Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS Review
by Dan Havlik and Stephanie Boozer
Posted: December 4, 2012
Canon has gone back to the future with its latest PowerShot point-and-shoot cameras, reviving the classic "box-and-circle design" for its tiny ELPH models. I've always liked the timeless look of the early ELPHs, which were designed with simple rectangle bodies (the box) and a round space in the middle for the lens (the circle), so I was happy to see it return on the 10-megapixel Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS. If a cool design ain't broke, don't fix it!
I was also happy to see that Canon didn't load this svelte camera -- it's just 0.78 inches thick -- with an abundance of megapixels, keeping its images at just 10MP for what should be lower noise shooting in low light at high ISOs and what should be crisper images overall. Also nice is the ELPH 530's 12x optical zoom lens, which fully retracts so it's flush against the body when not in use. A long zoom lens in a small camera never goes out of style.
Then there are a few new features in the Canon 530 HS that are more forward thinking. For one, this little ELPH features WiFi connectivity, a function precious few camera manufacturers have gotten right yet. Usually, WiFi is too complicated and cumbersome to use. Smartphones, on the other hand, have been WiFi-friendly for years, which is another reason they've been steadily encroaching on the pocket camera's traditional turf. (In case you weren't aware, instantly sharing photos to Facebook, Instagram or other sites is quite popular these days.)
In another nod to the popularity of smartphones for snapping and sharing photos, the Canon 530 HS has no buttons on the back, just a 3.2-inch LCD touchscreen. The Canon 530 HS can also shoot full HD video and boasts a variety of photo features smartphones don't have including Smart Auto mode, which automatically chooses the best capture mode for you based on the scene; and several pre-set Scene modes you select yourself. In addition there's a new Face ID system that stores up to 12 faces for instant recognition and face-priority shooting.
Unlike the vast majority of smartphones, the Canon 530 HS has Intelligent Image Stabilization, which analyzes camera movement and picks from among six different optical image stabilizer modes for the best image possible. The Canon ELPH 530 HS / IXUS 510 HS comes in either black or white -- I tried the snazzy looking white model -- and retails for US$350.
Look and Feel. I've tested a lot of small cameras before but the Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS really feels small. Not small as in ultra thin, though it's just over three quarters of an inch thick, just small in a cute way all around.
The Canon 530's dimensions are 3.4 x 2.1 x 0.8 inches (86 x 54 x 20mm) and it fits comfortably in your hand, if your hand is on the small side. Mine is of the large, male variety, and most of the time I felt like I was cradling the camera. (More about this in the Shooter's Report below.)
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS closely resembles the Canon 520 HS, except of course for the WiFi and touchscreen. In recent years, Canon's been rounding off the corners of its ELPH cameras to make them more pocket friendly, with less to snag in a pocket, but the 530 HS (like the 520 HS) keeps them square for a retro, stylish look. Those square edges are a bit sharp and feel slightly uncomfortable if you stash the camera in a pants pocket (which we don't recommend anyway since it can accidentally turn on and damage its extending zoom lens.)
Along with being small, the Canon 530 HS is light, weighing in at just 5.8 ounces (164 grams) with the tiny, Tootsie Roll-shaped battery installed. Since the back of the Canon 530 is consumed by the 3.2-inch touchscreen, which controls most of the camera's functionality, there are only three buttons on the entire body, all on the top: a shutter release button, a small silver On/Off button next to it and an even smaller, recessed Playback button behind the power button.
The silver shutter button and surrounding zoom ring are also both small, and holding the Canon 530 HS and snapping off a shot almost feels like you're giving a toast with a teacup. Having said that, this ELPH is an attractive looking camera that you'll want to grab a hold of. I liked the brushed matte finish of the front plate and there's a tasteful simplicity to the Canon 530 that reminds me of early iPods. (Especially in the all-white version I tested.)
The Canon 530 HS' front plate's box-and-circle design is only broken by the small built-in flash in the upper-left-hand corner. Canon rates the flash range at 50cm to 2.5m (at wide-angle) and 1.0 to 1.5m (at telephoto) and we found it moderately helpful, especially when used as a fill on cloudy days. The close proximity of the flash to lens, however, means red-eye is a fairly common occurrence.
