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Canon PowerShot SX510 HS

12.1-megapixel digital camera with 30X optical zoom and Wi-Fi®

Item # 280SX510

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Our take on the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS

Ever see those professional wildlife photographers toting massive zoom lenses? Lucky for them, they get paid to take incredible close-ups of exotic animals. The rest of us need a high-zoom camera that's affordable enough to save some money for travel expenses. That's why the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS is a smart choice for budding birders or travelers headed off on safari. It offers powerful 30X optical zoom and a user-friendly design, and it won't cost you more than air fare to Nairobi.

Powerful zoom on a budget

Ever see those professional wildlife photographers toting massive zoom lenses? Lucky for them, they get paid to take incredible close-ups of exotic animals. The rest of us need a high-zoom camera that's affordable enough to save some money for travel expenses. That's why the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS is a smart choice for budding birders or travelers headed off on safari. It offers powerful 30X optical zoom and a user-friendly design, and it won't cost you more than air fare to Nairobi.

Animals don't smile and say "Cheese"

If you travel to Africa to photograph big game, you've got to get up early. Really early. So you'll need a camera that can capture crisp detail even when the sun is just creeping above the horizon. The SX510 features a new 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor designed to excel in low-light conditions. And because animals rarely strike a pose and hold it for the camera, you'll appreciate the speedy autofocus and zoom framing assist, so you can keep subjects in the frame and in focus across this camera's impressive zoom range.

Take Wi-Fi with you

If you travel to where the cape buffalo roam, you're going to want to show others just how rugged and adventurous you are. Fortunately, the 'SX510's built-in Wi-Fi makes it easy to share photos. While we can't vouch for wireless service on the savannah, Canon's free CameraWindow app for Apple® and Android™ lets you transfer shots to your smartphone just about anywhere. It also lets you geotag your photos with location information, so friends can see just how deep into the jungle you trekked. Once you're back in the comfort of your own home network, you can wirelessly back up photos, print them, and post to Facebook and Twitter from the camera through Canon's Image Gateway.

HD video and Movie Digest mode

Still photos only tell part of the story. Capture the other half with the PowerShot SX510's HD video recording. Worried that your guide has taken you a little too close to those elephants? Intelligent IS image stabilization keeps nervous hands from leading to shaky, blurry video. For a unique video perspective, try Movie Digest mode. It records short video clips before every still shot you snap and stitches them together into a highlight reel of your day's adventures.


  • 12.1-megapixel effective recording CMOS sensor
  • 3" LCD screen (461,000 dots)
  • 30X optical zoom (4X digital zoom/120x total zoom)
  • records photos and video onto optional SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory cards
  • 35mm equivalent lens focal length: 24-720mm
Special Features:
  • built-in Wi-Fi for sending photos wirelessly to smartphones, tablets, PCs, and printers over a wireless network
  • Canon's free CameraWindow app for Apple and Android lets you:
    • send photos to your smartphone using the camera as a wireless access point
    • upload photos to Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites
    • use your smartphone's GPS capability to add location information to photos
  • optical image stabilization for blur-free photos and video
  • Intelligent IS chooses from six digital image stabilization modes to counteract shaky hands
  • zoom framing assist helps you track subjects and keep them in focus across the camera's broad zoom range
  • fast autofocus reduces lag time
  • Canon's HS system captures detailed, low-noise photos in low-light settings
  • Movie Digest mode records short videos prior to snapping still photos and combines them into a single video clip
  • high-definition movie mode (up to 1080p resolution)
  • auto mode adjusts settings based on 32 preset scenes
  • pop-up flash
Connections and Dimensions:
  • high-speed USB (Mini Type B) interface (cable not included)
  • mini HDMI output (HDMI cable not included)
  • 4-1/8"W x 2-3/4"H x 3-3/16"D
  • weight: 12.3 oz. (with battery and media)
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
Supplied Accessories:
  • rechargeable lithium ion battery (NB-6LH) and AC charger
  • neck strap
  • lens cap with string

What's in the Box:

  • Digital camera (black)
  • Lens cap (with attached cord)
  • NB-6LH Lithium-Ion battery (3.7V 1060mA 4.0Wh)
  • CB-2LY battery charger (4.2V 0.7A)
  • Adjustable neck strap
  • Canon Warranty card
  • Getting Started booklet (Eng/Span)
  • Canon Customer Support/Online Product Registration card
  • Online Registration/Canon Image Gateway info card
  • Info sheet on wireless printing

