The IXUS 500 HS features eye-catching looks and the promise of excellent image quality thanks to Canon's HS system. The question is, does it deliver? Read on to find out
The latest high-end model in Canon’s IXUS series – the IXUS 500HS – features a 10MP CMOS sensor complete with Canon’s HS system and DIGIC 5 processor. The sensor itself is backlit, promising improved performance on the standard variety of sensor.
The compact also features a 12x optical zoom, covering a focal range of 28-336m, supported by an Intelligent IS system. The zoom is extendable up to 21x using ZoomPlus technology, although this is essentially an improved variety of a digital zoom.
The impressive specification continues with a 3in, 461k-dot PureColor II LCD screen and full HD video capture at a resolution of 1080p. In spite of this burgeoning specification and large optical zoom, the IXUS 500HS is noticeable slim and compact – the attempts to make the compact as small as possible even extend to the use of microSD cards as opposed to the standard variety.
The IXUS 500HS features a range of shooting modes, with a Smart Auto mode on offer for those happy for the camera to make decisions on settings for them – Smart Auto selects from 58 different scenes to choose the one suitable for the chosen subject.
The striking design of the IXUS 500 HS is not solely aesthetic – the compact sits well in the hand and buttons are laid out in such a manner that the compact is a pleasure to use. The model’s LCD screen, no doubt thanks to the PureColor technology, is also striking.
General performance is also pleasing. The 500 HS features impressive focus speed and accuracy, and the various specialist focus modes – including the Face ID setting – all performing their rolls well. The general usability of the compact is also difficult to fault. Canon’s characteristic IXUS menu system is present, making the alteration of settings a breeze, while the control layout also benefits this.
Image quality is generally impressive. The camera’s metering system is generally reliable and provides balanced exposures more often than not. If the camera ever does over or under-expose, this doesn’t present much of an issue as the IXUS 500HS features a good dynamic range. Colours display a pleasing vibrancy which sits just on the correct side of over-saturated.
The optics on the IXUS 500 HS also perform capably – fringing is barely visible, even if harsh lighting conditions and area of contrast. Sharpness is also evident throughout the frame, although there is a slight softening in the very edges.
The combination of a backlit CMOS sensor and HS system deliver very good ISO performance. Settings right up to ISO 800 are eminently usable, and even at ISO 1600 and 3200 noise is managed well enough that it’s safe to recommend using the settings.
As is often the case with Canon’s IXUS range, the 500HS arrives with a price tag exceeding other similarly specified compacts on the market. However, the price premium is warranted – the design far exceeds a lot of its peers, as does the general finish of the camera. Image quality is also impressive and, overall, it’s certainly a complete compact, and when its price falls it will become even more of an appealing prospect.