Canon 510 HS Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS
Resolution: 12.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3"
Lens: 12.00x zoom
(28-336mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 100-3200
Shutter: 15-1/4000
Max Aperture: 3.4
Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
(99 x 59 x 22 mm)
Weight: 7.3 oz (206 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $350
Availability: 10/2011
Manufacturer: Canon
Full specs: Canon 510 HS specifications
12.10
Megapixels
12.00x zoom
1/2.3"
size sensor
image of Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS
Front side of Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS digital camera Back side of Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS digital camera Top side of Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS digital camera Left side of Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS digital camera Right side of Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS digital camera

510 HS Summary

Slick and slim, yet with a long zoom, the Canon ELPH 510 HS packs a ton of features into a compact camera body behind an occasionally frustrating touchscreen interface.

Pros

Slim and stylish camera body; Extremely versatile 12x lens; Gorgeous 3.2-inch screen; Good image quality overall.

Cons

Not everyone will like the touchscreen; Glossy camera body attracts smudges; Below-average battery life.

Price and availability

Started shipping in October 2011; Currently retails for under US$350.

Imaging Resource rating

4.0 out of 5.0

Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS Review

by Dan Havlik, and Stephanie Boozer
Posted: 05/31/2012

Canon has maintained a winning formula for its popular ELPH line of compact PowerShot cameras over the years: combine slender, pocket-friendly good looks with quality imaging and consumers will snap up these stylish point-and-shoots. The new 12.1-megapixel Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS doesn't mess too much with the sleek and chic formula, but it does add a few more ingredients to the well-trod pocket camera category.

The Canon 510 HS has several key updates over the previous model, the SD4500 IS, including a more powerful lens stuffed inside a still impressively slim body, and a higher-resolution rear LCD with a new touchscreen interface. Additionally, the Canon 510 sports a slightly different look, with smoother, more rounded corners on its thin camera body.

The most attention-grabbing feature of the Canon 510, though, is the 12x zoom lens, which offers a very useful focal range of 28mm wide angle to 336mm telephoto equivalents, enough to cover just about any subject or shooting circumstance. That Canon fits this long zoom lens into a camera body less than an inch thick is no small feat. The Canon 510's CMOS image sensor gets a slight boost in resolution, stepping up to 12.1 megapixels. Like its predecessor, the Canon 510 HS can capture video at up to Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution.

Look and Feel. Physically, the Canon 510 is ever so slightly smaller than the SD4500 IS, with the same thickness and height, but just slightly less width. The surface of the Canon 510 is extremely glossy. The Canon 510 comes in silver, red or black-bodied options and lists for US$350, which is the same price as the previous model.

What's particularly impressive about the Canon 510 is its size. Canon has billed it as the world's thinnest 12x optical zoom with a 28mm wide angle, and it is indeed slim: the Canon 510 is just 0.9 inches (22mm) thick. Where the Canon 510 will comfortably slip in your pocket, an interchangeable-lens camera would typically need at least a couple of lenses to cover the same focal lengths, plus a small camera bag to carry the extra lens.

The precise dimensions of the Canon 510 are 3.90 x 2.32 x 0.86 inches (99.0 x 58.9 x 21.9mm), making it just a bit smaller than its predecessor. Body weight, however, has increased by a noticeable 9 percent, to 7.3 ounces including battery and SD memory card. Most users won't feel weighed down by the Canon 510 despite the weight increase; it's a solid camera and the extra heftiness makes it feel more substantial and high-end.

What bothered us a bit was the Canon 510's high-gloss finish, which is slippery to the touch and prone to attracting smudges and fingerprints. Also, the camera body is made primarily of polycarbonate, which makes it feel cheaper than the traditional metal construction of past ELPHs.

On the other hand, the rectangle-shaped camera's rounded edges and smooth surface made it easy to stash in a bag or coat pocket without getting snagged. The front of the camera is simple and unobtrusive, with the Canon logo and the camera's rather long model name taking up the right side, and details about the optical zoom filling the left.

The rear of the camera is dominated by the 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD, which is slightly larger than the previous model, while the SD4500 had a 3-inch screen. The LCD also has a higher pixel count, at about 461,000 dots for better resolution and clarity. And, of course, the Canon 510's display now has a touchscreen overlay, allowing it to be used not only to check out your shots but also as a way to control features on the camera with a touch of your fingertip. The only button on the back is a small Playback button in the lower right hand corner.

