Canon PowerShot SX520 HS Review

Despite the fact that the sales of small cameras are suffering due to the increased popularity of smartphones, manufacturers continue to release hundreds of new models every year. The difference in quality between the sensors found in analog and digital cameras is significant enough to warrant the purchase of a digital camera, particularly if you want to print your photographs for the purpose of preserving memories.

The term “bridge camera” refers to a type of camera that is essentially an upgraded version of a compact camera that is intended to “bridge” the gap between smaller cameras and bulkier DSLRs. These strike a wonderful mix between being compact and having a number of useful features, and they are reasonably priced.

One such bridge camera is the recently released Canon PowerShot SX520 HS, which, for some inexplicable reason, is not even mentioned on the website for Canon India at the time that this article is being written. The camera is in our possession. It succeeds the PowerShot SX510 HS as Canon’s entry-level bridge camera.

In comparison to the PowerShot SX510 HS, which only offers 30x optical zoom, this model’s optical zoom has been increased to 42x by Canon. Additionally, the image processor of the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS has been upgraded to a Digic 4+ from the previous Digic 4. Let’s find out if it’s worth it to install this update.

Design

The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS seems to be a bridge camera like any other, except that it is larger than the majority of bridge cameras. It is 5.7 millimeters higher and 10 millimeters wider than the Nikon Coolpix L830. Its width is 120 millimeters and its height is 81.7 millimeters. On the other hand, this indicates that there is sufficient space between the lens and the expanded handgrip region, which makes it easier to get a grip on the device.

To add insult to injury, the handgrip has a molded rubber coating that makes it difficult to handle. Keep in mind that the camera is still noticeably more compact than a DSLR. The only issue we have with the hard plastic body of the camera is that it gives the impression of being cheap.

The flash is located on the top of the camera, and depending on the setting you are using, it may flip open automatically or you may have the option to open it manually. Behind the flash unit, there are two microphones that may be used for capturing sound. Mounting points for the strap may be found on each side.

The lens cap that Canon supplies is secured to the body of the camera by a rope, making it far more difficult for the cap to go misplaced. While this is a wonderful feature to have, the fact that the lens cover is constantly hanging off to the side may be very annoying. The decision of whether or not to utilize it is left up to the users of the system.

The lens barrel has two framing assist buttons: one for seeking, which was previously featured in the PowerShot SX510 HS, and a new one for latching on to a specific subject. Both of these buttons are located on the same side of the lens. A zoom ring can be seen surrounding the shutter button on this camera. The button has a lot of travel, so clicking it provides a reassuring sense of security.

In addition, the power button, a selection dial, and a dial for rapidly cycling through the camera’s numerous shooting modes are all located on the top of the device. The positioning of these physical controls makes them easy to access, and it won’t take users too much time to become proficient with them.

There is a connection for a tripod on the bottom of the camera, as well as a compartment that contains both the battery and the memory card. In addition, Canon recommends that purchasers inquire about purchasing a travel cover and includes a complimentary memory card with an 8 GB capacity with the product. The speaker for playing back videos is located along the left border. On the right edge is a port for HDMI and A/V output, however, it is covered by a rubber flap.

The screen is located on the rear of the camera, and a variety of controls may be found to the right of it.

Each button on the navigation pad may be used as a toggle for the display mode, the flash (right), focus modes (left), and ISO settings (up) (bottom). Because the circular navigation pad does not have very excellent travel, we had to be more careful when we used it.

There is a button for functions and settings smack dab in the middle. The playback button is located above the pad, and below it is two buttons that change the drive mode and access the menu. The controls for video recording and deleting are located on a curve that may be found in the top right corner of the camera.

Details on the requirements and capabilities

The CMOS sensor in the PowerShot SX520 HS measures 1/2.3 inches and supports 16 megapixels. It has a focal range that extends from 24mm (wide) all the way to 1008mm (telephoto). This indicates that there is a 42x optical zoom available on the camera. In comparison, the PowerShot 510 HS featured a CMOS sensor of 1/2.3 inches and offered an optical zoom range of 30 times.

Canon also includes a feature known as ZoomPlus, which can expand the digital zoom to a maximum of 84 times and claims that there is very little loss of clarity throughout this process. This will be evaluated as part of our performance section. The image processor in this brand-new model has been updated to a Digic 4+.

The lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.4 when it is set to its widest angle, and it can reach f/6.0 when it is set to its most telephoto setting. In some modes, this camera has a very amazing focusing range of 0 inches for macro photography. Strangely, Canon has discontinued the ISO 80 option, thus the lowest possible setting on their cameras is now ISO 100, and the highest possible setting is ISO 3200.

The Evaluative approach, the Center-weighted average method, and the Spot method are all included. A multitude of shooting modes are also available, such as “M” for “Manual,” “Av” for “Aperture priority,” “Tv” for “Shutter priority,” “P” for “Program,” “Live View Control,” “Auto,” “Creative Shot,” “SCN” for “scene,” “Creative Filters,” and “Movie.”

In addition, there are quite a few filters, but regrettably, there is no option that can capture photographs in a panoramic format. The desktop software will be required for users to use in order to put them together.

The camera is also capable of recording Full-HD films (1080p) at a frame rate of 30 frames per second. Wi-Fi is notably absent from Canon’s PowerShot SX520 HS digital camera, which is especially disappointing given that this connectivity option was included on the model that came before it. Additionally, there is no provision for storing photographs in RAW format within the camera’s internal memory.

The 3-inch TFT LCD that Canon uses has a resolution of 461k dots, and it was developed by the company. This display provides excellent visibility from a variety of angles, maintains readability even when exposed to direct sunshine, and faithfully reproduces colors. However, it is not particularly crisp, and we believe that Canon would have been better served by opting for a greater resolution in this case. The display does not tilt like the one on Nikon’s Coolpix L830 does, which is another feature that would have been a welcome addition.

The software that Canon provides is simple to comprehend, and the majority of its functionalities are not difficult to reach. By way of illustration, the more in-depth features, such as activating and deactivating the digital zoom, evaluating an image after it has been captured, and adjusting more basic settings, such as the date and time, are all accessible at any time through the use of the Menu button. The text displayed on the screen is of a size that is not only sufficient but also simple to read.

Performance

Although the 42x optical zoom lens is not the greatest in its category, it provides more than enough magnification for the majority of users. When zoomed in to such a level, it is not difficult to make out individual craters on the moon. We discovered that maintaining the camera’s stability when using the maximum zoom without the assistance of a tripod is a little bit challenging. In order to mitigate this issue, Canon designed the Framing Assist (Lock) function, which can be utilized to lock on to distant subjects and maintain focus as a result. This feature was successful in dampening the motion to some degree but did not eliminate it entirely. Even yet, the majority of our photographs turned out to be blurry.

During the course of our ISO testing, we saw that smaller details, such as the nick on the printed text, begin to become less distinct at an ISO of 800, and noise also begins to become more apparent in this setting. Nevertheless, the photographs do not appear to be of the same poor quality as those we captured with the Nikon Coolpix L830.

We took a lot of pictures in a variety of lighting circumstances and found that the colors in the daylight photographs were more vibrant than what our eyes observed in real life. This results in photographs that are more vibrant and stand in stark contrast to the performance of the majority of Canon cameras.

This is not necessarily a negative trait, since there are certain individuals that find themselves to be more attracted to this. Additionally, it eliminates the requirement to artificially boost the colors in photographs that are otherwise lackluster.

During the course of our examinations, we found that the photos had considerable noise when seen in their original proportions (100 percent zoom). Chromatic aberration was also observed all the way around the margins of certain leaves.

Because the lens can go as near as 0 inches to a subject, it is able to provide some pretty striking effects when the setting is set to Macro. The accuracy of the details and colors, as well as the outcomes, were both very satisfying to us.

There is a one-of-a-kind Live Mode available on the camera that gives customers the ability to immediately modify the brightness, color saturation, and tonal quality of photographs using the camera itself. The results are not accurate, and the whole thing has a fake appearance to it, which we can validate. It is in the best interest of users to avoid using this model.

When we tested the camera in low light, we found that both the lens and the sensor were able to perform well in these conditions. However, much as we found in our prior tests, shooting at an ISO setting higher than 400 will require users to contend with noise. The flash is quite powerful; yet, photographs shot with it do not appear to be very realistic.

During the course of our video testing, we took a video in 1080p resolution of flowing traffic and saw that there was not the slightest bit of screen tearing. The colors and the little details were also done quite well. The mechanism for zooming in and out was fairly smooth as well.