LCD. As mentioned previously, the entire rear of the Canon 530 is dominated by its 3.2-inch, 461,000-dot LCD touchscreen. (As with most pocket cameras these days, there is no optical viewfinder.) Though the screen offers wide-angle, 16:9 playback of video clips, images are shown in a cropped, 4:3 format. (You can however also shoot stills in 16:9, 3:2 or even 1:1 aspect ratios.) They look great on the 530's crisp screen, as do recorded HD movies.
There are a couple ways to scroll through images using the camera's touch-sensitive screen. Similar to an iPhone, you can scroll through your photos by swiping your finger on the screen either to the left or the right. You can also touch the left or right black wide margins of the screen surrounding your cropped image, which will call up virtual arrows to move through shots to the left or to the right. Tapping either side of the camera firmly also scrolls through shots. Canon's included a small stylus tip as part of a plastic nib on the end of the wrist strap that can be used to navigate on the ELPH 530.
The sensitivity and intuitiveness of the active display is a far cry from the experience on an iPhone or an iPad, which is a shame. The trick is to press harder on the Canon 530 HS's resistive touchscreen with your finger while swiping. Again, not the same responsiveness as with an iPhone, but it works when you get the hang of it.
As noted earlier, there are only three exterior buttons on the Canon 530 HS and most of the camera's functions are handled via the touchscreen control system. The Canon even has touch-based autofocus along with traditional autofocus achieved by half pressing the shutter.
Lens. It's pretty amazing that Canon has been able to squeeze a 12x zoom lens (equivalent to 28-336mm) on a camera as small as the Canon 530 HS. When powered on, the lens extends from the camera body by just half an inch. When fully zoomed to 12x, the lens telescopes out just one inch, making this still a compact camera overall, despite the versatile focal range.
To keep your long zoomed shots steady, the Canon 530 HS has a built-in optical image stabilizer, which we've found to be an essential feature in a camera this small with a focal range this wide.
The aperture range on this lens is f/3.4 at the wide angle to f/5.6 at telephoto. In Macro mode for close-ups, the 530 HS can focus between 0.4 - 19.7 inches (1 - 50cm).
Along with the long optical zoom range, the Canon 530 HS adds up to 4x of digital zoom.
Sensor and Processor. At first blush, it is tempting to assume the Canon 530's 1/2.3-inch, "10-megapixel" CMOS sensor means the camera will produce less noisy, low-light photos. But as we discovered during our review of the Canon ELPH 520 HS, Canon is using the same 16.8-megapixel sensor in the ELPH 530 HS, but only drawing a 10-megapixel image from the sensor.
Canon tells us this same sensor is found in the 320 HS, but that camera uses most of the sensor's image area. In order to achieve the very long zoom range in a small package, Canon said they made the lens with a shorter backfocus distance, which creates a smaller image area on the sensor.
It's also conceivable Canon could have created more room to better correct for geometric distortion in this unusually short, yet effectively long focal length lens. Our distortion tests seem to indicate they're doing significant processing to eliminate the distortion we'd expect to see in a small, long focal length lens.
In effect, this makes the sensor very small, with smaller pixels than most 10-megapixel sensors, which likely accounts for the extra noise we see in the images.
On the plus side, the ELPH 530 HS uses Canon's latest image processor for its PowerShot cameras, the DIGIC 5, which, has a revamped chip architecture and new algorithms, which we've found does a good job tamping down noise at high ISOs. DIGIC 5 is also a faster processor overall than the previous chip, letting the 530 HS fire off approximately 6 frames per second in High-speed Burst shooting mode, though at a reduced resolution of 2.5 megapixels.
This one-two sensor-process punch powers the 530's video mode, giving it the ability to capture full 1080p HD video at 24fps or 720p at 30fps with stereo sound. There are also Super Slow Motion video modes offering 120fps capture at 640x480, and 240fps at 320x240.
