The Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS delivers superb features and top-notch performance, but its biggest perk -- a touch screen -- receives mixed reviews. Despite the eye-popping 3.2-inch LCD (416,000-dot resolution), experts, along with users at Amazon.com, say the touch screen doesn't stack up next to most smartphones. Canon's user interface is bogged down by menu digging and complex finger commands, and it also lacks the simple "tap to focus and shoot" found on the pricier Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX78 . Quick changes are "out of the question," say editors at Steves-Digicams.com, although David Pierce at PCMag.com says the 500 HS still outperforms the touch screen on the cheaper Nikon Coolpix S4000 .
On all other counts, the 500 HS nabs unanimous praise for its sleek design, bevy of automatic features and full HD video (1080p with a working optical zoom lens and HDMI port for easy TV playback). Like other models in the Elph HS series, it has a special CMOS sensor for better low-light shooting, but it also touts a brighter 4.4x zoom lens, and the manual aperture and priority controls found on pricier enthusiast models. The 500 HS doles out superb images with "otherworldly" sharpness and "excellent" color accuracy in tests at PCMag.com and CNET, respectively. These extras, though, mean a heftier price tag, which places the 500 HS in an "awkward" spot, says Pierce. For a bit more you can buy a better camera or, for less, you can go with the Canon PowerShot Elph 300 HS (*Est. $150) -- a reviewer favorite that shares many of the same features but skips the touch screen and extra manual controls.
Test-based reviews at PCMag.com, CNET and InfoSyncWorld.com show how the Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS compares with point-and-shoot rivals, especially other Canon models. Imaging-Resource.com and Steves-Digicams.com also provide detailed evaluations, while user comments at Amazon.com help to reveal problems that surface only with extended use.
Even though the Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS interface doesn't have multi-touch or pinch-and-zoom, it works fine for switching between modes and changing basic settings, says David Pierce. The camera also packs an impressive spec sheet and performance, but the extra features "will cost you."
Review: Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS, David Pierce, April 26, 2011
The "potentially frustrating" touch-screen interface on the Canon PowerShot Elph 500 prevents it from being an affordable alternative to the pricier, more sophisticated Canon PowerShot S95. However, Joshua Goldman likes the ultra-wide zoom lens, mix of shooting features and excellent photo quality, which add up to making the 500 HS a "very good" ultracompact.
Review: Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS (Silver), Joshua Goldman, June 23, 2011
Although the touch screen on the Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS can't compete with a mid-to high-end smartphone, it's nevertheless "one of the best in the business" and on par with Sony's best, says Mike Perlman. The 500 HS also has decent image quality and an outstanding auto mode. Overall, however, it's not enough to make the 500 HS a better buy than its predecessor, the Canon PowerShot SD3500 IS.
Review: Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS Review, Mike Perlman, March 16, 2011
Liabilities are few and far between on the Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS, although the weak battery life is "one very serious shortfall," and the tiny zoom toggle is "definitely not Canon's finest hour," say David Elrich and Stephanie Boozer. However, they enjoy the touch screen and, when tallied with the camera's extra features, good low-light shooting and generous wide-angle lens, they say the 500 HS is "a winning ELPH worthy of a Dave's Pick" designation.
Review: Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS, David Elrich and Stephanie Boozer, Aug. 4, 2011
The Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS "surpasses expectations" with its image quality and "lightning" performance, say editors. The durable build, loads of shooting modes and great HD video quality are also plusses. Overall, the 500 HS is an excellent option for the price, despite the hard-to-use touch screen.
Review: Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS Review, Editors of Steves-Digicams.com, March 25, 2011
Most owners of the Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS say it's a great camera for the money, even though the touch screen can't compete with most smartphones. "Canon keeps finding ways to cram more and more high end performance into a simple, compact point and shoot," says one owner. However, a small contingent of users is less impressed, given that their older Canon cameras work better.
Review: Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS, Contributors to Amazon.com