21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Great zoom, less good in low light,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Canon IXUS 500 HS Digital Camera - Black (10.1MP, 12x Optical Zoom) 3.0 inch LCD (Electronics)
This is the third digital IXUS camera I've owned in the last five years or so, and the most impressive thing about it is that they have managed to fit a 12x zoom into a box this small. (My original IXUS 70 had a 3x zoom, and the 500 is pretty much exactly the same size.) Even more surprisingly, the zoom doesn't protrude that far when the camera is switched on, even at full extension.
There is, of course, a trade-off - the miniaturisation of the optics has meant that the image sensor has to be correspondingly small. Canon have got round this by fitting a 1/2.3 inch sensor, as is common in small cameras, but they are only using part of it, hence the reduction in megapixels compared to cameras of similar size with smaller zoom ranges. So this is not a 1/2.3 10 megapixel sensor with a relatively low pixel density; it's a 1/2.3 16 megapixel sensor, but 6 megapixels aren't used. The major implication of this is low-light performance - even though the HS badge is supposed to imply impressive low-light shooting, I'm afraid on this camera it is no better than adequate. It struggles to find focus in low light conditions, and low light images are very noisy, even at lower ISO settings.
However, if you use the camera in well-lit conditions, it produces excellent results, particularly for something this size. The image stabilisation works well, and the combination of the optical zoom and the additional digital zoom produces quite acceptable quality images at what is effectively 600mm on a 35mm camera. The boxy shape is somewhat awkward to hold when shooting, but no more so than any other camera this size would be, and the zoom and shutter controls are easy to use.
A couple of other small caveats - this camera uses microSD cards rather than full-size SD, which is rare in photography. Also, while build quality is in general impressive (metal front and rear panels on a plastic frame), the blades that cover the lens when not in use are very flimsy and do not inspire confidence - unlike other IXUSes I've owned, they look fairly easy to damage, so care is needed when handling the camera while switched off.
But all the above needs to put in the context of a camera the size of a deck of playing cards, less than 2cm thick, with a 12x optical zoom. I'm not aware of any other camera that comes close to this zoom range in this size, and the result is a hugely useful little gadget.