Canon PowerShot A520 review

Started Jul 13, 2006 | User reviews
Gustavo Santos Junior Member • Posts: 33
Canon PowerShot A520 review

I have being using my A520 for about a year, and, though it's not a perfect camera (it's a budget camera!), I find much more to like than to dislike about it.

Good stuff:
- Canon-like bright colors (vivid reds), but no exagerated saturation. Unless you want it.
- Vivid mode adjustment allows colourful pictures in dull daylight. A very welcome plus. Delivers punchy pictures.
- Good detail for a 4 megapixel cam;
- Impressive (and intelligent) night shot mode. Illuminates front subject (people) with flash, and also captures the distant background, by using very slow shutter speeds. That's what made me choose this model.
- Stitch assist, to allow composing several shots into one large panoramic picture. Neat!
- Images are NOT overprocessed, as in many Sony cams, for example.
- 140mm (equiv) tele very useful, not available in many similar cameras
- Focus usually smart (except in macro and sometimes in the longest tele); Tends to find (the right) subjects most of the time, even when not in the center. And the camera beeps when focus is not acquired, which helps.
- Built-in flash hasn't got a long range, but is telescopic, following the zoom length - at adequate ranges, illuminates better (no dark corners!) then most siblings.
The color of flash-using images is excelent, unlike some other (even more expensive) cameras.
- Lots of scene modes - slow shutter, fast shutter, etc, and
- Manual control: Aperture prio, Speed prio, Full Manual. If you know how to use them, eventually you'll need them. Or miss them.
- After focusing, low shutter lag (1/10 sec).
- Standard AA cells.
- Burst mode, that works. I use it to take several sequential shots of people, and then select the one that they're not blinking, and smiles are not worn out.
- Full control over white balance. In cams around this price, most use auto WB only, and maybe some presets, but no custom adjustment. This one has it.
- Interesting movie mode. Not the best out there, considering only 15 fps at 640x480, but sound, color, focus, all work well. Very interesting films, except for really fast moving targets. Consider it a bonus.
- Small and light cam. But still enought grip.

Bad Stuff:
- SLOW. Time from shot to shot is much bigger than Sony W1, for example. The A520 takes at least 3 sec (shot to shot) without flash being used, and up to 7 sec with flash. That is the one stuff that really annoys me, and makes me want to by a S2 Is.
- Noise is high at ISO 200 (though usable), and is very high at iso 400. I try never using Iso 400. Looks bad.
- Lens very dark at longer tele end (140mm). F5.5 is very dark, indeed.
- Small viewfinder. Again, Sony's W1 viewfinder is much larger and better.

This model has been replaced by A530 and A540; I've seem them, and their finish looks cheap. A520 looks much better with its aluminun front piece.

Problems:

No problem, man. 2.400 shots taken and still good to go.
Except one, maybe: the automatic lens cover, when battery is low, may not open fully when you turn on the camera. Maybe a software bug? Well, shut it down and on again, and it opens well.
Only happened twice.

Canon PowerShot A520
4 megapixels • 1.8 screen • 35 – 140 mm (4×)
Announced: Feb 1, 2005
Gustavo Santos's score
4.5
Average community score
4.3
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