Canon Digital IXUS 210 Review

March 18, 2010 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Canon Digital IXUS 210 (also known as the PowerShot SD3500 IS) is Canon's second touchscreen compact camera, replacing last year's IXUS 200 / SD980 model. You can focus on a subject by simply pointing at their face, review your images and change the camera settings, all by interacting with the larger 3.5 inch LCD screen. The Active Display also allows you to browse through your images by tapping the sides of the camera. The 14 megapixel Canon 210 IS additionally offers a 5x optical zoom lens with an ultra-wide 24mm setting and Optical Image Stabilization, 720p HD video with an HDMI output connection, Smart Auto mode with Scene Detection Technology, and a useful Hints & Tips feature for beginners. Available in four colours - black, silver, gold and pink - the Canon Digital IXUS 210 IS is available now for £349.00 / $329 / €379.00.

Ease of Use

The Canon Digital IXUS 210 is stylishly designed with rounded edges, elongated shape and a smooth-to-the-touch finish. The IXUS 210's faceplate is an exercise in cool minimalism, its smooth surface broken only by the mirrored circular detailing of the lens surround, a window for the AF assist/self timer lamp top right of the lens, and above this again a very narrow sliver of a window for the on-board flash. As this is positioned at the far right edge of the faceplate, it tends to fall prey to being obscured by fingertips when gripping the camera with both hands to take a shot.

Weighing 130g without battery or card, the camera's curved edges mean that the unit slots comfortably into the palm, albeit not as readily as the even smaller and lighter 130 IS model. As its lens is internally stacked, it only protrudes from the body when the camera is in use, thus the device can be stored in a pocket between shots. Build quality is good; the usual mix of mainly metal body with plastic buttons, controls and port covers. Like its other IXUS siblings, there's very little on the 210 to get a firm grip on, except a raised vertical lip on the right of the camera back that provides a degree of purchase for the thumb. That's the price you pay for near credit card sized dimensions but a large rear LCD into the bargain.

Unlike its predecessor, which used a hybrid system of touch operation and a smattering of buttons, the new IXUS 210 does away completely with any rear controls other than the massive 3.5 inch touch-screen LCD. This is in the widescreen format, meaning that regular 4:3 format still images appear with bands left and right, as when watching an analogue-era TV programme on a new digital HD set. It's perhaps no surprise that if you turn the IXUS 210 through 90° to shoot portrait fashion, the backplate recalls the look of a camera phone. The resolution of the LCD has been increased to 460k dots, a sensible move by Canon which prevents such a large display from appearing grainy.

Canon Digital IXUS 210 Canon Digital IXUS 210
Front Rear

You can indicate an intended focus point simply by tapping that area on-screen with a fingertip, and in playback mode, similar gestures will enlarge portions of a picture, rotate images, as well as protect, delete or add them to 'favourites'. Obviously this takes an initial period of familiarization, but soon becomes second nature once you've switched off you initial preconceptions. This active display also allows you to 'flick' through and review captured images by tapping the actual sides of the camera, a clever gimmick that's sure to impress your friends..

An operational feature shared with most recent IXUS offerings is Smart Auto with Scene Detection technology. This is Canon's version of other manufacturer's intelligent auto mode, whereby the user points the camera at a scene or subject and the IXUS 210 recognizes it and adjusts its settings accordingly to deliver optimal results with minimum user input. For example, if you point the lens at a close object the camera will switch to macro mode automatically, detecting up to 22 scene 'types' and choosing the most appropriate one, which is a lot more intuitive and reliable than trying to choose the correct mode yourself.

Photos are recorded to removable SD or SDHC media - there's no internal memory to fall back on and no cards are supplied in the box. Canon was one of the last manufacturers to do this, but now seems to have dropped the practice of supplying media at the time of purchase entirely. Like the previous 200 IS model, the IXUS 210 offers an intuitive menu system for beginners thanks to the 'hints and tips' text bubbles that pop up when the user alights on a particular setting. More experienced users can also deactivate this feature via the menus should it start to prove tiresome. ISO 80 through 1600 is selectable in Program mode, and among the 20 scenes modes is a Low Light mode that boosts the ISO to 3200 equivalent, albeit with a reduction in image size to 3.5 megapixels.

The IXUS 210 features a Digic 4 processor 'under the hood' to keep things zipping along, with continuous shooting offered at a slow 0.7 frames per second, plus again there's the ability to record high definition 16:9 widescreen ratio Mov format (H.264 compression level) mono movie clips at 1280x720 pixels resolution, here at a maximum 30 frames per second. A side mounted HDMI port is provided for hooking the camera up directly to a compatible advice. Unfortunately though the optical zoom is disabled when shooting movies; the framing stays the same as you had it before the shutter button was pressed to begin recording.