Hands-on research

Features and Specs

LCD Screen Size 3"
Adjustable-angle LCD No
Wi-Fi Built-in
Touchscreen No
Waterproof No
GPS-enabled No
Lens 35mm Equivalent 24-720mm
Optical Zoom 30x
Digital Zoom 4x
Filter Diameter N/A
Manual Focusing Yes
Manual Exposure Yes
Built-in Flash Yes
HDMI Output Mini
Internal Memory None
Memory Media SD/SDHC/SDXC
Sensor Size 1/2.3" CMOS
Megapixels 12.1
Image Stabilization Optical
Highest Resolution 4000 x 3000
4K Video No
Video Resolution 1920 x 1080
Width (inches) 4-1/8
Height (inches) 2-3/4
Depth (inches) 3-3/16
Weight With Battery (ounces) 12.31
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year

Product Research

Playback, Editing and Print Functions
Battery Information
Inputs and Outputs Notes

Recording Features

LCD Monitor: The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS has a 3" TFT LCD monitor, featuring 461,000 dots with approximately 100% picture coverage. The LCD display's brightness can be adjusted to one of five levels. The LCD display also features a Night Display feature that when shooting in dark conditions, the camera automatically brightens the LCD monitor to suit the brightness of the subject, making it easier to frame the subject.

Note: There is no separate viewfinder on this camera.

Image Sensor: The camera is equipped with a 1/2.3" CMOS image sensor with 12.8-million total pixels, and 12.1-million effective pixels.

Optics and Stabilization: The SX510 HS has a 30x optical zoom lens with a 4.3-129mm focal length (35mm equivalent is 24-720mm). The built-in lens shift-type Image Stabilizer helps control camera shake to give you clear images when you're zoomed way in. Image Stabilization can be used for Still Images (Dynamic IS), Panning (Powered IS), and Macro Shots (Hybrid IS).

Zoom: In addition to the 30x optical zoom, the camera features a 4x digital zoom. When used in combination, the total zoom is approximately 120x. When optical and digital zoom are combined, the total focal length is 24-2880mm (35mm equivalent).

Digital Tele-Converter: The focal length of the lens can be increased by an equivalent of 1.5x or 2.0x through the use of the Digital Tele-Converter. The equivalent focal lengths of the lens (35mm equivalent) are 36-1152mm when using the 1.5x digital tele-converter, and 48-1440mm with the 2.0x tele-converter. The digital zoom and digital tele-converter cannot be used simultaneously.

Built-in Wi-Fi: The PowerShot SX510 HS comes with built-in Wi-Fi technology, allowing you to share what you've recorded with friends, family, and the whole world. The camera can wirelessly connect to and send images to the following:

  • Smartphone: The camera can connect directly to both iOS (version 6.0/6.1, or later) and Android devices (version 2.3, 4.0, 4.1, 4.2 or later) via the free Canon CameraWindow app.
  • Web Services: You can post your images to your favorite social networking sites through the Canon Image Gateway, or save them to the online photo album.
  • Another Camera: Share your photos with other Wi-Fi equipped PowerShot cameras.
  • Computer: Transfer images and video directly to your computer to update friends and family while you're traveling or away from home.
  • Printer: You can send images to a PictBridge-compatible printer (supporting DPS over IP) to print them.

Recording Media: The camera records still images or moving images with stereo audio on SD Memory Cards (2GB or less), SDHC Memory Cards (4GB to 32GB), and SDXC Memory Cards (32GB and higher). Still images are recorded in JPEG format, and the movies are recorded in MOV format (Image data: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio data: Linear PCM (stereo)). The camera has no built-in memory, and no memory card is included with the camera.

Still Image Resolution/Compression: The SX510 HS can record still images in 4 different sizes (Large, Medium 1, Medium 2, and Small) and 4 aspect ratios (4:3, 16:9, 3:2, and 1:1). For each resolution, you can set the compression to Fine or Normal. You can choose from the following resolutions:

  4:3 16:9 3:2 1:1
Large 4000 x 3000 4000 x 2248 4000 x 2264 2992 x 2992
Medium 1 2816 x 2112 2816 x 1584 2816 x 1880 2112 x 2112
Medium 2 1600 x 1200 1920 x 1080 1600 x 1064 1200 x 1200
Small 640 x 480 640 x 360 640 x 424 480 x 480

Movies: Movies can be shot in Full HD at 1920 x 1080 at 24 fps, or HD at 1280 x 720 at 30 fps. Standard definition movies can be recorded at 640 x 480 pixels at 30 fps. Audio is recorded in stereo with the built-in microphone. Recording will automatically stop when either the clip file size reaches 4 GB or the recording time reaches approximately 30 minutes for Full HD or HD, and 1 hour for SD. SD Speed Class 6 or higher memory cards are recommended when recording movies.

Miniature Effect: In addition to shooting standard movies, you can shoot movies that look like scenes in  miniature models. Miniature Effect HD movies are recorded at 1280 x 720, and you can choose between 6fps, 3fps, or 1.5fps. Miniature Effect VGA movies are recorded at 640 x 480 at 6, 3, or 1.5 fps. When played back at normal speed, people and objects appear to move quickly during playback.

Continuous Shooting Mode: You can use the continuous shooting mode to shoot successive frames while the shutter button is fully pressed. You can shoot full resolution images continuously at approximately 3.8 images per second, or at 1 image per second in Continuous AF or Continuous LV modes. In the High Speed Burst mode, you can shoot at approximately 10.5 images per second at a reduced resolution (M: 1984 x 1488).

Focusing Range: The camera features the following focus ranges (from the end of the lens):

  • Auto: 0" to infinity (W), 4.6' to infinity (T)
  • Macro: 0" to infinity (W)
  • Normal: 2" to infinity (W), 4.6' to infinity (T)
  • Manual Focus: 0" to infinity (W), 4.6' to infinity

Shooting Modes: Using the mode dial on the top of the camera, you can switch between the following shooting modes:

  • Manual: You can manually set the shutter speed and aperture.
  • Aperture Priority: You can set the aperture to a value at which you want to shoot, and the camera sets the appropriate shutter speed for the aperture you set. Aperture values can be set between F3.4 to F8.0.
  • Shutter Priority: You can set the shutter speed to a value at which you want to shoot, and the camera sets the appropriate aperture value for the shutter speed you set. Shutter speeds can be set between 15 and 1/1600 seconds.
  • Program: The camera sets both the aperture value and shutter speed.
  • Live View Control: Image brightness, colors, and tone can be easily customized while shooting.
  • Auto: The camera will automatically select the best settings for the scene.
  • Movie Digest: Makes a short movie of the day by automatically recording a movie clip of the scene. Each clip recorded that day is combined into a single file.
  • Scene: Select from the following, according to the scene or effects desired: Portrait, Low Light, Snow, and Fireworks.
  • Creative Filters: You can add various effects to images when shooting, such as Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, and Monochrome.
  • Discreet Mode: Lets you shoot without the flash or camera sounds.
  • Movies: Record movies in Full HD, HD or Standard Definition in Standard or Miniature Effect modes. You can also record movies when shooting still images by simply pressing the dedicated Movie button on the rear panel.

Metering Modes: You can select from the following metering modes:

  • Evaluative Light Metering: used for standard conditions. The area within the frame is divided into several zones and light is measured based on subject position, brightness, direct light and backlighting.
  • Center-Weighted Averaging: averages the exposure from the entire image, but places more weight on the subject at the center
  • Spot: meters the area within the spot AE point at the center of the LCD monitor or viewfinder.

Exposure Compensation: If you are shooting against a bright background or strong backlight, you may need to correct the exposure so that the subject doesn't come out too dark. You can set the adjustments from -2 to +2 in 1/3-step increments.

Locking the Exposure Setting (AE Lock): You can set the exposure and focus separately. This is effective when the contrast is too strong between the subject and background, or when a subject is backlit. Flash Exposure Lock (FE Lock), just as with the AE lock, lets you lock the exposure for shooting with the flash.

White Balance: You can choose from the following white balance settings: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, and Custom.

Flash Modes: The PowerShot SX510 HS has a built-in pop-up flash. You can select Auto (flash fires in low light), Slow-synchro, On (flash always fires), or Off (flash doesn't fire). The built-in flash has a range of 1.6' to 16' in Wide Angle and 1.6' to 9.8' in Telephoto. In the menu, you can turn on the Red-Eye Reduction lamp for the flash, and apply Red-Eye Correction to the images that have been taken.

ISO Speed: The ISO speed can be set Automatically (ISO Auto), or manually to ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, or 1600. Lowering the ISO speed results in sharper images but there's a greater chance of subject or image blurring in certain shooting conditions. Raising the ISO speed results in a faster shutter speed, reducing blurred images. The images, however, will appear more coarse.

My Colors: You can choose the look and feel of the photos you take by using My Colors to add the following effects to the image you are currently recording or have already recorded: Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, B/W, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, and Custom Color.

Self-Timer: The SX510 HS utilizes a 10-second, 2-second, and a custom self-timer to allow the photographer to be included in the shot, or to avoid camera shake when using a tripod. The custom self-timer allows you to set the time delay to 1-15, 20, 25, or 30 seconds for up to 10 shots.

