Canon PowerShot A3500 IS Review

August 26, 2013 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Canon PowerShot A3500 IS is an easy to use, point and shoot digital camera featuring a 16 megapixel sensor, modest 5x optical zoom, built-in wi-fi and powerful DIGIC 4 processor. It's a camera for the happy snapper, but that doesn't mean it should shirk on image quality. In our full review, we'll find out whether it does. Available in black purple and white, the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS costs around £110.

Ease of Use

The Canon PowerShot A3500 IS looks a little bit wider than your average digital compact camera. Arguably, this is to accommodate the wide screen that's found on the back. However, it's only a 3 inch version that's found on any camera. Looking at the back, the camera appears to have been made wider to allow for more space on the back. Not for the screen, though. It's actually for the larger-than-usual buttons that sit next to the screen. They're the typical buttons such as direct Video record, User help, Main menu, Playback, and a command ring that has a cacophony of uses from flash options to wi-fi settings.

On the front, the small lens sits in a large bezel giving it the effect of being larger than it really is. A slim flash sits on on side of the lens with the AF emitter on the other. The top of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS has a simple approach in that there's only two buttons. The power button is a long, thin button while the shutter release is larger than the power button and sits slightly higher. This is useful for shooting in the dark and the zoom switch is wrapped around it so it's easily located and operated with the index finger.

There are a few features to help you along with your photography. One of those is the wi-fi compatibility. Switch the wi-fi on, select the signal you want to use and you can upload your pictures to your phone, tablet, computer or direct to a wi-fi enabled printer. This is really handy for when you simply don't have to time to start messing around taking the card out, downloading pictures onto a computer, finding the file you want and then transferring or printing it.

Canon PowerShot A3500 IS Canon PowerShot A3500 IS
Front Rear

Other interesting features include an Eco mode that saves energy on the camera battery. It works by dimming the screen after two seconds of inactivity. After ten seconds of inactivity, the screen turns off and then the camera turns off after three minutes. Ideal for long days out when on holiday and you forget to switch the camera off. There's also several digital effects for making your pictures more fun to shoot and look at after. Features such as fish-eye effect, Super-vivid and Monochrome. You can also use the Miniature effect which – when shooting a town scene from above – makes the scene look like you're viewing a toy town.

Experimenters will be pleased to know that Live control is available on the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS. It lets you change the brightness and colour saturation on screen before you shoot, so you can see what the results will look like before you get them.

Arguably, where the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS excels is the build quality. It's a metal casing, which is nothing new, but look closer and there are a few more nuggets that set it apart from other cameras at this price point. The tripod bush is made of metal, which is unusual for a camera at this position in the market. The screen on the back is flush with the back which generally is only seen on higher priced models. However there are areas that let the camera down such as the rubbery USB port cover. The battery cover is plastic, but has no metal backing it to give it strength. Saying that, it's not overly flexible, but you can't help but worry that it could break easily.

Canon PowerShot A3500 IS Canon PowerShot A3500 IS
Front Top

There are two main menu systems when taking pictures and one in the Playback area. Pressing the Func. Set button will open up the Shooting menu. This is a side bar that has access to a number of options that will help you in day to day photography such as white-balance, ISO, resolution, focusing modes etc. To get more in-depth features such as languages, date & time, card formatting or focusing options, you need to press the Menu button and go into the Main menu. Over the years Canon have refined their menu systems and today they're very easy to use. The options are clear, concise and easy to understand just by looking at them. However, should you need it there's a help button just below the video record on the back that will open up a User Guide.

From a cold start, the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS can power up, focus and take a picture in around 2.3 seconds. That's slightly faster than the average of 2.5 seconds. The continuous shooting mode is an unusual one. Look at the Canon website and they state that it can shoot at 0.8 fps (frames per second)  but we managed four pictures in a ten second period. That's more like 0.4 fps – half what the Canon says. Look in the small print on the specification and it does say that it's dependent on the resolution and compression used. So if you want a marginally fast frame rate instead of a tepid one, you need to lower the resolution. 

Canon PowerShot A3500 IS Canon PowerShot A3500 IS
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Looking back at pictures you've already taken can be done by pressing the playback button on the back of the camera. When the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS is powered on, it's an instant transfer, but if the camera is off, you'll have to hold the button down for a second or so. This is just for the camera to make sure you've not nudged it by mistake. Viewing the pictures will be full screen as standard along with no information.

Pressing the Disp button will bring up basic information about the photograph, then press it again and you get a lot more detailed information such as the mode used, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, file size and number, date & time taken and a histogram. In the playback menu, you can make a slide-show, erase pictures, protect them set up a photobook or adjust them with iContrast. If you're unfamiliar with iContrast, it's a dynamic range booster that brings out some detail in darker areas while capping burn out in the highlights. 

