"Excellent Pocket Camera for Pros under $299"4.0 starson by photometry
Pros: Very well built, many custom features and manual controls for the advanced/pro photographer, good panoramic stitching, great overall performance, and a nice video quality with smooth zooming. Comes with lithium ion rechargeable battery and charger.
Cons: For it's quality performance at around $250 there isn't much to complain about. As for the pop-up flash issue it's really insignificant & it's an easy solution. If your expecting the overall performance to be of a Pro DSLR than I suggest to get one.
Summary: I am generally a Nikon diehard for their outstanding image quality but I have been disappointed with their pocket camera line as they have not introduced a comparable camera to the SX 210 with manual controls, so it was a tough decision between the Canon SX 210 and the Panasonic ZS7. Both models are neck to neck in overall performance for the money and with both having pros and cons. I am a big fan of Carl Ziess lenses which are one of the best in the world but on the ZS7 it only stops down to F/6.3 loosing some close-up focus unlike the SX 210 canon lens that has greater depth at F/8. The images may appear little sharper on the ZS7 and thats mostly because they have squeezed the histogram by increasing the image contrast but the downside to that is it losses the highlight and shadow detail color. A higher contrast image captures are usually more difficult to correct afterwards than an image with more even tone. The SX 210 captures pretty much a full tonal range and it allows you the option increase or reduce the contrast as you please in the function menu set-up. The GPS feature I didn't care for much but I did like the RAW image capture feature in the ZS7 which allows you process and convert image formats without compression afterwards. The video was also very sharp by the increased contrast in the ZS7 but it had a number of issues that went along with it such as light streaking across the movie image every time a street light or a high reflective object entered the frame. The Lumix ZS7 originally got me very excited and I was almost sold on it but at the end it fell a little short against the SX 210.
In my final decision I stepped up to the Canon SX 210 from the SX 130 and it's a huge difference, it's worth every penny. If you love the flexibility of manual controls and the ability to override all the programmable settings independently in TV, AV, M, P, and MOV, then the SX 210 by far is the best overall compact camera under $299. The picture quality is very good and it's capability of panoramic stitching was impressive. The lithium ion rechargeable battery and charger which comes with the SX 210 makes it a sweeter deal. The video quality for a still camera is also good but if you are looking for higher quality movies to playback on large flat screens then i suggest to get a real HD camcorder. Overall in it's class for the money the SX 210 is the best choice for a pocket camera and of course the further you reach in your wallet there are better cameras to buy.
I have been a professional digital studio photographer since '95. I have used 50MP digital cameras worth $50,000, I have used 10MP DSLRs at around $2000, and even used the earlier 3MP pocket cameras for around $750 that never even had a fraction of the features you can get now for $150, so I can honestly say that every system has it's pros and cons but out of all the cameras I have owned the SX 210 overall is the most impressive with it's great features for under $299. For anyone who says they were expecting allot more performance for that money should truly get a reality check, so if your expecting the quality performance to be equivalent of a Pro DSLR than I suggest you get one. The SX 210 is not only a great bang for your buck but it's also a great camera for more advanced shooters. Most negative camera reviews from point-and-shoot consumers are usually resulted from user errors and not necessarily from the camera itself despite the pop-up flash issue which is really insignificant in comparison of the camera's full capabilities. Yes, the possibilities are there that you could get a lemon with any digital camera but your'e always safer buying a trusted brand name.