Canon Powershot S500 Review

Steve's Digicams

Canon PowerShot S500

Review posted 3/09/04

Click to take a QTVR tour of the S500

The PowerShot S500 Digital ELPH is the first of Canon's super-compact digital cameras to offer five-megapixels of resolution. Utilizing the same CCD sensor as that found on the top-rated PowerShot G5, the Powershot S500 captures JPEG images in SuperFine, Fine and Normal resolution modes and is the first camera in its class to offer 640 x 480 movie recording at ten frames per second for up to 30 seconds per clip. Users can also capture 320 x 240 and 160 x 120 movies with sound at 15 frames per second for up to three minutes per clip. The Powershot S500, like the Powershot S410 adds the new Print/Share button which speeds and simplifies printing to compatible Canon Direct Photo and PictBridge enabled printers and one-touch image transfer to Windows (XP, Me, 2000, and 98) computers for use with image processing programs, uploading to the Internet, or placement in email.

The PowerShot S500 features an ultra-compact and fast (f/2.8-4.9) 3x (36-108mm equivalent) optical zoom lens. The lens - with its seven-element design - also offers a wide Autofocus range from as close as two inches (in macro mode) to infinity. Canon has also extended the power and range of this camera's digital zoom to 4.1x (from a previous high on Digital ELPH Cameras of 3.6x).

For taking pictures on the fly, the S500 offers a continuous burst mode that captures up to 2.2 frames per second at full resolution. The PowerShot S500 also has a shutter speed that extends to a fast 1/2000 of a second and features a built in flash with a range of up to 11 feet and automatic, red-eye reduction and slow synch settings. The camera's sharp, clear and easy to read 1.5-inch LCD monitor even allows users to check the smallest of details thanks to a 10x playback zoom.

Canon PowerShot S500 Digital ELPH

An Intelligent Orientation sensor detects whether an image has been recorded horizontally or vertically. During image playback, the sensor detects the proper orientation of each image, and previews them accordingly without the need to rotate the camera for image viewing. It also adjusts AF, AE and white balance accordingly. Similarly, when using the ZoomBrowser EX and ImageBrowser software included with the cameras, vertical and horizontal picture orientation is automatically detected and appropriately displayed.

When powered down, the lens is safely tucked away inside of the highly durable stainless steel body that measures just 3.4 x 2.2 x 1.1 inches. This is truly a "pocket size" camera and at a scant 6.5 ounces. As with all the Canon compacts, it has a light-assisted autofocus that even works in the dark. An advanced TTL AiAF nine-point autofocus system permits the camera to automatically select the primary subject even when off-center.

PowerShot S500 Features

  • 5.0 Megapixel CCD imager for up to 2592x1944 pixel images
  • 3x optical 36-108mm f/2.8-4.9 zoom, 3.6x digital zoom
  • 1.5" color LCD with up to 10x playback zoom
  • Ultra-compact and durable stainless steel body (3.4 x 2.2 x 1.1 in.)
  • Advanced TTL AiAF nine-point autofocus system
  • Program AE automatic and Manual exposure modes
  • Movie mode w/sound 640x480 up to 30 secs., 320x240 up to 3 minutes long
  • 2.5fps Continuous exposure mode
  • Evaluative metering on focus point or Spot
  • Stitch Assist mode for perfect panoramas
  • Exposure compensation: +/-2EV in 1/3-step increments
  • White Balance: Auto, 5 presets or Custom
  • Photo Effects: Low Sharpening, Vivid Color, Neutral, Sepia and B&W
  • Low-light focus assist illuminator
  • Shutter speeds of 15 seconds to 1/2000 second
  • Auto noise reduction with 1.3 sec or longer shutter speeds
  • Selectable ISO settings from 50 to 400
  • Voice memo (up to 60 secs) can be attached to images
  • Intelligent Orientation sensor
  • Builtin microphone and speaker
  • Lithium rechargable battery and charger included
  • Direct print to CP-200/300 and PictBridge printers
  • All new Print/Share button
  • USB connectivity for PC and Mac
  • Optional WP-DC500 Waterproof Case

The Canon PowerShot S500 Digital ELPH is available at retailers nationwide in April 2004, and has a suggested retail price of $499.

Physical Views

Canon PowerShot S500 Digital ELPH

Canon PowerShot S500 Digital ELPH

Canon PowerShot S500 Digital ELPHCanon PowerShot S500 Digital ELPH

Canon PowerShot S500 Digital ELPH

Canon PowerShot S500 Digital ELPH

Canon PowerShot S500 Digital ELPH

The S500 compared to an average CD disc.

