Posts Tagged Canon IXUS 210 IS
Having a camera like the Canon IXUS 210 IS (also called PowerShot SD3500 IS) should – I think – place you in the category where you want good pictures without too much hassle! At least that is the assumption I have made during my testing for this review. Here I should add that this is what many many photographers want! To be able to concentrate on the motif and forget as much as possible about the technical side! Still it would go too much against my grain to use “Full auto” so I have set the camera to “Program auto” when comparing it to the Canon PowerShot S95.
Under a few common lighting conditions the two cameras will battle it out to see what kind of sample photos they will produce – on their own – with the setting “Program auto”. There are a number of differences between the cameras – and we will see how that affects the pictures! As I have pointed out earlier on these pages the differences between most cameras on low ISO-settings when lighting conditions are good (sunshine or very light clouds) are very small – even between DSLR’s and compact cameras! Ok, Ok – when pixel peeping you will see differences … But the differences are not much to write home about – not when the full picture is shown on the screen – not even when viewed on my 24″ 1920×1200 pixel screen! (As you probably know that translates only to just over 2Mpix – roughly like a FullHD television screen! On (large) printed pictures is where the differences might show – if you are very close (sort of pixel peeping again… 😉 ) BUT as the light gets weaker – even just a day with proper clouds – the differences start to show very clearly!
Note that what I will be testing is each cameras ability to produce good pictures – under similar conditions! Not what pictures you will get using the same exposure time, the same f-stop, etc..
First out will be indoors sample photos. The one not so common circumstance was to use a table for support on these pictures. Most people tends to take handheld pictures but they would have been very blurry …! Low light is not be the easiest – but quite common – task for these cameras!
As always the pictures are unchanged and unedited – this is how they came out of the cameras – only filename has been changed!
Let’s start by looking a little at what settings these two cameras chose – and try to guess why the camera chose those settings! The IXUS 210 chose 1/20 sec and S95 1/15 sec, both picked f3.5, but chose very different ISO values 800 and 80(!). It is not very easy to guess why the cameras picked so different settings for this albeit lowly lit but evenly lit subject. Also why S95 picked f3.5 instead of f2.0 – that would have been the logical selection when light is sparse. If I would have picked settings I would have chosen to go with the full opening f2.0, 1/30 sec and let the ISO sort itself out. ISO would probably stop at around 80 – so I would probably have gotten away with slightly shorter shutter time or slightly higher f-stop. Considering the image stabilization my picking 1/30 sec is probably very conservative – for a stationary subject… But the great MYSTERY is how the cameras could have picked so very different ISO values – 800 against 80 – and that the lightness of the pictures still do not look soo much different! Agreed the IXUS 210 picture looks a little on the light side – but 800 to 80 – that is over three steps!
As can be seen the difference in chosen ISO-values makes a lot of difference when it comes to sharpness and noise in the picture. The S95 picture is clearly the winner here – even if I do not understand why the cameras picked so different ISO-values! The IXUS has clearly overexposed this motif a bit and also the white balance is a little on the cold blue side. The differences are so big that any deeper analysis of the two pictures qualities would not contribute to anything! Of course any (at least from a compact camera) ISO 80 picture will be better than any ISO 800 picture! Click on the pictures and see for yourself!
Even if my idea for this test aims to show the above – how the pictures from a camera will look during different but common lighting conditions – I am a little baffled by the above … so for those of you that – like me – wonder how much the IXUS and S95 differ at the same ISO-value I will include another indoor sample – this time forced to the same 800 ISO-value!
Now the differences are not that big – but first let’s look at the settings the cameras picked when forced to use ISO 800. The IXUS and S95 chose 1/15 sec and 1/50 sec, f3.5 and f2.0. Again this baffles me – a little at least! The IXUS could not do much but pick the largest aperture f3.5 and then got 1/15 sec as a result. But why did the S95 pick such a “short” shutter time 1/50 sec this time? And used the widest aperture to achieve this – when it not did so in the umbrella picture above?
Looking first at the noise levels they are somewhat similar but still it is quite clear that the S95 has much lower noise levels generally – both in dark corners and in “well-lit” areas! The saturation and contrast are slightly higher on the S95 picture – also affected by the lower noise levels. Sharpness in a ISO 800 picture is always very much affected by the rather high levels of noise but also here the S95 trumps over the IXUS.
The above is while pixel peeping (Click on the pictures and do it yourself to see what you think!) but most of it is not visible on my 24″ 1920×1200 pixel display. That is not to say that there are no differences – flipping between full size images I can both “sense” and actually see a little better saturation and slightly better sharpness in the S95 picture.
