Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS Digital Camera Review$349.99
Lens & Sensor
The ELPH 530 HS packs a 12x optical zoom lens into its tiny body, a feat made even more impressive by how little the lens extends from the front panel even at the maximum telephoto setting. The focal range is a 28-336mm equivalent, with a mediocre maximum aperture of f/3.4-5.6.
The 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor has a total of 16.8 megapixels, but only uses 10.1 of them. Our guess is that Canon uses a relatively small area of the sensor so that it's like the camera actually has a smaller chip. Smaller chips mean smaller lens, and that's how they managed to make such a compact 12x zoom lens. It probably has a net-negative effect on image quality, but the overall results are pretty decent, and the tiny lens is a great feature.
Touchscreens are supposed to make point-and-shoots feel modern and hip for the smartphone generation, but they usually get in their own way. The ELPH 530 HS is the worst example we've seen of that. The 3.2-inch, 461,000-pixel panel looks great, but it's laggy, inaccurate, and generally unresponsive. The entire user interface runs through the terrible touchscreen, and it makes using the ELPH 530 HS feel like a chore.
Great touchscreens work with almost no finger pressure; the ELPH 530 HS needs a fair amount of pressure, and even then, it's hit-or-miss. Changing settings or shooting modes on the fly is difficult, especially because the icons are near the edges of the screen, which appears to be even less sensitive than the center area. The most frustrating part is typing WiFi passwords on the virtual keyboard; we weren't always sure if we had typed the correct letter, because a) the input zones are inaccurate and b) every entry appears as an asterisk, even the last letter typed. Basically, the touchscreen ruins what could be an otherwise decent camera.
A small, low-powered flash is crammed into the upper-left corner of the front panel. Wandering fingers are bound to get in its way, though it's only effective to about 8 feet anyhow.
The ELPH 530 HS comes equipped with USB and mini-HDMI ports, just like most other cameras these days. It can also connect to web services, computers, smartphones, and other cameras via WiFi—or at least it should be able to. The WiFi system is poorly implemented; check out our Features section for more.