The Canon Powershot A520 is an extremely compact digital camera and has a beautifully curved housing that looks solid and shows its quality. The appliance of new techniques, like a newly developed lens system and the support of the much smaller Secure Digital card in stead of the CompactFlash card, made the Powershot A520 13% smaller and 20% lighter than its predecessor, the successful Powershot A85. The Powershot series have been offering extensive possibilities over the past few years, and in fact the cameras are very much worthwhile, good value for money. That much value that one could ask himself: what's the difference between a compact amateur camera and an advanced one? Canon acknowledged the demand for cheaper but certainly not lesser quality digital cameras. Definitely because of the availability of innovative techniques that were only used in digital reflex cameras before, but are now applicable to the entire camera assortment, Canon was able to take the lead right from the beginning.
Canon Powershot A520 - Housing
The housing of the Canon A520 feels very solid. The somewhat matte material doesn't allow fingerprints to stay behind. Starting up the camera is really fast. In a mere two seconds the LCD monitor lights up and the 4x optical zoom will have extended from the compact housing. The image sensor is a 4 Megapixel sensor that offers sufficient resolution to replace the 35mm camera without a problem.
Canon Powershot A520 - Front of the camera
Surprisingly enough for a certain type of compact camera, the front of the Canon A520 features a compact 4x optical zoom. Top right above the lens an advanced internal zoom flash is placed. Almost in the centre above the lens the optical viewfinder is placed, an item that might disappear off the next generation. Left of the viewfinder, a tiny LED is placed showing the status of the self-timer, but it also serves to reduce the red-eye effect, and it serves as an AF assist illuminator. Furthermore we find a lozenge-shaped microphone and remarkably enough a small button to unlock the ring mounted around the lens. Once unscrewed, the Canon LA-DC52F lens adapter can be attached to it and optional lenses (Canon WC-DC52 wide angle lens, Canon TC-52A telephoto lens and Canon 250D close-up lens) can be used with the camera, indeed remarkable!
Canon A520 - Hidden connections
The solidly finished housing of the Canon Powershot A520, with the nicely curved corners, shows its quality. The high level finishing touch is noticeable in every little detail. The side of the camera carries an eyelet to attach the camera's strap and the opposite side contains an oblong rubber strip. This strip functions as a cover for the interfaces. Behind it some three connections are nicely hidden, one for the A/V (Audio/Video) out connection, the second for the USB 1.1 connection and the third for the optional A/C power adapter. Partly hidden behind the same strap we also find a small cover that serves to replace the lithium 'coin' battery that retains the camera's time and date.
The bottom of the camera contains a universal (plastic) tripod connection placed completely in the corner so the camera won't be totally in balance when placing it on a tripod. Keep it in mind when placing it on a light tripod. The small cover underneath the handgrip covers the battery compartment, simple but carried out with solidness.
Canon Powershot A520 - The camera's back
When we turn the camera around we find a 1.8-inch sized LCD monitor with below and next to it a number of small buttons together with the multi-controller. A small optical viewfinder is placed right above the LCD monitor, but it seems to be nominated for disappearing off future models in order to make room for a larger LCD monitor. The size of this monitor, its 1.8 inch is poor and not very progressive; we would certainly like to find at least a 2 inch size on the next model. The optical viewfinder offers a very limited rendition of the actual image, only 81% in wide angle as well as in telephoto. The LCD monitor shows practically 100% of the image. A button lets you switch between the record and play mode of the camera, but a quick button would be preferred here. Below the monitor some three buttons are placed to activate the camera's menu, among other things. The multi-controller offers direct access to flash settings and the macro function / manual focus. Finally below the multi-controller a small hidden cover hides the memory compartment. The Canon Powershot A520 supports the Secure Digital memory card.
Canon A520 - Top side of the camera
On top of the camera a small button is placed to activate the camera, the on/off button. The solid, somewhat stiff handgrip of the A520 contains a large shutter release button with a ring mounted around it to control the 4x optical zoom. The busy dial is used a lot on digital cameras and it's impossible to go without it. The dial contains no less than thirteen different shooting modes, divided in three categories: Auto Exposure, Image Zone and Creative Zone. The dial is easy to control, and can be completely turned around to the left and the right, like all the other buttons. Right from the dial a small speaker is found.