Conclusion – Indoor Pictures
The S95 has a clear edge over the IXUS 210 with sharper pictures that has better saturation and better contrast. The S95 also has lower noise with higher ISO-values.
Time for an outdoor picture taken in good light.
Here a slight tonal difference is clearly visible – with the IXUS going for a slightly colder colour and the S95 for a slightly warmer look. I brought along my trusty old EOS 550D for the comparison as the “gold” reference. Based on the EOS colour I would have to lean to that the S95 probably is the most correct one. My memory of the sky colour at the time is not so exact so I could not say which is the most correct. These three pictures are similar enough that except for the tonal differences I can see no other differences when viewing full screen. This was expected – as the lighting conditions were so favorable! The settings for the pictures were – in the above order – 1/1250, 1/1000, 1/320 and f3.5, f4.5, f11 and ISO 80, 80, 100. Both compacts going for shorter shutter times – probably both because of there being fewer* F-stops to choose from and because of their intended target users … (The last is just a guess!)
(* Compacts very often has just a few f-stop settings. Some cameras go as low as two settings! Full open and something around f5.6-f8.0)
Conclusion – Outdoor Pictures
As expected – in good lighting conditions – all three cameras produce good results! Both the IXUS and the S95 faring very well when comparing them with the EOS 550D.
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!)
A friend of mine got a new camera and I jumped at the chance to try out his camera over the weekend! Thank you Hasse! The camera is a Canon IXUS 210 IS (also called PowerShot SD3500 IS). It has a much more oblong form to it than for instance the Canon S95. This particular camera was “gold” coloured – rather classy I think. The metallic finish sorts of gives it an air of “dress camera” – something you would bring to a posh party – wearing smoking or a long dress. I must confess I was a little taken in by this little beauty of a camera… so well-shaped, so sleek… I will of course be comparing it to the Canon S95 and using the Canon EOS 550D as a reference. As usual I will not cover every small detail and every feature of the camera so I will refer you to Bing&Google to find more info, But I will have samples to compare(!) and I will give my view on some of the (to me) most important features. As I will have it just for a few days my review will concern what I see with my “new user” eyes – and I will take all the sample pictures and try to find out what I like and do not like about the camera. I am starting it off today and will probably write this blog post over a few days time.
Starting from the top the is where the camera has all of its buttons and switches. From the left and moving right we first have the button for camera mode: movie, program auto and full auto. This is a slide switch and it is very easy to “overshoot” when you move it to the right or to the left – making it very easy to either use movie mode or full auto mode – but slightly more difficult to set my favorite mode the programmed auto mode – that is situated in the middle. Not the best of solutions but it is no catastrophe either! This might very well be intended for the group this camera is designed for! Easy to select full auto and movie but more difficult to select program auto! Then is the button to view the pictures (the standard blue/green triangle) followed close by by the power on/off. All of these buttons are rather oddly shaped triangles. They work as they should and I just see them as having had their fair share of “design” applied to them.
The IXUS 210 is a fast starter – in under one second it has extended its lens and you can start taking pictures. Finishing of the buttons is the big metal shutter release button and the ring around it with its small bump serves as the zoom lever. The shutter release button is very smooth and has a proper pressure point so you will know exactly when the camera will focus and when it will take a picture. The zoom is also a fast worker – zooming from wide to tele in around just two seconds. The lens actually has its minimum size halfway between the wide and the tele setting. That was it! ALL of the buttons on this camera! This is also the reason why I was so excited to try the camera out – it has a touch screen! With touch screens being everywhere; Apple iPods, iPhones and iPads I wanted to see how well such a user interface would work on a camera. Cameras often having another more important (?!) mission than just being a “viewing device” – you should be able to take pictures with a minimum of fuzz!
I will now jump to the bottom of the camera and keep the screen till last. It has a metal (good!) tripod screw thread slightly off-center from the lens. Ideally you would like to have it in the centre of the lens so that – if you mount the camera on a tripod – you would rotate the camera around its optical axis. That would have been an advantage if you take panoramic shots for instance. I do not think any camera maker would place it anywhere but in the centre if they could. So I must assume that tight space does not allow it to be placed in the centre – maybe the lens mechanism takes up all available space.
The usual door that hides the SD memory card and the Li-ion battery (Canon NB-6L) is situated on the same side as she shutter release button. It is a slide-to-open and slide-to-lock type of door. THe SD card has the common push to lock and push to release type of mechanism. The battery is held in place by an orange plastic “knob”. Very standard – but no need for anything else as it works very well. The tripod thread (can not be seen here) is situated just behind the hinge of open battery door. (See my test of compatible Li-ion batteries here and my test of SD cards here!)
This will have to do for today – I will hopefully resume my writing tomorrow – with the screen!