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Canon PowerShot Elph 520 HS

10.1-megapixel digital camera with 12X optical zoom (Black)

3 Reviews

Item # 280E520K

This item is no longer available.

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Our take on the Canon PowerShot Elph 520 HS

Now getting close enough to see all the details doesn't mean you have to give up the convenience of having a pocket-sized camera that's easy to carry everywhere. The Canon PowerShot Elph 520 HS, the world's slimmest 12X zoom camera, has arrived. This camera packs a lot of power in its slim frame. An advanced CMOS sensor gives you sharp detailed photos, even in low light. And the DIGIC 5 image processor makes the camera fast and responsive, so you can get crisp photos even when your subject is on the move.


Big zoom doesn't have to mean a big camera

Now getting close enough to see all the details doesn't mean you have to give up the convenience of having a pocket-sized camera that's easy to carry everywhere. The Canon PowerShot Elph 520 HS, the world's slimmest 12X zoom camera, has arrived. This camera packs a lot of power in its slim frame. An advanced CMOS sensor gives you sharp detailed photos, even in low light. And the DIGIC 5 image processor makes the camera fast and responsive, so you can get crisp photos even when your subject is on the move.

The Canon PowerShot Elph 520 HS

Optical image stabilization helps counteract unsteady hands so you can snap clear, sharp images. The camera is full of great features, including 58 scene modes for just about every occasion. High burst mode lets you shoot up to 6.8 frames a second at key moments to make sure you don't miss that great shot. And if you'd like to shoot video instead, you can switch over and capture beautiful 1080p HD video to play on your TV. (HDMI cable required, not included.)


  • 10.1-megapixel effective recording
  • 12X optical zoom (4X digital zoom/48X total zoom)
  • 3" LCD screen
  • records photos and video onto optional MicroSD, MicroSDHC, and MicroSDXC memory cards
  • 35mm equivalent lens focal length: 28-336mm
Special Features:
  • high-definition movie mode (up to 1080p resolution)
  • optical image stabilization
  • high speed burst mode (6.8 frames/second)
  • DIGIC 5 image processor for advanced face detection, red-eye correction, and better contrast in your photos
  • advanced CMOS sensor for sharp photos even in low light
  • face detection automatically sets focus, exposure, flash, and white balance for better portraits
  • 16:9 widescreen photo mode
  • super slow-motion video mode
  • 58 scene modes including Toy Camera and Monochrome
Connections and Dimensions:
  • mini HDMI output (HDMI cable not included)
  • high-speed USB interface
  • audio/video output for connection to a TV
  • 3-7/16"W x 2-1/4"H x 13/16"D
  • weight: 5.47 oz. (with battery and media)
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • Digital camera (black)
  • NB-9L Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery pack (3.5V/870mAh/3.1Wh) with plastic terminal cover installed
  • CB-2LB Battery charger (4.2V/0.7A)
  • Wrist strap
  • 50" USB cable (IFC-400PCU) with in-line noise filter with Type A USB on one end and Mini-USB 2.0 on the other end
  • Digital Camera Solution Disk Ver. 110.0
  • Getting Started booklet (English)
  • Getting Started booklet (Spanish)
  • Warranty card
  • Canon Customer Support sheet
  • Important Safety Instructions (for battery charger)
  • Canon printer advertisement

Outstanding camera for the price, takes incredible pics at decent distance away. Minimal use needed of manual to edit/delete pics and upload onto laptop, CD software may not be needed on most computers. The rechargeable battery is another nice feature.

Joe H, San Diego, CA


Canon PowerShot Elph 520 HS Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(3 Reviews)

Good camera, very short battery life

Donpg from South Bend, IN on 5/8/2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Easy to use.

Pros: Takes good pictures

Cons: very short battery life

Outstanding pics, great value

Joe H from San Diego, CA on 4/29/2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Outstanding camera for the price, takes incredible pics at decent distance away. Minimal use needed of manual to edit/delete pics and upload onto laptop, CD software may not be needed on most computers. The rechargeable battery is another nice feature.

Pros: Large LCD, small pocket size, easy to use , great clear pics, easy to follow instructions to edit/delete pics, any novice or average user will have crisp nature shots

Cons: zoom feature requires very steady hand during capture.

Canon Powershot elph 520 HS

John C. from Utica, NY on 4/20/2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Adaquate ease of operation. Outstanding zoom and stablization.

Pros: Large LCD display.

Cons: Small buttons.


Hands-on research

Features and Specs

LCD Screen Size 3"
Adjustable-angle LCD No
Wi-Fi No
Touchscreen No
Waterproof No
GPS-enabled No
Lens 35mm Equivalent 28-336mm
Optical Zoom 12x
Digital Zoom 4x
Filter Diameter N/A
Manual Focusing No
Manual Exposure No
Built-in Flash Yes
HDMI Output Mini
Internal Memory None
Memory Media MicroSD
Sensor Size 1/2.3" CMOS
Megapixels 10.1
Image Stabilization Optical
Highest Resolution 3648 x 2736
4K Video No
Video Resolution 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720
Width (inches) 3-7/16
Height (inches) 2-1/4
Depth (inches) 0-13/16
Weight With Battery (ounces) 5.47
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year

Product Research

Playback, Editing and Print Functions
Battery Information
Inputs and Outputs Notes
Supplied Software

Recording Features

LCD Monitor: The Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS has a 3" TFT LCD monitor, featuring 461,000 dots with approximately 100% picture coverage and a 5-level brightness adjustment. The Night Display feature automatically brightens the LCD monitor to suit the brightness of the subject, making it easier to frame the subject in dark conditions.

Image Sensor/Processor: The camera is equipped with a 1/2.3" CMOS image sensor with 16.8-million total pixels, and 10.1-million effective pixels. Together, the 10.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 5 processor make up the Canon HS System, which delivers clear, blur-free shots indoors or in low light up to ISO 3200.

Optics: The ELPH 520 HS has a 12x optical zoom lens with a 4.0-48mm focal length (35mm equivalent is 28-336mm).

Zoom: In addition to the 12x optical zoom, the camera features a 4x digital zoom. When used in combination, the total zoom is approximately 48x. The focal length when using the optical zoom and digital zoom together is approximately 28-1344mm.

Digital Teleconverter: The focal length of the lens can be increased by an equivalent of 1.4x or 2.3x through the use of the Digital Teleconverter. The equivalent focal lengths of the lens (35mm equivalent) are 39.2-470mm when using the 1.4x digital teleconverter, and 64.4-773mm with the 2.3x teleconverter. The digital zoom and digital teleconverter cannot be used simultaneously.

Recording Media: The camera records still images or moving images with stereo audio on microSD Memory Cards (2GB or less), microSDHC Memory Cards (4GB to 32GB), and microSDXC Memory Cards (32GB and higher). The camera does not have internal memory, nor does it include a microSD card, so you will be required to obtain a memory card before recording.

Still Image Resolution/Compression: The ELPH 520 HS can record still images in JPEG format in 4 different sizes (Large, Medium 1, Medium 2, and Small) and 4 aspect ratios (4:3, 16:9, 3:2, and 1:1). For each resolution, you can set the compression to SuperFine or Fine. You can choose from the following resolutions:

  4:3 16:9 3:2 1:1
Large 3648 x 2736 3648 x 2048 3648 x 2432 2736 x 2736
Medium 1 2816 x 2112 2816 x 1584 2816 x 1880 2112 x 2112
Medium 2 1600 x 1200 1920 x 1080 1600 x 1064 1200 x 1200
Small 640 x 480 640 x 360 640 x 424 480 x 480

Movies: Movies can be recorded in MOV format (Image data: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio data: Linear PCM 2 channel stereo) in High Definition at 1920 x 1080 (24 fps) and 1280 x 720 (30 fps). You can also shoot in Standard Definition at 640 x 480 pixels (30 fps). Recording will automatically stop when either the clip file size reaches 4 GB or the recording time reaches approximately 30 minutes. Other movie options include iFrame Movie, Movie Digest, Miniature Effect, and Super Slow Motion Movie.

