Canon PowerShot A520 Review
Timing & Performance
Like most of Canon's A series PowerShots, the A520 has fairly pedestrian performance that reflects its pricing and positioning as a budget camera. Some aspects of operation feel very snappy indeed - the menus are very fast and shutter lag is pretty low, and overall performance is as good as you could expect at this end of the market. But there are times when the A520 feels very sluggish if you're used to a faster camera. We can live with the rather leisurely power up and power down times and slow playback (image to image browsing), but the slow focus (especially at the long end of the zoom) and long shot to shot time - especially with flash - is more serious, and something you need to be aware of if you like to fire off a lot of shots in rapid succession. It's a real pity Canon couldn't justify the new DIGIC II processor in the A520, as I'm sure this would've boosted performance significantly. Maybe next time.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2272 x 1704 SuperFine JPEG image (approx. 1,965 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 512 MB SanDisk Ultra II SD card.
|Power: Off to Record||2.5|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||2.9|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||1.8|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty, lens already retracted||~0.5|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty, lens extended||1.7|
|Record Review||Image displayed||~1.4|
|Mode: Record to Play||1.2|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens already extended||~1.9|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (10x)||~1.8 *1|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||0.8*2|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||1.1|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||35 to 140 mm (4 x)||1.7|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle||~0.8|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto||~1.0 - 1.6|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view||~0.1|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||Viewfinder||<0.1|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle||~0.9|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||~3.1|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||2.1|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (with or without redeye)||~ 7.0|
|*1||The A520 uses cacheing in playback mode. This figure is for the first time you magnify an image - if you return to the same image without leaving playback mode the time to magnify drops to around 1.0 sec.|
|*2||This is for none-rotated (i.e landscape orientation) shots. If auto rotate is enabled each vertical shot takes approx. 2.0 secs to display.|
Lag Timing Definitions
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their camera by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor / viewfinder (ready to shoot).
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.
(Take shot, AF/AE primed)
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur of the moment 'point and shoot' situation.
(Take shot, AF/AE not primed)
The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. The media used for these tests was a 512 MB SanDisk Ultra II SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.
Continuous drive mode
The A520 has only a single continuous shooting modes, which in our tests averaged around 1.7 fps (a little short of the 1.9 fps quoted by Canon). In continuous shooting mode the A520 does not show a live preview, but does display a brief review image for each picture taken.
Frames in a burst *1
|2272 x 1704 JPEG Super Fine||Continuous||1.66 fps||4||0.74 fps|
|2272 x 1704 JPEG Fine||Continuous||1.72 fps||7||0.83 fps|
|2272 x 1704 JPEG Normal||Continuous||1.76 fps||14||1.05 fps|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Super Fine||Continuous||1.6 fps||8||1.06 fps|
|1024 x 768 JPEG Super Fine||Continuous||1.7 fps||20||1.25 fps|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).|
|*2||The A520 does not stop shooting once the buffer is full, but the frame rate drops significantly. The rate varies, so the figure shown is an average measured over 20 frames.|
Not a bad performance at all for a camera in this class - and it's nice that the camera doesn't lock up once the buffer is full, but starts to write to the CompactFlash card, meaning you can go on shooting - albeit at a much slower pace.
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 512 MB SanDisk Ultra II SD card.
Time to store
Time to display
File size *1
Images on a *2
512 MB Card
|2272 x 1704 JPEG Super Fine||~2.9||~0.8||1,965 KB||243|
|2272 x 1704 JPEG Fine||~2.4||~0.7||1,155 KB||435|
|2272 x 1704 JPEG Normal||~2.0||~0.6||502 KB||859|
|1600 x 1200 JPEG Super Fine||~2.6||~0.7||965 KB||483|
|1024 x 768 JPEG Super Fine||~2.1||~0.6||399 KB||835|
|*1||All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (detail and noise).|
With write times averaging around 2.9 seconds for a 4MP (1,965 KB) Super Fine JPEG the A520 is fairly speedy for a camera of this classs, but the transfer rate - approximately 680KB/s - means fast cards will offer little advantage in this camera.
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more
No mic socket? No problem. In this video, Daniel Peters at Photo Gear News shows you how to make a lapel microphone using just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds.
How does the iPhone 7 Plus stack up against the Arri Alexa cinema camera? Watch this short video to find out.
Canon Australia's video series "The Lab" is designed to make photographers experiment and think outside the box. In the latest video a group of photographers create images based on their sense of taste.
The GH5 is expected to get a firmware update this summer to support 400Mbps internal recording. NewsShooter explores what memory cards you'll need to make it work.
Microsoft's new Surface Pro offers Intel's latest processor generation and improved battery life.
Riding a mountain bike downhill is dangerous enough in daylight, but potentially lethal at night. Which is where drones come in.
Rumors abound that Canon (and maybe Nikon) may produce a mirrorless camera based using their existing DSLR mount. Does this guarantee immediate great lens choice or a perpetually second-rate experience? Read more
According to rumors, the next camera from Nest will be able to capture 4K video, though that resolution will be only used for 'virtual' pan and tilt functions.
Boundary's Prima 'fully modular' backpack is expandable to 30L and has a removable camera case and tablet sleeve. Early Kickstarter backers can get one for $189.
Stanley Greene captured 'brutally honest' photographs in the war zones of the Middle East, Chechnya and Georgia. He was also one of the few African-American photographers working internationally.
Owners of Leica M cameras that suffer from peeling CCDs will be able to claim a free repair in the future so long as the camera was purchased within five years of the fault becoming apparent, the company has announced. Read more