Canon PowerShot SX520 HS Review

September 22, 2014 | Gavin Stoker |

Canon PowerShot SX520 HS 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.

Even without selecting any ‘Super Vivid’ colour option, with plenty of daylight available the colours from the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS really ‘pop’ – particularly the blues and greens of landscape shots. There is also enough detail in the highlights and shadows to satisfy, and, though we could always do with more detail still, we are talking about a camera with a small-ish, standard 1/2.3-inch sensor. Because of this, its maker has also seen fit to limit the top selectable ISO light setting to a modest sounding ISO3200. There is also the option of selecting the fully auto low light mode, though this results in a resolution drop to four megapixels and some quite frightening results in near darkness, so is on most occasions best avoided. To avoid grain/image noise, the old adage of sticking at ISO800 – or ISO1600 at a push – still applies, with the top whack ISo3200 setting, while not terrible and more forgiving perhaps if you plan to turn the result into a monochrome image, only really worth accessing in the case of an emergency.

A maximum lens aperture of f/3.4 may be nothing to write home about, progressing to a so-so f/8 at extreme telephoto, but again it's a case of horses for courses at this price. At maximum wide angle we’re noticing a teeny bit of softness in the extreme corners of the frame as well as a fish eye effect due to that ultra wide 24mm maximum setting, and a slight softness overall to images taken handheld at the maximum telephoto option. But for a camera costing under £300 results and detail are, in fact, not bad at all. Plus this has to all be evaluated in the context of a zoom reach that allows a great degree of flexibility over how we frame still photos and videos. While the SX520 HS is never going to replace a DSLR or CSC, for a family wanting a cheap-ish all-in-one option it could still be recommended.


There are 6 ISO settings available on the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

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)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Focal Range

The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS's 42x zoom lens has a massive focal range of 24-1008mm, as illustrated by these examples.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS suffered from chromatic aberrations, with purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, particularly at the edges of the frame, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS allows you to focus on a subject that is just 0cms away from the camera. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The flash settings on the Canon Powershot SX520 HS are Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, and Slow Sync Speed, with Red-eye Reduction options available in the main menu. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

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)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


The Canon Powershot SX520 HS's maximum shutter speed is 15 seconds, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1 second at ISO 100.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg