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Canon Powershot SX500 IS Review

A year or so ago I was attracted by Canon’s SX30 IS, a 35X digicam. So much so that I bought one for family use. And it turned out to be ideal for the purpose, especially in shooting video at the long end! … although this was somewhat tempered by its less than Full HD 1280×720 pixel video capture. Still, it got some great movies over the hols!

Canon Powershot SX500 IS 1

Canon Powershot SX500 IS 2

Canon Powershot SX500 IS 3

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

Full wide 1

Full tele 1

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.


Scene 2


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

Canon SX500 IS ISO 100.JPG Canon SX500 IS ISO 400.JPG Canon SX500 IS ISO 800.JPG Canon SX500 IS ISO 1600.JPG

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.

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Canon Powershot SX500 IS
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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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