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Noisiest camera ever owned.
on May 17, 2012
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.