If you’re one who will embrace a touchscreen, you’ll find the PowerShot 500 HS fun to use. It responds (usually) quickly, offers a nice variety of user inputs including shutter and aperture priority modes and the f/2 lens comes in handy when you’re looking for a little more shutter speed in dim conditions.
Auto focus is sufficiently fast in good lighting. Fast moving subjects will be harder to capture, but for most purposes the 500 HS’s auto focus system is fast enough. In the darkest conditions it’s slowed considerably, but the AF assist lamp helps keep it accurate. Continuous shooting is sustained for only 3 frames at a 3.8 fps rate, a somewhat disappointing figure as competing cameras from Sony and Nikon are pushing burst rates faster and faster.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Sony Cyber-shot WX9||0.01|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10||0.01|
|Nikon Coolpix S9100||0.01|
|Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS||0.02|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Nikon Coolpix S9100||0.18|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10||0.18|
|Sony Cyber-shot WX9||0.25|
|Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS||0.36|
|Nikon Coolpix S9100||5||15.0 fps|
|Sony Cyber-shot WX9||10||9.8 fps|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10||14||5.5 fps|
|Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS||3||3.8 fps|
*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
The camera’s built-in flash covers a range of 1.6 to 16 feet at wide angle and 1.6 to 6.6 feet at telephoto. I measured recycle times averaging around three seconds and up to six seconds after a full discharge.
The Canon 500 HS uses optical image stabilization and it appears to be doing its job. Images captured at shutter speeds as low as 1/15 are fairly sharp. It doesn’t work miracles, though. Zooming in on a subject in poor lighting conditions will cause the aperture to narrow and force an even slower shutter speed that no optical image stabilization system could compensate for.
Battery performance is equally good. The included lithium-ion battery required a charge only a few times over the month I spent shooting on-and-off with the 500 HS. Canon claims a CIPA rating of 180 shots per charge, an accurate number in my experience with the camera.
The ELPH 500 HS is built around a 24-105mm equivalent lens, providing a 4.4x optical zoom. It is plenty wide for landscape shots. That 4.4x magnification may seem comparatively low, especially considering that the 300 HS packs a 5x zoom, but this lens is not built for distance – it’s built for speed.
At wide angle the aperture opens as wide as f/2; at telephoto f/5.8. It will focus as close as 1.2-inches in macro mode. As mentioned above, a shorter lens could work in the 500 HS’s favor. In this case, it seems that this logic holds true.
The lens displays very nice edge-to-edge sharpness, with just a little softening at the corners of images. Chromatic aberration appears to be under control, with some fringing creeping in between dark foreground objects and bright backgrounds when viewed at 100% magnification.