Though it's slick to hold -- definitely use the wrist strap to prevent drops -- the Canon 510 is otherwise easy to use, especially because the generously-sized shutter button on top of the camera is in just the right position.

There's not much more to say about the Canon 510's external controls because there are so few; five to be exact. The touchscreen replaces buttons and switches found on previous models. Of course, there are many beginners who will put this Canon ELPH on Auto and be fine not changing anything at all.

Pressing the small Playback button calls up the last image you shot. There are several ways to scroll through images using the camera's touch sensitivity. Tapping the right side of the camera body switches to the next image, while tapping the left side changes to the previous image.

Similar to an iPhone, you can scroll through your photos by swiping your finger on the screen either to the left or the right. Canon also included a small stylus tip as part of a plastic nib on the end of the wrist strap that can be used to navigate on the ELPH 510. I will discuss the Canon 510's touch features more in depth later but let's just say for now that the sensitivity and intuitiveness of the active display is a far cry from the experience on an iPhone or an iPad, which is a shame. We later found that pressing a little harder on the Canon 510 HS's resistive touchscreen solved a lot of the problems.

LCD. Compared to the SD4500 IS, the previous flagship ELPH, the Canon 510 HS boasts a touch-screen LCD panel that's both larger and higher-resolution than the earlier camera. The size increase is only slight, stepping from a 3.0-inch screen to a new 3.2-inch panel with a wide aspect ratio.

It's a fine screen, both generous in size and well stocked with pixels. Images looked crisp and clear in Playback, and no matter how you feel about the touch-sensitivity of the display, you'll likely be pleased with how good your shots look on the screen.

Sensor and Shooting Features. Canon has boosted image sensor resolution just slightly in the PowerShot 510, stepping it up by two megapixels for an effective resolution of 12.1 megapixels. Output from the Canon 510's CMOS image sensor is processed by the same DIGIC 4 image processor as in the SD4500. The Canon 510's ISO shooting range is 100 to 3,200 at full resolution.

The sensor and the DIGIC 4 processor combine as part of Canon's so-called HS (aka "High Sensitivity") System. It may sound like marketing mumbo jumbo, but the HS System is designed to reduce noise at high ISOs and expand the camera's dynamic range to produce greater detail and more accurate color when shooting in low light without a flash, such as at a wedding or a concert.

Lens. In front of that 12.1-megapixel sensor is the extremely versatile 12x (28 - 336 mm in 35mm equivalent) optically stabilized lens, which will pretty much serve most of your shooting needs. From landscapes and cityscapes to zooming in on distant wildlife, 12x is a truly impressive range for a pocket style camera.

The Canon 510's lens offers a maximum aperture that varies from f/3.4 to f/5.9 across the zoom range, and includes image stabilization with updated algorithms. Stabilization is particularly important in a camera like this, given the powerful telephoto reach possible with its lens. Without it, you'd want a shutter speed of at least 1/320 second to handhold a shot at the telephoto end of the 510's zoom lens. Canon says that its latest-generation image stabilization system analyzes the shooting environment, then automatically chooses from one of six different scene types such as macro, and optimizes the shake reduction system accordingly.

Full HD movies. 1,920 x 1,080 at 24 fps. Click to download 84.2MB (top) and 44.9MB MOV files.

Movies. Like its predecessor, the Canon 510 can capture video at up to Full HD (1,920 x 1,080p, or 1080p) resolution at 24 frames per second with stereo sound, in H.264 format. Other standard speed resolutions available are 1,280 x 720p at 30fps and 640 x 480p at 30fps. A number of effects and scene modes are applicable to movies, and an editing-friendly iFrame mode at 720p is also available. Optical zoom is supported during recording, and image stabilization is available including a Powered IS mode for enhanced stabilization at full telephoto. There's an optional wind filter as well.

The 510 HS can also capture Super Slow Motion movies at 640 x 480 at 120 fps, and 320 x 240 at 240 fps that are played back at 30 fps. Miniature Effect is supported for 1280 x 720 and 640 x 480 resolutions, captured at 5x / 6 fps, 10x / 3 fps, or 20x / 1.5 fps, also played back at 30 fps.

