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Canon PowerShot S500
Canon PowerShot S500

Hey! You should know that this product has been discontinued. Here are our current recommended cameras in the Ultra Compact Digital Cameras category.

Canon PowerShot S500

Editor's Review

The Canon PowerShot S500 is the first of the Digital Elph cameras to offer 5-megapixel resolution. Announced at the 2004 Photo Marketing Association show in Las Vegas, the Canon 500 is one of seven new PowerShot cameras announced by Canon in early February. While the S500 offers higher resolution than the other Elph cameras, it features the same compact body, creating an outstanding combination of power and size.


  • 5.0 megapixels (effective)
  • 3x optical zoom/4.1x digital zoom
  • autofocus only
  • program exposure only
  • JPEG file format
  • ISO range 50-400
  • proprietary Lithium-Ion battery
  • movie mode with sound
  • Part Number: S500 Digital Elph
  • UPC: 13803037494
  • Release Date: Feb 10, 2004

Shop for S500 Accessories

Canon PowerShot S500 Reviews

Canon PowerShot S500 Reviews by Digital Camera-HQ Users

  • 1.0 out of 5
E18 Error (Mincho — 03/24/2008)

I got the E18 error and can not fixe it.

  • 2.0 out of 5
E18 (Gem — 10/17/2007)

I liked Powershot S500. However, when it has some problem difficult to fix if not under the warranty. Because everything (to fix broken memory card lid "locker" costs about 70$) costs as much money that I can buy new & better camera.

  • 1.0 out of 5
E18 Error Horror (Lindsay Cooper — 01/06/2007)

Great camera, except after I got the E18 error in less than 10 uses w/ the camera. It renders the camera useless and costs over $100 to fix if not under the warranty. And who wants to pay that much money just to get the same crappy camera that will get the same error for absolutely no reason. I will never buy Cannon again. They won't admit to the manufacture defect.

  • 5.0 out of 5
I love the camera (jenny — 12/13/2006)

I just find the display too small compared to the newer digitals that are out now.
One other problem is I can't figure out why the date is not visible on photos.

  • 2.0 out of 5
DON'T BUY IT (cynthia — 11/29/2006)

This is my mom's camera. It was fine when I used it two weeks ago, and I hadn't touched it since. Today, I turned it on to find that the camera was so blurry (weird, since it's auto-focus ONLY) and made a weird sound when the shutter opened. I turned it on and off a few times and came upon the infamous E18 error. Now, the camera is miraculously back to square 1 - the permanently blurry pictures. I can't wait for my mom's reaction. -___- Please, don't buy this.

  • 3.0 out of 5
E18 takes control! (Snezhana — 11/03/2006)

Ive had my camera for about 2.5 years. It was great but it broke fast. Plus the e18 error ruined the whole camera. I dont have enough money and time to have someone fix it, just so it can break again. So now i have to pay for a whole new one. I would never buy this unless you want an expensive piece of crap.

  • 2.0 out of 5
E18 (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

pro: picture quality was good,
con: shutter lags, most of all, the infamous E18 error killed it.

  • 2.0 out of 5
Another one bites the dust.. (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

Yes another dead S500. Fortunately it broke the first time under warranty, but the second time it was not. Now it is not turning on at all. My impression is it is not built to handle the kind of bumps and bruises these pocket cameras get. Too bad, it was a nice camera.

  • 1.0 out of 5
Don't buy it! (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

Almost one year to the date I purchased this camera, the infamous E18 sign came up. I took excellent care of this camera and while it was working, it worked great but for this expensive camera to last only one year is ridiculous!

  • 5.0 out of 5
Rather good (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I bought this camera when it was $400 and still love it. It is easy enough to use for technophobes, and offers enough settings to allow more advanced photographers personalization settings. It's not an SLR or even close, but it's not meant to be. It's a great camera for traveling and snapping photos. I have never had an error with the camera. I use a 256MB card and the 1600X1200 setting regularly with no issues. The refresh time between pictures is also fairly good for the model/time period it was manufactured. I've worked with and sold many digital cameras. Some have better optical zoom and are the size of an elephant, some are smaller with poor resolution. This camera, and subsequent offspring is a great beginner/intermediate camera. And well, great for anyone who doesn't want to look TOO touristy on trips.

