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Canon SX520 Comparison Review

The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS is a fixed lens compact camera that was announced in July 2014 and is equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. It offers a resolution of 15.9 megapixel.

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Is the Canon SX520 a good camera? The SX520 has a Camera Elo of 1208. This rating puts the SX520 below average of all superzoom compact cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (small sensor cameras), the SX520 also ranks below average. – Well, the Canon SX520 is more than 6 years old, and there have been many other good digital cameras released since 2014.

Headline Specifications
Canon SX520
Fixed lens compact camera
24-1008mm f/3.4-6
15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
1080/30p Video
ISO 100 - 3 200
no viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 461k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.6 shutter flaps per second
210 shots per battery charge
120 x 82 x 92 mm, 441 g


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Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Canon SX520 vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Canon SX520 vs credit card front
SX520 versus credit card top view
SX520 and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Canon SX520 alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

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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 SX520 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 441 g 210 n Jul 2014 399i
 
Canon 4000D 129 mm 102 mm 77 mm 436 g 500 n Feb 2018 399 i
 
Canon 1300D 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 485 g 500 n Mar 2016 449i
 
Canon SX540 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 205 n Jan 2016 399 i
 
Canon SX530 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 210 n Jan 2015 429i
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349i
 
Canon SX700 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 250 n Feb 2014 349i
 
Canon 1200D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
 
Canon SX510 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 349 g 250 n Aug 2013 249i
 
Nikon B600 122 mm 82 mm 99 mm 500 g 280 n Jan 2019 349 i
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 listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Canon SX520 was launched in the US market at a price of $399. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Canon SX520:
Check Ebay offers

Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tent to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

The Canon SX520 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 5.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Canon SX520 among the smaller-sensor digicams that favor affordability and compact design.

Canon SX520 sensor measures

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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 SX520 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
 
Canon 4000D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.469563
 
Canon 1300D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p........
 
Canon SX540 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
 
Canon SX530 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
 
Canon 1200D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p........
 
Nikon B600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The SX520 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the SX520 can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The adjacent tables list some of the other core features of the 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
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 SX520none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
 
Canon 4000Doptical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 1300Doptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon SX540none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 5.9 Y Y
 
Canon SX530none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
 
Canon SX710none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 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 SX60922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
 
Canon SX510none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8 Y Y
 
Nikon B600none n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y

One convenient feature of the SX520 is the presence of an on-board flash. While this built-in flash is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light to brighten deep shadow areas.

Connection 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 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 SX520-stereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 4000DYmonomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon 1300DYmonomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon SX540-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon SX530-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon SX710-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon SX700-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon 1200DYmonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon SX510-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Nikon B600-stereomono--micro2.0Y-Y

The SX520 has a zoom lens built in (4.3-180.6mm f/3.4-6), which, in full frame equivalent terms, provides a focal length range from 24 to 1008mm. The camera is, hence, ready to shoot, while remaining more compact in size than an interchangeable lens camera with an optic that offers similar focal length and aperture specifications.

Expert reviews

While the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with 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. This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

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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 SX520+..3.5/5..3.5/5 Jul 2014 399i
 
Canon 4000Do..3.5/5..3.5/5 Feb 2018 399 i
 
Canon 1300Do73/1004/53.5/54/5 Mar 2016 449i
 
Canon SX540.......... Jan 2016 399 i
 
Canon SX530+ +..4/5..4/5 Jan 2015 429i
 
Canon SX710+..4/5..3.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
 
Canon SX700+ +..4/5..4/5 Feb 2014 349i
 
Canon 1200D+..4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
 
Canon SX60+ +75/1004/5..4.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
 
Canon SX510+ +..4.5/5..4/5 Aug 2013 249i
 
Nikon B600+..3.5/5..3/5 Jan 2019 349 i
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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon SX520 FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the SX520.

What type of imaging sensor is used in the SX520?

The camera has a BSI-CMOS (Backside Illuminated Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor at its core.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Canon equipped the SX520 with the DIGIC 4+ image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the SX520?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200.

Does the Canon SX520 feature an autofocus assist light?

Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.

Which battery does the SX520 use?

The camera gets its power from the NB-6LH (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Camera to camera comparisons

If you would like to see a side-by-side review of this and another camera, just make your choice using the following search menu. 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 Summary
    Camera Model Canon SX520
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 24-1008mm f/3.4-6
    Launch Date July 2014
    Launch Price USD 399
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 28 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4 608 x 3 456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3 200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4+
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type No viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View
    LCD Size 461k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking Feature
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/2000s
    Continuous Shooting 1.6 shutter flaps/s
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot
    UHS card support no
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Battery Type NB-6LH power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)210 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 120 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 441 g (15.6 oz)

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