Modes and Effects. One of the most impressive modes on the Canon 510 is the High-Speed Burst mode, which helps capture fast-moving or unpredictable subjects. In High-Speed Burst mode, just hold down the shutter and you can fire off up to 7.8 frames per second (fps) but at a drastically reduced resolution of 3 megapixels. At full resolution, maximum burst speed is 3.3 frames per second, and if you want tracking AF, that drops to 0.8 frames per second.

Handheld Night Scene. Look ma, no tripod.

Other specialty modes include Handheld Night Scene which combines several shots to reduce blur and noise, a low-resolution Low Light mode with ISOs up to 6,400, standards such as Portrait, Kids & Pets, Beach, and Fireworks, as well as fun effects such as Miniature (a simulated tilt-shift lens look), Monochrome (black-and-white, sepia, or blue-and-white), Toy Camera (simulates the effect of shooting with a plastic camera such as a Holga), and Fish-eye. Then there are a few settings on the Canon 510 that are unique but perhaps not as useful, including Poster Effect, which transforms your image into a poster-like illustration, Super Vivid, which really pumps up saturation, and Movie Digest, which automatically records a 2-4 second movie clip before your still image is shot.

Normal
Fish-eye
Miniature
Toy Camera
Monochrome
Poster
Super Vivid

The Canon 510 can also detect several additional scene types in its Smart AUTO mode, compared to the previous camera. Where the SD4500 could select from one of 28 scene types in Smart AUTO shooting, the Canon 510 now has an additional four modes, which all rely on the camera's ability to track motion of non-human subjects.

Connectivity. For viewing images and movies on the latest high-def displays, the Canon PowerShot 510 HS includes a mini-HDMI high-definition port (bottom port in the crop at left). There's also a combined standard-definition AV/USB 2.0 port (top).

Storage and battery. The Canon 510 stores images and videos to Secure Digital (SD) cards, and is compatible with the latest higher capacity SDHC and SDXC type cards. Canon recommends SD Class 6 speed rating or higher to capture HD movies.

The Canon 510 is powered by a new proprietary NB-9L lithium-ion rechargeable battery that's smaller than most we've seen. In fact, with its rounded contours, the battery looks more like a Tootsie Roll than a typical wafer-style rechargeable. On the downside, the small battery is only rated by CIPA as capable of firing 170 shots on a charge, which is only about two-thirds what's typical for a camera in this class.

 

Shooting with the Canon 510 HS

by Dan Havlik

I shot with the Canon 510 HS in two contrasting situations: during a vacation in the mountains where I captured outdoor photos of nature while on hikes; and inside the massive Las Vegas Convention Center during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where I photographed new products and people. The camera was surprisingly well suited for both circumstances, though the Canon 510's touch interface takes some getting used to. It's no iPhone.

The Canon 510's small size made it easy to stash in the side pouch of my backpack while hiking on vacation, and in the front pocket of my sports coat while trekking across the CES show floor in Las Vegas. It's a very portable camera, there's no doubt, but slightly on the heavy side. Considering the camera's long zoom lens, the Canon 510 is still surprisingly light and compact overall.

Nice landscape. The Canon 510's lens can go as wide as 28mm equivalent, helping to capture broad landscapes. While it wasn't as sharp in the corners as we would've have liked, wide-angle results were good for a compact camera.

In use. As I mentioned, even novices might be surprised by how few external controls there are on the Canon 510. Many beginning users -- and even a few experienced shooters -- will simply keep the camera on the green "Auto" setting and be perfectly happy taking snaps with the 510. If you want to delve deeper and change some of the Canon 510's settings -- such as the specialty presets for portraits, kids & pets and others -- you've got to access menus via the touchscreen interface.

For straight snapshots, though, power the Canon 510 up via its on/off button on top and the camera able to capture its first shot in about three seconds. Shutter lag is minor, just 0.44 second at the wide-angle and 0.40 second when zoomed in, according to our lab tests. If you prefocus, the Canon 510 is much faster, at 0.12 second. The camera took about 1.77 seconds shot to shot, which is about average. If you really want some shot to shot speed, put the Canon 510 in High-Speed Burst mode -- engage it via the menu -- and you'll be able to fire off nearly eight images per second, but at only about 3 megapixels.

The Canon 510 with its tried-and-true DIGIC 4 image processor is fairly quick for a pocket-friendly style camera. Though I had some issues with changing settings on the fly via the touchscreen interface, once I had the 510 configured the way I wanted, it was well-suited for photographing landscapes and fleet-footed wildlife during my winter vacation at the Mohonk Mountain House in upstate New York.

