Canon PowerShot SX500 IS Review

October 22, 2012 | Matt Grayson |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.


Disappointingly at low ISO, the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS is already suffering from noise issues which can be seen, albeit at full magnification. Slight colour distortion and salt and pepper noise is poking through the darker areas of the images. Edge definition is ok at ISO 100 but it threatens to reduce quickly. As we climb through the sensitivity settings, colour noise takes a bit of a back seat for artefacts and salt and pepper noise to become more aggressive around ISO 400.

Image quality starts to break down around ISO 800 with noticeable noise at normal viewing distance. Up close sees noise reduction software battling to maintain an air of quality. By the end setting of ISO 1600, edge definition has broken - although there's still a degree of image quality, noise affects all areas of the picture with streaks of green in the darker areas.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)



Images are sharp enough on the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS without needing a boost in an editing suite. You can do it if that's what you prefer but if there's any noise in the image (which there generally is), it will boost it.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Focal Range

There's an old trick you can do on Canon PowerShots to improve the zoom. If resolution isn't an issue, you can drop it down and the further you drop it, the more boost to the zoom you get. It's working in a similar fashion to how digital zoom works but without using a digital zoom. The optical focal length is 30x on the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS but on top of the 30x, you can boost the zoom to 60x using ZoomPlus. It uses the same resolution but reduces the compression quality to retain image quality. There's also a 4x digital zoom, but that will deplete image quality. In 35mm terms, the optical zoom is 24-720mm.



Chromatic Aberrations

We found chromatic aberrations in many of the pictures we took with the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS. Mostly in high contrast areas and at the edges of the frame where the lens quality isn't as good, but we did see it at the centre from time to time and in brickwork.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

File Quality

At full 16 megapixel resolution, there are two JPEG quality settings available - SuperFine and Fine.

SuperFine (7.52Mb) (100% Crop)

Fine (6.10Mb) (100% Crop)


Taking a macro shot with the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS is a nightmare although in a really good way. The close focusing of the camera is 0cm. Point blank. From our point of view, we need to show that in a test shot but we couldn't get enough light onto the subject (a memory card) because the lens kept blocking our studio light. 0cm macro is great fun. If you're patient, you can shoot insects, you can shoot flowers, the details of feathers. You can see pretty much what you want in close up.


Macro (100% Crop)


With the flash off, the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS does suffer from some vignetting at wide-angle. This all but disappears as the camera is zoomed in. Using flash at wide-angle exacerbates the vignette but eradicates it at full zoom.

If you pop the flash up and press the flash button, you can then press menu to enter a flash menu section. Here you can adjust the power of the flash, switch the red-eye correction on, the red-eye lamp and Safety FE. Safety FE is an over-riding system that will limit flash brightness if the camera thinks it will bleach out a subject. It's like an auto flash compensation. If you want to handle it manually or purposefully bleach something, you need to switch it off.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (24mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (720mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (720mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye-Reduction settings caused any red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


Pictures at night taken in auto or program are much better than the low light setting (there's no night scene mode we could find) which boosts ISO to a ridiculous setting. In our test shot we could barely tell the scene. The North Star is visible in our shots though.

Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)


Night Program

Night Program (100% Crop)