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Jan 29

Canon PowerShot SX500 IS Review | 2013


  • Size
  • Zoom range
  • Low-light AF performance
  • Manual exposure


  • Lens quality
  • Video mode

Super-zoom cameras have traditionally occupied a position in the market in between compact cameras and more advanced cameras such as DSLRs and CSCs, but with advances in lens technology over the past few years, compact cameras have been getting ever more powerful zoom lenses, while CSCs and their zoom lenses have become smaller. This has left traditional super-zoom cameras such as the Nikon P510, Panasonic FZ48 or Canon PowerShot SX50 HS looking a bit bloated.

The Canon PowerShot SX500 IS is a pocket-sized super-zoom camera with a 30x optical range. Announced in August 2012, Canon claims it’s the World’s smallest 30x optical zoom camera, with a range that extends from 24-720mm with Intelligent image stabilisation to iron-out the wobbles. The sensor is a 16 Megapixel CCD paired up with the Digic 4 processor to provide features like scene detection and Face detect AF.

The SX500 IS has a 3in fixed LCD screen with 461k pixel resolution and a pop-up flash, along with full PASM exposure modes in addition to Smart Auto, a range of scene modes and Creative filters which can be used for both stills and movies. The PowerShot SX500 IS can also shoot HD movie footage at resolutions up to 1280 x 720 at 25 frames per second encoding files using either the H.264 codec or the more edit-friendly Apple iFrame format.

Then this feller turned up! Not as long a zoom. Sure! But smaller! And cheaper!

The 30X PowerShot SX500 IS, I figure, is today’s camera for today’s crowd: go anywhere, shoot anything.

Whilst the video res is still 1280×720, the still capture can catch a maximum image size of 4608×3456 pixels or 39x29cm as a print.

Canon Powershot SX500 IS Features

While still not strictly pocketable, the camera is sure small, sitting easily within a male hand.

External controls are minimal: auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority is available on the mode dial, along with scene modes (portrait, low light, snow, fireworks), effects (fish eye, miniature, toy camera, mono, super vivid, poster). There is also direct access to image brightness, colour balance and saturation.

From the latter feature I got the feeling that Canon is addressing the user who just wants to get his or her hands wet in fine tuning image capture without the need to dive into techy land and deal with white balance and brightness/contrast adjustments!

Next to the mode dial is the shutter button and for’ard of this is the prominent zoom lever. Ergonomically, a good setup.

Rear controls are again minimal: the four way dial gives access to ISO settings, macro, self timer and flash options. Added to this is an exposure compensation button, replay, display choices, menu and a button set functions.

One button I think I’ve never seen before is a framing assist control which, no matter where your zoom is set, will throw the screen image back into full wide so you can determine where you are! This helpful button is set into the left side of the zoom.

Canon Powershot SX500 IS Startup

Within two seconds of startup I was able to shoot my first shot; succeeding shots came in at about two second intervals. Not the fastest baby on the block.


I found a small amount of barrel distortion at the zoom’s wide end, along with a small degree of pincushion distortion at the tele end.

ISO Settings

OK until you reach ISO 800; at ISO 1600 noise and lack of definition intrude but possibly OK for the right subject.

Canon Powershot SX500 IS Verdict

Quality: about average.

Why you would buy it: a long zoom snapshot camera – nothing more!
Why you wouldn’t: your expertise level would not be satisfied.

IMHO, this camera will appeal to many, starved of a decent zoom.

And a word of caution: don’t think for one moment that you can shoot at the tele end of the zoom with a handheld camera; for one thing it is extremely difficult to aim accurately, for another, your shot will probably be blurred.

Video and long tele? Use a tripod!

Canon Powershot SX500 IS Specifications

  • Image Sensor: 16.0 million effective pixels.
  • Sensor Size: 11mm CCD.
  • Lens: f3.4-5.8/4.3-129mm (24-720mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
  • Metering: Evaluative, centre-weighted averaging, spot.
  • Exposure Modes: Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
  • Shutter Speed: 15 to 1/1600 second.
  • Continuous Shooting: 0.5/0.6/0.8/2.8 fps.
  • Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
  • Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4608×3456 to 640×480.
  • Movies: 1280×720 at 24fps, 1280×720 and 640×480 at 25/30fps.
  • Viewfinder: 7.6cm LCD screen (461,000 pixels).
  • File Formats: JPEG, MPEG4.
  • Colour Space: sRGB.
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400.
  • Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, analog audio and video output.
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
  • Dimensions: 104×69.5×80.2 WHDmm.
  • Weight: 342 g (inc card and battery).
  • Price: Get a price on the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS at Amazon.

PS. If you want to deal Canon SX500 IS shootings with Mac, pls view the tutorial.

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