In the box, there's a User manual that comes on a CD. Along with that, there's another CD that has Solutions. This disc has to be installed if you want to connect the camera to the computer via wi-fi. There's also a USB lead, wrist strap, lithium ion battery and charger.

Image Quality

Typical file sizes from the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS are around 7Mb although depending on the settings used, we also got images around 3Mb on the same resolution.


As is to be expected, image quality from the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS at low ISO is great. The image is smooth with no hint of noise – even when viewed at full magnification – and the edges are sharp. Unfortunately, if we carry on viewing at full magnification, that's where the story ends. Slight traces of noise start to form at ISO 200. To be fair, it only occurs in the darker areas of the picture and looks mostly like salt and pepper noise. Mid-tones and highlights remain ok. It's obvious noise reduction software is at work, though, so the problem could be worse than we're led to believe.

The problem with noise gets slowly worse as we rise through the settings. Detail starts to dissipate at ISO 400 as the noise reduction software attempts damage control. Edges are still sharp, but at full magnification, noise is starting to be noticeable on mid-tones.

Edges start to suffer at ISO 800 with noise beginning to break them down. Detail in darker areas such as shadows has all but disappeared. Noise also starts to become noticeable at normal viewing distance.

The final setting has blobs of noise all over the darker areas, so kudos to the noise reduction software for keeping it at bay up until this point. It looks pretty bad, but let's look at it from a comparison of other cameras: Yes, noise shows through early and that's not a good thing. However, the noise reduction system does seem to keep it relatively under control. ISO 1600 is a much better result than we've seen from other cameras that have been better at low ISO.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The Canon PowerShot A3500 IS has a 5x optical zoom, which is a focal range of 5–25mm. However, we generally use the 35mm equivalent distances and in this case that would be 28–140mm.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


Adding some sharpening to a low ISO image certainly benefits the picture, but if you go over ISO 100, the noise simply gets worse.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

We found traces of chromatic aberration on high contrasting sharp edges. It was noticeable with black on white and white on black.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations 3 (100% Crop)



The Canon PowerShot A3500 IS can focus in as close as 3cm. That's good enough for most situations. The image quality does drop out quite early, which isn't a good sign. We expect it to do just that, but maybe not at such an early stage in the frame.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


Vignetting occurs at wide-angle whether the flash is used or not. This disappears on zooming out fully. Using flash simply stabilises any dappled light. The flash is an intelligent version in which it compliments the ambient light and simply helps it along.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Auto Flash - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (140mm)

Auto Flash - Telephoto (140mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

We did see a flash of red in the eyes even when the red-eye reduction was switched on. Upon closer inspection, it's not red-eye, but looks more like a type of chroma around the catch-light from the flash.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red-eye Correction

Red-eye Correction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


The Canon PowerShot A3500 IS has a Night scene mode as well as the Program mode being able to get long enough exposures as long as the camera is steady. In our test, taken at around 5am, the Program mode used a 1 second exposure with the sensitivity forced to ISO 100. In Night mode, the camera ramped it up to ISO 2500 to use a faster 1/20th sec exposure. The resolution also drops from 16 megapixel to a more sedate 4 megapixel. Arguably because of the amount of noise that a full size image would generate. After all, the ISO 2500 setting used is around 2/3 stop higher than the highest setting in the ISO section of the menu.

Night Program

Night Program (100% Crop)

night_program.jpg night_program1.jpg

Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

night_scene.jpg night_scene1.jpg

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 41 second movie is 104Mb in size.

Product Images

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Front of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Front of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Side of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Side of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Rear of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Rear of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS / Turned On

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Rear of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS / Image Displayed

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Rear of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS / Function Menu

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Rear of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS / Canon PowerShot A3500 IS Menu


Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Rear of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS / Settings Menu

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Rear of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS / Playback Menu

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Rear of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS / Help Mode

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Top of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Bottom of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Side of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Side of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Front of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Memory Card Slot

Canon Powershot A3500 IS

Battery Compartment


The Canon PowerShot A3500 IS doesn't scream “BUY ME” and it's certainly not stuffed with interesting features. Still, each manufacturer has to have a range of cameras that target a market that isn't interested in the newest feature. Some people simply want a picture taking machine. That's what a camera such as the A3500 IS is. It has the technology that's been passed down through the years from higher spec cameras with some general improvements in programming to keep the image quality up to the standard that we expect.