Wildlife. The Canon 510's 12x lens allowed me to zoom in quietly and capture these deer while they enjoyed a late afternoon snack.

The Canon 510's impressive 12x zoom also helped me zero in on a group of deer and capture stills and video of them undetected. It then easily pulled back to the wide, 28mm-equivalent setting to get shots of the Mohonk House, Lake Mohonk, and the surrounding hills. While photographing the deer in late afternoon winter light, the 510 was not particularly speedy at focusing, but consistent and manageable if you're patient. (If you're someone who's used to high-speed autofocusing on a digital SLR or even the faster AF systems on the latest Compact System Cameras, than the Canon 510 will feel quite slow.)

I attend a lot of photography and consumer electronics trade shows and often see people toting around heavy digital SLRs and a bevy of serious lenses. While that set-up may help you get the best shots, lugging them around all day can wreak havoc on your back. Not to mention, you're liable to get jostled by fellow show attendees. Usually my go-to pocket camera for trade shows is Canon's high-end compact, the PowerShot S95, which was recently replaced by the S100. Though the Canon 510's lens doesn't have a wide f/2.0 aperture like the S95 -- which helps for shooting in low light -- its 12x, f/3.4-5.9 lens did well on the show floor. Autofocus speed could be a little sluggish in low or mixed lighting, but acceptable for a camera in this size and class.

Bond girls. At a crowded CES event to celebrate 50 years of 007, I just held the Canon 510 over my head, zoomed in, and photographed two former Bond girls Olga Kurylenko and Caterina Murino.

Along with shooting photos of new products at CES, I captured images of some of the more interesting celebrity attendees at the show and the after-parties. For instance, to help celebrate "50 years of 007" with a new Blu-ray box set of the James Bond films, the Panasonic booth hosted former Bond movie directors along with two Bond girls from past films. A big crowd was on hand so it was hard to get close, but the 12x zoom lens and image stabilizer in the 510 helped me get some fairly sharp shots of the glamorous Bondettes. All in all, the Canon 510 is quite a versatile little camera in terms of speed, with a near-ideal focal length range.

Touchscreen LCD. What will likely divide people most about the Canon 510 is its 3.2-inch touchscreen display. As I've already mentioned, I wasn't crazy about the touch sensitivity feature, but my expectations have been skewed by the excellent screen response of Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. But perhaps most smartphone users' expectations for touchscreens have been skewed by how intuitive and responsive most smartphones are. So it's fair to say that while scrolling through images on the Canon 510's LCD screen may not be as seamless as on your iPhone, it's on par to some of the better touch displays out there for cameras.

The difference is likely Canon's use of resistive touch technology versus capacitive, used on most smartphones. Whereas only a light touch is necessary on a smartphone's capacitive screen, a resistive screen is made up of two layers sandwiched together, so you have to press harder to activate the screen. Resistive touch also limits you to one-finger operation, while capacitive allows multi-touch. The flip side is that you can use your fingernail or a simple stylus for more precise operation on the Canon 510HS, while you need a special stylus to work with something like an iPhone. Changing how hard you press, or using the included stylus, really improves operation of the Canon 510 HS.

Special effects. The Canon 510's Monochrome mode was great for capturing moody B&W shots of Skytop Tower.

The first thing you'll likely use the Canon 510's touchscreen for is to scroll through your photos. You can either lightly tap the right or left sides of the camera body to advance or go back through images. This worked okay but felt a little odd at first. Try it a few times and you should get the hang of it. Tapping hard doesn't work, but a very light tap works fairly well.

A more awkward method is to tilt the camera down to the left or the right, which will bring up animated arrows on the corresponding sides of the screen. Press these arrow icons with your finger tip and you can scroll through your images more quickly. The big drawback of this method is that because you're tilting the screen, you're looking at your images slanted. Definitely not ideal. Lastly, you can scroll through photos by the more common touch swipe method, reminiscent of an iPhone. In theory, this should be the go-to approach since it's already ubiquitous on Apple's and others' devices. Remembering to press harder made this easier over time.

Super Vivid mode added some preternatural color to this shot of icicles.