  • 2.0 out of 5
I expected it to last longer, and I took care of it! (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

It's still working and I've had fun with it but the shudder is sticking, and now wont close. The knobs are all jammed up too. The switch to take/ view pictures is really hard to slide over now. I�m not happy. This was my second Cannon and I won't be getting another. I thought it would last much, much longer. Paid too much.

  • 1.0 out of 5
3 words: class action suit This thing is worthless (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

1 year 3 e18 errors 2 battery errors and maybe only 400 pictures taken. Support is miserable.. stay away from canon go sony

  • 3.0 out of 5
memory card error (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

i love the camera but it stopped working, memory card error !!!!

  • 2.0 out of 5
So disappointed. :-( I really liked it but it isn't reliable (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I am so sad. I have a dance coming up in a week and suddenly the camera lens doesn't work..its like jammed and on the screen it says E18...what does that mean?!?!?! I am so disapointed because I take SUCH GOOD CARE OF it. It has taken THOUSANDS OF GREAT PICTURES...but isn't reliable. I would get a newer camera if I was you.

  • 2.0 out of 5
Easy to use, great pictures...but now the E18 has got hold of it !!!! (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

WE brought on the basis of good reviews but where woorried about the e18 error also. Have taken excellent photos, and taken it aborad, but on the last trip the e18 error has appered. fear the worst, and suspect that the lack of Canon repairs will result in a huge repair of a good camera really sad and cross

  • 3.0 out of 5
Good but can be better (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I have taken this camera for use on 3 different trips around the country & one Down Under (both Australia & New Zealand) plus numerous family get-together occasions. Over 2,000 pix were taken & developed. I love its compact size & ease of use, with the following observation: 1) there are problems with red eyes, requiring lots of time spent on software fixing the problem; 2) the pictures tend to be a bit dark, again, requiring time for repair; 3) somewhat disappointing in that the pictures are not as crispy & sharp as I had expected.

  • 4.0 out of 5
Great camera; but LCD is mediocre. (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

This is my second digicam. First was a basic 1.2 mp cheapie that was not much more than a drugstore disposeable.

I'm not a photo nut; just wanted something better. This S500 was available for far less than street price; so I bought it.

Overall excellent in my opinion; but I'm not experienced with digicams. I love the size and picture quality. The movie mode is something I never thought would be used but I now shoot about 30% movies. I'm not terribly enthused about the proprietary battery; but that one does seem to run forever. I agree with other reviewers; a better battery level indicator (or audible warning) would help. My only BIG grouch is the small display and its poor image quality when looking at it straight-on. When tilted, it is great. That could be a defect and why I got it cheap. I'll live with it. That's why I went with 'Good'.

Now that I've been around other cameras, I'd probably buy something different if I had to pay $300 or more. I can live with a somewhat larger body to get a larger and better display.

As this camera is now getting close to "production end" (I've had mine 8 months); there will probably be some killer deals coming. I'd recommend this camera if you could get it for less than $200.

  • 2.0 out of 5
Great camera for as long as it lasts. (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

Bought Camera 15 months ago took some wonderful shots went abroad with it twice second trip the inevitable problem with the lens focus arrangement,with the usual E18 error message, nice camera if you stay at home with it.

  • 4.0 out of 5
Compact and handy (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I initially chose this camera because of the size. It's small and compact and can fit easily in my handbag or jeans pocket, which is what I like so you don't have to log around large electronics. I practically take this baby with me everywhere I go for those ready-to-shoot photos. However, the proprietary battery can be a problem as it does not work well in semi cold temperatures!!! In additon the charge status does not come up until the battery is almost ready to die. Also I think the delay when switching on the camera is too long causing you to miss those fleeting moments. However, the veratility of this camera is impressive and the clarity with which it captures scenes is commmendable. Sound playback is also clear. Would recommend highly.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Almost perfect (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

This camera is very good and the defects are very few and already identified by a lot of people. The auto mode is so good that it is hard to go to manual and get better pictures. Basically it takes very good pictures especially during the day. The 5MP sensor is a bit noisy for night pictures and also takes some time to focus low light levels. It should have a battery meter because you never know when it will end. I have a 2nd battery because of that. Like most users, I would like to have more control but this camera doesn't support manual focus and things like that. Canon should have created 2 firmware versions, one for standard users and another for advanced ones. In reality it is such a high quality camera that is a shame not to have more control.