Image quality is actually the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS's main downfall, as is the same with any tiny sensor compact. If you use it on anything higher than ISO 100, you're going to get noise showing through – even with the noise reduction system. If you want the smoothest images it can give, you need to have bright sunlight or use flash all the time when it's not bright sunlight. The flash is intelligent and does supplement ambient light. It's not designed to take over unless there isn't any ambient light.

The build quality of theCanon PowerShot A3500 IS is good for a model at this point in the market. It's only just over £100 and you get a well built little unit with a metal tripod bush, a flush screen and wi-fi built in. That's not bad going for the price. It gets a little let down on the battery door being only plastic. A bit of metal to strengthen it wouldn't go amiss. We also don't like the rubber USB port covers, although we have to thankful that they're covered at all. Some cameras don't have them.

The Canon PowerShot A3500 IS is a camera that will work great for nights out with friends, days out with the family, celebrations and get togethers. It's a good all-rounder. It could be taken travelling and the metal tripod bush (of all things) will be handy then, for the many pictures taken on a little tripod. The built-in wi-fi will be great for transferring images while you're on the go and the small size and the fact it compacts down to a pocketable shape will be great for transportation. The main downside to this being used as a travelling camera is that the battery charger isn't built into the camera. It's a separate unit with its own power source and that will take up precious space.

So if you're looking for a camera that will be good for a gap year around India, then it would be best to look elsewhere. But, if you want a small, pocketable, good looking camera with a few tricks up its sleeve, then take a look at the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS.

4 stars

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

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS.

Fujifilm FinePix T400

The Fujifilm FinePix T400 compact camera offers a 10x zoom, 16 megapixel sensor, 3 inch LCD screen and 720p movies, all for a street price of just £70 / $90. Read our Fujifilm FinePix T400 review to find out if it's a genuine bargain or one to avoid...

Nikon Coolpix S3500

The Nikon Coolpix S3500 is an affordable and easy-to-use point-and-shoot compact camera. Featuring a 7x, 26-182mm lens and a 20 megapixel CCD sensor, the S3500 also offers 720p HD movies and a range of special effects. Read our in-depth Nikon Coolpix S3500 review now...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS45

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS45 is a budget compact camera with a fast f/2.5, 5x zoom lens. Costing just £119 the FS45 / FH45 is aimed at the beginner end of the market, yet still offers 16 megapixels, image stabilisation, 720p HD movies and Panasonic's reliable intelligent Auto mode. Read our expert Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS45 review now.

Pentax Optio S1

The Optio S1 is the first model in a stylish new range of compact cameras from Pentax. In addition to its dashing good looks, the Pentax S1 also offers 14 megapixels, a 5x zoom lens, 2.7 inch screen and 720p movies. Available for just £119.99 / $199.95, check out our Pentax Optio S1 review to find out if it's all style and no substance...

Samsung ST200F

The Samsung ST200F is an affordable travel-zoom camera with a 10x zoom, 16 megapixels, 3 inch screen and built-in wi-fi. Read our in-depth Samsung ST200F review to find out if it's worth the modest outlay...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10 is a new mid-range compact camera with a wealth of advanced features. A fast f/2.4, 7x zoom lens, 16 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, 10fps continuous shooting and Superior Auto and Background Defocus modes supposedly produce DSLR picture quality, while Sony have also included Full HD movie recording and even 3D photos. Priced at around £250 / $250, read our in-depth Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10 review to find out if it lives up to its full promise.

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Canon PowerShot A3500 IS from around the web. »

The Canon PowerShot A3500 IS was announced in January 2013 and is a budget camera, with a 16 megapixel sensor and 5x optical zoom lens, as well as built-in Wi-Fi. It is available in black, silver and red and is priced at around £109.
Read the full review »



Type DIGIC 4 with iSAPS technology


Focal Length 5.0 – 25.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 28 – 140 mm)
Zoom Optical 5x
ZoomPlus 10x
Digital Approx. 4x. Combined Approx. 20x ¹
Maximum f/number f/2.8 – f/6.9
Construction 6 elements in 5 groups
(1 double-sided aspherical lens, 1 double-sided aspherical UA lens)
Image Stabilisation Yes (lens shift-type), Approx. 2-stop¹. Intelligent IS


Type TTL
AF System/ Points AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point), 1-point AF (fixed to centre)
AF Modes Single, Continuous (Auto mode only), Servo AF/AE¹, Tracking AF¹
AF Point Selection Size (Normal, Small)
AF Lock On/Off Selectable
AF Assist Beam Yes
Closest Focusing Distance 3 cm (W) from front of lens in macro


Metering modes Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre)
AE Lock On/Off Selectable
Exposure Compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments.
Enhanced i-Contrast for automatic dynamic range correction
ISO sensitivity* AUTO, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600