Canon Digital IXUS 210 Canon Digital IXUS 210
Touch-Screen Front

The top plate of the IXUS 210 features a narrow band into which operational buttons are recessed. There's a three setting slider switch for alternating between Smart Auto capture, Program and Video recording modes, a Play button and On/Off button. The main shutter release button is round, large, springy and obvious, encircled by a zoom control lever with only the merest suggestion of a lip at the front for catching the forefinger. At the far left of the top plate is a tiny pinprick housing the built in microphone, with the speaker on the camera's left flank (if viewing from the rear).

Press down on the power button and the camera powers up quickly in just over a second, rear LCD bursting into life with a brief flash of the Canon logo before reproducing the scene before the lens - that feature itself extending to maximum wideangle setting ready for the first image capture. A twist of the zoom lever and the lens powers through its focal range to maximum wideangle in just over two seconds, the transition smooth and steady. Take the shot in regular single capture mode and the camera commits a full resolution JPEG to memory in three seconds. The above timings are average and perfectly adequate for its class.

In Smart Auto mode the IXUS 210 continually adjusts the focus and exposure, depending on what you point it at and the conditions at the time. Press on the screen with your finger tip and a Touch AF point appears which you can guide around the frame; even if you then subsequently move the camera the AF point will try its best to remain on the object or subject you first indicated.

In the absence of any optical viewfinder the backplate is dominated by the previously mentioned widescreen ratio LCD, stretching from top to bottom and left to right. Unlike the previous IXUS 200 model, there are no other controls at all on the rear of this camera, one of the biggest differences between the two. Instead the Playback button has moved to the top of the body, while all the other settings have been subsumed into the touch-screen menu system. These include the self-timer options, flash (auto, on, slow synchro, off, with the additional ability to implement automatic red eye reduction via the on-board menu folders), display info on or off, which includes - in playback mode - bringing up capture details including, date, time, resolution and a histogram. While this simplifies the camera's external controls and provides room for the larger LCD screen, it does make the IXUS 210 a touch more difficult to operate, particularly if you're in a hurry.

Canon Digital IXUS 210 Canon Digital IXUS 210
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Pressing the new Function icon on the LCD brings up Canon's now familiar toolbar onto the screen, running from top to bottom of the left hand side of the screen rather than in the L-shape of previous generations of IXUS. If Smart Auto capture mode has been selected, here we get the chance to influence image size and resolution and that's it. Flick the top plate slider switch across a notch to the Program shooting mode, however, and many more user selectable options present themselves. Here you can tab down from Program itself and select one of the camera's additional built-in scene modes. Each time one of the options - from portraits to kids and pets, fireworks, aquarium and ISO 3200 equivalent low light mode - is highlighted, a small 'hints and tips' box of text appears instructing the user as to the benefits of and uses for the proposed settings.

Additionally manually selectable in Program mode are the usual suspects: ISO settings (ISO80-1600), white balance, drive mode (single shot or continuous shooting), focus range (normal, macro, infinity), metering (evaluative, centre weighted or spot), image size, compression, plus Canon's regular 'My Colors' modes that allow the user to switch to optimal settings for more vivid colour, neutral, sepia, black and white, positive film, lighter skin tone, darker skin tone, vivid blue, vivid green or vivid red and finally a custom colour setting that can be adjusted to the user's preference.

A press of the Function then the Menu icon brings up two folders on-screen - the first containing the shooting menu, the second the more general purpose set up menu. Folder number one provides the ability to activate the digital zoom, call up grid lines or a 3:2 format ratio guide on screen, activate Canon's exposure adjusting i-Contrast, image stabilisation modes (continuous, shoot only, active when panning, or off), plus face and blink detection. The second menu folder contains the Set Up menu, offering the chance to tweak various sound and start up options, plus format the optional but essential SD or SDHC card in use. The more experienced user can also turn off the aforementioned 'hints and tips' speech bubbles if they prove too much as well as manually adjust the LCD brightness or reset all settings if someone else has been playing around with the camera.

Leaving the back plate, the right hand flank of the IXUS 210 - if viewing it from the rear - features two covered ports, the top housing the HDMI connection, the bottom a dual purpose AV out/USB connection. The base of the camera meanwhile features a standard screw thread for attaching it to a tripod, plus a sliding door protecting both the SD/SDHC card port (with no internal memory to fall back on) and rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Battery life is a little worse than the IXUS 210's predecessor at 220 shots from a full charge, which is adequate rather than class leading.

Using the IXUS 210 proved to be a generally fun and intuitive experience, although having to use the touch-screen interface to control virtually every aspect of the camera inevitably slows things down. Now let's take a look at the camera's Image Quality.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 3.5Mb.

