Canon PowerShot SX500 IS Review

Review posted 02/19/2013

Quick Take

  • Nice to find 30x zoom in such a lightweight camera
  • Lens moves quickly through its zoom range in still image mode
  • Good mix of manual and automatic shooting controls
  • Popup flash gives better performance than many built-in flash units
  • Mode dial makes it easy to pick shooting modes
  • Images look OK when viewed at normal sizes
  • SX500 is pretty easy to use
  • Right hand grip is just the right size for one-handed photography
  • Control buttons are of a comfortable size
  • Separate battery charger is included
  • Menus are pretty easy to understand
  • Shortcut menus can be accessed through Func button
  • Dedicated exposure value button is rare on a camera in this price range
  • Camera has a cheap feel to it because of all of the lightweight plastic in the design
  • Images have quite a bit of noise when printed at large sizes
  • Shot to shot delays are very poor, especially when using the flash
  • Shutter lag should be better when the lens is at its widest angle setting
  • Burst modes are below average performers in this price range
  • Overall, the camera should work more quickly
  • Not enough of a "stop" between optical zoom and digital zoom settings
  • No full HD movie mode
  • Placement of focus assist lamp is awkward and easy to block with your left hand
  • Chunky SX500 won't fit in a pocket, and all-black design is a little boring
  • Battery life is below average
Bottom Line
The 30x optical zoom lens on the PowerShot SX500 IS provides some very impressive telephoto capabilities in a sub-$250 camera. Canon also included some unique features and manual control options with this model. However, image quality is below average if you're planning to make large prints, and the camera's shot to shot delays are a significant disappointment. Read more in our Full Conclusion.
Canon announced two new models to its popular SX-series of PowerShot digital cameras in August of 2012, one of which is the PowerShot SX500 IS. The SX500 is an affordable, sub-$300 camera with a whopping 30x optical zoom (that covers 24-720mm in 35mm terms), a 16-megapixel image sensor capable of recording HD video, a 3.0-inch LCD display, and the powerful DIGIC 4 image processor.

To handle the long zoom and keep your photos crisp and clear, Canon has included an upgraded AutoFocus system, Intelligent Image Stabilization, and Zoom Framing Assist -- a Canon technology which allows you to quickly zoom all the way out to a wide angle to relocate subjects after they've left your framing. Canon says this is particularly helpful when shooting animals or moving subjects, as in Zoom Framing Assist, lens retraction and extension are quicker than pressing the zoom buttons.

If you're looking to save some hard-earned cash and don't think you'll need the full 30x optical zoom, Canon has also announced the SX160 IS, which is virtually identical to the SX500 in features, save for the 16x optical zoom, smaller body profile, and the sub-$250 price tag.

Canon PowerShot SX500 IS Features:
  • 30x optical zoom lens (24mm to 720mm)
  • 16-megapixel image sensor
  • 3.0-inch LCD display
  • DIGIC 4 image processor
  • HD Video Recording
  • Smart AUTO Mode
  • Intelligent Image Stabilization
  • Zoom Framing Assist
The PowerShot SX500 IS has a MSRP of $299.99, and comes in any color you want as long as it's black. To see the most current pricing online, click our Lowest Price button at the top right of this page.

Additional Product Views


You can check out the price of this camera on Adorama by clicking here.

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.