Canon Powershot SD500 Review

Click for our main menu

Canon Powershot SD100

Review posted 3/30/2005

Click to take a QTVR tour of the SD500

Dubbed the "Perpetual Curve Design" by its engineers, the sleek and curvy PowerShot SD500 Digital ELPH continues Canon's tradition of providing high quality digital imaging in an ultra-compact and very easy-to-use package. Departing from the linear style that has characterized ELPH model cameras since the beginning, the SD500 has been reshaped to better fit the user's hand. The durable stainless steel case is silver gray in color with a high-brightness coating applied to heighten the effect created by the elegant, continuous curve of the body.

The diminuitive SD500 is packed with a high resolution 7.1-megapixel CCD image sensor, a retractable 3x optical zoom lens with macro capabilities as close as four inches, shutter speeds from 15 to 1/2000th of second, a fast 9-point AiAF "Smart" autofocus system, a new and more powerful built-in flash, rechargeable battery and a large 2-inch color LCD monitor, all driven by the exclusive DIGIC II processor.

To make sure that everybody gets the picture they want, the SD500 features a wide variety of shooting modes that includes: Auto, Manual, Digital Macro, My Colors, Stitch Assist, Special Scene, and Movie. The Special Scene mode allows users to achieve optimum results in popular picture-taking situations including Underwater, Indoor, Kids and Pets, and Night Snapshot. The SD500 model also includes individual settings for Foliage, Snow, Beach, and Fireworks. Optional accessories for the SD500 include the Waterproof Case WP-DC70, rated to a depth of approximately 130 feet and the high power flash HF-DC1 that doubles the range of the camera's builtin flash.

The PowerShot SD500 lets you capture full motion video with sound at 640 x 480 resolution with a 30fps framerate. It also offers a "Fast Frame Rate" of 60 frames per second for a maximum of one-minute (at a resolution of up to 320 x 240 pixels), ideal for analyzing a golf swing or a tennis stroke using one of the supplied slow-motion playback settings. The compact movie mode - designed with e-mail attachments in mind - captures a maximum of three minutes of recording at 15 fps and a resolution of 160 x 120 pixels.

The new Night Display Function automatically brightens the subject in order to make framing a shot in dusk, night or other lowlight situations easier while the cameras' large 2-inch, 118,000 pixel LCD monitor features a backlight that combines lower power consumption with high brightness that improves the visibility of the LCD monitor even in bright surroundings. The monitor also incorporates a "quick bright LCD" function that temporarily boosts the brightness to its maximum level with nothing more than a one-second touch of the display button. Press the button a second time for one second and the monitor returns to its original brightness level.

The proprietary DIGIC II Imaging processor enhances picture definition, vibrancy and quality, while helping increase the speed of the cameras' startup, autofocus, shutter response and playback as well as the image processing speed. The pace of image transfer is accelerated (when used with a USB 2.0 compatible computer, printer or other peripheral) thanks to the inclusion of a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port, the first time this feature has appeared in the PowerShot series. The SD500 supports direct printing to any PictBridge compliant printer regardless of brand.

Powershot SD500 Features:

  • 7 Megapixel CCD sensor for up to 3072x2304 pixel images
  • 3x optical 37-111mm f/2.8-4.9 zoom w/digital Macro
  • 2.0" color LCD with Night Display function
  • Ultra-compact and durable stainless steel body (3.4 x 2.2 x 1.04 in.)
  • Advanced TTL AiAF 9-point autofocus system with focus-assist lamp
  • Program AE automatic and Manual exposure modes
  • Continuous 2fps shooting until memory is full
  • Movie mode w/sound 30/15fps 640x480/320x240 unlimited length
  • Fast Frame Rate Movie recording, 320x240 at 60fps
  • Evaluative metering on focus point or Spot
  • 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
  • My Colors - customize your colors while shooting
  • 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
  • Built-in microphone and speaker
  • Lithium rechargeable battery and charger included
  • Direct print and PictBridge Compliant
  • High-speed USB 2.0 connectivity for PC and Mac
  • Secure Digital (SD) card storage, 32MB supplied

The PowerShot SD500 Digital ELPH will be available in March for an estimated street price of $499.99 and comes with a wrist strap and interface cables for USB and A/V, 32MB SD card, a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack and charger, software, and user manuals.

Physical Views

Canon Powershot SD500 Digital ELPH

Canon Powershot SD500 Digital ELPH

Canon Powershot SD500 Digital ELPHCanon Powershot SD500 Digital ELPH

Canon Powershot SD500 Digital ELPH

Canon Powershot SD500 Digital ELPH

Canon Powershot SD500 Digital ELPH

The SD500 compared to a standard CD disc.

