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Canon SX520 HS review

Canon SX520 HS front
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £299
inc VAT

Some interesting features, but the Canon SX520 HS is outdone by rivals for quality and value


Sensor resolution: 16 megapixels, Sensor size: 1/2.3in, Viewfinder: No, LCD screen: 3in (461,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 42x (24-1,008mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/19-33, Weight: 451g, Size (HxWxD): 83x120x100mm


The Canon SX520 HS is a mid-price bridge camera, with a whopping 42x zoom lens sat in front of a less remarkable 1/2.3in sensor. Larger sensors are increasingly common, even at this price, but not in ultra-zoom models. The only camera to offer both a big zoom and a big sensor is the Panasonic FZ1000, and that costs £750. All is not lost, though. If you want to shoot distant subjects in bright light and aren’t so concerned about low-light photography, this kind of camera makes a lot of sense.

£299 isn’t exactly cheap, but the SX520 HS has various signs of being built to a price. There’s no viewfinder, and the 3in screen isn’t articulated. That means the camera must be held with outstretched arms at eye level for a clear view of the screen. This isn’t ideal for holding it steady while framing telephoto shots. There’s no Wi-Fi, GPS or RAW capture and the slim battery lasts for just 210 shots.

It’s well equipped with physical controls. There’s a mode dial and command dial on top, plus buttons for ISO speed, exposure compensation, continuous mode, flash and macro. Less common are the pair of buttons on the lens barrel. One pulls the zoom back momentarily to help locate subjects in the frame – just the thing when shooting at the telephoto end of the zoom. A quick press of the same button enables a Zoom Framing Assist mode, which works in conjunction with face detection to zoom in on a face, upper body or whole body automatically. The other button uses the optical stabilisation to help keep a subject in the centre of the frame. This button also slows the zooming speed down for careful adjustment.

The camera is reasonably responsive in normal use, powering up and capturing a shot in 1.6s and taking 1.1 seconds between shots. Continuous mode is less impressive, though, lumbering along at 1.3fps. There’s no live view in continuous mode, and with image reviews running two frames behind the action, there’s absolutely no chance of following moving subjects.

Salvation comes from a scene preset that captures 4-megapixel frames at 10fps, and can continue until the card is full. 4 megapixels isn’t enough for large prints but it’s fine for viewing on TVs, computers and tablets. There’s no direct control over the shutter or ISO speed in this mode, but the very fast shutter speeds used should work well in most cases, and exposure compensation is still available. It’s odd that Canon has provided a dedicated button to access the largely pointless 1.3fps mode, but hides the 10fps mode among the scene presets. Still, it’s a great feature for those who know where to find it, and particularly well suited to wildlife photography.

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Sensor resolution16 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3in
Focal length multiplier5.58x
Viewfinder magnification (35mm-equivalent), coverageN/A
LCD screen3in (461,000 dots)
Orientation sensorYes
Photo file formatsJPEG
Maximum photo resolution4,608×3,456
Photo aspect ratios4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1
Video compression formatQuickTime (AVC) at up to 31Mbit/s
Video resolutions1080p at 30fps, 720p at 30fps, VGA at 30fps
Slow motion video modesN/A
Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)17m 0s
Exposure modesProgram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed range15 to 1/2,000 seconds
ISO speed range100 to 3200
Exposure compensationEV +/-2
White balanceAuto, 5 presets, manual
Auto-focus modesMulti/face detect, centre, tracking
Metering modesMulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash modesAuto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modesSingle, continuous, self-timer, smile detect
Optical stabilisation
Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths)42x (24-1,008mm)
Maximum aperture (wide-tele)f/3.4-6
35mm-equivalent aperturef/19-33
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus (wide)0cm
Closest macro focus (tele)1.3m
Card slotSDXC
Memory suppliedNone
Battery typeLi-ion
ConnectivityUSB, AV, mini HDMI
Body materialPlastic
AccessoriesNeck strap
Size (HxWxD)83x120x100mm
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price including VAT£299
Part code9544B011AA

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