Canon PowerShot 520 HS Review

A new super-zoom camera from Canon, the PowerShot SX520 HS, has been released. In addition to having a 42x optical zoom with optical image stabilization, a 16-megapixel CMOS imager, and a dedicated movie button that makes it simple for users to record 1080p Full HD videos, the PowerShot SX520 HS features Canon’s Creative Shot mode.

Canon PowerShot SX520 HS 16.0 Digital Camera with 42x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3-Inch TFT LCD (Black)
C $299.99
2 used from C $299.99
as of June 8, 2023 6:30 pm

This mode combines the original image’s lighting, color, and composition to create unique, artistic images. The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS digital camera may be purchased for the suggested retail price of £299.99, equivalent to €359.00 or $399.99.

Canon PowerShot 520 HS Build Quality

Why would manufacturers continue to produce low-cost super zoom cameras when most of the demand in the present market is for more expensive products? Are they hoping to lure consumers knowledgeable about their finances away from their smartphones? It would appear to be the case with the release of two new models in the Canon PowerShot lineup: the 16-megapixel SX520 HS, which is currently being reviewed on this site and is available for purchase at a suggested price of £299; the SX400 IS, which is scheduled to follow on later and will be an Argos exclusive model in the UK; and so on.

The 42x (or 24-1008mm equivalent in 35mm terms) and 30x (or 24-720mm) zoom lenses that the two bridge versions claim, respectively, hint that we are getting a good deal of power for our money.

The PowerShot SX520 HS has a 16-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor and a Digic 4 CPU; this is why the camera’s name indicates that it has ‘High Sensitivity.’ The Canon SX400 IS has a 16-megapixel charge-coupled device (CCD) sensor. Both cameras are equipped with optical image stabilization, which is something we would anticipate given the comprehensive lens ranges available in both models.

The molded, rubberized grip of the SX520 HS feels comfortable when the camera is held in the palm of your hand, supporting Canon’s assertion that this iteration of the handgrips has been engineered to be more ergonomic comparable to those found on DSLRs.

Additionally, this is somewhat unique for a bridge camera in this price range; the power source is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, as opposed to a handful of conventional AA batteries. When you take up the SX520 HS, you’ll notice that it feels surprisingly lightweight despite being a bridge/super zoom/all-in-one device.

Even with the memory card and batteries installed, the device may claim to weigh 441 grams, but in our experience, it is noticeably lighter. When trying images near the telephoto end of the possible zoom, this is a camera that you will want to grab with both hands for obvious reasons. This allowed us to produce blur-free daytime results when done in this manner.

Even though most of the lens can be retracted back into its housing when not in use, the optics here obviously dominate proceedings, meaning this is still a bulky-ish camera; however, it takes up less space than a DSLR proper with an eye-level viewfinder, a feature this bridge camera does not have.

The back panel, which has a resolution of 461k dots and measures 3 inches, is similarly fixed. Unfortunately, this means there is no way to tilt or rotate the screen to obtain more creative framing angles. While this could have been a desirable feature, considering the low-ish price, it is not a deal breaker. If you are interested in street photography, the telephoto setting makes it simple to get candid close-ups of individuals unaware they are being photographed. At the same time, the most expansive angle option, 24 millimeters, still enables us to fit a lot into the frame.

The all-encompassing nature of the lens reaches also makes this an ideal camera for visitors. It enables us to frame our shots in various ways without requiring us to go forward or backward in our position.

Canon PowerShot 520 HS Image Quality

Even without choosing any of the “Super Vivid” color options, when there is a lot of available sunshine, the colors captured by the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS absolutely “pop,” particularly the blues and greens that are captured in landscape photographs. There is also sufficient detail in the highlights and shadows to please, and even though we could always use more facts, we are talking about a camera with a small-ish, typical 1/2.3-inch sensor here. But, again, this means there is enough detail in the highlights and shadows to satisfy.

Because of this, the camera manufacturer has decided that the highest ISO level that can be selected is just 3200, which may sound like a small number but is relatively high. There is also the possibility of choosing the completely automatic low light mode; however, doing so causes the resolution to decrease to four megapixels and produces some pretty unsettling effects when used in almost complete darkness. Thus it is recommended that this mode be avoided whenever possible.

Sticking at ISO800 – or ISO1600 if you have to – is still the best way to prevent grain and picture noise. However, the maximum ISO3200 level, although not dreadful and potentially more merciful if you want to transform the result into a black-and-white image, is worth accessing in an emergency.

A maximum lens aperture of f/3.4 may not be something to write home about, and it progresses to a so-so f/8 while shooting at infinity telephoto, but at this price, it’s a case of horses for courses.

At maximum wide angle, we note a minuscule amount of softness in the extreme corners of the frame and a fish eye effect owing to that super wide 24mm maximum setting. At maximum telephoto, we find a slight softness overall in handled photographs.

On the other hand, the results and clarity are surprisingly good for a camera that costs less than $300. In addition, all of this needs to be examined within the framework of a zoom reach that gives us a significant amount of leeway regarding how we frame still photographs and movies. Even while the SX520 HS will never be able to take the place of a DSLR or a CSC, it may still be a good choice for a family looking for an affordable, all-in-one alternative.

Canon PowerShot 520 HS Specs

Body typeCompact
Max resolution4608 x 3456
Image ratio w h1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels16 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors17 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeBSI-CMOS
ProcessorDigic 4+
ISOAuto, 100-3200
White balance presets5
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatNo
JPEG quality levelsSuperfine, Fine
Focal length (equiv.)24–1008 mm
Optical zoom42×
Maximum apertureF3.4–6
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View.
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Normal focus range5 cm (1.97″)
Macro focus range0 cm (0″)
Number of focus points9
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots461,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT-LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/2000 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject/scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash Range5.50 m
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, on, off, slow synchro
Continuous drive1.6 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weighted spot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (30 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Microphone portNo
Headphone portNo
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-6LH rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)210
Weight (inc. batteries)441 g (0.97 lb / 15.56 oz)
Dimensions120 x 82 x 92 mm (4.72 x 3.23 x 3.62″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo

Canon PowerShot 520 HS Conclusion

Canon PowerShot SX520 HS 16.0 Digital Camera with 42x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3-Inch TFT LCD (Black)
C $299.99
2 used from C $299.99
as of June 8, 2023 6:30 pm

Putting a large 42x optical zoom into a compact body with a small-ish sensor will never make for the best of bedfellows if the ultimate in image quality is your aim. However, we’d argue that the 16-megapixel Canon PowerShot SX520 HS is more about convenience, flexibility, and value for money – all of which it delivers. Unfortunately, it also has a lot of room for improvement in terms of image quality.

The build feels a bit plastic-y compared to the smaller DSLRs it resembles at first glance, but given the price tag, this is expected. Having a camera with this kind of zoom range that feels lightweight into the bargain isn’t necessarily bad – you want the conveniences of a broad focal range but not the bulk that is usually associated with it. Having a camera with this kind of zoom range that feels lightweight into the bargain isn’t necessarily bad.

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