Canon PowerShot SX520 HS Review

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Canon seems to have hit a sweet spot with its SX500-series long-zoom digital cameras. Both the original Canon SX500 HS and followup SX510 were big sellers, thanks to the combinatioon of generous zoom reach and an affordable pricetag. Now, the 16-megapixel Canon SX520 follows in their footsteps, and offers an altogether different formula.

Where the Canon SX510 sat near impulse-buy territory with a pricetag of US$250, its successor lists for US$400 — a full 60% pricier than the earlier model. And for your money, you no longer get in-camera Wi-Fi wireless networking connectivity. What you do get, though, is more zoom reach than ever, as well as uprated performance and a slight bump in resolution.

The Canon SX520 places its brand-new 42x optical zoom lens in front of a 16-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch type CMOS image sensor. The lens has far more reach than that of the SX510, and it’s all to be found at the telephoto end of the range. The generous 24mm-equivalent wide-angle is unchanged, but where the earlier camera topped out at a powerful 720mm-equivalent telephoto, the Canon SX520 HS will take you all the way out to a jaw-dropping 1,008mm equivalent.

Impressively, it does so while retaining a maximum aperture range of f/3.4 to f/6.0 across the zoom range, only slightly less bright at telephoto than the earlier camera. It also manages to focus even closer at telephoto — just 4.3 feet — so you should be able to get even more tightly-framed macro shots than before. The downside is that the new lens makes the SX520 quite a bit bulkier, having grown a half-inch in each dimension, and gained 3.3 ounces in weight.

The Canon SX520 HS also improves performance somewhat over its predecessor, thanks in part to a new DIGIC 4+ image processor. That’s not to say this is a fast camera, by any means, however. While you can shoot at an impressive 10 frames per second, you’ll need to slash the resolution to just 3.9 megapixels to do so.

At the full 16-megapixel resolution, burst performance is a sedate 1.6 frames per second, up from one frame per second in the earlier camera. The new model can also now shoot 30 frames per second movies at Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel; 1080p) resolution, where its predecessor was limited to 24 fps.

There are a few other changes of particular note. The Canon SX520 HS now has a faster shutter speed of 1/2,000 second, where the earlier model was limited to 1/1,600 second, and its flash is a little more powerful, too. Unfortunately, battery life has plunged from 250 to 210 shots, likely because CIPA testing standards require racking through the entire zoom range between shots, which is a bigger task with a 42x zoom lens than with the earlier 30x zoom. The SX520 HS also has a slightly narrower ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 3,200 equivalents.

As in the earlier model, images and movies are saved on Secure Digital cards, including SDHC and SDXC types. Power also comes from the same proprietary NB-6LH battery pack as in the earlier camera, and the same selection of USB 2.0 High Speed data, high-definition Mini HDMI and standard-definition composite video outputs is provided.


Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon PowerShot SX520 HS
Resolution: 16.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Kit Lens: 42.00x zoom
(24-1,008mm eq.)
Viewfinder: No / OLED
Native ISO: 100 – 3200
Extended ISO: 100 – 3200
Shutter: 15 – 1/2000
Max Aperture: 3.4
Dimensions: 4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in.
(120 x 82 x 92 mm)
Weight: 15.6 oz (441 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $400
Availability: 09/2014
Manufacturer: Canon
Full specs: Canon SX520 HS specifications

It will be interesting to see whether this new formula — essentially, more zoom for more money — pays off for Canon quite as well as did the previous strategy!




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