Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Canon Digital Cameras > Canon PowerShot S500

"Picky Details" for the Canon S500 digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

I measure both cycle times and shutter delay times, using a test system I designed and built for the purpose. (Crystal-controlled, with a resolution of 0.001 second.) Here are the numbers I collected for the Canon PowerShot S500:

Canon PowerShot S500 Timings
Power On -> First shot
LCD turns on and lens extends forward before first shot can be captured. A little faster than average for a camera with a telescoping lens.
2.2 / 30
Lens retracts / memory buffer clears before you can remove the card. Reasonably fast for lens retraction. Buffer clear time can vary greatly depending on how many shots are stored in the buffer, and how fast a card you're using. The 30 second figure listed here is close to the worst case.
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Average.
Record to play
Time to display a large/fine file after capturing, and having already captured a shot. Average.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Both times are fairly slow, the average range is 0.8-1.0 seconds (which is still way too slow, IMHO).
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Very fast.
Shutter lag, "Quick Shot" mode


Quickshot mode fixes the focus at infinity, to reduce shutter lag. This time is only on the fast side of average though, for full-sized cameras operating in full-autofocus mode.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

2.22 /

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. (Odd that the time between shots appears to be a constant, regardless of image size.) In large/fine mode, shoots this fast for 10 shots, then slows to 4.5 sec between shots. Buffer takes 30 seconds to clear. In TV mode, the buffer never fills.
Cycle Time, continuous High mode, max/min resolution

0.51 / 0.45
(1.96) / (2.2 fps)

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. Shoots this fast for 9 images in large/fine mode, slowing to 2.93 seconds. Buffer clears in 22 seconds. TV size images never fill buffer.
Cycle Time, continuous Low mode, max/min resolution 0.70 / 0.72
(1.44 / 1.39 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" size images. Times are averages. Shoots this fast for 24 images in large/fine mode, slowing to 2.36 seconds. Buffer clears in 44 seconds for large/fine shots. TV size images never fill buffer.

 Like many (most?) compact digicams, speed isn't the S500's strong suit. It starts up and shuts down quickly, enough, but its shutter lag is well on the slow side of average, and its cycle time is nothing to write home about. Definitely not the camera you'd pick first for sporrts or other action photography, although its prefocus shutter lag is very fast.


The Canon S500 uses a custom rechargeable LiIon battery for power. Its optional AC power supply uses a "dummy battery" to bring power directly into the battery compartment. Because I didn't have the special power connector it needs, I couldn't conduct my normal exact power-drain measurements. I did test how long it ran in its worst-case power-drain mode (capture mode with the LCD turned on) from a freshly-charged battery though, and found that it operated for 92 minutes before shutting down. I didn't measure run time with the LCD off, but it seems that it can stay powered up for at least several hours with the LCD disabled. This is fairly good for a compact digicam mode, but I'd still strongly advise purchasing a second battery along with the camera.

Storage Capacity
The Canon stores its photos on Compact Flash memory cards, and a 32 MB card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 64 MB card, preferably a 128 MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored on the included 32 MB card at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
32 MB Memory Card
Fine Normal
2,272 x 1,704 Images
(Avg size)
2.1 MB
1.2 MB
593 KB
6:1 10:1 21:1
1,600 x 1,200 Images
(Avg size)
1.1 MB
593 KB
311 KB
6:1 10:1 20:1
1,024 x 768 Images
(Avg size)
607 KB
344 KB
197 KB
6:1 10:1
640 x 480
(Avg size)
278 KB
180 KB
115 KB
3:1 6:1


Download Speed
The Canon connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to a Sony desktop running Windows XP. I clocked it at 534 KBytes/second. This is quite fast for a camera with a USB v1.1 interface. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast v1.1 interfaces run as high as 600 KB/s. Cameras with USB v2.0 interfaces run as fast as several megabytes/second.)


S500 Review
S500 Test Images
S500 Specifications
S500 "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

Follow Imaging Resource: