Canon PowerShot SX500 IS – An inexpensive camera for people who love to zoom
Most impressive feature about Canon PowerShot SX500 IS is that the manufacturer managed 30x 24-720 mm lens, put it on a body, and keep the weight (12 ounces) and depth (just four inches) under good control.
This camera is made for people who want the zoom in lightweight and compact body. There are manual and semimanual controls which aren’t seen too often low end mega zooms. Canon has generously included them in all the PowerShot SX-series cameras.
We were disappointed to see that Canon put in 16 MP CCD sensor along with Digic 4 old image processor instead of their better CMOS HS sensor and more powerful, newer Digic 5 chip. Canon has done this to keep the price down but the performance is slower, the shooting options are less and for getting best results, you will have to shoot in plenty of light.
The camera isn’t perfect but for this price, it is forgivable.
Just like most point and shoot cameras out there, the quality of this camera depends on what you are expecting. You won’t be happy with this camera if you want stellar quality pictures. Photos taken in low light conditions too aren’t really good. On the bright side, the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS is good for taking outdoor shots with plenty of light. It also gives good prints at sizes of 8×10 or less.
The artifacts and noise are seen even in ISO 100 while pixel peeping. You shouldn’t get this camera if full size quality matters a lot to you. Fortunately, the details are good till ISO 200 and you get to do cropping and enlarging according to your needs.
When going past ISO 400, noise starts to get in and there is some yellow blotching. Above this, there is lot of artifacts, colour noise and detail loss and this makes the subjects look desaturated and soft. In the auto mode, this camera prefers to drop shutter speed instead of raising the ISO. This is good but if you don’t pay attention, then the result might be blurry photos.
The colour performance is quite good till ISO 400. People who will take most of their photos in outdoor lighting will be really pleased with these results. White balance and exposure is good. Just like most compact cameras, there are clipped highlights.
Canon PowerShot SX500 IS can shoot good 720p videos and the quality is better than other full HD entry level camcorders in the market. However, just like the photos, lesser light will give you more noise. You might see vertical smear in shooting the sources of bright light like purple streak at left side. This problem is often seen in most CCD consumer sensors.
Lens zooms when you record and while zooming, you’ll see some motor sound that is picked by stereo mics which are located on top. This is all fine if you are shooting clips for sharing on Web.
Canon PowerShot SX500 IS comes with new AF or autofocus system. The manufacturer says that the new technology gives improvements in algorithm, lighter lens elements, reductions for AF scan and processing, and stronger lens motor. Due to this, the shutter lag is reduced and focussing is faster.
In my lab tests, it took 2.3 secs for this camera to go from off to the first capture. Shot to shot times were 2.5 secs without flash and 4.4 with it. Shutter lag is 0.3 sec in bright light and 0.7 sec at low light. With zoom, it goes to one second.
Canon PowerShot SX500 IS review says that this device has 2 continuous shooting modes, 1 with the autofocus and other without it. For the latter, the camera sets focus and exposure in first shot. You will be able to shoot sports, pets, and kids if you are willing to accept all the limitations. But if you are going to shoot plenty of fast moving objects, then I won’t recommend this camera.
Canon PowerShot SX500 IS price is $250 but the price might be different at your local store. This price is good considering the features inside. You will get good value for money.
Canon PowerShot SX500 IS is quite compact considering it has 30 x, f 3.4-5.8, 24-720 mm lens inside. Lack of EVF or Electronic View Finder too helps to keep the size down. Some people might consider this as a deal breaker but for me, it is fine especially with the big three inches screen.
Body of this camera is compact but there is still enough room for the buttons. They are easy to press and large. There is 1 touch movie record apart from menu, exposure compensation, and display buttons and navigation scroll wheel is located below. There is Set/Func button close to this wheel and there are right, left, bottom, and top pressure points for timer, flash, focus (macro, manual, and normal), and ISO sensitivity. Wheel comes with tactile stops and hence it is easy to use. You will get hang of it in no time but if you get stuck anyways, there is full manual located on software disc.
Optical image stabilization of this camera is quite good and grip is ergonomic as well. You get a good grip on this camera while shooting. There is plastic material used for the body but it doesn’t feel cheap. I didn’t see any lens rattle unlike a lot of other lower end mega zoom cameras. There is framing assist button located on lens barrel which pulls lens back for finding the subjects if they are going out of the frame. Releasing this button will zoom it back where you’d started.
Such cameras usually have AA sized batteries but the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS is different. Canon has put in rechargeable li-ion battery inside and to save on weight and space. The battery life is quite good. The rated life is 190 shots but you will get less juice out of it if with continuous shooting, raising screen brightness, using zoom lens too often, or shooting movies.
Flash of this camera doesn’t pop by itself and you will need to set it. This isn’t big deal for some people but there are guys who aren’t used to this and they might get missed shots. Fortunately, this camera will warn you if flash is needed.
One big advantage of Canon PowerShot SX500 IS is that it isn’t made just for fully automatic shooting. There are a lot of shooting options on mode dial of this camera like manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, etc. The apertures at wide end are f8.0, f7.1, f6.3, f5.6, f5.0, f4.5, f4.0, and f3.4. At the telephoto, there is f8.0, f7.1, f6.3, and f5.8. The shutter speeds range from 1/1,600 second to 15 seconds. If all this control confuses you, then you can go to Program for controlling everything except aperture and shutter speed.
There is Smart Auto model of Canon and it analyses the subject and selects appropriate scene automatically from the defined 32 settings. There are standard scene modes like Fireworks, Landscape, and Portrait. There is also Discreet model which automatically shuts off lights and noise while shooting. Movie mode will capture clips at 720p resolution in iFrame or MOV formats.
Some useful additions
For people who like photo filters, Canon has put in plenty of Creative high quality filters – Super Vivid, Miniature Effect, Fish-eye Effect, Monochrome, Poster Effect, and Toy Camera Effect. With Live View Control, you can experiment with the colour and exposure when watching the results on the screen before shooting. Some might say that these are just gimmicks because you can do this with separate software too. However, I thought that it was fun to play with.
Canon PowerShot SX500 IS is recommended for people who are looking for long zoom in light and small body. This camera isn’t fast and it doesn’t give ideal results in low light or indoor shooting. But this isn’t a deal breaker. The quality is good for shooting outdoors and slow moving subjects.
- 16 megapixel, 1/2.3 inches CCD sensor
- Three inches LCD, 460K dots resolution
- 30x, f 3.4-5.8, 24-720 mm (35 mm equivalent) lens
- JPEG/H.264 AAC format
- 4,608×3,456 pixels still resolution
- 1,280×720 pixels at 25 fps video resolution
- Digital and optical image stabilization
- Lithium ion rechargeable battery, rated life 190 shots
- SD/SDXC/SDHC storage type