Mar 15, 2005

Canon PowerShot SD500

Digital Camera Resource Page have posted their review of the ultra compact, ultra high resolution Canon PowerShot SD500 Digital ELPH.
They write-
Canon PowerShot SD500
Canon PowerShot SD500

"When Canon set out to make an ultra compact, ultra high resolution camera, it wasn't as simple as dropping a new CCD into an existing body. The reason for that is due to the size of the CCD sensor itself: on the SD200, SD300, and the new SD400, the CCD is 1/2.5" in size. But a 7.1 Megapixel sensor -- also used in the PowerShot G6 and S70 -- is physically larger (1/1.8"), so it wouldn't work in the SD200/300/400 body.

So, Canon designed a camera that shares most of the guts of the other SD series cameras and gave it a radically different look. That camera is the PowerShot SD500 Digital ELPH ($500). Canon calls it a "perpetual curve" design, and it's certainly eye-catching. Since the sensor and lens are larger, the whole camera is as well. It's about a quarter inch thicker than the other SD models, and it's 30% heavier as well.

In addition to the new body and higher resolution sensor, Canon also threw in these new features:

* 50% longer flash range versus the SD200/SD300/SD400
* 14% more battery life than other SD series models
* New "Night Display" feature brightens the LCD in low light
* My Colors feature lets you highlight and even swap colors right on the camera
* USB 2.0 High Speed support

The most striking feature of the SD500 is its "perpetual curve" design. This is one camera that definitely turns heads -- and that's speaking from experience!

Anybody remember the PowerShot S500? It had a 1.5" LCD display. My, how things have changed -- for the better. The SD500, like the three other SD cameras, has a 2.0" LCD which is bright and beautiful. With 118,000 pixels, the screen is plenty sharp, as well. One of the night features on the SD400 and SD500 is called Night Display. This automatically brightens the screen in low light situations so you can actually see what you're looking at. It's about time.

With the PowerShot SD500 Digital ELPH, Canon has delivered an excellent ultra-compact, high resolution digital camera that's one of the best out there. It takes excellent quality 7.1 Megapixel photos that rival those from the higher-end PowerShot G6, though purple fringing and corner softness are issue (though minor, thankfully). While it's a bit chunkier than the other SD series cameras, the SD500 is still a very small metal camera that can go anywhere with ease. Build quality is very good, save for the usual cheap plastic door over the memory card and battery compartment. The SD500 has a nicely sized 2.0" LCD display that gains up in low light situations (finally!). I'm also glad to see that Canon has done away with the optical viewfinder on the SD cameras.

Camera performance is excellent, again thanks to the DIGIC II processor. Whether it's startup, shutter lag, shot-to-shot, or playback speed that you're measuring, the SD500 blows away the competition. Low light focusing is also very good thanks to the SD500's AF-assist lamp, and the newly added support for USB 2.0 High Speed is a nice bonus. . Both the movie and continuous shooting modes are excellent, as long as you're using a high speed memory card. The movie mode lets you record VGA size video at 30 frames/second until the memory card is full. Similarly, the continuous shooting mode will keep firing away at 2 frames/second until you run out of space on the card. The new My Colors feature is interesting and kind of fun, though I have to wonder how often it will be used after the novelty wears off. In terms of manual controls, the SD500 is a mixed bag. You can create a custom white balance setting and pick a long shutter speed, but other useful things like manual focus or the ability to choose a fast shutter speed are missing. Point-and-shoot lovers will be pleased with the selection of scene modes on thee camera, but again, where's the action mode?

There isn't too much else to complain about, as I've slipped most of the SD500's negatives in the previous two paragraphs. As you'd expect on a camera like this, redeye is a problem. While the battery life is improved over the earlier SD models, it's still not as good as some of the competition. And finally, you cannot swap memory cards while the camera is on a tripod.

In case you didn't notice, I like the PowerShot SD500. A lot. If you want a lot of pixels in a small camera, this is a great choice"

Click to read the rest of the Canon PowerShot SD500 review.