The Canon Digital IXUS 210 produces images of above average quality. The biggest issue is noise and loss of detail at relatively slow ISO speeds. The 1/2.33 inch, 14 megapixel sensor recorded noise-free images at ISO 80 and 100, but there's already some noise and slight colour desaturation at ISO 200. ISO 400 shows a little more noise and loss of colour, and ISO 800 and 1600 are even worse, with obvious loss of fine detail and further colour desaturation.

The Canon Digital IXUS 210 handled chromatic aberrations quite well, with limited purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations and generally at the edges of the frame. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 15 seconds being long enough for most after-dark shots.

Anti-shake works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. Macro performance is fine, allowing you to focus as close as 5cms away from the subject. The images were a little soft straight out of the Canon Digital IXUS 210 at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting. The lens exhibits quite obvious barrel distortion at the 24mm wide-angle setting.


There are 6 ISO settings available on the Canon Digital IXUS 210. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes via the My Colors menu option.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The Canon Digital IXUS 210's 5x zoom lens provides a focal length of 24-120mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.



File Quality

The Canon Digital IXUS 210 has 2 different image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

14M Fine (3.1Mb) (100% Crop) 14M Normal (1.4Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

The Canon Digital IXUS 210 handled chromatic aberrations quite well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)


The Canon Digital IXUS 210 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 5cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


The flash settings on the Canon Digital IXUS 210 are Auto, Flash On, Slow Synchro, and Flash Off, with Red-eye Correction and Red-Eye Lamp settings available via the Flash Settings main menu option. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (24mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (120mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (120mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye Correction settings caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Correction

Red-eye Correction (100% Crop)


The Canon Digital IXUS 210's maximum shutter speed is 15 seconds in the Long Shutter mode, which is good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 15 seconds at ISO 80. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like. The camera takes the same amount of time again to apply noise reduction, so for example at the 5 second setting the actual exposure takes 10 seconds.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

The Canon Digital IXUS 210 has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here are some 100% crops of the images to show the results. As you can see, with anti shake turned on, the images are much sharper than with anti shake turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/15 sec / 24mm
1/6 sec / 120mm

My Colors

The Canon Digital IXUS 210 offers 11 My Color preset effects that you can use to change the look of your images, and you can also create your own Custom Color.








Positive Film


Lighter Skin Tone

Darker Skin Tone


Vivid Blue

Vivid Green


Vivid Red


Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Canon Digital IXUS 210 camera, which were all taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1280 x 720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 15 second movie is 43.6Mb in size.

Product Images

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Front of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Front of the Camera / Turned On

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Isometric View

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Isometric View

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Rear of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Rear of the Camera / Function Menu

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Rear of the Camera / Shooting Modes


Canon Digital IXUS 210

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Top of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Bottom of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Side of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Side of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Front of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Side of the Camera

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Memory Card Slot

Canon Digital IXUS 210

Battery Compartment


Despite the Canon IXUS 210's undeniably slick touch-screen interface, £349.00 / $329 is a lot of money for what is at heart a point and shoot camera, especially for one that only delivers average image quality.

The IXUS 210 is fun and surprisingly intuitive to use given its almost complete reliance on the well-thought-out touch-screen control system, although we missed the quicker-to-use hybrid approach of its predecessor model. The ability to focus on your subject simply by tapping the gorgeous 3.5 inch screen in the right place is mind-blowingly simple to use, while the clever ability to tap the sides of the camera to scroll through your images is more for show than being genuinely useful. You really have to like the touch screen system as there's no other way to operate the ISUX 210, so it's definitely one to try before you buy.

In addition to the larger screen and move to total touch operation, the other big change from the previous model is the rather inevitable increase to 14 megapixels. This is a lot of pixels to squeeze onto the tiny sensor, and while image quality isn't noticeably worse than the IXUS 200, it isn't noticeably any better either, something of a problem as neither camera's photos are anything to shout about. Noise is all too quickly apparent at ISO 200, with the faster settings deteriorating rapidly, chromatic aberrations are well-controlled but still present, images are soft are the default setting, and there's obvious barrel distortion at the 24mm wide-angle focal length.

Ultimately there's a price to pay for the Canon Digital IXUS 210's advanced touch-screen operation in the form of so-so images, measured rather than quick operation, and a price-tag that could buy you an entry-level DSLR. If you must have a touch-screen camera then the IXUS 210 should definitely be on your short list, but for us there's just too much style and not enough substance.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 3.5
Image quality 3
Value for money 3



Type 1/2.3 type CCD
Effective Pixels Approx.14.1M
Colour Filter Type Primary Colour


Type DIGIC 4 with iSAPS technology


Focal Length 4.3 - 21.5 mm (35mm equivalent: 24 – 120mm)
Zoom Optical 5x. Digital approx. 4x (with Digital Tele-Converter approx. 1.7x or 2.1x and Safety Zoom ¹) ². Combined approx. 20x
Maximum f/number f/2.8 – f/5.9
Construction 7 elements in 6 groups (1 double sided aspherical lens including 1 UA lens, and 2 single-sided aspherical lenses including 1 UA lens element)
Image Stabilisation Yes (lens shift-type), Approx. 3-stop


