Canon Powershot SX510HS review

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Canon Powershot SX510HS belongs to the midlle range ultra-zoom cameras category. It looks like a miniature DSLR to the untrained eye but still keeps compact overall dimensions and lower weight making it very portable. Its 30x optical zoom lens covers the range of 24-720mm in 35mm equivalent and is paired to a 12MP CMOS sensor what is a significant upgrade over previous SX500IS which had 16MP CCD sensor. Video recording is now possible in Full HD, burst got upgraded to 4 fps (only 0.8fps in SX500IS) and the camera now has a built-in WiFi connectivity.


  • Announced: 2013.
  • Type: small ultrazoom
  • Dimensions: 104 x 70 x 80 mm (4.09 x 2.76 x 3.15″)
  • Weight: 349 g
  • Sensor: CMOS 12MP (4000 x 3000 pixels)
  • Lens: 4.3 – 129mm (24-720 in 35mm), F/3.4-5.8, optical image stabilization
  • ISO range: 100 – 3200
  • Dust and moisture protection: No
  • Flash: Pop-up flash
  • Continuous shooting: 4 fps
  • LCD screen: 3″, 461,000 dots, fixed, 4:3 ratio
  • Memory card: SDHC
  • Battery: Li-Ion NB-6LH
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 (24fps), 1280 x 720 (25fps), 640 x 480
  • Connectors: USB 2.0, mini HDMI, WiFi built-in


Design and dimensions are unchanged compared to the previous SX500IS which I reviewed exactly a year ago. SX510HS still looks like a really small DSLR what might attract some buyers. The camera is easy to hold and operate due to large buttons on the back of the camera, well shaped grip and a big lens.

Build quality and materials used are also quite good for this class of camera. Battery and memory card compartment door is not flimsy and the tripod mount is made of metal.

Menu system is similar to other Powershot cameras; easy to understand but somewhat visually unattractive. Most of the important options are adjusted via quick-menu recalled by pressing “Func. Set.” button in the middle of the multi-way controller on the back of the camera. Thankfully, Canon does not force various irrelevant options like face recognition or smile intensity into quick menu  as is the case with Sony cameras.


LCD unit remained unchanged compared to SX500. It has a large 3 inch diagonal and 461,000 dots. Sharpness is decent but still far from best possible. Viewing angles also  could be better. There is no viewfinder on this camera or an option to attach one.


A small pop-up flash with range of 5m is present – good enough for family use. SX510HS allows the user to set the flash output up to +-2EV.


The main feature that I’ve been complaining in my SX500IS review – sensor, has been upgraded. SX500 used 16 megapixel CCD sensor which had pretty bad low light capabilities. Noise and noise reduction artifacts were even visible in daylight conditions on most images. The new SX510HS uses CMOS sensor with Canon’s HS technology (High Sensitivity) which is responsible for much better image quality. Gone are the awful noise reduction artifacts and low light photographs even look usable. There is still noise, but it’s under control now and most amateurs wont notice it. Color reproduction is more on the realistic side but can be tweaked with presets in “my colors” option in the quick menu. Still, SX510HS could not provide exactly the same image quality at base ISO (details and colors) as I have seen in Canon SX270 and SX280 models which are still benchmark in smaller mid-priced ultra-zoom cameras.

Downgrade from 16 to 12 megapixels is completely irrelevant for all users since the new sensor is clearly much better. Images are shot in standard 4:3 shooting ratio, but other shooting ratios are also available in quick menu – 16:9: 3:2 and 1:1.


The lens has a huge 30x optical zoom, ranging from 24 to 720mm in 35mm equivalent. Aperture is F/3.4 at the wide angle and falls down to F/5.8 at maximum zoom. This is expected from a large zoom lens but limits the use in low light. The lens has optical image stabilization which works superbly.

The examples below illustrate the different field of view at wide angle compared with maximum optical zoom.

Overall lens quality is rather good. Sharpness looks fine in my opinion even at maximum zoom. Light fall-off in corners is also well controlled and the only real downsides are noticeable chromatic aberrations at all focal lengths. Since they can be very easily removed in post-process, the lens deserves my recommendations.


Canon SX500IS is delivered with a Li-Ion battery and external charger. It is strong enough for around 200 shots. If you don’t use flash and zoom much of the time, this can be extended to maybe 250 shots.


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