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Canon Powershot SX510 HS Review

The Canon Powershot SX510 HS is a mini bridge camera with 30x optical zoom. Daniel Bell reviews.

| Canon Powershot SX510 HS in Compact Cameras
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Canon Powershot SX510 HS (4)

The Canon Powershot SX510 HS was announced in August 2013 and is a mini bridge camera with 30x optical zoom, updating the Canon Powershot SX500 IS. It has a 12.1 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, full 1080p HD video recording and is available for around £250.

Canon Powershot SX510 HS (3)

Canon PowerShot SX510 HS Features

The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS has a 12.1 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor and 30x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 24-720mm. The zoom can be extended to 60x with ZoomPlus and there is optical image stabilisation to help keep your images as sharp as possible. With a minimum focusing distance of 0cm you can get really close to your subject when shooting macros.

To make picture taking easy there is Smart Auto mode which automatically adjusts the camera settings for the detected scene. For more control there are full manual controls so you can set the aperture and shutter speed. When zooming in to your subject you can use Zoom Framing Assist to quickly zoom out and back in again to relocate your subject.
The SX510 HS can be connected to smartphones, tablets and your home wireless network via Wi-Fi to allow you to share your images and even geotag them.
Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD with stereo sound and optical zoom, with Enhanced Dynamic IS to compensate for any movement. The camera can be connected to a HD TV with a HDMI cable.
Canon Powershot SX510 HS (9)

Key Features

  • 12.1 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • 30x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 24-720mm)
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 3.0 inch 461k dot LCD screen
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Manual controls
  • Full 1080p HD video recording with stereo sound
  • ISO 80 - 3200
  • 0cm minimum focusing distance
  • 3.8 fps continuous shooting
  • Creative filters
Canon Powershot SX510 HS (6)

Canon PowerShot SX510 HS Handling

The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS has an extremely small body for a camera with 30x optical zoom, yet still has that DSLR style appearance that you expect from a bridge camera. There is a rubberised hand grip with a dotted area for your thumb on the rear. Even though the camera is small, the screen hasn't been compromised - it's 3.0 inch with a good 461k dot resolution.

On the top of the camera you'll find a mode dial which has a total of 11 options to choose from. Also on the top is the on / off button, shutter release and zoom rocker. The flash needs to manually popped up and down. Buttons on the rear of the camera include movie record, exposure compensation, playback, display and menu. There is a d-pad which also includes a rotating wheel - this is used to change the aperture and shutter speed if you are using the manual modes. The d-pad gives access to macro, flash, self-timer and ISO. On the lens barrel is a button which allows you to use Zoom Framing Assist.

The SX510 HS has a simple menu system - to change picture settings you press the function button which sits in the centre of the d-pad. Options here include white balance, light metering and drive mode, with the options available depending on which mode you are in. The rest of the settings are available via the menu button.

Canon Powershot Sx510 Hs Wi Fi Screenshot 1 Canon Powershot Sx510 Hs Wi Fi Screenshot 2 Canon Powershot Sx510 Hs Wi Fi Screenshot 3

The Wi-Fi is easy to setup, just enter playback and press the ISO button (this has a Wi-Fi symbol in blue just above it). You then just need to follow the on screen instructions to connect the camera to a mobile device or PC for example. If you are connecting to a smartphone / tablet, ensure you have the free app installed before connecting.

Battery life is rated at 250 shots according to CIPA test results, which may be an issue if you're out shooting for a full day, although can be extended to 330 shots using the Eco mode. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response   0.1 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.25 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.3 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   1.85 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash   0.84 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   2.3 secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG   3.2 fps
High-speed Burst   8 fps

Continuous shooting records in full resolution but slows after just 3 shots from 3.2 fps to 1.75 fps after eight shots. High-speed burst mode is limited to 3 megapixels. 

Canon Powershot SX510 HS (1)

Canon PowerShot SX510 HS Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Canon Powershot SX510 HS Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images are well exposed with good colour reproduction. Portrait shots are free of red-eye but skin tones aren't particularly well enhanced by the camera.

Canon Powershot SX510 HS Lens test images

Lens Performance - Detail is good throughout the zoom range, with only a slight softening in the corners. In contrasting areas the images are prone to a little purple fringing though. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 0cm, so your subject can be right up to the lens when taking close-ups, with excellent results possible.

Canon Powershot SX510 HS ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 80 and remains so at ISO 100, 200 and 400. At ISO 800 there is a slight softening in places, with images losing sharpness at ISO 1600, but detail is still good. A little more detail is lost at ISO 3200, but image quality is still reasonable. 

Canon Powershot SX510 HS White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights the Auto White Balance (AWB) has a slight orange cast, with the incandescent preset taking a much better picture. Under the fluorescent lights the AWB and fluorescent preset both perform well.

Canon Powershot SX510 HS Digital filters

Digital Filters - There's plenty of options to help you take creative shots. You can choose from one of the 'My Colours' or enter the filters mode and choose from effects such as toy camera and miniature.

Video - Below is a video recorded in full 1080p HD with some optical zoom. Quality is good, with the focus quick to adjust when zooming.

Value For Money

The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS is available for around £250. Other cameras with 30x optical zoom are the Fujifilm FinePix S4800 at £139 and Sony Cybershot DSC-HX50 at £250. With slightly more zoom is the 35x optical zoom Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ30 at £142, and the Nikon Coolpix P520 at £255 has 42x optical zoom.

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Canon PowerShot SX510 HS Verdict

The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS packs all the features you'd typically expect to see in a bridge camera, but is much smaller than many of its competitors, even though it has built-in Wi-Fi. The reduction in the size of the camera means that the battery is small and therefore doesn't have a particularly long life. There are full manual controls but no RAW shooting, but the lens has a minimum focusing distance of 0cm, so you can get as close as you want to your subject for macro photography.

  The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS packs a lot of zoom in a compact body, with impressive image quality.

Canon PowerShot SX510 HS Pros

Very good image quality
Lots of zoom in a compact body
Built-in Wi-Fi
Lens is wider than a typical compact camera
Full manual controls
0cm minimum focusing distance

Canon PowerShot SX510 HS Cons

No RAW shooting
Battery life could be better
Flash doesn't automatically pop-up


Canon Powershot SX510 HS Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.4 - f/5.8
35mm equivalent24mm - 720mm
Optical Zoom30x
Image Sensor
Pixels12.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution461,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus0cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • Manual
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/1600sec
Shutter speeds longest15sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 3200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting3.8fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-6L
Battery Life (CIPA rating)250shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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