Type TTL
AF System/ Points AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point), 1-point AF fixed to centre or Touch AF with Object and Face Select and Track
AF Modes Single, Servo AF/AE ¹, Touch AF
AF Point Selection Size (Normal, Small)
AF Lock On/Off Selectable
AF Assist Beam Yes
Closest Focusing Distance 5cm (W) from front of lens in macro


Metering modes Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre)
AE Lock On/Off Selectable
Exposure Compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments.
Enhanced i-Contrast for automatic dynamic range correction
ISO sensitivity* AUTO, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600


Speed 1 - 1/3000 sec (factory default)
15 - 1/3000 sec (total range - varies by shooting mode)


Type TTL
Settings Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom


Monitor 8.8 cm (3.5”) PureColor II Touch (TFT), 16:9 aspect ratio, approx. 460,000 dots
Coverage Approx. 100%
Brightness Adjustable to one of five levels


Modes Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Slow Synchro
Slow Sync Speed Yes. Fastest speed 1/2000 sec
Red-Eye Reduction Yes
Flash Exposure Compensation Face Detection FE, Smart Flash Exposure
Flash Exposure Lock Yes
Built-in Flash Range 50cm - 3.5m (W) / 90cm-2.0m (T)


Modes Auto*, P, Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Smart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer), Low Light(3.5MP), Color Accent, Color Swap, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Creative Light Effect, Beach, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, Long Shutter, Movie.
*with Scene Detection Technology and Motion Detection Technology
Photo Effects My Colors (My Colors Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Color)
Drive modes Single, Continuous, Self-Timer
Continuous Shooting Approx. 0.7 shots/sec. ¹ (until memory card becomes full) ²


Image Size (L) 4320 x 3240, (M1) 3456 x 2592, (M2) 2592 x 1944, (M3) 1600 x 1200, (S) 640 x 480, (W) 4320 x 2432. Resize in playback (M3, S, 320 x 240)
Compression Fine, Normal
Movies (HD) 1280 x 720, 30fps, (L)640 x 480, 30fps, (M)320 x 240, 30fps
Movie Length (HD) Up to 4GB or 10 min. 00 sec ¹
(L and M) Up to 4GB or 1 hour ²


Still Image Type JPEG compression, (Exif 2.2 [Exif Print] compliant) / Design rule for Camera File system, Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant
Movies MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (monaural)]


Canon Printers Canon SELPHY Compact Photo Printers and Canon Inkjet Printers supporting PictBridge (ID Photo Print, Fixed Size Print and Movie Print supported on SELPHY CP & ES printers only)
PictBridge Yes


Red-Eye Correction Yes, during shooting and playback
My Category Image tagging feature
Intelligent Orientation Sensor Yes
Histogram Yes
Playback Zoom Approx. 2x – 10x
Self Timer Approx. 2 or 10 sec., Custom
Menu Languages English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Chinese (traditional), Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, Ukrainian, Romanian, Farsi


Computer Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible)
Other HDMI Mini Connector. A/V output (PAL/NTSC)


Type SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus.


PC & Macintosh Windows 7/ Vista SP1-2/ XP SP2-3
Mac OS X v10.4 - 10.6


Browsing & Printing ZoomBrowser EX / ImageBrowser
Other PhotoStitch


Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-6L (battery and charger supplied)
Battery life Approx. 220 shots ¹
Approx. 300 min. playback
A/C Power Supply Optional, AC adapter kit ACK-DC40


Cases / Straps Soft Leather Case DCC-1100, Digital IXUS Metal or Leather Strap
Power Supply & Battery Chargers AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC40
Other Canon HDMI Cable HTC-100


Operating Environment 0 – 40 °C, 10 – 90% humidity
Dimensions (WxHxD) 99.3 x 55.7 x 22.0mm
Weight Approx. 160g (including battery/batteries and memory card)


¹ Depending on the image size selected.
² Digital zoom available for still image and standard movie modes only. Optical zoom may not be available during movie recording.

AF Modes

¹ Some settings limit availability

Continuous Shooting

¹ Under conditions where the flash does not fire.
² Depending on memory card speed / capacity / compression setting.

Movie Length

¹ The following Speed Class memory cards are required for maximum record time: 1280 x 720, 30fps Speed Class 4 or above. 1920 x 1080, 30fps Speed Class 6
² Depending on memory card speed / capacity / compression setting.

Battery life

¹ Using the batteries and memory card format supplied with the camera (where included), except where indicated.


* Standard Output Sensitivity / Recommended Exposure Index.

According to ISO 12232:2006 (20th April 2006) which specifies the method for assigning and reporting ISO speed ratings for digital still cameras.

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