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Canon 500D vs SX520

The Canon EOS 500D (called Canon T1i in some regions) and the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2009 and July 2014. The 500D is a DSLR, while the SX520 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (500D) and a 1/2.3-inch (SX520) sensor. The 500D has a resolution of 15.1 megapixels, whereas the SX520 provides 15.9 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 500D versus Canon SX520
Canon 500D Canon SX520
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Canon EF mount lenses 24-1008mm f/3.4-6
15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
1080/20p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800) ISO 100-3,200
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 3.0 LCD, 461k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.4 shutter flaps per second 1.6 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge210 shots per battery charge
129 x 98 x 62 mm, 520 g 120 x 82 x 92 mm, 441 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 500D and the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 500D and the Canon SX520. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 500D vs Canon SX520
Compare 500D versus SX520 top
Comparison 500D or SX520 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SX520 is notably smaller (22 percent) than the Canon 500D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 500D nor the SX520 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX520 has a lens built in, whereas the 500D is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the 500D and their specifications in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 500D gets 400 shots out of its LP-E5 battery, while the SX520 can take 210 images on a single charge of its NB-6LH power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 500D 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon SX520 4.7 in 3.2 in 3.6 in 15.6 oz 210 n Jul 2014 399i
 
Canon 750D 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 n Feb 2015 749i
 
Canon 760D 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon SX530 4.7 in 3.2 in 3.6 in 15.6 oz 210 n Jan 2015 429i
 
Canon SX700 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 250 n Feb 2014 349i
 
Canon 1200D 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 16.9 oz 500 n Feb 2014 449i
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 4.6 in 2.9 in 2.6 in 19.5 oz 240 n Feb 2014 799i
 
Canon SX60 5.0 in 3.7 in 4.5 in 22.9 oz 340 n Sep 2014 549i
 
Canon T5 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 16.9 oz 500 n Feb 2014 449i
 
Canon SX510 4.1 in 2.8 in 3.1 in 12.3 oz 250 n Aug 2013 249i
 
Canon 700D 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649i
 
Canon 650D 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon G1 X 4.6 in 3.2 in 2.6 in 18.8 oz 250 n Jan 2012 799i
 
Canon 600D 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.1 oz 440 n Feb 2011 599i
 
Canon 550D 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699i
 
Canon 450D 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.5 oz 500 n Jan 2008 799i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The SX520 was launched at a lower price than the 500D, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 500D features an APS-C sensor and the Canon SX520 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the SX520 is 92 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 5.6. The sensor in the 500D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the SX520 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Technology-wise, the SX520 uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4+) than the 500D (DIGIC 4), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 500D and Canon SX520 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the SX520 offers a slightly higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 15.1 MP of the 500D. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.33μm versus 4.69μm for the 500D). However, it should be noted that the SX520 is much more recent (by 5 years and 4 months) than the 500D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX520 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The Canon EOS 500D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

500D versus SX520 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
 
Canon SX520 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
 
Canon 750D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
 
Canon 760D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
 
Canon SX530 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
 
Canon 1200D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p........
 
Canon 700D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
 
Canon 650D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
 
Canon 600D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365
 
Canon 550D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
 
Canon 450D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the SX520 provides a faster frame rate than the 500D. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the 500D is limited to 1080/20p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 500D has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX520 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 500D and Canon SX520 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon 500Doptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
 
Canon SX520none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
 
Canon 750Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 760Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon SX530none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
 
Canon SX700none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5 Y Y
 
Canon 1200Doptical n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
 
Canon SX60922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
 
Canon T5optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon SX510none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8 Y Y
 
Canon 700Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 650Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n 3.0 922 Swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
 
Canon 600Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
 
Canon 550Doptical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
 
Canon 450Doptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n

The 500D writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the SX520 uses SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 500D and Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon 500DYmonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon SX520-stereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 750DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon 760DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon SX530-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon SX700-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon 1200DYmonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon T5Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon SX510-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Canon 700DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 650DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon G1 XYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 600DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 550DYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 450DY----mini2.0---

It is notable that the 500D has a hotshoe, while the SX520 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Both the 500D and the SX520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 500D was replaced by the Canon 550D, while the SX520 was followed by the Canon SX530. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 500D and the Canon SX520? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 500D:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 461k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.4 vs 1.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 210) on a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2009).


Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4+ vs DIGIC 4).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/20p).
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the 500D requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x82mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the 500D).
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 4 months of technical progress since the 500D launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 500D is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 9 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

500D 13:09 SX520

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 500D and the Canon SX520 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Superzoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 500D or the SX520. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 500D+ +74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon SX520+..3.5/5..3.5/5 Jul 2014 399i
 
Canon 750D..75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
 
Canon 760D+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon SX530+ +..4/5..4/5 Jan 2015 429i
 
Canon SX700+ +..4/5..4/5 Feb 2014 349i
 
Canon 1200D+..4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
 
Canon G1 X Mark II+77/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
 
Canon SX60+ +75/1004/5..4.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
 
Canon T5+..4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
 
Canon SX510+ +..4.5/5..4/5 Aug 2013 249i
 
Canon 700D..76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
 
Canon 650D+ +77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon G1 X+76/1004/54/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
 
Canon 600Do77/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599i
 
Canon 550D+ +77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
 
Canon 450D+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon 500D:
Check Ebay offers
Canon SX520:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon 500D vs Canon SX520

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 500D Canon SX520
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses 24-1008mm f/3.4-6
    Launch Date March 2009 July 2014
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 399
    Sensor Specs Canon 500D Canon SX520
    Sensor Technology CMOS BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 15.1 Megapixels 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4752 x 3168 pixels 4608 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.69 μm 1.33 μm
    Pixel Density 4.53 MP/cm2 56.73 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/20p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 6,400 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 4+
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.7 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.5 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 663 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 500D Canon SX520
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 461k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 500D Canon SX520
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.4 shutter flaps/s 1.6 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon 500D Canon SX520
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 500D Canon SX520
    Battery Type LP-E5 NB-6LH
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge210 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 129 x 98 x 62 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
    120 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 520 g (18.3 oz) 441 g (15.6 oz)

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