really how to write this?) is really super when you shoot movies in 16:9 (the 210 manages 1280×720 HD-movies in .MOV format) when the whole of that BIG screen is used! It is less super when you shoot 4:3 pictures when only the middle portion of the screen is used – adding a few “touch-buttons” on the sides of the screen – so the sides are still not a complete waste!
How is it to use a touch screen camera? The short answer is (as you probably guessed) both good and … less good! As I have written above – knowing how to hold the camera is not so easy. It is handy that buttons can be displayed – or not – depending on the mode and situation. Using the touch screen is not bad at all – but it requires harder presses than an Apple iPhone and the response when dragging is not as good. Still it works – but not perfectly! The implementation of settings and using the camera on this IXUS 210 model is very similar to most other button centric cameras – like the S95 for example. This makes it quite easy to change between cameras but should that really be the goal? The touch screen is at its best when you on the screen can see the button (or setting) you want to use without scrolling! I find it a little sad that the user interface is using this advantage so little – it is mostly implementing the ordinary button interface – but on the touch screen – with too much scrolling required! With such a large screen no scrolling – to show available settings – should be necessary at all! One area where the touch screen is used to its advantage is that you can touch the screen where you want it to focus! Very handy, very quick and much more intuitive than on most other (button centric) cameras. Enlarging a picture while viewing is easy by just touching it – and you move around by dragging it (but not with perfect tracking). Cool is that you view the next picture by tapping the camera slightly on either side!
Conclusion – The Screen
As the touch screen is used by the IXUS 210 today and as the user interface implemented on it – I would prefer the ordinary non touch screen cameras. Not because the touch screen is a catastrophe – it is quite adequate as it is – but it could (and probably will in the future) be used more to its advantage! At the moment it is just an implementation av an ordinary button centric camera with the buttons appearing on the screen – and as such I would actually prefer ordinary buttons! (I put in a small note here: I have just used the camera for three days and it might be so that some aspects of the touch screen takes longer than that to appreciate!)