Canon Ixus 500 HS review
The slim, sumptuous design and 12x zoom lens are a great combination, but other cameras beat it for image quality
Review Date: 8 Mar 2012
Price when reviewed: £256
Reviewed By: Ben Pitt
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, though, and the Ixus 500 HS's photos are actually pretty good. It helps that this sensor is an HS chip, Canon's name for back-illuminated CMOS technology which delivers lower noise than conventional sensors. The higher pixel density of this 16-megapixel sensor does bring drawbacks, though, with some image noise even in bright conditions. Image quality held together extremely well in gloomier conditions, though, standing up to scrutiny at ISO 400 and producing passable snaps at ISO 1600. The Panasonic SZ7 gave cleaner results in bright light, but in low light the Canon's superior noise reduction gave it the advantage.
The Canon's lens isn't up to the same standards as the Panasonic's, though. Comparing both at 100 per cent magnification, the Panasonic was slightly sharper at their wide-angle settings, and its higher resolution and wider-angle view gave it a clear advantage. As we zoomed both cameras in, the Canon's focus began to deteriorate, at first just in the corners of frames, but by the full telephoto extension it was a little soft across the whole frame compared to the Panasonic.
Focus deteriorates at the telephoto end of the zoom: compare this shot to a similar one in our Panasonic SZ7 review - click to enlarge
The rest of the package is familiar territory, with Canon's usual knack for sumptuous, flattering colours and sensible automatic exposures. Performance was solid, taking 2.1 seconds on average between shots, while continuous mode ran at 2.3fps. Videos are recorded at 1080/24p in AVC format but are limited to 10 minutes per clip. Picture and sound quality were excellent but the zoom motor spoiled the soundtrack slightly.
The Ixus 500 HS is bound to be a bestseller with its eye-catching slim design and 12x zoom. Its owners are unlikely to be disappointed, but the Panasonic SZ7 is a better example of the same basic concept. Meanwhile, if you can live with an 8x zoom, the Canon Ixus 230 HS remains our top recommendation with its exceptional image quality, slim design and sub-£200 price.
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