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They keep getting smaller and, in the process, more and more intriguing: Canon’s latest Canon PowerShot SD3500IS (Canon IXUS 210 in some parts of the world) takes the story even further and adopts a touch screen interface.
Optically, the camera is a winner: the lens is a stabilised 5x optical zoom, equivalent to a range of 24-120mm in 35 SLR-talk. Its maximum aperture of f2.8 is useful and will appeal to low light users. The only catch is that, once you zoom out to the 120mm tele setting the aperture drops to f5.9.
The Powershot/IXUS range has many fans: the cameras look stylish, are easy to operate and — all of a sudden — have mighty good specs.
Take the capacity of the CCD: all 14.1 million pixels of picture power, with a maximum image size of 4420×3240 pixels, or as a print — 37x27cm in size. The movie specs are reasonable: 1280×720 pixels at 30 fps and replayable through an HDMI output.
While there’s no optical viewfinder, the large 8.9cm LCD screen serves admirably as a sighting aid, occupying as it does almost the camera’s entire rear surface.
I must warn you that an IXUS camera, and specifically one of these new models, is not for the expert photographer, who will quickly lose his or her temper with the over-simplified controls …or what there are of them. I counted only four: power, zoom, replay, camera mode (still capture/auto/Program AE/movies). Most of the access is via the touch screen menus.
The Touch screen is essentially the operating heart of the camera: here you can choose from a number of scene modes (portrait, night shots, fish eye effect etc) that will help you deal with out-of-the-ordinary situations. Unfortunately these are not available in movie shooting: I loved the crazy ones like fisheye and the ‘creative lighting effect’.
Motor bike shot, taken straight.
Same shot, now with fisheye effect applied. To my eye, a very subtle effect.
Then I dived into the auto focus department and had a great time with the Touch screen’s ability to fix focus with a finger tap: it was incredibly easy and, even if you are used to letting an AF system do the focus for you, I implore you to try the Touch focus aid. It’s really great!
For the casual photographer who seeks a dash of style in their photography, the 22mm thin IXUS 210 Touch would be perfect. And it comes in silver, black and pink. If you want legibility in the controls I would suggest you head for a silver or pink camera.
In terms of distortion, the wide end of the zoom shows a little barrel distortion, while the tele end displays a little pincushion distortion. Better than most, tho’.
The IXUS is ready to shot two seconds after power up and following shots can be taken about two seconds apart.
Quality: OK for a compact.
Why would buy the Canon PowerShot SD3500IS (Canon IXUS 210): you want a chic camera; large image size, mid range zoom; enjoy the Touch AF mode.
Why you wouldn’t: you want more direct control of the camera’s modes.