WiFi. One of the other features that separates the Canon 530 HS from the step-down model, the 520 HS, is the camera's built-in WiFi technology. The WiFi radio in the 530 HS is compatible with 802.11 b/g/n networks and wireless access points. This should make wirelessly transferring images and videos from the Canon 530 to a computer a simple process. Even more importantly in the social sharing world we live in, the 530's WiFi should also make it easy to share your images and video wirelessly across popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
But unfortunately, as we discovered during testing, using the WiFi feature in the Canon ELPH 530 HS is a complicated and somewhat unpleasant experience. Indeed, the 530 HS feels less like a rival to smartphones and more of another flawed attempt to bring wireless technology to digital cameras.
Connectivity. For viewing images and movies on the latest high-def displays, the Canon 530 HS includes a mini-HDMI (Type C) high-definition port. There's also a standard AV/USB 2.0 port.
Storage and battery. Now for some bad news. In order to help achieve its small form factor, the Canon ELPH 530 HS uses microSD/microSDHC/microSDXC cards, which are a little more expensive and require a special SD-card adapter in order to fit them into most standard memory card readers. More common in smartphones where they're rarely removed than in digital cameras, these tiny microSD cards feel as flimsy as a potato chip and are easy to misplace.
The Canon 530 is powered by a relatively new proprietary NB-9L lithium-ion rechargeable battery that's smaller than most we've seen. In fact, with its rounded contours, the battery looks more like a Tootsie Roll than a typical wafer-style rechargeable. On the downside, the small battery is only rated by CIPA standards as capable of firing 190 shots on a charge, which is below average even for a subcompact.
Shooting with the Canon 530 HS
by Dan Havlik
Portability, performance and style are three of the 10-megapixel Canon 530's most appealing assets. The 530 HS is a fun little pocket camera that harks back to the famous ELPHs of days gone by. (For many people I know, a Canon ELPH was the first digital camera they ever owned. There are others I know who first fell in love with the classic ELPH back when the APS film version of that camera nearly single-handedly saved that doomed analog format.)
In the hand. The Canon ELPH 530 HS is about the size of a deck of cards but not as wide and just slightly thicker. Because of its squared off design, the 530 HS doesn't slip out of your hand easily like some slick, ultra thin models. It's also a camera that you'll likely want to hold, given its classic dimensions, spiffy matte front plate and gorgeous, 3.2-inch glass touchscreen on back.
In general, I'm not a huge fan of pocket cameras because though they're small, they're not usually very comfortable or ergonomic. I especially felt this was true of the Canon ELPH 530 HS, as I just never felt fully at ease shooting with it. While the silver shutter button on top is of a decent size, my finger felt scrunched bending over to access it. I felt the same way with the camera as a whole: my large hand felt cramped holding this little ELPH and there were a few times I felt I was going to accidentally drop the camera while taking photographs with it.
I always suggest that people use the included wriststrap for this very reason, but, to be honest, I test so many cameras, I often forget to loop it onto the eyelet before I go out on a shoot. In the case of the Canon ELPH 530 HS, I added the strap immediately after unboxing the camera once I realized how small it was.
Touchscreen LCD. I wasn't crazy about the 3.2-inch touchscreen display on the Canon ELPH 510 HS (yet another current model in the ELPH digital line) when I reviewed it back in May, and I'm not nuts about the one that's on the Canon 530 HS either. The specs are virtually the same for the two touchscreens -- the same size and same 461,000 dots of resolution -- so I'm pretty sure they're the same displays.
Scrolling through your photos on the Canon 530's touchscreen can be done a number of ways, but none of them is ideal. You can either tap the right or left sides of the camera body firmly to advance or go back through images. This works fine, but felt a little odd at first. Try it a few times and you should get the hang of it. (It eventually became my preferred method because there was less chance of error.)
Another method is to touch the margins on either side of your image, which reveals virtual arrows that you press to scroll through photos to the left or right. (This is an improvement over the 510 model, which involved actually tilting the camera to the left or the right to call up the virtual arrows.)