We observed that the camera had a default preview duration of four seconds when it was first turned on. We strongly recommend that users disable it in order to achieve a better and more consistent shot-to-shot performance, which we found to be around par.

The battery in this camera is rated to last 220 shots in normal mode and 290 shots in a special Eco mode, but we found that it easily lasted us much longer than that during our time with it, which was great. Canon claims that the battery in this camera can last 220 shots in normal mode and 290 shots in the special Eco mode.

Quality of the Image

The SuperFine JPEG option at 16 megapixels was used to capture each of the sample photographs included in this study. This setting results in an image that is around 6 megabytes in size on average.

Even without choosing any of the “Super Vivid” color options, when there is a lot of available sunshine, the colors that are captured by the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS absolutely “pop,” particularly the blues and greens that are captured in landscape photographs. There is also sufficient detail in the highlights and shadows to please, and despite the fact that we could always use more detail still, we are talking about a camera with a small-ish, typical 1/2.3-inch sensor here. This means that there is enough detail in the highlights and shadows to satisfy. Because of this, the manufacturer of the camera has decided that the highest ISO level that can be selected is just 3200, which may sound like a little number but is actually rather high.

There is also the possibility of selecting the completely automatic low light mode; however, doing so causes the resolution to decrease to four megapixels and produces some pretty unsettling effects when used in almost complete darkness, thus it is recommended that this mode be avoided whenever possible. Sticking at ISO800 – or ISO1600 if you have to – is still the best way to prevent grain and picture noise. The maximum ISO3200 level, although not dreadful and potentially more merciful if you want to transform the result into a black and white image, is only really worth accessing in the event of an emergency.

A maximum lens aperture of f/3.4 may not be something to write home about, and it progresses to a so-so f/8 while shooting at infinity telephoto, but at this price, it’s a case of horses for courses. At maximum wide-angle, we are noticing a teeny bit of softness in the extreme corners of the frame in addition to a fish-eye effect due to that ultra-wide 24mm maximum setting, and at maximum telephoto, we are noticing a slight softness overall in images that were taken handheld at maximum wide-angle. The results and level of clarity, on the other hand, are surprisingly good for a camera that costs less than $300. In addition, all of this needs to be examined within the framework of a zoom reach that gives us a significant amount of leeway in terms of how we frame still photographs and movies. Even while the SX520 HS will never be able to take the place of a DSLR or a CSC, it may still be a good choice for a family that is looking for an affordable all-in-one alternative.

Specifications

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 typeBSI-CMOS
ProcessorDigic 4+
ISOAuto, 100-3200
White balance presets5
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsSuperfine, Fine
Focal length (equiv.)24–1008 mm
Optical zoom42×
Maximum apertureF3.4–6
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Normal focus range5 cm (1.97″)
Macro focus range0 cm (0″)
Number of focus points9
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots461,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT-LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/2000 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject / scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash range5.50 m
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, on, off, slow synchro
Continuous drive1.6 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (30 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
MicrophoneStereo
SpeakerMono
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini-HDMI)
Microphone portNo
Headphone portNo
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-6LH rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)210
Weight (inc. batteries)441 g (0.97 lb / 15.56 oz)
Dimensions120 x 82 x 92 mm (4.72 x 3.23 x 3.62″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo
GPSNone

Verdict

Because it provides hand-holding in the form of features such as Framing Assist, Canon’s recently released PowerShot SX520 HS makes it simple to take images and is, in fact, an excellent travel companion for beginning photographers. With the exception of the inability to capture images in RAW format, the camera offers a wealth of customization possibilities for more seasoned photographers to experiment with.

However, keep in mind that the colors that are caught in the photographs are vibrant and that you may need to make an investment in a tripod in order to make the most of low-light circumstances and to employ the 42x zoom lens to its full potential.

The camera has a suggested retail price of Rs. 17,995, however, it may be purchased through an online shopping website at a lower price. Even at its starting price, the camera boasts a ton of capabilities that more than justify the additional money spent on it. The Nikon Coolpix L830 is its immediate competitor in the market for cameras of a similar price range. If you want superior performance in low light and an exterior shell in jazzy colors, go with the Nikon, but if none of those things are important to you, the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS is the better option.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Simple operation and clean layout
  • 42x optical zoom lens
Need Improvement
  • No electronic viewfinder
  • LCD screen lacks a hinge

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