Canon IXUS 500 HS Review

February 22, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |


The Canon IXUS 500 HS is a good attempt to marry the classic styling of the IXUS range with a big zoom lens, but the tiny controls, poor battery life, so-so image quality at high ISO speeds and the eye-watering price-tag detract somewhat from its overall appeal.

The IXUS 500 HS' 12x zoom lens proves to be a real boon to your creativity, especially given the camera's diminutive size and weight, providing enough width for landscape and group shots and more than enough reach to take close-up action shots, despite being able to easily fit inside a trouser or even shirt pocket. Maximum apertures of f/3.4 and f/5.6 are nothing to write home about, but we can excuse them on what is after all a consumer-oriented camera.

The IXUS 500 HS doesn't quite deliver all the goods in terms of image quality. Disappointingly noise starts to rear its ugly head at the rather slow speed of ISO 400, on a par with other similarly priced compacts, although chromatic aberrations are commendably well controlled. Full 1080p HD movies complete with stereo sound and (rather slow) use of the 12x zoom are also very welcome.

Casual users are more than catered for by the wealth of hand-holding technologies on offer, but the IXUS 500 HS' lack of external controls does mean that some things are more difficult to access than they really should be. An over-reliance on the Function and Main menus slows down the camera's operation, something that beginners' won't mind so much, but which will particularly irk more serious snappers. Nobody will like the short 190-shot battery life, with two batteries required for more than half a day's shooting.

The IXUS 500 HS doesn't really live up to the High Speed part of its name. While 2.8fps at full resolution is perfectly acceptable, there are some Sony models that can shoot at 10fps at full resolution, which rather dwarves the IXUS 500's headline speed of 6.8fps at a paltry 2.5 megapixels. Likewise 240fps movies played back at 30fps are a novel feature, but they're very low resolution and the specification is again bettered by several Casio models.

The final problem for the Canon IXUS 500 HS is that £309 / €349 / $299 price-tag. A little more money in the UK and Europe will buy you the PowerShot S100, PowerShot G12 or even an entry-level DSLR like the EOS 1000D, while a little less gives you the choice of several better-specced rival models. In summary the IXUS 500 HS combines a stylish, almost retro look with more up-to-date features and an appealingly long lens, but there are still a few too many negatives that hold back Canon's latest super-compact super-zoom from true greatness.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 3.5
Image quality 4
Value for money 3