Canon Powershot SD500 Digital ELPH

The 7-megapixel Olympus C-7070 and the Powershot SD500

Continue on to
Features & Controls

PowerShot SD500 Specifications

Camera Effective Pixels Approx. 7.1 megapixels
Image Sensor 1/1.8-inch CCD (Total number of pixels: Approx. 7.4 megapixels)
Lens 7.7 (W)--23.1 (T) mm (35 mm film equivalent: 37 (W)--111 (T) mm)
f/2.8 (W)--f/4.9 (T)
Digital Zoom Approx. 4.0x (Up to approx. 12x in combination with the optical zoom)
Optical Viewfinder Real-image zoom viewfinder
LCD Monitor 2.0-inch, low-temperature polycrystalline silicon TFT color LCD, approx. picture coverage 100 %
AF System TTL autofocus Focusing frame: 9-point AiAF/1-point AF (fixed to center)
Shooting Distance* Normal: 50 cm (1.6 ft.)--infinity
Macro: 5--50 cm (W)/30--50 cm (T) (2.0 in.--1.6 ft. (W)/1.0--1.6 ft. (T))
Infinity: 3.0 m (9.8 ft.)--infinity
* From the front of the lens
Shutter Mechanical shutter + electronic shutter
Shutter Speeds 15--1/2000 sec.*
The shutter speed varies according to the shooting mode.
* Slow shutter speeds of 1.3 sec. or slower operate with noise reduction.
Light Metering System Evaluative, Center-weighted average or Spot (Center)
Exposure Control System Program AE
Exposure Compensation ± 2.0 stops in 1/3--stop increments
Sensitivity Auto*, ISO 50/100/200/400 equivalent
* Camera automatically sets the optimal speed.
White Balance TTL auto, pre-set (available settings: Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent or Fluorescent H) or custom
Built-in Flash Auto, auto with red-eye reduction, flash on with redeye reduction, flash on, flash off, slow synchro
Flash Range Normal: 50 cm--5.0 m (1.6--16.4 ft.) (W), 50 cm--3.0 m (1.6--9.8 ft.) (T)
Macro: 30--50 cm (1.0--1.6 ft.) (W/T)*
* When sensitivity is set to AUTO.
Shooting Modes Still images: Auto, Manual*, Digital macro**, My Colors**, Special Scene***, Stitch assist****
Movie: Standard, Fast Frame Rate, Compact, My Colors
* Long shutter and Digital macro mode available.
** Selectable in Manual mode.
*** Portrait, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater, Indoor, Kids & pets, Night snapshot
**** Selectable from the Rec. menu
Continuous Shooting Approx. 2.0 shots/sec.*
* Large/Fine mode with LCD monitor off
Self-timer Activates shutter after an approx. 10-sec./approx. 2-sec. delay, Custom Timer
Recording Media SD memory card
File Format Design rule for camera file system and DPOF compliant
Data Type Still images: Exif 2.2 (JPEG)*
Movies: AVI (Image data: Motion JPEG; Audio data: WAVE (monaural))
* This digital camera supports Exif 2.2 (also called "Exif Print").
Exif Print is a standard for enhancing the communication between digital cameras and printers. By connecting to an Exif Print-compliant printer, the camera's image data at the time of shooting is used and optimized, yielding extremely high quality prints.
Compression Superfine, Fine, Normal
Number of Recording Pixels Still images
Large: 3072×2304 pixels
Medium 1: 2592×1944 pixels
Medium 2: 2048×1536 pixels
Medium 3: 1600×1200 pixels
Small: 640×480 pixels
Postcard Date Imprint Mode: 1600×1200 pixels
Standard, My Color: recording can continue until the SD card is full* (can record up to a maximum of 1 GB at one time))
640×480 pixels, 320×240 pixels (15 fps, 30 fps)
Fast Frame Rate: (can record for 1 min.)**
320×240 pixels (60 fps)
Compact: (can record for 3 min.)**
160×120 pixels (15 fps)
* Using high-speed SD cards (SDC-512MSH recommended).
** The data in parentheses refer to the maximum movie clip length.
Playback Modes Single (histogram displayable), Index (9 thumbnail images), Magnified (approx. 10x (max.) in LCD monitor, advance or reverse through magnified images possible), Image search (jumps over 10 or 100 images, to a movie or to the next shooting date, or 9 images at a time when in index playback), Sound memos (up to 60 sec.), Slide show or Movie (slow motion play back possible).
Direct Print PictBridge compliant, and Canon Direct Print and Bubble Jet Direct compatible
Display Languages 21 languages available for menus and messages (English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Traditional Chinese, Korean and Japanese)
My Camera Settings The start-up image, start-up sound, operation sound, self-timer sound, and shutter sound can be customized using the following methods*
* Using the images and sounds recorded on a camera.
* Using the downloaded data from your computer using the supplied software.
Interface USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (mini-B), PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol)
Audio/Video output (NTSC or PAL selectable, monaural audio)
Power Source Rechargeable lithium-ion battery (type: NB-3L)
AC Adapter Kit ACK900 (Sold Separately)
Operating Temperature 0--40 °C (32--104 °F)
Operating Humidity 10--90 %
Dimensions 89.5 (85.6)*×57.0×26.5 mm (3.5 (3.4)×2.2×1.0 in.)
* Does not include the curve on the grip side.
Weight Approx. 170 g (6.0 oz.)*
* camera body only
(Specifications as represented by the manufacturer)

Continue on to
Features & Controls

Return To Our
Reviews Menu

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.