Image Stabilization: The ELPH 520 HS is equipped with optical (lens-shift type) image stabilization. To correct the effects of camera shake, you can choose from the following Image Stabilization settings:

  • Continuous: always applied for still images
  • Panning: for still images when panning
  • Hybrid IS: for Macro shots
  • Dynamic IS: for movies, reducing strong camera shake as when shooting when walking
  • Powered IS: for movies, for subtle camera shake, such as when shooting movies at telephoto
  • None: no image stabilization

Face Detection Technology: The camera's Face Detection Technology finds and tracks the faces of moving subjects until you're ready to shoot, then delivers perfect focus. In addition, exposure, flash, and white balance are compensated, so that faces exhibit natural skin tones and backgrounds are properly exposed. Smart Shutter automatically shoots a picture after detecting a smile, even without pressing the shutter release button.

Auto Focus Lock: If it becomes difficult to focus on the subject due to low contrast to the surroundings, close up and far away subjects in the same shot, or quickly moving subjects, you can choose to lock the focus or auto focus on an object at a similar distance, then shoot the picture after recomposing the shot.

Focusing Range: The camera features the following focus ranges (from the end of the lens):

  • Auto: 0.4" to infinity (W), 3.3' to infinity (T)
  • Normal: 2" to infinity (W), 3.3' to infinity (T)
  • Macro: 0.4" to 1.6' (wide)
  • Infinity: 9.8' to infinity (W/T)

Shooting Modes: Using the two-way switch on the top of the camera, you can select between the Smart Auto mode and other shooting modes. In the Smart Auto mode, the camera will automatically select the best settings for the scene, detect and focus on faces, and set the color and brightness to optimal levels. Other shooting modes to choose from include: Program, Movie Digest, Portrait, Smooth Skin, Smart Shutter, High-Speed Burst, Handheld Night Scene, Low Light, Fish-Eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Soft Focus, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Color Accent, Color Swap, Underwater, Snow, Fireworks, Long Shutter, Stitch Assist, iFrame movie, and Super Slow Motion Movie.

Continuous Shooting: In the Continuous Shooting mode, the camera will take pictures at approximately 2.8 frames per second, as long as you hold down the shutter button. The image size is not limited, and the focus and exposure are determined when you press the shutter button halfway. Continuous Shooting AF will focus for each frame. Continuous Shooting LV mode fixes the focus at the position determined in AF Lock. The High-Speed Burst mode lets you shoot a series of shots in rapid succession (about 6.8 fps) by holding the shutter button down fully. The resolution is fixed to 1824 x 1368, and the focus, image brightness, and color are determined by the first shot.

Metering Modes: You can select from the following metering modes:

  • Evaluative: used for standard conditions. The area within the frame is divided into several zones and light is measured based on subject position, brightness, direct light and backlighting.
  • Center-Weighted Averaging: averages the exposure from the entire image, but places more weight on the subject at the center
  • Spot: meters the area within the spot AE point at the center of the LCD monitor or viewfinder

Exposure Compensation: If you are shooting against a bright background or strong backlight, you may need to correct the exposure so that the subject doesn't come out too dark. You can set the adjustments from -2 to +2 in 1/3-step increments.

Locking the Exposure Setting (AE Lock): You can set the focus and exposure separately to shoot. When the exposure is set, you can lock the setting, then compose the scene and shoot. This is effective when the contrast is too strong between the subject and background, or when a subject is backlit. Flash Exposure Lock (FE Lock), just as with the AE lock, lets you lock the exposure for shooting with the flash.