And finally, you can scroll through photos by the more common touch swipe method, reminiscent of an iPhone. In theory, this should be the go-to approach since it's already ubiquitous on Apple's and other devices. Touch scrolling through the Canon 530's photos felt a little slow and requires you to press firmly on the screen and then vigorously swipe with your finger. If you don't press hard enough, you'll inadvertently zoom in on your image instead of swiping through it. One major improvement over the touchscreen function on the 510 model, you can't accidentally delete an image by an incorrect swipe. (Either way, make sure you turn off the touchscreen if you put the Canon 530 HS in a pocket or a bag to prevent unintentional swipes.)
If you find your grubby finger is giving you inaccurate presses and swipes on the screen, there's a plastic nib on the end of the wrist strap that helps you navigate the 530's display and menus. (Yet another reason to attach the wrist strap!)
On the plus side, because the LCD is so big and packed with so many pixels -- 154,000 pixels (461,000 dots) -- your photos will look fabulous in playback. I eventually got used to the Canon ELPH 530's touch quirks for image playback but I never fully got used to the sluggish touch menu interface.
Changing settings on the screen was slow and laborious and I while I liked some of the Canon 530's specialty settings, I usually just kept the camera on Auto since it was easiest. The touch shutter functionality was also slow so I mainly used the shutter button for capturing images. It also took a split second more than I would have liked to get the 530 into HD video recording mode by pressing the red dot icon on the screen.
In the end, as with the 510, I found the Canon ELPH 530 HS touchscreen to be more a hindrance than a strong selling point.
In use. Even beginner photographers might be surprised by how few external controls there are on the Canon ELPH 530 HS. Because changing settings on the fly requires accessing the 530's tricky touchscreen, I would suggest just picking an all-purpose setting -- such as Program or Auto -- from the menu and leaving it there for the day. (If you start to feel more comfortable with the display, there are a few useful and fun pre-sets you can select such as Portrait, Handheld NightScene and Miniature Effect, which simulates the effect you get from a tilt-shift lens.)
For regular snapshots, power up the Canon 530 via its on/off button on top and the camera is ready for that first shot in a slower-than-average speed of 2.9 seconds. Shutter lag is fast, just 0.35 second at the wide-angle and 0.32 second when zoomed in, according to our lab tests. And if you prefocus, the Canon 530 is even (much) faster, at 0.09 second. The camera took about 1.87 second shot to shot, which is good. If you really want some shot-to-shot speed, put the Canon 530 in High-Speed Burst mode -- engage it via the touchscreen menu -- and you'll be able to fire off 6.1 images per second, but at a drastically reduced resolution of 2.5 megapixels.
Overall, the Canon ELPH 530 HS and its peppy DIGIC 5 image processor is fairly speedy for a pocket-sized, style camera. I was able to carry it every where without thinking twice and it was suited for a range of photo ops. I shot with it during a stroll along the Hudson River and the 530's 12x optical zoom was great for capturing the wide expanse of the river at 28mm and then for zooming in on people standing on a sight-seeing boat at 336mm-equivalent. While the camera's built-in optical image stabilizer did a decent job keep my long zoomed shots steady, anyone who's shot with a digital SLR and a good, optically stabilized zoom lens, might not be as impressed. Casual shooters will probably not have an issue.
I also brought the Canon ELPH 530 HS to a professional soccer game, where the zoom lens helped me get some decent images and movies of the players and fans. The camera's wide-angle 28mm lens proved handy for shooting photos of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which tore through New York City in late October. I shot images of downed trees, branches and various debris in the aftermath of the storm.
Again, the portability and speed of the Canon ELPH 530 HS were its best attributes, letting me cradle the camera in my hand to prevent raindrops from hitting it and then quickly snap off photos of the devastation. I found it slightly more difficult to shoot quick videos using the touchscreen. It would seem like a simple task: just touch the red circle on the virtual button on the screen and the camera starts to shoot an HD video. The problem is that you really have to press the screen firmly and precisely to activate the movie mode. And then because you have to touch the screen again to shut off the movie mode, you can accidentally jostle the camera, adding some unwanted shake to your video clip.
