Skip Navigation

Touring Italy with the Canon PowerShot SX210 IS

Canon SX210Ever since my friend Amy moved to Rome, I’d been planning to visit Italy. This summer, I said ciao to the States for ten days and immersed myself in Italy’s amazing history, art, and of course, gelato.

I am a planner by nature. I spent weeks thinking about what to pack, what to wear, and what to see.  And how to capture it all on camera. I own a Canon SLR and love it dearly. But its bulk would be a problem while wandering around Italy. I knew I wouldn’t want to carry it with me all the time. What I wanted was a small but powerful camera that I could keep in my purse.

Enter the Canon PowerShot SX210 IS.

This little guy is about the size of a deck of cards, but has pretty substantial heft. You can tell Canon packed a lot of capabilities into a small space. Capabilities like 14.1 megapixel images, 14X optical zoom, and manual controls.

First tourist stop in Rome: the Colosseum. While wandering around outside this behemoth, I climbed a nearby knoll dotted with beautiful flowering bushes. This turned out to be an excellent opportunity for testing the built-in flash on the SX210. I wanted to capture the vibrancy of the flowers but also make sure the Colosseum in the background was properly exposed. I decided to use a fill flash. One of the great features on this camera is that you can set the flash power to high, medium, or low. A few experimental shots with each flash setting quickly yielded the best setting for the situation and I captured a great shot of the Colosseum with a flora-filled foreground. (Click on each image to enlarge.)

Roman Colosseum

Next thing to test out: the zoom. Rome is filled with an abundance of amazing architecture and monuments. What's even more impressive is the level of detail on the high and far reaches of these enormous structures. With the powerful zoom on the SX210, I was able to pick out details that I'd never be able to see from the ground. The Arch of Constantine, a huge stone archway adjacent to the Colosseum, proved to be a perfect subject. The photos below are all taken from the same spot. The photo on the left is at zero zoom, the photo in the middle is at 7X zoom, and the photo on the right is at 14X zoom.

Arch of Constantine

The Smart Auto mode on this camera also does a great job of automatically setting the correct exposure and focus--perfect for handing the camera over to a friend to get a shot of yourself by famous landmarks, like the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Spanish Steps

The SX210 also does a fantastic job in low-light situations. For the most part, the interiors of the churches in Rome are lit only by windows set high into the ceiling. To get the photo below of the interior of the San Giovanni Basilica, I used the manual controls to set the aperture to its widest opening (F 3.1). I then set the shutter speed to 1/30. The camera was able to pick out the details of the darkened transcept as well as the individual rays of light streaming through the windows.

San Giovanni Basilica

An even more impressive example of capturing color and detail in low light is this shot of The Transfiguration by Raphael, in the Vatican Museum. It was taken with the SX210's automatic Night setting.


One of my favorite features on the camera is the self-timer. This was perfect for capturing a night scene with a long exposure. The photo below shows the view out of my friend Amy's apartment at night. Using the manual controls, I set the ISO to 200, the aperture to F4.5 and the exposure to 13 seconds. I didn't have a tripod, so I set the camera on her window ledge for a solid, unmoving surface. The self-timer came into play here. I set it to 2 seconds, which gave me enough time to push the shutter button and remove my hand from the camera before the exposure started. This way, I didn't jostle the camera as it started the exposure, and the picture came out blur-free.

Moon over Rome

Another great feature of the SX210 is the built-in HD video feature. Sometimes a picture can't quite capture the scale of a tall building or bell tower. Below is a video of Giotto's Campanile--a 278 ft tall freestanding bell tower beside Il Duomo in Florence.


All in all, the Canon PowerShot SX210 IS was an outstanding travel companion--solid, smart, fun, and very adaptable to new circumstances. Keep scrolling to see some more of the sights it captured.

Angel Bridge

Colosium 2

Roman Street

Trevi Fountain

San Maria

Sala Rotunda

Santa Severa Castle

Santa Severa Courtyard

Santa Severa Steps

Santa Severa Ocean

Il Duomo Church


Sunset over Arno



Ask an expert advisor

No pressure, no commission — just lots of good advice from our highly trained staff.