Canon PowerShot SX530 HS Review: A Slightly Tweaked Formula

 
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Canon PowerShot SX530 HS Review: A Slightly Tweaked Formula

Canon has been updating its super-zoom cameras quite consistently. We reviewed the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS last year and found it to be a worthy purchase thanks to its capable imaging and long zoom lens.This year, Canon introduced the PowerShot SX530 HS which has a longer 50x optical zoom lens, compared to the 42x on the PowerShot SX520 HS, and now includes Wi-Fi. These are the only two major changes to the specifications.

Even the design of the PowerShot SX530 HS is very similar to that of its predecessor. We tried to find out if these tweaks are enough to warrant an upgrade if you already own the PowerShot SX520 HS, and also if this is a good super-zoom camera for first-time buyers to consider.

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Design
The bridge design of the PowerShot SX530 HS is exactly the same as that of the PowerShot SX520 HS, which is not necessarily a bad thing. We still think that the moulded plastic body looks a little cheap, and it would have been nice of Canon to include a tiltable LCD.

The dimensions of the PowerShot SX530 HS have changed so slightly that the naked eye wouldn't be able to spot any differences even if both cameras were kept side by side. It is taller at 82mm and has more depth at 92mm, but has the same 120mm width as its predecessor. It also weighs one gram more than the PowerShot SX520 HS which had a weight of 441g.

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The front of camera houses the huge lens barrel, and there is enough of a gap between the lens and the handgrip to make it easy to hold. The lens barrel houses two framing buttons, one for seeking and the other for locking on to a specific subject. We first saw this in the PowerShot SX520 HS. On top are the flash, the power button, a mode dial and a selection dial. The shutter button rests on the handgrip, surrounded by a zoom ring, and feels reassuring to click.

The right edge has a rubber flap that conceals the A/V out (digital) and the HDMI ports. A lone speaker sits on the right side of the camera. The right side of the rear has a raised edge and there are two buttons here - one for video recording and the other for deleting content. We found the video recording button to be a little too recessed for our liking. A small rubber pad sits besides the raised edge and is useful for resting your thumb on.

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The LCD is on the left side of the rear and beside it one can find the navigation pad, which doubles up as toggles for the flash (right), focus modes (left), ISO settings (up) and display mode (bottom). A button for functions/settings sits bang in the centre of the pad, the playback button is on top, and two buttons for drive mode and menu are below it. The tripod socket and the battery compartment are on the bottom of the camera.

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Specifications and features
The PowerShot SX530 HS has the same 16-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor as its predecessor. The telephoto end of the lens can now go up to 1200mm compared to 1080mm on the PowerShot SX520 HS. Furthermore, using the ZoomPlus mode one can zoom in further (digitally) - up to 100x to be specific. However, it would have been great if Canon could have gone wider on the other end of the lens as well - even some smartphones can now go wider than the 24mm PowerShot SX530 HS can achieve. Moreover, the lens continues to be a relatively slow shooter with a maximum aperture of f/3.4.

The camera uses Canon's Digic 4+ image processor. In Macro mode the lens can go as close to a subject as 0cm, which is pretty impressive. The ISO range starts at ISO 100 and ends at ISO 3200. Metering modes include Evaluative, Center-Weighted Average and Spot. There is the usual bevy of shooting modes carried forward from the PowerShot SX520 HS, including M (Manual), Av (Aperture priority), Tv (Shutter priority), P (Program), Live View Control, Hybrid Auto, Auto, Creative Shot, SCN (scene), Creative Filters and Movie.

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The Powershot SX530 HS can shoot 1080p video at 30fps. One major advantage that the PowerShot SX530 HS has over its predecessor is connectivity, with its Wi-Fi and NFC options. Once again, the inabillity to shoot in RAW seems like a missed opportunity for Canon.

The 3-inch LCD has the same 461k dot resolution and we believe Canon could have gone with a sharper screen. However, there is no denying that it displays close-to-accurate colours and is quite legible under sunlight. We didn't face any problem with the viewing angles either. There are no changes to the software of the camera and it is as user-friendly as it was on the PowerShot SX520 HS. Connecting to Canon's app over Wi-Fi to transfer images is a cinch and is quite useful as well.

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Performance
By increasing the zooming capabilities, we actually expected the camera to struggle a littlte with performance. However, we found that the shooting speeds and the image stabilisation weren't different from what we experienced with the PowerShot SX520 HS. You'll still need a tripod or at least a flat surface to place the camera on when shooting at the maximum zoom level. Take a look at the two pictures below to gauge the zooming capabilities of this camera.

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(Click for full size)

In our ISO test we saw that image fidelity didn't deteriorate much until ISO 800. Noise started creeping in at ISO 1600. But, even at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 the test images were not completely unusable.

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In daylight, we noticed that images had a natural warm colour tone to them, which we actually like. We prefer this to the performance of the PowerShot SX520 HS where the colours popped in all sample images. In shots taken with the PowerShot SX530 HS, most of the details were intact and there was absolutely no barrel distortion either. We didn't even find any chromatic aberration. The Macro Mode produced some really good results. Compared to its predecessor, the PowerShot SX530 HS exhibits a noticeable jump in performance. However, the camera still doesn't handle bloom all that well.

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(Click for full size)

The Live Mode continues to produce artificial results and we'd suggest users stay away from it. In low-light testing, noise crept in but the camera still did a fairly competent job, capturing more details than we expected it to. The auto white balance mode does a poor job in detecting the kind of light around, and creates a completely different tone. Thankfully, it can be easily fixed by choosing the white balance manually.

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(Click for full size)

1080p 30fps video may not look as crisp as 60fps video that a few other cameras can record, but having said that we were really impressed with our sample video which did not have any frame drops, even when we panned the camera in our hands. Details came out intact and the colours were adequately vibrant. This camera is perfect for shooting home movies. The battery lasted for around 200 shots, which is close to what Canon rates it at. However, this is not great compared to the battery life of some other cameras in the same price range.

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(Click for full size)

Verdict
The Canon PowerShot SX530 HS is officially priced at Rs. 21,995 but can be purchased for around Rs. 18,000 online and at some retail stores as well. However, stocks of its predecessor are still available and it is selling for as little as Rs. 12,999.

At that price, picking up the PowerShot SX520 HS makes more sense, but the PowerShot SX530 HS's bump in both still and video performance, and theaddition of wireless connectivity are good enough reasons for us to recommend this camera. However, if you already own the PowerShot SX520 HS, upgrading is not necessary.

Pros

  • 50x optical zoom lens
  • Wi-Fi and NFC
  • Good imaging
  • Great 1080p video quality

Cons

  • Average build quality
  • Average low-light performance

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Build/Design: 3.5
  • Image Quality: 3.5
  • Video: 4.5
  • Battery Life: 4
  • Value For money: 3
  • Overall: 3.5

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3.5 out of 5 stars
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