Speed 1 – 1/2000 sec. (factory default)
15 – 1/2000 sec. (total range – varies by shooting mode)


Type TTL
Settings Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom


Monitor 7.5 cm (3.0") TFT, Approx. 230,000 dots
Coverage Approx. 100%
Brightness Adjustable to one of five levels. Quick-bright LCD


Modes Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Slow Synchro
Slow Sync Speed Yes. Fastest speed 1/2000 sec.
Red-Eye Reduction Yes
Flash Exposure Compensation Face Detection FE, Smart Flash Exposure
Flash Exposure Lock Yes
Built-in Flash Range 50 cm – 3.0 m (W) / 1.0 – 2.0 m (T)
External Flash Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1
Canon High Power Flash HF-DC2


Modes Smart Auto (32 scenes detected), P, Live View Control, Portrait, FaceSelf-Timer, Low Light (4.0MP), Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Snow, Fireworks, Long Shutter
Modes in Movie Smart Auto (21 scenes detected), P, Portrait, Miniature Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Snow, Fireworks
Drive modes Single, Continuous, Self-Timer
Continuous Shooting Approx. 0.8 shots/sec. ¹ (until memory card becomes full) ²


Image Size (L) 4608 x 3456, (M1) 3264 x 2448, (M2) 1600 x 1200, (S) 640 x 480, (W) 4608 x 2592. Resize in playback (M2, S, 320 x 240)
Compression Fine
Movies (HD) 1280 x 720, 25 fps, (L) 640 x 480, 30 fps
Miniature Effect (HD (5, 2.5, 1.25 fps) or L (6, 3, 1.5 fps))
Movie Length (HD) Up to 4 GB or 29 min. 59 sec. ¹
(L) up to 4 GB or 1 hour ²


Still Image Type JPEG compression, (Exif 2.3 [Exif Print] compliant) / Design rule for Camera File system, Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant
Movies MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (monaural) ]


Canon Printers Canon SELPHY Compact Photo Printers and Canon Inkjet Printers supporting PictBridge (ID Photo Print, Fixed Size Print and Movie Print supported on SELPHY CP & ES printers only)
PictBridge Yes (via USB or Wireless LAN)


GPS GPS via mobile (linked to compatible smartphone)
Red-Eye Correction Yes, during shooting and playback
Histogram Yes
Playback zoom Approx. 2x – 10x
Self Timer Approx. 2 or 10 sec. or Custom
Menu Languages English, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Chinese (traditional), Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Greek, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, Ukrainian, Romanian, Farsi, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Hindi, Indonesian


Computer Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible)
Other A/V output, dedicated connector (PAL/NTSC)
Computer/Other Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11 b/g/n), (2.4 GHz only) ¹




PC & Macintosh Windows 8 / 7 SP1 / Vista SP2 / XP SP3
Mac OS X v10.6 – 10.8
For Wi-Fi connection to a PC:
Windows 8 / 7 SP1
Mac OS X v10.6.8 / v10.7 / v10.8.2 or later


Browsing & Printing ImageBrowser EX
Other Camera Window


Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-11L (battery and charger supplied)
Battery life Approx. 200 shots ¹
Eco Mode: Approx. 265 shots ¹
Approx. 300 min. playback
A/C Power Supply Optional, AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC90


Cases / Straps Soft Case DCC-520
Flash Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1
Canon High Power Flash HF-DC2
Remote Controller/ Switch AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC90
Other Canon AV Cable AVC-DC400


Operating Environment 0 – 40 °C, 10 – 90% humidity
Dimensions (WxHxD) 97.7 x 56.0 x 19.8 mm
Weight Approx. 135 g (including battery/batteries and memory card)
Zoom ¹ Depending on the image size selected.
Image Stabilisation ¹ Values at maximum optical focal length. Cameras whose focal length exceeds 350 mm (35mm equivalent) are measured at 350 mm.
AF Modes ¹ Some settings limit availability.
Continuous Shooting ¹ Under conditions where the flash does not fire.
² Depending on memory card speed / capacity / compression setting.
Movie Length ¹ The following Speed Class memory cards are required for maximum record time: (HD) 1280 x 720 Speed Class 4 or above. (Full HD) 1920 x 1080 Speed Class 6 or above. (iFrame) 1280 x 720 Speed Class 6 or above.
² Depending on memory card speed / capacity / compression setting.
Computer/Other ¹ Wi-Fi use may be restricted in certain countries or regions. Wi-Fi support varies by device and region. For more information visit
Battery life ¹ Using the batteries and memory card format supplied with the camera (where included), except where indicated.

Your Comments

Loading comments…