Customer Review

116 of 149 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Noisiest camera ever owned., May 17, 2012
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This review is from: Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS 10.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom 28mm Wide-Angle Lens and 1080p Full HD Video Recording (Black) (Electronics)
I was looking for a camera to replace my aging Casio EX-Z1000, which has served me well over the past 5 years or so. I wanted something with a similar form factor, with the expectation that a newer camera would naturally include newer (and better) technology. The EX-Z1000 was great, but had problems with color accuracy and excess noise even at moderate ISO settings (ISO 400 and above).

I've heard good things about Canon point-and-shoots for a while, so I figured I would go with one this time around. I settled on the Elph 520 HS, which at that time had the best reviews among its siblings (the 1xx and the 3xx series).

I immediately tested the 520 HS upon getting it, shooting somewhere around 20 images before charging it and another 60-70 images after. The shots ranged from very-low-light situations (dark hallway in my apartment) to relatively bright outdoor shots (overcast day, parking lot on edge of forest).

First the pros. The 12x zoom was nice. Color accuracy is better than my old camera. The settings only went down to ISO 100, but that's acceptable. I consider megapixel count to be irrelevant; anything above 8 MP is good enough in my book. The IS feature seemed to work well enough, but my hands are pretty stable so my opinion might not count in this matter.

Now the cons. In a word: NOISE. On the camera's built-in screen, everything seemed fine at first sight. But zooming in, I began to notice the extreme amount of noise present in nearly all the pictures. Even at ISO 100, the noise was still painfully obvious -- and that's just on the camera's LCD screen. Viewing the pictures on my computer merely exacerbated the problem -- even monochromatic objects shot under good lighting conditions exhibited innumerable slightly off-color pixel bunches. Textured objects fared much worse, to the point of becoming blurry and riddled with what seemed to be noise removal artifacts. I had problems with noise on my EX-Z1000, but never to this extent; if I didn't know better I'd swear that the 520 HS is trying *too* hard to eliminate noise, which actually results in *more* noise. The noise issue was so bad it made the camera's other shortcomings (somewhat confused autofocus, relatively weak flash) seem insignificant. If you plan on printing out photos at the standard 4R size, then this might not be an issue. But if, like me, you like to set your photos as desktop wallpapers (or print them at larger sizes) then look elsewhere for your camera needs. As for me, I'm returning this camera.
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Comments

Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 20 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 31, 2012 10:49:51 PM PDT
Alex says:
Do you think this could be just due to a defective camera? I am also seeing extreme amount of noise in my pictures. I wonder why other reviewers are so happy with the image quality. Just posted some noisy pics.

Posted on Jun 5, 2012 10:29:09 PM PDT
Patti Cake says:
Probably one of the reasons for the higher ratings is that the owners have reasonable expectations. This camera has the same smaller sized sensor as most other cameras in its size and class. They all have pretty much the same noise in low light or high ISO pics unless the noise reduction smears out the details. Want less noise? Either buy a camera with aggressive noise reduction and lose some of the detail in your photos or buy a camera with a larger sensor.

BTW, the size of the pics probably makes the noise more obvious. Shrink them down to the size of your old camera's photos and the noise should become less obvious.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2012 10:40:50 PM PDT
Alex says:
I actually compared two cameras (old SD750 vs 520 HS) using the same resolution and scenes with both on auto mode. Just wanted to get something with higher zoom hoping image quality would be the same. 520HS does take overall better pictures 60% of the time in my tests.

Posted on Jun 20, 2012 12:21:52 PM PDT
not a single review site complains about noise in a way described here, so you either have a defective camera or have one of the special scene modes turned on

Posted on Sep 17, 2012 1:12:18 PM PDT
newbie30 says:
I was just wondering if you found yourself a new camera that did much better in low light with less noise? I am in your same boat and having trouble finding one that meets my expectations in the low light situations.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2012 9:59:45 AM PDT
Alex says:
It's funny that you ask, because I ordered a new camera just yesterday. I was considering SX260 and ZS20, but stumbled upon Samsung WB150F. It beats 520HS specs, has WiFi, decent reviews, and is cheaper. I can't claim anything about image quality until I receive it, but I'm hoping for the best.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2012 10:20:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 18, 2012 10:22:22 AM PDT
newbie30 says:
Let us know :) I tried a Sony WX50, Canon A3400, & now this and all suck in low light and have very poor pic quality :( My friend has a HX20 and swears it is one of the best she has ever owned-that will be my next trial!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2012 9:56:28 PM PDT
Alex says:
Samsung WB150F image quality leaves much to be desired. Features and specs look good on paper, but in reality this is a nice toy to play around, but not to preserve your memories. I'm now having seconds thoughts about 520 HS.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 11:28:47 AM PST
Ramart says:
Do the noise complainers have digital zoom turned on? Were the noisy shots taken with telephoto/zoom? To ensure maximum resolution, always make sure digital zoom is off (so that only the optics/lens itself) provides the magnification.

Posted on Nov 23, 2012 11:17:02 AM PST
zmax says:
If I had to guess at the problems with noise (I own the 300HS) it's because the CMOS sensor is smaller than an earlier version like the 300HS.
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