Playback, Editing and Print Functions

Index Display: This feature allows you to view 4, 9, 36, or 100 images at once on the LCD monitor so that you can search for an image quickly. Movies cannot be played in the index playback mode. You can view the index display by rotating the zoom lever toward wide angle while the camera is in playback mode.

Filtered Playback: When there are many images on the memory card, you can filter and display them by a specified filter. You can also protect or delete all images at once while filtered. Available filters include: Favorites, Shot Date, People, and Still Image/Movie.

Review Info: You can choose to display your photos/movies with No Information or Detailed Information.

Red-Eye Correction: You can correct red eyes in already recorded images. However, red eyes may not be automatically detected in some images such as faces near the screen edge, faces that appear extremely small, larger dark or bright in relation to the overall image and faces turned to the side or at a diagonal and faces with a portion hidden which prevents the Red-Eye Correction from working. You can choose to overwrite the file with the corrected image, or store the image as a new file, retaining the original image.

PictBridge: Using the supplied USB cable, you can connect this camera directly to a PictBridge-compatible printer of any brand. In this way, you can make prints directly from the camera without having to connect to a computer.

Battery Information

Power Requirements: The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS powered by the NB-6LH Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. The camera includes the CB-2LY battery charger, which can charge the NB-6L battery in approximately 2 hours. For long periods of continuous use, or when connected to a computer, it is recommended that the camera be connected to the optional ACK-DC40 AC adapter kit. A fully-charged battery will last for approximately 250 shots, 50 minutes of movie shooting time, 1 hour 30 minutes of continuous shooting, and 5 hours of playback time.

Date/Time Battery: The camera uses a built-in backup battery for maintaining the date and time data for about three weeks after the battery pack has been removed. By inserting a charged battery or connecting an AC adapter kit, the date/time battery can be charged in approximately 4 hours, even if the camera is not turned on.

Power Saving Functions: The camera is equipped with the following power saving functions:

  • Auto Power Down for Shooting Mode: The screen will turn off approximately 1 minute after the camera is last operated. You can "wake" the camera at this point by pressing the shutter button halfway to turn on the screen and continue shooting. After about 2 more minutes, if no buttons are pressed, the lens will retract and the power will turn off.
  • Auto Power Down for Playback Mode and Connection to a Printer: The camera power down approximately 5 minutes after the last control is accessed on the camera.
Note: The Power Saving Function will not activate during a Slide-Show or while the camera is connected to a computer.

Inputs and Outputs Notes

HDMI Output: The PowerShot SX510 HS is equipped with a mini-HDMI (Type C) for connecting the camera to your HDTV. An optional mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable, such as the Canon HTC-100, is required.

A/V Output/Digital Terminal: The camera has a Mini-B Version 2.0 USB terminal to allow you to connect the camera to a compatible computer or compatible Canon printer via an optional USB cable. This USB 2.0 Hi-Speed-compatible terminal allows you to rapidly download images to your computer or printer. Through the same USB jack, you can connect the camera to a TV or video monitor with stereo RCA audio and composite video input jacks using the optional AVC-DC400ST Stereo AV Cable. You can set the video output to NTSC or PAL.


Software: The PowerShot SX510 HS comes with no software included in the box. The following software is available for download from the Canon website:

  • ImageBrowser EX: Manage images: view, search, and organize; Print and edit images
  • CameraWindow DC: import images and change camera settings
  • User Guides: Camera User Guide, Software Guide

Compatible Operating Systems:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7 (SP1)
  • Windows Vista (SP2)
  • Windows XP (SP3)
  • Mac OS X (v10.6, v10.7, v10.8)

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Staff Reviews

Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs

Great zoom in a compact camera

Written by Ralph Graves, Staff Writer - Creative, on 9/24/2013 4:32:00 PM

As soon as I powered up the SX510 HS and started playing with the lens, it hit me. This would be a great camera for any parent whose child played sports. The camera's small enough to slip ito a purse, bag, or even overcoat pocket, and lightweight enough to easily hold in one hand.

The 30X optical zoom can get you right down onto the field, so it's easy to capture shots of your young athlete. I was impressed at how quickly the auto settings compensated to changing light conditions in the Lab. Which means if I'm following the action down on the field, I don't have to spend time making adjustments (and possibly missing the shot).

In manual mode, I could make all the adjustments I wanted to. So experienced photographers can still retain control over their shots. One of the control features I really liked was the way I could organize photos in the settings menu. Instead of having each photo assigned a number from an unending sequence, I could have the numbering reset with each session. And I could have folders created either monthly or daily. So if I was taking hundreds of photos a day, the camera could have a folder for each day, with easily organized numbers.

What are the Labs?