What the Canon IXUS 500 HS possesses in the looks it more than matches it with regards to performance. Considering that the camera is packing a 12x optical zoom, start-up times are assuringly prompt and you’ll go from power off to ready to shoot in a matter of seconds.
On the subject of the zoom: the camera’s intelligent IS system performs well in use and offers that extra step of stability that will help you get sharp images in low light conditions. The lens, and camera on the whole, also offers good performance in the focus department. AF speed is impressive on the whole, with the range of different focus settings all offering accurate and prompt performance even in difficult lighting conditions. Thanks to the camera’s onboard DIGIC 5 chip, there is little by the way of delay when it comes to the processing of images.
The IXUS 500 HS features Canon’s characteristic menu system, allowing for all the relevant settings to be accessed easily, thus making the capture process both simple and enjoyable.
Image quality is generally good with regards to the IXUS 500 HS. As is often the case with Canon compacts, colours appear on the vivid side of neutral, but not so much as to hamper image quality of the whole. The model’s white balance system also performs well and, although it does err to the warm end of the scale on occasion, once again this is rarely to the detriment of image quality.
Canon claims that thanks to the presence of its HS technology, as well as a back-lit sensor, you shouldn’t have to worry about noise being an issue at high ISO settings. The good news is that largely these claims ring true, or at least as true as they can be for a compact camera.
Images captured at ISO setting of 400 and below show very little by way of degradation in image quality due to high ISO noise, with only the slightest of softening of fine detail evident owning to noise reduction technology. Once you get above ISO 400, signs of ISO noise to become more evident yet do not destroy images on the whole. Although at ISO 1600 and 3200 noise becomes clear and a touch intrusive, the settings are still more than usable if you’re not looking to enlarge your prints massively.
Other possible areas where image flaw could creep in are also well controlled. For example, there is very little by way of barrel distortion from the large 12x optical zoom and, although there is the slight evidence of softening towards the frame edges, it’s far from intrusive. Fringing is also kept to a minimum and, on the whole, the Canon IXUS 500 HS delivers some excellent images.
The Canon IXUS 500 HS is a compact camera that impresses at first sight. Not only is the model one of the most stylish currently on the market, but it also features a weighty specification to match its eye-catching looks. The combination of 10.1MP CMOS sensor, Canon’s HS technology, DIGIC 5 processor and 12x optical zoom results in both excellent image quality and a versatility up there with more advanced compacts. All of this does come at a price, and there are similarly specified compacts available for less, but if you’re happy to pay the premium you’ll be the owner of an excellent compact camera.