White Balance: You can choose from the following white balance settings: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, and Custom.

Flash Modes: The PowerShot ELPH 520 HS has a built-in flash with a range of 1.6' to 8.2' in Wide Angle and 3.3' to 4.9' in Telephoto. You can select Auto (flash fires in low light), On (flash always fires), Slow Synchro (illuminates subject in foreground while the slow shutter speed brightens the background not reached by the flash), or Off (flash doesn't fire). In the menu, you can turn on the Red-Eye Reduction lamp for the flash, and apply Red-Eye Correction to the images that have been taken.

ISO Speed: The ISO speed can be set Automatically (ISO Auto), or manually to ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 or 3200. Lowering the ISO speed results in sharper images but there's a greater chance of subject or image blurring in certain shooting conditions. Raising the ISO speed results in a faster shutter speed, reducing blurred images. The images, however, will appear more coarse.

My Colors: You can choose the look and feel of the photos you take by using My Colors to add the following effects to the image you are currently recording or have already recorded: Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, B/W, Positive Film, Lighter Skin, Darker Skin, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, and Custom Color.

Self-Timer: The ELPH 520 HS utilizes a 10-second, 2-second, and a custom self-timer to allow the photographer to be included in the shot, or to avoid camera shake when using a tripod. The custom self-timer allows you to set the time delay to 1-15, 20, 25, or 30 seconds for up to 10 shots.

Wink Self Timer: In addition to the standard and custom self-timers, the ELPH 520 HS can be set to record an image of a person approximately two seconds after detecting a wink.

Face Self-Timer: The Face Self-Timer automatically detects an increase in the number of faces, and makes the appropriate adjustments. When the Face Detection Self-Timer is set, the camera waits for the photographer's face to get on-camera before it takes the shot. The camera will shoot, two seconds after the new face is detected.

Playback, Editing and Print Functions

Slide Show: Images stored on a memory card can automatically be displayed one-by-one using the Slide Show function. You can set the playback time for each image, and the transition effects when switching between images. If desired, you can repeat the slide show automatically.

Index Display: This feature allows you to view 4 to 100 images at once on the LCD monitor so that you can search for an image quickly. Movies cannot be played in the index playback mode.

Magnifying Images: Using the zoom button, you can magnify a photo up to 10x. Once zoomed in, you can use the "arrow" buttons to move around the displayed area.

Playback Displays: You can choose from three types of displays:

  • Simple Information: screen includes basic information about the image
  • Detailed Information: screen include a histogram display as well as detailed information about the settings used when the image was captured.
  • Focus Check: magnifies the area of a recorded image that was inside the AF frame so you can check the focus.

Resizing Images: You can save images a lower recording pixel setting than the original image, saving the resized image as a separate file.

Trimming: You can cut out a portion of a recorded image and save it as a new image file.

Protecting Images: The protect feature allows you to protect important images from accidental erasure. You can protect images by the image itself or select All Images.

PictBridge: Using the supplied USB cable, you can connect this camera directly to a PictBridge-compatible printer of any brand. You can also connect the camera directly to certain Canon SELPHY compact photo printers and PIXMA inkjet photo printers. In this way, you can make prints directly from the camera without having to connect to a computer.

Battery Information

Power Requirements: The Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS is powered by the supplied NB-9L Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery pack (3.5 Volts / 870 mAh). A fully charged battery pack can provide power for up to approximately 190 shots, 30 minutes of movie shooting time, or 4 hours of playback time. The NB-9L is charged in approximately 110 minutes in the supplied CB-2LB battery charger.

Date/Time Battery: The camera uses a backup battery for maintaining the date and time data for approximately 3 weeks. The backup battery charges in approximately 4 hours while a charged main battery (NB-9L) is inserted, or the camera is connected to an external AC adapter.

AC Adapter: If you need to operate the camera for long periods of time during a slide show or when connected to a printer, it is recommended to use the optional ACK-DC70 AC Adapter Kit.