I was disappointed with the Canon 530's battery life. The small rechargeable battery is rated at only 190 shots per charge, according to CIPA standards. During my time with the Canon 530, it frequently ran out of juice even after what only seemed like a light day of shooting. You'll want to buy and tote an extra battery.
WiFi. The built-in WiFi in the Canon ELPH 530 HS feels like a missed opportunity. As someone who tests cameras for a living, I had a miserable time trying to figure out how to wirelessly zap my photos from the 530 to my computer. (I can't image how my mom would feel! She'd probably not even bother using the feature.)
After trying and failing to figure out the function via the confusing, pamphlet-sized printed manual for the Canon 530, I ended up calling Canon's 1-800 help line. In a nutshell, Apple users (which is what I am) need not only to install two pieces of software -- something called ImageBrowser EX and CameraWindow DC -- from the CD that comes with the Canon 530, they also need to make sure their computer's file sharing is turned on and that a few other boxes are checked in System Preferences. (I lost track of how many and which ones in the course of an hour-long call with a very nice Canon tech rep.) The process for Windows users didn't sound any easier.
Even after the Canon rep walked me through the set-up, the CameraWindow program repeatedly failed to open when I tried to wirelessly send the images from the camera to the computer, resulting in a dead end. Eventually I had to download and install a newer version of that software and the WiFi transfer started working. In short, it was a royal pain.
Once everything was properly installed, my images transferred rather quickly over to my iMac and I was able to see thumbnails of the shots in the CameraWindow. To see full versions of the photos, you then need to close CameraWindow, which opens ImageBrowser giving you access to your images (at last!) for editing or sharing to Facebook. (As a confusing side note, you can share your videos to YouTube directly via CameraWindow but you need to go to ImageBroswer to share images on Facebook.)
I suppose once you get everything set up properly and figure out the correct sequence, the WiFi in the Canon ELPH 530 HS might come in handy in some cases. I think most people will probably give up, however, and just use a traditional card reader to get images and video off the camera. But just remember to get an adapter for the 530's miniSD card!
Image quality. Image quality for both stills and videos was average for a pocket or style camera, but definitely disappointing compared to enthusiast-level compacts. I found the Canon ELPH 530's lens had trouble with overall sharpness. When shooting at the wide, 28mm setting, the center of images were fairly sharp but the corners were rather soft. When you zoomed in with the camera, overall sharpness of my images sunk further and while the optical stabilizer seemed to do a fairly good job combating hand shake, the lens and image sensor failed to deliver the crisp detail I wanted. The overall color and hue of the images, however, were pleasing.
I did a lot of shooting outdoors after the Hurricane and the 530 HS had problems with exposure, with the camera frequently blowing out the sky and showing overly dark shadow areas. Also, I noticed a lot of purple fringing in the post-storm shots I captured of fallen trees and hanging branches, with the edges filled with chromatic aberration.
In terms of image noise, the Canon 530 HS performed slightly below average for a pocket camera, but for its price tag, we wished it had done much better. Even at ISO 100, detail was slightly soft and crunchy and got noticeably worse as we increased the ISO. When we cranked the camera up to ISO 1,600 and 3,200, there was extensive chroma (color) noise and luminance noise was noticeable across the ISO range. The camera's noise suppression technology seemed to further squish detail in our images.
Our high-definition videos were slightly better but still a bit soft even in good light; at least they were less noisy than our still images. Rolling shutter artifacts (the "Jello effect") can be quite severe if you move the camera side-to-side too quickly, though, as can be seen at the end of our first sample video. In low light such as at a Knicks game, video is quite soft but that's to be expected. Optical zoom and image stabilization (Dynamic and Powered IS modes) are supported. You can also disable image stabilization, for recording on a tripod. I was happy that I could use some of the Scene modes while shooting movies, such as the black-and-white "monochrome" mode.
Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS Lens Quality
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS features a 12x optical zoom lens, equivalent to a 28-336mm lens on a 35mm camera.
Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Slightly soft at upper left
Tele: Slightly soft at center
Tele: Noticeable blurring, upper left corner
Sharpness: The wide-angle end of the Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS' zoom shows minor blurring in the corners of the frame compared to what we see at center, though blurring doesn't extend very far into the image area. Some of the softness is likely due to barrel distortion correction. At the telephoto end, however, blurring is more noticeable in the corners, particularly the left corners, and extends far in toward center. The center is also a touch soft, and overall contrast is lower with some flare.
Wide: Slight barrel distortion; hardly noticeable
Tele: A tiny amount of barrel distortion, though barely visible
Geometric Distortion: There is actually very little barrel distortion at wide angle (0.3%), and almost no perceptible pincushion distortion (0.06%) at telephoto. The PowerShot 530 HS' processor does a good job counteracting distortion here, and that oversized sensor gives it plenty of room for digital corrections.
Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide angle is fairly low in terms of pixel count and brightness, though distortion is much more visible at telephoto, with bright blue and reddish pixels visible around the target lines.
Macro with Flash
Macro: The Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS' Macro mode captures a strong details at the center of the frame, though blurring and chromatic aberration are fairly strong in the corners and along the edges of the frame (a common limitation among consumer digital cameras in macro mode). Minimum coverage area is 1.07 x 0.81 inches (27 x 21mm), which is quite good. The camera focuses so closely that the flash is uneven with a bright hot spot in the top left corner, and shadowing from the lens in the lower right portion of the frame.
Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS Viewfinder Accuracy
Wide: LCD Monitor
Tele: LCD Monitor
Viewfinder Accuracy: The Canon PowerShot 530 HS' LCD monitor showed just over 100% coverage at wide angle and at telephoto, which is very good.
Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS Image Quality
Color: The Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS produced good overall color, though bright yellows are muted quite a bit. Strong reds and blues are pumped less than a lot of cameras though, and mean saturation is slightly lower than average. Hue accuracy is very good overall, though cyan shows a big shift toward blue (we think intentionally, for bluer skies), and some yellows toward green. Dark skintones are pushed slightly toward orange, while lighter skin tones show a tiny pink nudge.
Good, though slightly orange
Incandescent: Both the Manual and Auto white balance settings handled our incandescent lighting fairly well, though the Auto setting resulted in a slightly stronger orange cast, making Manual the most pleasing overall. Incandescent mode produced a very strong pink cast.
Horizontal: 1,700 lines
Vertical: 1,700 lines
Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,700 lines per picture height horizontally, and about 1,700 lines vertically. Extinction of the pattern occurred at around 2,000 lines per picture height horizontally, and 2,200 lines vertically.
Wide: Slightly dark
Tele: Slightly dim
Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) shows slightly dark results at the rated wide angle distance of 8.2 feet, despite a big ISO boost to 800. The telephoto test came out better, only slightly dim at 4.9 feet, again despite a boost to ISO 800.
Normal flash mode produced fair results in our indoor portrait scene, retaining some of the ambient light at 1/60 second shutter speed, ISO 200. Increasing exposure compensation did not help, so a higher ISO is likely needed for this shot. The camera's Slow Sync mode produced a brighter image using a shutter speed of 1/13 second, though with a stronger orange cast from the ambient lighting. The Canon 530 HS' image stabilization should help with slower shutter speeds, but any significant movement (of camera or subject) will be problematic at this shutter speed. Shot taken at ~5 feet (~1.5m) on a stable tripod.
ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is good but a little mushy at ISO 100 and 200, though more noticeable softening begins at ISO 400 and progresses from there. Chroma (color) noise doesn't become much of a problem except at the highest ISOs, though luminance noise picks up with sensitivity. Noise suppression efforts do the most damage here, blurring fine details. See Printed section below for more on how this affects printed images.
ISO 100 prints are just usable at 13 x 19 inches thanks to an abnormal amount of noise, but look better at 11 x 14. The right side of our sample is pretty soft.
ISO 200 shots are usable at 11 x 14, but really look better at 8 x 10.
ISO 400 shots look better at 8 x 10 as well.
ISO 800 prints are good at 5 x 7, with 8 x 10s introducing a bit too much noise.
ISO 1,600 prints are better at 4 x 6.