  • 4.0 out of 5
My pal (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I enjoy this camera tremendously. It's always in my glove compartment. I find the picture quality outstanding, and I've taken many extremely high quality landscapes with it. Some limiting factors: weight and thickness, smaller-than-ideal LCD. Overall, I love it.

  • 1.0 out of 5
Breaks Easy Great Pictures (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I loved the photo quality but I bought it because it felt very sturdy being all metal. It broke after 16 months.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Great Camera (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I like this camera. I use it at work and play. It simply does everything I need and does a great job. I had the S100 for about 4 years and it was great. Our office uses them exclusively and we have had no problems.

  • 4.0 out of 5
Excellent portable camera but Problems with flash, blur and battery (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

THis is very good camera for clicking images in broad day light.

If you click photos at night then you will suffer a lot.

The first thing is that you cannot adjust the intensity of flash. Therefore whenever you click photos, the strong flash makes people startled. I mean the photo comes with eye closed (or half closed seeming like drunk man).
If you try to keep flash off and take photo under room light. Then you will notice sifnificant blur even if you hold the camera properly. YOu must keep flash to prevent the blur or increase the ISO settings( but increasing this will lower image quality).

The another thing is that battery life is short. And that there is no battery meter to notify you how much gas is left in your battery.

Other than these flash, battery and bluring problem this is an excellent camera. I can't believe my camera is superb than any of my frnds mostly with sony and nikon digicams

  • 1.0 out of 5
Junk!!!!! (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

A $$$300.00 camera should last longer than 1 1/2 years!

  • 1.0 out of 5
if your looking for a camera that only lasts a year...this one is it! (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

after having the camera for only 13 months, an error message appeared on the screen and erased almost all the pictures i took, nothing could fix the internal problem. since the warranty was over, i had the option to send it back to cannon and spend a ridiculous amount fixing it. terrible customer service, and a terrible "disposable" camera.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Almost no Problems in 6,500 pictures (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I have taken a lot of pictures in almost half a year and I have been almost completely satisfied with the S500 in every way.

-Multiple modes and abilities allows much versatility and usability.
-Compact size makes travel simple and easy
(not to mention concealment when necessary).
-In mid-range quality (1600x1200 norm), which is suitable for almost anything digital, you can take 867 pictures on a 256 memory card.
-No complaints with buttons or LCD, sufficient and practical.

* Problems *
-not knowing the battery status
(very critical sometimes)
-brightness and contrast issues
(a lot of changing of the settings to get a desired outcome)

-neglecting other responsibilities to have the time to take pictures!

overall this camera has been reliable, practical, and compatible with my lifestyle and interests

  • 5.0 out of 5
simple to use! (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

it's simple to use just point and shoot. small and very handy.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Small Size - Quality Pics (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I take a large number of pictures personally and for work and switched from Olympus to Canon with complete satisfaction. My concern re: batteries was not needed. I bought an extra battery and keep it charged. I have only had to switch it twice in six months. Love the size - picture quality - ease of use. I am a Canon Convert. Goes nicely with my new Canon IP 4000 printer. Love that two but next time will get a IP 9000

  • 5.0 out of 5
What a great camera... (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I've taken just over 3,400 photographs with this camera since I bought it about 5-months ago. It was a replacement for my 4-megapixel Kodak DX4900 which was about 3-years old and showing its age. Compared to the Kodak, this camera is as different as night and day. It's fast, can take movies, and the battery last forever.

If I could change anything it would be...

I'm give it an info battery - you're never sure how much power is remaining. I purchased a few spare batteries so I'm never without power.

I also had to purchase a couple large Compact Flash cards. The original 32-mb card is simply too small for anything.

Other than these two items -- there is nothing better than this little Canon camera!

  • 4.0 out of 5
Good (anonymous — 07/18/2006)
If size and portability are big factors, then look no further than the S500...for its size image quality is quite impressive, based on some of the enlargements that I have made. It may not have as many controls as I would like, but I have been very impressed and would not hesitate to recommend it to any quality for a camera of this type is 1st rate....