Because the LCD is so big and packed with so many pixels, your photos will look fabulous in Playback, especially landscapes which nicely fill the 16:9, widescreen aspect ratio. The touch shutter functionality was also slow so I mainly used the shutter button for capturing images. It also took a split second more than I would have liked to get the 510 into HD video recording mode by pressing the red dot icon on the screen. In the end, I found the 510's touchscreen to be more a hindrance than a strong selling point, mostly because I'm so accustomed to my cell phone. Even though there's an easy workaround, I'm afraid Canon's going to have trouble with this.

The dramatic. One of the better effects modes on the Canon 510 is Miniature, which simulates the look of a tilt-shift lens, helping me create this dramatic photo of a weeping willow.

Image quality. For a compact camera this svelte and handsome, the Canon 510 produces very good image quality. No, your images are not going to rival what you shot with a digital SLR or even spendy compacts such as the Canon S100. But your photos will be far better than what you'll get from your smartphone. And that's really what cameras like the Canon 510 are battling: smartphones. Why carry around two devices when you can have just one? Well, one reason is that the Canon 510 offers a versatile 12x lens; you won't find anything like that in a smartphone. If my images were a little soft in the corners when pulled back to 28mm and, perhaps, not as sharp as I'd like them when zoomed in to 336mm, they were very good for a pocket camera.

Sans Flash. I'm glad the flash didn't fire for this ISO 1,600 shot of Snooki. There were so many paparazzi firing their strobes at this CES event that most of my flash shots were completely blown out.

The Canon 510 also performed surprisingly well in a range of lighting conditions and different ISOs. My outdoor ISO 100 shots around the Mohonk Mountain House were bright, clean, and full of detail. Canon is somewhat conservative in its color algorithms, which I like, so photos don't look oversaturated, but natural and true. ISO 400 images were quite good too even with a little bit of shadow noise creeping in. Many of my shots on the CES show floor were captured at ISO 800 and above and the Canon 510 performed decently at higher ISOs. Images shot at ISO 800, such as my photos of the Bond girls during the 007 event, were surprisingly low in noise, and I'd feel comfortable printing these shots up to 11x14.

Wide and tele. In front of the Canon 510's 12.1MP sensor is the versatile, 12x (28 - 336 mm in 35mm equivalent) optically stabilized lens.

A photo I captured of a deer in dusky light at ISO 1000 was a bit soft, which was caused by a combination of slight camera shake and smushy pixels from the high ISO, but still printable as a 5x7 or 4x6. During a press party that featured a guest appearance by Snooki of MTV's The Jersey Shore, I cranked the ISO to 1,250 and 1,600 on the Canon 510 and while my photos of Snooks weren't exactly frameworthy, as on-the-fly paparazzi-style images, they were just fine. Noise was, of course, an issue but the Canon 510 did a much better job of keeping it under control without blurring pixels than many competing pocket cameras we know. Though the 510's HS system -- which is what Canon calls the one-two punch of the camera's 12.1MP CMOS sensor and its DIGIC 4 processor -- may sound like marketing jargon, it's effective when shooting in low light without a flash.

If you're looking for imaging style and substance, the 12.1-megapixel Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS could be the right camera for you. I say "could be" because, for one, you have to get used to the resistive touchscreen, which isn't like the cell phone screen you're used to. Also, while the Canon 510's Tootsie Roll-shaped little battery is cute and helps keep the weight down, it runs out quickly so consider buying a spare. Still, the Canon 510's extremely versatile zoom lens, its compact and stylish design, and better-than-average image quality even in low light, make this an impressive new flagship ELPH that's worth your consideration.

 

Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS Lens Quality


Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Quite soft at upper right
Tele: Sharp at center
Tele: Mild blurring, upper left

Sharpness: The wide-angle end of the Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS' zoom shows some noticeable blurring in the corners of the frame compared to what we see at center, mainly in the upper right corner of the frame. Though it isn't severe, blurring does extend fairly far in toward center on the right side. At telephoto, performance is a little better, with more mild blurring visible in the corners and sharper details at center.


Wide: Slight barrel distortion; hardly noticeable
Tele: Virtually no pincushion distortion

Geometric Distortion: There is surprisingly little barrel distortion at wide-angle (0.2%), and no perceptible pincushion distortion at telephoto. Thus, the PowerShot ELPH 510 HS' processor squashes any geometric distortion that might be present.


Wide: Moderately high, bright
Tele: Less bright, though moderate

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is moderately high in terms of pixel count, though pixels are quite bright. Telephoto shows about the same level of distortion, though pixels are just a hint less bright. Still, effects are noticeable at both zoom settings, particularly in high-contrast images.


Macro
Macro with Flash

Macro: The Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS' Macro mode captures sharp, strong detail at the center of the frame, though blurring is very strong and interferes with detail in the upper left portion of the frame. Chromatic aberration is also visible in the dollar bill details, and exposure is very uneven at this close range. Minimum coverage area is 1.12 x 0.84 inches (29 x 21mm), which is quite good. The camera focuses so closely that the flash is blocked by the lens, resulting in deep shadow over most of the frame and a strong hot spot at upper right. Thus, you'll want to stick with external lighting for shots this close.


 

Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS Viewfinder Accuracy


Wide: LCD Monitor
Tele: LCD Monitor

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Canon PowerShot 510 HS' LCD monitor showed about 101% coverage at wide-angle and at telephoto, which is very good.


 

Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS Image Quality


Color: Overall color looks pretty good, with only mild oversaturation in bright reds and greens, and slightly stronger saturation in bright blues. Yellows are actually muted a small amount, though still close. Hue is also a little off for colors like yellow, orange and cyan. Dark skintones show a slight nudge toward red-orange, and lighter skin tones are pretty accurate. Good results overall.


Auto WB:
Good, though slightly warm
Incandescent WB:
Much too pink
 
Manual WB:
Also very good

Incandescent: Manual white balance handled our incandescent lighting much better than the Incandescent setting, which came out way too pink. Auto produced better results than average, and wasn't too far off from the Manual option, though results are just slightly warm.


Horizontal: 1,700 lines
Vertical: 1,700 lines

Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,700 lines per picture height horizontally, and to about 1,700 lines vertically. You can still distinguish lines past that point, but moire becomes more prominent. Extinction of the pattern occurred at just past 2,400 lines per picture height.


Wide: Bright
Tele: Good
Normal Flash, +0.3 EV
Slow-Sync Flash, +0.7 EV

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) shows bright results at the rated wide-angle distance of 12 feet, though the camera boosted ISO to 640. The telephoto test came out similarly, with just slightly dimmer results at the rated distance of 5.6 feet, and again, the camera boosted ISO to 640.

Normal flash mode produced dim results with +0.3 EV flash exposure compensation in our indoor portrait scene, retaining very little ambient light at the 1/60 second shutter speed, ISO 100. Boosting EV further resulted in no improvement. In Slow-Sync flash mode, results are slightly brighter with a +0.7 EV boost, though overall exposure still looks a hint dim. The Canon PowerShot 510 HS' image stabilization should help with slower shutter speeds, but any movement (of camera or subject) could be problematic during longer exposures. Shot taken at ~5 feet (~1.5m) on a stable tripod.


100
200
400
800
1,600
3,200

ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is quite good at ISO 100 and 200, with some visible softening beginning at ISO 400. Chroma (color) noise is pretty well controlled at all ISOs, though luminance noise noticeably increases. Noise suppression efforts also come into play here, blurring fine details. However, results at ISO 3,200 are fair, at least in terms of being able to still discern some finer details. See Printed section below for more on how this affects prints.


Print Quality: Printing ISO 100 images shows some of the strengths and some weaknesses in the Canon 510.

ISO 100 images look pretty good printed at 16x20 inches, but reds are soft even at this low ISO setting.

ISO 200 shots start to show some luminance noise in the shadows, but still look pretty good at 16x20 inches.

ISO 400 images are a little soft at 13x19, with more chroma noise in the shadows, but are still good.

ISO 800 images are a tad too soft at 11x14, though, but tighten up nicely at 8x10 inches. The red leaf swatch in our test shot is very soft at ISO 800, so beware when shooting red cars and red sweaters.

ISO 1,600 images look very nice printed at 5x7 inches.

Overall, a pretty good performance from the Canon 510 HS. Detail with reasonable contrast looks good all the way up the print-size scale, while low-contrast detail is a little soft from the beginning, particularly our admittedly difficult red leaf fabric swatch.


 

Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS Performance


Startup Time: The Canon 510 HS takes about 3.1 seconds to power on and take a shot. That's longer than average, but not too bad for a compact long-zoom.


Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is slightly faster than average, at 0.44 second at wide angle and 0.40 second at full telephoto. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.119 second, not the fastest out there, but still quick.


Cycle Time: Cycle time is just okay, capturing a frame every 1.77 seconds in single-shot mode. Canon rates the 510's full-resolution burst mode at up to 3.3 frames per second with AF locked, and 0.8 fps with tracking AF. A fast High-Speed Burst mode captures 3-megapixel frames at up to 7.8 frames per second.


Flash Recycle: The Canon PowerShot 510 HS' flash recycles in about 6.1 seconds after a full-power discharge, on the slow side of average.


Low Light AF: The camera's AF system was able to focus down to just below the 1/2 foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled, though the camera was able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist lamp enabled.


USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Canon PowerShot 510 HS' download speeds are fast. We measured 9,231 KBytes/sec.


Battery Life: The Canon 510 HS' battery life has a CIPA rating of 170 shots per charge, which is less than average for a subcompact.


 

In the Box

The Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS ships with the following items in the box:

  • Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS digital camera
  • Wrist strap
  • NB-9L lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Battery charger CB-2LB
  • Audio/video cable
  • Software CDROM
  • Quick start guide
  • User's manual (CDROM)
  • Warranty

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Extra battery pack for extended outings
  • Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. These days, 8GB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity, but if you plan to capture many movie clips, consider larger. Look for Speed Class 6 or faster to record HD video.
  • Medium camera case

 

Canon 510 HS Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Attractive and stylish compact design that's definitely ELPH-worthy
  • Very versatile 12x (28mm-336mm) lens helps in a variety of shooting situations
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Big, 3.2-inch LCD screen with 461,000 dots of resolution make your images look great in Playback
  • Solid image quality for a portable style camera even at ISO 800
  • A relatively fast performer with good shutter lag and decent shot-to-shot times
  • Full 1080p HD video shooting with stereo sound
  • High-speed Burst modes lets you capture 7.8 frames per second, but at reduced resolution (1,984 x 1,488)
  • Some fun scene modes including Toy Camera, Monochrome, Fish-eye, and Miniature
  • Camera produces natural, not-overly saturated colors
  • Touchscreen interface is sluggish and awkward to use, especially if you expect it to work like a cell phone
  • Very little external control and limited menu-based control as well
  • High-gloss camera body surface attracts fingerprints and smudges
  • Small rechargeable battery only gives you 170 shots
  • Moderately high chromatic aberration
  • Slow focusing speed in low light
  • Scrolling through images via the touch-swipe method can be slow and frustrating
  • Plastic camera body feels slightly cheap
  • Full camera manual only available on disk

 

The Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS has a lot to live up to, but it also has a lot going for it. For starters, there's its slim, stylish, and highly portable design, which makes the Canon 510 a great camera to stash in a bag or your pocket when you want to capture images that are better quality than what you can get from your smartphone. What the Canon 510 also has going for it over a smartphone is its extremely versatile 12x (28mm-336mm) zoom lens with optical image stabilization. I found this long zoom to be great for photographing everything from picturesque landscapes on the wide-angle to zoomed in close-ups of deer, Bond girls, and other beautiful creatures.

No, it's not going to give you the same image quality as what you'd get from an interchangeable lens on a digital SLR but for a camera that packs all that lens power into a body that's less than an inch thick, it's impressive. The Canon 510 also has a gorgeous, 3.2-inch LCD screen that's bigger and with twice the resolution of the previous flagship ELPH. Image quality, overall, is very good for a slim "style" camera and I even felt comfortable shooting with the Canon 510 at up to ISO 800.

Though there's not much external control on the Canon 510 and scant internal, menu-based control as well, there are some fun scene modes including the High-Speed Burst mode, which lets you fire off nearly eight shots a second, but at a reduced resolution. The biggest sticking point with the Canon 510 is the touchscreen interface. We're so used to the great response you get from a smartphone, the sluggish and quirky touch capability of the Canon 510 just felt frustrating most of the time. Also, we don't typically harp on battery life with digital cameras since most rechargeables offer you more than enough juice, but the Canon 510's little slug of a battery offered anemic life, so we strongly recommend you purchase a spare. Despite those issues, we think the Canon 510 has enough going for it to be named a Dave's Pick.

 

Canon 510 HS

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