Canon PowerShot SX500 IS Review

The most incredible thing about the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS is that the company was able to create a lens with a focal length range of 30x to 720mm, connect it to a body, and still keep the depth of the camera to only 4 inches and the weight, including the battery, to only 12 ounces.

The Canon PowerShot SX500 IS is a camera that can fit a significant amount of zoom into a body that is relatively small and lightweight. It also contains semimanual and manual controls, which are somewhat uncommon in lower-end mega zooms but are included in all of Canon’s PowerShot SX-series models. These settings may be found in the menu system of the camera.

Unfortuitously, Canon equipped the SX500 IS with a 16-megapixel CCD sensor and a Digic 4 image processor rather than one of their superior HS CMOS sensors and a more recent, more potent Digic 5 processor. This decision was made in order to save money. The result is a camera that has a good zoom lens but slower performance, fewer shooting options, and the requirement to shoot with a lot of light or long exposures in order to get the best results. While this does keep the price lower, the trade-off is a camera that has a good zoom lens but slower performance.

Picture quality

Your demands and expectations will determine the degree to which you are happy with the photo quality of the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS, as is the case with many point-and-shoot cameras. If you anticipate the photographs to be of the exceptional quality of a digital SLR camera, you will be disappointed. The same principle applies to taking stunning photographs in dim light. The SX500 excels in taking photographs outside in well-lit environments, which may then be printed on paper no larger than 8 by 10 inches or viewed digitally at a scale of 50 percent or less.

Even at ISO 100, noise and artifacts are obvious while pixel peeping; therefore, if the quality of the image at full size is something that is important to you, this camera will probably not meet your expectations. On the other hand, as long as the ISO isn’t higher than 200, you’ll be able to capture images with sufficient detail to enlarge and crop them.

Even at ISO 100, noise and artifacts are obvious while pixel peeping; therefore, if the quality of the image at full size is something that is important to you, this camera will probably not meet your expectations. On the other hand, as long as the ISO isn’t higher than 200, you’ll be able to capture images with sufficient detail to enlarge and crop them.

The noise starts to become more evident at an ISO setting of 400, which can also result in some significant yellow blotching in the image. When you go over that point, you’ll begin to notice additional color noise, artifacts, and loss of clarity, all of which result in objects that look muted and desaturated.

When left in auto mode, the camera will almost always decrease the shutter speed rather than increase the ISO. That is a good thing in general, but if you aren’t paying attention, it might cause your photographs to come out fuzzy.

Up to an ISO of 400, the color performance is consistently excellent. If you plan to shoot the majority of your photographs outside, where there is sufficient lighting, you should be satisfied with the end result. Additionally, the exposure and the white balance are both quite well done overall. The clipping of highlights is something that frequently occurs with tiny cameras.

I’ve tested a few entry-level “full HD” camcorders, and the 720p video quality is comparable to or even better than what I saw from those camcorders. However, much like with its photographs, the less light there is, the more noise you will observe. Also, while photographing intense light sources, you could see some vertical smears, like the purple streak that can be seen on the left side of the screen grab. This behavior is typical of CCD sensors sold to consumers.

While you are filming, the lens will zoom, and in really calm circumstances, the stereo microphones on the top of the camera will pick up a very faint sound of a motor while the lens is zooming in. In general, though, it performs a good job at collecting the odd clip for the purpose of uploading it to the web.

Performance in the shooting

Note from the editors: We have recently revised our testing approach in order to offer significantly more information on the performance in real-world scenarios; as a result, the findings may not always be compared with those of earlier testing. We will not be providing comparison performance charts until we have finished honing our processes and are satisfied with them.

It is one of the first cameras to have a much-needed improved autofocus (AF) mechanism for PowerShot models, and the SX500 IS is one of those cameras. Canon claims that advances to its algorithms, lighter lens elements, a stronger lens motor, and reductions in processing and AF scan times have all led to faster focusing and reduced shutter lag in its cameras. However, simply because something is faster does not indicate that it is quick.

During the tests that we ran in the laboratory, the time it took to go from turning the camera on to taking its first picture was an average of 2.3 seconds, and the time it took to take the next photo was an average of 2.5 seconds. By using the flash, we were able to reduce that time to 4.4 seconds. When there was a lot of light, the time it took from pushing the shutter release to the camera taking the picture without having to prefocus was 0.3 seconds, but when there was less light, that time increased to 0.7 seconds. When you zoom closer, you have to wait for roughly a second longer.

The camera does feature two different modes for continuous shooting: one with autofocus and one without. In both cases, the camera determines the exposure and focus settings for the first photo in the sequence. While the former can get up to 0.6 frames per second, the latter can achieve up to 0.8 frames per second.

You can basically take pictures of children, animals, and sporting events if you are adept at predicting activity and if you can learn to live within these restrictions. On the other hand, if you routinely need to take pictures of things that are moving quickly, especially inside, I would not advocate this method.

Structure and characteristics

The camera is quite small taking into consideration that it has a 30x, f3.4-5.8, 24-720mm lens. The absence of an electronic viewfinder is likely a contributing factor in this situation (EVF). This is a deal-breaker for some folks, however, the fact that it has a huge 3-inch LCD screen that becomes bright enough to view in daylight makes it a little bit easier to overlook.

