Canon SX500 IS vs SX160 IS – Differences Comparison

September 5, 2012

If I had to buy a new super zoom camera, I would probably looking at either Canon or Nikon offerings.  In this article I want to compare the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS and the Sx160 IS, both are new superzoom compact cameras that were announced by Canon on August 21, 2012. I’ve been asking couple of times to write a comparison article that compares the two cameras, so people can understand the differences between those two. I hope that after you read this Canon SX500 vs SX160 comparison, you can make a smarter buying decision and pick a camera that best for your specific needs.

As with other comparison blog posts, I will write an introduction on each camera, and then compare the two cameras and talk about those differences. OK, let’s start..


Canon PowerShot SX500 IS

Canon PowerShot SX500 HS

Canon PowerShot SX500 HS

The SX500 IS is probably the more interesting camera among the two in my opinion. The SX500 IS is a superzoom camera with 30x optical zoom 24mm wide-angle lens (24-720mm equivalent). It offers a large zoom, but not as high as the Nikon P510 1000mm focal length and a bit shorter than other 840mm cameras. Still, the Sx500 offers the latest of Canon technologies and it’s a good balance between price and performance. People who care about image quality with their superzoom cameras and want a compact that is small in size but yet have very capable features, those should certainly take a look at this new camera.

The Canon SX500 comes with a 16MP CCD sensor.  This is not a BSI-CMOS sensor that we are used to see on more expensive cameras, and this was probably done to reduce the cost of this camera and make it more affordable. The SX500 costs approx. $330 on Amazon, around $70 less than the Nikon Coolpix P510 but very close to the SX40 HS price.  The SX40 HS was announced on September 15, 2011 for an initial MSRP that is $100 more expensive than the SX500, but the price dropped since then and stands very close to the Sx500 one.

However, in general terms it means that the replacement for the SX40 HS will be more expensive than the SX500, which means that the SX500 is  a more affordable version compare to Canon’s superzoom flagship, the SX40 HS.

The camera can shoot HD 720p videos, not full HD as the more expensive cameras. Again, Canon cuts some corners here to keep the price lower. It doesn’t mean that the ideo vquality is not good, not at all, just you get to shoot videos with a lower resolution.

Here’s a Canon PowerShot SX500 IS Sample video:


At the back you can find a large fixed 3-inch LCD with 461K-dots resolution. More expensive. This is in fact a better screen than on the SX40 HS (2.7-inch 230K-dots), which just tells us that the SX40 HS needs a replacement soon. It’s very common to see new models that are cheaper in price but have some features that are better than older, more expensive models. However, the SX40 HS is an articulate display, while the SX500 is a fixed display (can’t be rotated).

The SX500 IS features High Speed AF, Canon’s latest achievement in Autofocus (AF) technology. In fact, the SX500 IS has 32% reduction in AF time and 33% reduction in shooting time lag.

Of course the main difference between the Canon SX40 HS and the SX500 IS is the camera size. The SX500 IS is much more compact than the SX40 HS, much more as you can see in the image below.


Canon SX40 HS vs SX500 HS size comparison

Canon SX40 HS vs SX500 HS size comparison


As you can see from the above image taken from, the SX500 IS is indeed a very compact superzoom camera.

Summary: An affordable, (relatively) very compact superzoom camera. Lacks some of the more advanced features like Full HD video recording and articulating LCD.



Canon PowerShot SX160 IS

Canon PowerShot SX160 IS (Red)

Canon PowerShot SX160 IS (Red)

The Canon PowerShot SX160 IS camera is a relatively cheap but versatile camera. It’s that kind of camera where you buy when you don’t want to spend too much on a digital camera, but still want a good all-around camera to serve you well for general photography. This is a camera that I would probably buy for my mom, because she isn’t technical, but yes she wan’t high quality and a good zoom range.

The Canon SX160 IS features 1 16MP CCD sensor and a 16x optical zoom 28mm wide-angle lens. With its 28-448mm focal length, this camera certainly falls into the superzoom category with a very nice range. Certainly a camera to take to the zoo to shoot close up shots, but also for family, landscape, kids, birthdays, soccer games photographer – this camera can handle it all.

The camera price is pretty cheap compare to other cameras in the PowerShot lineup. You get good image quality, but some features are left behind. For example, you only get 230K-dots 3-inch display, which is not bad, but not at the same resolution as 460K or 920K displays. The camera can shoot HD videos, again, no Full HD 1080p movie recording.

This camera also enjoys Canon’s new High Speed AF so the camera can focus fast and you wouldn’t miss an important moment. The AF speed was improved by  a lot in comparison to the SX150 IS, the older model the SX160 replaces.

This camera was built for beginners and has smart Auto feature that helps the camera choose the right settings, so you don’t have to make those choices. The camera was designed to shoot gorgeous images without you needing to know how to set it up correctly.  You do have manual exposure control and manual focus, but unless you know how to use it, you can get great shots using the Auto mode.

Summary: a very affordable yet basic 16x superzoom camera that provides great image quality but at the cost of some features. You get a lower-res screen (not touch screen),  only HD videos and slow continuous shooting. This is a camera for those who don’t want to invest a lot of money in a digital camera. A great camera for total beginners but with the option to have more control when you become more knowledgeable.



Canon SX500 IS vs SX160 IS

OK, now for the more interesting part – comparing the Canon SX500 vs the SX160. As you can see, both cameras are looking pretty good, but for a lower price you actually need to give up some features. Some of those features you might want, others aren’t that important and for some of you it won’t worth the extra money you invest in a better camera. The camera has a good value as long as you take advantage of its features, if you don’t, why pay for it?

To keep things simple, I will write the difference instead of just posting a side by side specs comparison table. It will be easier to understand for those who aren’t to techie.



  1. The SX500 can shoot at higher ISO, up to ISO1600 vs ISO800 on the SX160.
    Makes the SX500 better for low light photography, when you need to push the ISO further to get a well exposed shots
  2. 30x vs 16x zoom
    The SX500 IS have a higher zoom of 30x vs the 16x of the SX160. Quite a big difference hear, and great for getting close to your subject.
  3. 24mm vs 28mm wide angle
    The SX500 has a wider angle lens of 24mm compare to 28mm. It’s better for group shots, interiors, building and landscape shots.
  4. 461K-dots vs 230K-dots LCD
  5. The SX500 features a higher resolution display
  6. The SX160 IS has a faster shutter speed of 1/3200 sec vs 1/1600 sec of the SX500. Better for stopping the action when shooting fast moving subject
  7. Both cameras can shoot HD, but the Sx160 can shoot at both 30 and 25 fps, the SX500 only 25 fps
  8. The SX500 IS works with a Battery pack and offer 195 shots, the SX160 works on two AA batteries and can shoot upto 380 shots on a single charge. Much better battery life for the SX160
  9. The SX500 is more compact in terms of width and height, but has more depth due to its higher zoom lens
  10. The SX160 weights 50 less than the SX500


Both cameras will be very popular, I’m pretty sure about it. As people ditch cameras with small zoom in favor of mobile phone cameras, we left with cameras that offer higher optical zoom range, that you won’t be getting with your mobile phone device.

Both cameras will give you very high image quality, and I will probably recommend shooting at ISO400 and below for best results. They both don’t use a BSI-CMOS sensor, so image quality won’t be on par with the more expensive models. Again, these are relatively cheap cameras. However cheap doesn’t mean cheap results. Both cameras have been designed for beginners, but offer manual control too. They both utilize Canon’s latest High Speed AF. This new technology certainly enhanced the camera focusing speed, and you will see the difference when you start shooting with the camera.

If you have an old camera, you will appreciate the technology innovation inside those two cameras. Image quality will be great, but again, it’s not a low-light beast. Now it’s time to pick just one. I hope that this comparison helped you get familiar with those two cameras. Now you know what the difference are and you can make a decision based on your specific needs. Ask yourself whether it’s worth paying more to enjoy the features of the SX500, features that don’t exist on the SX160, the cheaper model.


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