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I remember slavering over an early Kodak point-and-shoot camera that featured a 10x optical zoom. Wow! What a beast. And more: it could take 4 megapixel stills! That was 2003. Now it’s 2010 and the 10x zoom is appearing on more and more digicams.
Canon claims the Canon Powershot SD500 IS (also known as the IXUS 1000 HS in some parts of the world) to be “world’s slimmest camera to feature a huge 10x Optical Zoom.” For me, 22mm thin is narrow! And it’s cleverly compact overall, thanks to the use of separate compartments for the SD card and a novel, cylindrical-shaped battery. And you can get it in silver and two-tone pink.
The maximum image size is a useful 3648×2736 pixels, or as a print, 31x23cm. Movies? Right up there with best of the competition: Full HD 1902×1080 pixels.
Movie mode I found most enjoyable as the camera manages auto focus and aperture very well during shooting; it also shoots an unbowed frame, unlike cameras such as Sony’s DSC-HX5V. However, as with all other compacts that can shoot high res movies, you need to practice holding the device to get smooth movement and steady video.
There is also a rather wondrous Super Slow Motion movie mode: 30 second clips shot at 240fps. Sure, the zoom, focus and exposure are fixed and the image is quite small (320×240)… but it’s a great effect.
The camera’s exterior is fairly free of control points: on top, the power button, zoom lever and a tiny three position slider that takes you from auto, Program AE and on to movie mode. The positions are only 2mm apart, so finessing fingers are needed!
At the rear you get a four way rocker-cum-control dial, a Function button, plus those for menu, movie record and replay. And not much else.
I tangled with the Function button at first and found it needed a fair amount of personal training to learn its byways… but once learnt, I liked its approach.
These will attract many players. For instance, the Handheld Night Scene helps you take handheld night shots by taking several images in succession, then combining these to reduce noise from a high ISO speed.
In Best Image Selection mode the camera automatically takes five continuous photos, selects the best image, according to whether your subjects are smiling, eyes are open and are in focus.
Continuous shooting can be made at 8.8 images/second (1824×1368 pixels); a rate of 3.7 images/second is achieved with focus and exposure preset; 0.8 images/second is available with continuous focus; 0.9 images/second with focus locked on the first shot.
Others: mini model effect; colour of a shot can be changed when shooting; stitch assist is available for panoramas (up to 26 shots).
The range of ISO settings runs from 125 to 3200. The test shots range (top to bottom) through ISO 125, 400, 800, 1600, 3200.
As is to be expected, 125 to 800 are useable ISO settings. Even ISO 1600 is still in there, with only a slight lift in noise and a little lowered definition.
At 3200, noise is up further and definition down. However, I would still use this setting if I really had to.
Quite slow, the camera took three seconds from power on to the first shot and then took 2-3 seconds to pull in each subsequent shot.
There appeared to be a little barrel distortion at the zoom’s wide end but virtually zero distortion at the tele end.
Quality: I found the IXUS 1000 HS to be an excellent point-and-shooter. This would be an excellent and powerful (long zoom!) beginner’s camera.
These three shots show the effects possible from a seemingly ordinary dull day cloud shot. From top to bottom: original; Levels applied; tweaked.
Why you’d buy it: you want a long zoom and little complication
Why you wouldn’t: you need more exposure control.
Image Sensor: 10.0 million effective pixels.
Metering: Evaluative, centre-weighted average; spot.
Sensor Size: 11mm CMOS.
Lens: f3.4-7.1/6.3-60mm (36-360mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 15 to 1/4000 second.
Memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus, HC MMCplus cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 3648×2736 to 640×480. Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480, 320×240 at 24/30 fps.
File Formats: JPEG, Motion JPEG.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 125 to 3200.
Viewfinder: 7.6cm LCD screen (230,000 pixels).
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 101.3×58.5×22.3 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 167 g (body only).
Price: Get a price on the Canon PowerShot SD4000IS at Amazon (currently 14% off).