Even though the body is on the smaller side, there is still enough space for big buttons that are simple to operate. In addition to the display, menu, and exposure compensation buttons that are located above and below the navigational scroll wheel, you also receive a button that records movies with only one click.

The wheel features pressure points at the top, bottom, left, and right sides for adjusting the timer, ISO sensitivity, focus (including manual, normal, and macro), and flash. It also surrounds a button labeled “Func./Set.”

Because the wheel is sensitive and has tactile stops to it, it will be difficult for you to accidentally pick something other than what you intended to. Even if you have experience with Canon cameras in the past, you should still read the whole manual that is provided on the software disc that comes included with the camera because its functioning is quite simple to understand.

The camera possesses outstanding optical image stabilization, and the ergonomics of the grip allow you to get a solid grasp on it, with plenty of room between it and the lens barrel. Additionally, the camera has a large amount of space between the viewfinder and the shutter button. Even though it’s made of plastic, the camera has a really solid feel to it.

There is no lens rattling, which is a regular problem with lower-end mega zooms, and the weight of the lens prevents it from completely drifting away when you’re attempting to take a picture of anything. In addition, Canon installed a framing help button on the lens barrel. Pressing this button retracts the lens, allowing you to locate your objects even if they have moved beyond the frame. When you let off of the button, the view will immediately return to where it was before.

The SX500 IS is not compatible with the AA-size batteries that are used to power other cameras in this class. You will receive a compact rechargeable lithium-ion battery in its place, which will save you both space and weight while providing a battery life that is at the very least satisfactory. Despite the fact that it is rated for 190 photos, bear in mind that the battery life will decrease if you make frequent use of the zoom lens, increase the screen brightness, shoot continually, record videos, or do any combination of these activities.

When we talk about things that drain your battery, we should mention that the flash on the camera does not automatically pop up; you have to manually activate it. If you’re used to a camera that handles everything for you, then you could miss some photos because of this. However, if you’re not used to a camera like that, then it probably won’t be a significant concern for most people. On the bright side, the camera will at least give you a heads-up when it’s time to boost the brightness of the flash.

The impact of color

Positive Film, Neutral Film, Sepia Film, Black and White Film, Vivid Film, Vivid Blue Film, Vivid Green Film, Vivid Red Film Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Custom (adjustment of contrast, sharpness, saturation, red, green, blue and skin tone are available)

The fact that the SX500 IS can shoot in modes other than completely automatic is one of the advantages offered by this camera. Manual, shutter-priority and aperture-priority are three of the various shooting modes that may be selected via the mode selector on the camera. At the wide end, you have access to apertures of f3.4, f4.0, f4.5, f5.0, f5.6, f6.3, f7.1, and f8.0; at the telephoto end, you have access to apertures of f5.8, f6.3, f7.1, and f8.0. The shutter speed ranges from 1/1500 of a second all the way down to 15 seconds. If you find that to be too much control for your needs, you may change the mode to Program, which gives you control over everything other than the shutter speed and aperture.

There are also some standard scene modes such as Portrait, Landscape, and Fireworks; a Discreet mode that turns off all noise and lights while shooting; and a Movie mode for capturing clips at resolutions up to 720p HD in MOV or iFrame formats. Of course, you’ll also find Canon’s dependable Smart Auto mode, which analyzes your subject and automatically selects an appropriate scene setting from among 32 defined settings.

Canon offers many of its high-quality Creative Filters, including the Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, and Poster Effect. These filters are designed for those who are addicted to the picture filters available on their favorite smartphone app. Another option called Live View Control enables you to easily experiment with the camera’s exposure and color settings while simultaneously viewing the consequences of your adjustments onscreen before you take a picture (the same goes for the filters). Even while some people may consider them gimmicks that can be done with separate software, they may be fun to experiment with if you’re seeking to do something new, and they can really help you line up your shot effectively for the impact that you’re trying to achieve.


Body typeCompact
Max resolution4608 x 3456
Image ratio w:h1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels16 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors17 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeCCD
ProcessorDigic 4
ISOAuto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
White balance presets5
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsSuperfine, Fine
Focal length (equiv.)24–720 mm
Optical zoom30×
Maximum apertureF3.4–5.8
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterTrackingSingleFace DetectionLive View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Macro focus range1 cm (0.39″)
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots461,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT Color LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/1600 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject / scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash range5.00 m
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync
Continuous drive0.8 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Resolutions1280 x 720 (25 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
Videography notesMiniature Effect (HD, L) 6fps, 5fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
WirelessEye-Fi Connected
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-6L rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)195
Weight (inc. batteries)341 g (0.75 lb / 12.03 oz)
Dimensions104 x 70 x 80 mm (4.09 x 2.76 x 3.15″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo


Consider purchasing the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS if you have an absolute need for the greatest possible zoom range in the tiniest, lightest body possible at the most affordable price. It is not a quick camera, and it does not perform well inside or when there is low light, so if those are features that are really necessary, I would not bother with this camera. It should be sufficient for taking photographs and videos in the great outdoors of things that are still or moving very slowly, whether they are up close or far away.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Excellent picture quality
  • Compact design despite massive zoom
  • Full manual controls
Need Improvement
  • There is no built-in electronic viewfinder
  • It does not feel like the body is very substantial.
  • There is no raw capture.

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