ISO 3,200 shots are a bit too washed out and noisy at 4 x 6 to be make our "good" grade.
Overall, the Canon 530's prints are disappointing. Canon's recent retreat to 10 megapixels has resulted in less noise in their premium pocket lineup, but the 530's sensor is smaller and has a total of 16.8 megapixels with 10 megapixels cropped from it. The 530's higher pixel density (smaller photosites) likely accounts for the increased noise. Nevertheless, since few people print larger than 8 x 10, it's good that you can get a decent 11 x 14 at ISO 100; just don't expect to be cropping much from these images. Be sure to take advantage of that 12x lens to fill the frame with your subject before pressing the shutter for better results with the Canon 530 HS.
Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS Performance
Startup Time: The Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS takes about 2.9 seconds to power on and take a shot. That's slower than average.
Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is pretty good at 0.35 second at wide angle and 0.32 second at full telephoto. Prefocused shutter lag is 0.092 second, not really slow, but slower than average.
Cycle Time: Cycle time is good, capturing a frame every 1.87 seconds in single-shot mode. Canon rates the 530's full-resolution burst speed at 2.6 frames per second in Program mode, and a High-Speed Burst mode that captures 2.5 megapixel images at 6.1 fps is available, however we did not test the 530's continuous modes in the lab.
Flash Recycle: The Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS' flash recycles in about 4.1 seconds after a full-power discharge, faster than average.
Low Light AF: The camera's AF system was able to focus down to just above the 1/4 foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled, though the camera was able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist lamp enabled.
USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS' download speeds are fast. We measured 7,757 KBytes/sec.
Battery Life: The Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS' battery life has a CIPA rating of only 190 shots per charge, which is lower than average for a subcompact.
In the Box
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS ships with the following items in the box:
- Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS digital camera
- Wrist strap
- NB-9L lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- Battery charger CB-2LB
- Audio/video cable
- Software CD-ROM
- Quick start guide
- User's manual (CD-ROM)
- Extra battery pack for extended outings
- Large capacity microSDHC/microSDXC memory card. These days, 8GB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity, but if you plan to capture many movie clips, 16GB will be better.
- Camera case
Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS Conclusion
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS certainly has its charms. Sporting Canon's classic "box-and-circle" design, this little rectangle camera looks and feels distinguished without being stodgy or dated. We tried out the all-white version and liked how much it made us think of ELPH digital and analog cameras of years gone by, while at the same time recalling the simple good looks of a classic iPod. It's also highly portable. Throw it in a bag or slide it in a pocket and you'll forget it until it's time to take pictures. However, the Canon 530's snazzy looking squared-off edges on the camera body are sharp and can get snagged.
Though start-up time is below average, the Canon ELPH 530 HS is a relatively fast performer with minimal shutter lag and good shot-to-shot times. On the back, the 530's big 3.2-inch LCD screen looks great and makes your images look sweet in Playback. We're sad to say, though, that the display's touchscreen technology is still well below the smooth, seamless experience you have with a smartphone. Reviewing images via swiping can be slow and unreliable, and making changes to camera settings by touch can be frustrating.
We felt the same way about the Canon 530's built-in WiFi technology. It's very difficult to figure out and set up, and isn't especially helpful if you want to quickly get images off your camera and onto your computer or up on social networks.
And finally, the Canon ELPH 530's image quality just wasn't good enough for a camera with its pricetag and pedigree. While the 530's 12x optical zoom lens is versatile, it produced somewhat soft images, particularly when zoomed in all the way at 336mm equivalent. Meanwhile, the Canon 530's imaging sensor, which draws only 10 megapixels from a 16.8 megapixel chip, produced soft photos even at the lowest ISO setting. The Canon 530 HS was also a poor performer at higher ISO, with lots of chroma (color) and luminance (light) noise, especially at ISO 1,600 and 3,200.
Overall, while the "step-down" Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS scored a Dave's Pick for its combination of size, speed, good looks, zoom range and average image quality, the WiFi and touchscreen that are supposed to be the differentiating features of the 530 HS are actually downgrades. Our recommendation? Save yourself the $50 and get the Canon 520 HS instead.