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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Canon PowerShot S500

Canon Digital Cameras


Canon PowerShot S500 Review

Review Date: Apr 1, 2004

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Canon PowerShot S500 Digital ELPH


Friday, March 19, 2004 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • PowerShot S500 Digital Elph
  • 32MB CompactFlash (CF) Memory Card
  • Li-Ion Battery & Battery Charger
  • Wrist Strap
  • Interface Cables: A/V; USB
  • English Instruction Manuals: User Guide; Software Starter Guide; Quick Start Guide [very convenient]; System Map
  • Software CDs: Digital Camera 12.0; ArcSoft Camera Suite 2.0

This attractive package comes with everything you need to get started, including a 32MB CompactFlash memory card, Li-Ion battery and battery recharger. The only thing you might want to buy to protect this nice digital camera is a soft case.

The PowerShot S410 Digital Elph is similar to the S500, except that the S410 has 4MP, records movies at a smaller resolution (320x240), and is about US$100 cheaper. They are both PictBridge-compatible, i.e. you can print directly to any PictBridge-compatible printer from the camera without going through a PC.

The Canon S500 uses a small Li-Ion battery. According to the User Guide, it takes about 130 mins to fully charge a depleted Li-Ion battery. You can safely recharge the battery at any time and do not have to wait for it to be depleted first.

A battery charger is included and it is of the type that just plugs directly into the electrical outlet.

The battery lasts a long time, though it's always a good idea to get a spare battery if you are going to take lots of pictures -- or turn the LCD off to dramatically conserve battery power (190 images with LCD on vs. 440 images with LCD off).

A 32MB CompactFlash (CF) memory card is included. At Superfine Large resolution, it will hold about 11 images. I recommend you purchase as large a memory card as you can afford. For example, a 256MB CF card will allow you to record about 98 images. It's typically a one-time purchase, and a large enough memory card means you might never have to take it out of the camera.

With Windows XP, you don't need to install any software to transfer images from camera to PC. There are two CDs included: ArcSoft Camera Suite 1.3 (PhotoImpression 5, VideoImpression 2) and Digital Camera Solution Disk 17.1 (ZoomBrowser EX 4.6, PhotoRecord 2.0, PhotoStitch 3.1, Camera Twain Driver 6.4, Camera WIA Driver 6.2)

The User Guide is well illustrated and written, though the print is on the small side. A Quick Start Guide is all you need to get started with the basics of using the camera.

Spider-man 2 - 2 July 2004: Photoshop montage
Spider-man 2 - 2 July 2004: Photoshop montage

The S500 is basically a point-and-shoot digital camera and you'll be mostly taking pictures in Auto Mode. Some of the settings available can only be chosen when "Manual" Shooting Mode is selected. Here is a chart showing the functions that are available depending on the Shooting Mode selected.

Don't be fooled by the "Manual" mode -- it's more like Program AE where everything is still auto but also allowing you to select exposure compensation, a long shutter speed, white balance, ISO, and photo effects. In other words, the FUNC menu is fully enabled.

So, this means that you should probably always use "Manual" mode since it is still auto, and allows you more exposure latitude.

Here is how I set up the MENU and FUNC options:

Rec. Menu
Quick Shot = On
AiAF = Off
Cont. Shooting = H
Self-timer = 2
AF-assist Beam = On
Digital Zoom = Off
Review = 5 sec.
Long Shutter = On

Set up
Mute = On
LCD Brightness = mid [don't put too bright and get fooled that your underexposed shot is OK]
Power Saving... Auto Power Down = On, Display Off = 1 min
Auto Rotate = Off

April 4, 2004: Just found out the Time does not automatically reset for Daylight Savings Time

My Camera
Connect camera to PC and start ZoomBrowser EX -- download themes or individual sounds and pics

[You go in this menu to select Exposure Compensation and a long shutter speed]
Exp. Compensation = this is where you come to change exp. compensation
Long Shutter = while pointing to Exp. Compensation, you need to press SET to access this option
AWB = Auto
ISO = 50
Effect Off
L 2592x1944

Other Settings:
Histogram is available on playback. In Playback mode, press the DISP button a couple of times until the histogram appears. Set this way, it will display as soon as you finish taking the picture for however long you set the Review time to in the Rec. Menu. It is a good idea to learn to read the histogram if it is available on your digital camera. It is not difficult and we explain it clearly in this tutorial. You can rely on a histogram display to tell you whether your shot is underexposed or overexposed -- no matter how it looks on the LCD screen.

It is easy to get excellent results from the Canon S500 in point-and-shoot mode. It looks fashionable, is ultra compact and light (but not too light). The movie mode at 640x480 is great but only allows 30 sec. of recording at a time. You can of course fill up the whole memory card with as many 30 sec. clips as you want.

The Canon PowerShot S500 Digital Elph is an excellent choice for an ultra compact digital camera. If you are looking for a strictly point-and-shoot digital camera, do not forget to try the S500 (or S410) out. It's a carry anywhere camera that will consistently give you the kind of quality images Canon optics are reknowned for.

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