Canon PowerShot S500 Digital ELPH

The Casio QV-R51 compared to the S500 Digital ELPH

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PowerShot S500 Specifications

Camera Effective Pixels Approx. 5.0 million
Image Sensor 1/1.8 in. CCD (Total number of pixels: approx. 5.3 million)
Lens 7.4 (W)--22.2 (T) mm (35mm film equivalent: 36--108 mm)
F2.8 (W)--4.9 (T)
Digital Zoom Maximum approx. 4.1x (Maximum approx. 12x with optical zoom)
Optical Viewfinder Real-image zoom viewfinder
LCD Monitor 1.5 in. low-temperature polycrystalline silicon TFT color LCD, Approx. 118,000 pixels
Autofocus TTL 9-point AiAF/TTL 1-point center AF, focus lock available
Shooting Distance (from the front of the lens) Normal AF: 46 cm (1.5 ft.)--infinity
Macro AF: 5--46 cm (2.0 in.--1.5 ft.) (W) 30--46 cm (1.0--1.5 ft.) (T)
Shutter Mechanical shutter + electronic shutter
Shutter Speed 15-1/2000 sec.
manual settings of 15--1 sec. possible in the long shutter mode
Noise reduction processing on speeds between 15--1.3 sec.
Light Metering System Evaluative, Center-weighted average or Spot (Center)
Exposure Control Program AE
Exposure Compensation +/- 2 stops in 1/3-stop increments
Sensitivity Auto, ISO 50/100/200/400 equivalent
White Balance TTL auto/preset (daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H) or custom white balance
Built-in Flash Auto/Red-eye reduction auto/on/off/slow-synchro
Flash Range Normal : 46 cm--3.5 m (1.5--11 ft.) (W) 46 cm--2.0 m (1.5--6.6 ft.) (T)
Macro : 30--46 cm (1.0--1.5 ft.) (W/T)
Shooting Modes Auto/manual/stitch assist/movie
Continuous Shooting Approx. 1.5 images/sec. (2.2 images/sec. in highspeed mode) (Large/Fine mode, LCD monitor off)
Self-timer Shoots after approx. 10 sec. or approx. 2 sec.
PC Connected Shooting Available (USB connection only. Exclusive software program RemoteCapture is included in the camera kit.)
Recording Media CompactFlash™ card (Type I)
File System Design rule for Camera File system, DPOF compliant
Image Recording Format Still Images : JPEG (Exif 2.2)
Movies : AVI (Image data : Motion JPEG Audio data : WAVE [monaural])
Compression Superfine/fine/normal
Number of Recording Pixels Still Images
large : 2592 x 1944 pixels
medium 1 : 2048 x 1536 pixels
medium 2 : 1600 x 1200 pixels
small : 640 x 480 pixels

640 x 480 pixels (Approx. 30 sec.) Approx. 10 frames/sec.
320 x 240 pixels (Approx. 3 min.) Approx. 15 frames/sec.
160 x 120 pixels (Approx. 3 min.) Approx. 15 frames/sec.

* The data in parentheses refer to the maximum movie length per shooting
Playback Modes Single image view, index view (9 thumbnails), magnified view (LCD monitor zooms images up to approx. 10x), slide show, Auto play or image output to Compact Photo (CP-300/CP-200/CP-100/CP-10) and Bubble Jet printers.
My Camera Settings (Customizing) Start-up image, start-up sound, shutter sound, operation sound and self-timer sound can be customized with the following procedures.

1. Using the images and sounds recorded on the camera.
2. Using the downloaded data from your computer using the supplied software.
Interface USB (mini-B, PTP [Picture Transfer Protocol]), Audio/Video output (NTSC or PAL selectable, Monaural audio)
Power Source Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery (type: NB-1LH/NB-1L)
AC Adapter Kit ACK500, Car Battery Charger CBC-NB1
Operating Temperature 0--40 °C (32--104 °F)
Operating Humidity 10--90%
(w x h x d)
87.0 x 57.0 x 27.8 mm (3.4 x 2.2 x 1.1 in.) (excluding protrusions)
Weight Approx. 185 g (6.5 oz.) (camera body only)
(Specifications as represented by the manufacturer)

Package Contents (U.S./N. America)

  • A. PowerShot S500 Digital Camera
  • B. Battery Charger CB-2LS
  • C. Wrist Strap WS-300
  • D. CompactFlash Card CF-32M
  • E. ArcSoft Camera Suite CD-ROM
  • F. Digital Camera Solution CD-ROM
  • G. Battery Pack NB-1LH
  • H. Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
  • I. AV Cable AVC-DC300
  • User Guides

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