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Canon PowerShot SX520 HS

42x optical zoom available with Digic 4+ processor

Canon PowerShot 520HS
The PowerShot SX520HS has a 42x optical zoom

As I've come to expect from Canon cameras, colours directly from the SX520HS are beautifully saturated, displaying a lovely level of warmth. This is especially true when you're photographing in good light.

If you want to make the colour in images stand out even further, you can adjust the colours under the MyColors setting. Here you'll find options such as Vivid and Black & White - the former is particularly useful for boosting the vibrancy in landscape images.

Detail is resolved reasonably well, especially for a sensor of its size. However, if you examine images at 100%, you'll find that there is some image smoothing to be seen. While the overall impression of detail is good if you view an image at normal printing or web sizes, you may be disappointed if you examine very closely.

As you move up the sensitivity scale, then detail is lost. This is one of the reasons that the camera is ideal for a holiday camera - it's great in good light but, as the light fades, a significant loss of detail occurs. I wouldn't stray above ISO 800 if you can help it - use ISO 1600 sparingly. Although ISO 3200 is available, this is best avoided in all but extreme circumstances. There's also a significant amount of noise visible at high sensitivities, another reason why it's best to stick to low settings.

Canon Powershot SX520HS

Watch out for smoothing and noise at higher ISOs

The camera's evaluative (all-purpose) metering system does a good job of producing accurate exposures in the majority of surroundings, perhaps requiring a nudge of exposure compensation in very high contrast shooting conditions.

Similarly, automatic white balance does an excellent job - producing accurate colours in most conditions. Under artificial and mixed lighting, it does well, but if you're shooting in one of the PASM modes, you can adjust to a more specific white balance if it's struggling with warm tones.

A number of different filter effects available - either via the Creative Shot mode or the dedicated filters mode. Creative Shot will randomly choose five different filters - some of these are great fun, and it's a shame you can't choose ones that you like to use all the time. The filters in the dedicated mode are starting to feel a little old fashioned now - Canon has used the same ones for quite some time, so it'd be nice to see some new introductions.

With such a large zoom range, it's of course important that this aspect of the camera performs well. The optical zoom at 42x is great, resolving a good amount of detail. ZoomPlus at 84x is also more than usable if you need to get even closer. The further digital zoom is probably best avoided unless you absolutely need to get even closer.


There's a lot to like about the SX520, and in many ways it represents an excellent all-round camera for those looking for something to take on holiday or traveling with them.

Images are great in good light, but when shooting at high sensitivities, they could be better.

The range of creative modes is decent, but it would be nice to see a greater degree of flexibility and new additions here. The Hybrid Auto video is good fun when on holiday or at an event such as wedding, but it would be nice to have this feature available in other shooting modes rather than just automatic.

For those who want to take control of their images, full manual control is great - but the SX520 doesn't shoot in raw format, which some may find disappointing.

We liked

Images are bright and punchy directly from the camera, with a decent overall impression of detail. The flexibility of a large zoom is also particularly appealing.

We disliked

There's nothing hugely exciting about the SX520, such as inbuilt Wi-Fi or touchscreen.

Final verdict

The SX520 is another well-performing camera from Canon that will be likely appreciated by family and travelling photographers looking for something that will serve them well as an all-round device. It also represents great value for money, too.