Power Saving Functions: The camera is equipped with the following power saving functions:

  • Auto Power Down During Shooting: The screen will turn off approximately 1 minute after the camera is last operated. You can "wake" the camera at this point by pressing the shutter button halfway to turn on the screen and continue shooting. After about 2 more minutes, if no buttons are pressed, the lens will retract and the power will turn off.
  • Auto Power Down During Playback: The camera power down approximately 5 minutes after the last control is accessed on the camera.

Note: The Power Saving Function will not activate during a slide show or while the camera is connected to a computer.

Inputs and Outputs Notes

A/V Out / Digital Terminal: The camera has a Mini-B Version 2.0 USB terminal to allow you to connect the camera to a compatible computer or compatible Canon printer via the supplied USB cable. This USB 2.0 Hi-Speed-compatible terminal allows you to rapidly download images to your computer or printer. You can also connect the camera to a TV (via composite video and stereo audio) using the optional AVC-DC400ST A/V cable in the same terminal. The A/V output can be set to NTSC or PAL as needed.

HDMI: The camera has a mini-HDMI output for connecting it to an HDTV. A mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable, such as the optional Canon HTC-100 (item # 280HTC100) is required. When the camera is connected to an HDMI-CEC-compatible TV, you can control the camera's functions with the TV remote.

Supplied Software

Included Software: The PowerShot ELPH 520 HS comes supplied with the Canon Digital Camera Solution Disk Version 110.0 CD-ROM. It contains the following programs:

  • Canon Utilities:
    • ImageBrowser EX 1.0: manage images transferred to a computer (view, edit, and print)
    • CameraWindow DC 8.7: transfer images to and from camera, organize images on the camera, and upload movies on the camera to web services
    • PhotoStitch 3.1 (Windows) / 3.2 (Mac): use to merge still images to make panoramas
  • User Guides: Camera User Guide, Software Guide

Compatible Operating Systems:

  • Windows 7 (SP1)
  • Windows Vista (SP2)
  • Windows XP (SP3)
  • Mac OS X (v10.6)

Our Product Research Team

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Staff Reviews

Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs

Traveler's friend

Written by Dave Bar, Staff Writer - Creative, on 1/31/2013 10:58:00 AM

While preparing for a trip to Scotland and England, I started looking for an ultra-compact camera with a respectable zoom range that could easily be stuffed into a pocket. I love my trusty Canon PowerShot G11, but it was just a little too bulky, and it has a somewhat limited 5X zoom. I wanted something truly tiny with a big telephoto zoom that would let me get close to distant subjects, as well as a reasonable amount of wide-angle capability to capture castle dungeon interiors. Oh, and I didn't want to spend a lot. Is that too much to ask?

I found all that, and more, in the Canon PowerShot 520 HS. In addition to meeting all of the initial requirements, this little shooter has a big, bright 3" LCD screen. I discovered that the screen didn't wash out too easily either, even when shooting outdoors in bright sunlight (somewhat of a rarity in Great Britain). I was also surprised and impressed by its speed. Even when we were whipping around London on the top of a double-decker bus, I was able to get off plenty of crisply focused shots in quick succession. And that 12X telephoto zoom came in very handy for those long-distance close-ups of Big Ben. Almost all of my photos turned out far beyond my expectations.

The size of this camera may be an issue for folks with large hands. Its controls are small and closely spaced. It took me a little while to acclimate, but the learning curve wasn't too steep. It also uses the less-common microSDHC memory cards, which meant having to buy additional memory since my other cameras use standard-size SD cards. But memory cards are cheap and plentiful enough these days that it wasn't by any means a deal breaker. Besides, microSDHC cards come with a standard card adapter that lets me use them in my other cams.

All in all I think this little camera, with its speed, versatility, and solid picture quality, is a great choice for travelers wanting to go light.

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