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Canon SX500 vs SX520

The Canon PowerShot SX500 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2012 and July 2014. Both the SX500 and the SX520 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixels.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon SX500
versus
Canon SX520
Canon SX500   Canon SX520
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 24-1008mm f/3.4-6
15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
720/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 80-1,600 ISO 100-3,200
No viewfinder, LCD framing No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 461k dots 3.0 LCD, 461k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.8 shutter flaps per second 1.6 shutter flaps per second
195 shots per battery charge210 shots per battery charge
104 x 70 x 80 mm, 341 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 PowerShot SX500 IS 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 physical size and weight of the Canon SX500 and the Canon SX520 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon SX500 vs Canon SX520
Compare SX500 versus SX520 top
Comparison SX500 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 larger (35 percent) than the Canon SX500. Moreover, the SX520 is markedly heavier (29 percent) than the SX500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX500 nor the SX520 are weather-sealed.

Concerning battery life, the SX500 gets 195 shots out of its NB-6L battery, while the SX520 can take 210 images on a single charge of its NB-6LH power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX500 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 341 g 195 n Aug 2012 329i
2.
 
Canon SX520 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 441 g 210 n Jul 2014 399i
3.
 
Canon SX740 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 299 g 265 n Jul 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399i
5.
 
Canon 1300D 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 485 g 500 n Mar 2016 449i
6.
 
Canon SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299i
7.
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279i
8.
 
Canon SX530 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 210 n Jan 2015 429i
9.
 
Canon SX700 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 250 n Feb 2014 349i
10.
 
Canon SX400 104 mm 69 mm 80 mm 313 g 190 n Jul 2014 249i
11.
 
Canon 1200D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
12.
 
Canon SX510 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 349 g 250 n Aug 2013 249i
13.
 
Canon 100D 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549i
14.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The SX500 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 18 percent) than the SX520, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a 1/2.3-inch sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 5.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the smaller-sensor digicams that favor affordability and compact design. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Technology-wise, the SX520 uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4+) than the SX500 (DIGIC 4), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon SX500 and Canon SX520 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 15.9 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the SX500 and the SX520 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the SX520 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the SX500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

The Canon PowerShot SX500 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

SX500 versus SX520 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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
1.
 
Canon SX500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p........
2.
 
Canon SX520 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
3.
 
Canon SX740 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p........
4.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
5.
 
Canon 1300D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p........
6.
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
7.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p........
8.
 
Canon SX530 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
9.
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
10.
 
Canon SX400 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p........
11.
 
Canon 1200D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
12.
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p........
13.
 
Canon 100D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
14.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the SX520 provides a better video resolution than the SX500. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the SX500 is limited to 720/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SX500 and the SX520 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX500 and Canon SX520 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/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
1.
 
Canon SX500none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
2.
 
Canon SX520none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
3.
 
Canon SX740none n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/3200s 10.0 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX730none n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
5.
 
Canon 1300Doptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon SX420none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX410none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX530none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX700none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5 Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX400none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
11.
 
Canon 1200Doptical n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon SX510none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8 Y Y
13.
 
Canon 100Doptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
14.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y

Both the SX500 and the SX520 have zoom lenses built in. The SX500 has a 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 optic and the SX520 offers a 24-1008mm f/3.4-6 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the SX500 and SX520 provide the same view at the wide-angle end, but the SX520 has more tele-photo reach at the long end. Both cameras offer the same maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX500 and the SX520 write their files to 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 PowerShot SX500 IS 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon SX500-stereo / mono---2.0---
2.
 
Canon SX520-stereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX740-stereo / mono--micro2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Canon SX730-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
5.
 
Canon 1300DYmono / mono--mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX420-mono / mono---2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX410-stereo / mono---2.0---
8.
 
Canon SX530-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon SX700-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
10.
 
Canon SX400-stereo / mono---2.0---
11.
 
Canon 1200DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Canon SX510-stereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
13.
 
Canon 100DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
14.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--

Both the SX500 and the SX520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX500 was replaced by the Canon SX510, 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? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX500 or the Canon SX520 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS:

  • More compact: Is smaller (104x70mm vs 120x82mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 100g or 23 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (18 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2012).


Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS:

  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4+ vs DIGIC 4).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/30p).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/2000s vs 1/1600s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (1.6 vs 0.8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 11 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SX520 emerges as the winner of the match-up (6 : 4 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

SX500 04:06 SX520

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX500 and the Canon SX520 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX500 or the SX520 perform in practice. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX500..+ +....4/54/5 Aug 2012 329i
2.
 
Canon SX520..+....3.5/53.5/5 Jul 2014 399i
3.
 
Canon SX740..+3.5/5..4/54/5 Jul 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon SX730..+....4/54/5 Apr 2017 399i
5.
 
Canon 1300D4/5o4/573/1004/54/5 Mar 2016 449i
6.
 
Canon SX420..........3/5 Jan 2016 299i
7.
 
Canon SX410..o........ Feb 2015 279i
8.
 
Canon SX530..+ +....4/54/5 Jan 2015 429i
9.
 
Canon SX700..+ +....4/54/5 Feb 2014 349i
10.
 
Canon SX400..+........ Jul 2014 249i
11.
 
Canon 1200D3/5+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
12.
 
Canon SX510..+ +....4.5/54/5 Aug 2013 249i
13.
 
Canon 100D4/5+..78/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
14.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon SX500:
Check Ebay offers
Canon SX520:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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 SX500 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 SX500 Canon SX520
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 24-1008mm f/3.4-6
    Launch Date August 2012 July 2014
    Launch Price USD 329 USD 399
    Sensor Specs Canon SX500 Canon SX520
    Sensor Technology CCD BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4608 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 1.33 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 56.73 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 4+
    Screen Specs Canon SX500 Canon SX520
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder no viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 461k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX500 Canon SX520
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.8 shutter flaps/s 1.6 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX500 Canon SX520
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon SX500 Canon SX520
    Battery Type NB-6L NB-6LH
    Battery Life (CIPA)195 shots per charge210 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 104 x 70 x 80 mm
    (4.1 x 2.8 x 3.1 in)
    120 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 341 g (12.0 oz) 441 g (15.6 oz)

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