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Canon IXUS 510 HS Expert Review

Canon IXUS 510 HS

Rating: ★★★★☆

Canon‘s IXUS range of compact cameras is treading a tricky line. If it starts to offer too many features it’ll end up treading on the toes of Canon’s PowerShot range. Too few features, though, and the camera phone – already taking chunks out of the compact camera market – will offer an altogether more compelling and convenient alternative.

The Canon IXUS 510 HS (known as the Canon ELPH 530 HS in the US) is resolutely consumer level. Pick up the rather angular 163g camera and the most immediately noticeable thing is the lack of buttons – a power button, a playback button and the shutter button are all you get. The only other physical control is the zoom rocker switch around the shutter.

The back is occupied almost wholly by the 3.2-inch LCD screen, which is a touchscreen, hence the lack of hard controls.

Canon IXUS 510 HS

It’s what’s inside the Canon IXUS 510 HS that makes it interesting. Canon has crammed in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, for example, which means you can connect the camera directly to the internet from an enormous variety of places, uploading your images and videos to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, or emailing a link.

Alternatively, you can create an ad hoc network straight from the camera, enabling you to finally ditch your Medusa’s haircut of USB cables and beam your images from the Canon IXUS 510 HS to a computer.

  • Canon IXUS 510 HS at a glance
  • Sensor: 10.1MP, 1.2/3-inch CMOS
  • Lens: 12x zoom (28-335mm equivalent) f/2.4-5.6
  • LCD Screen: 3.2-inch touchscreen, 461,000-pixels
  • ISO range: ISO 100-3200
  • Dimensions: 86 x 20 x 54mm, 163g

Finally, Canon has launched its hat into the mobile app ring, creating apps for iOS devices.

Lest we forget, there’s a Canon compact camera underneath all the tech niceties, with the package priced at £349 in the UK (about $550).

Impressively, the camera includes a 12x optical zoom (28-336mm in 35mm terms), a 10.1 megapixel sensor and Canon’s much-vaunted High Sensitivity (HS) System for better performance in low light.

Build quality and handling

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

The Canon IXUS 510 HS is a rather boxy camera – the curved edges seen on cameras such as the svelte Canon IXUS 125 HS are gone, but there’s no doubt the Canon IXUS 510 HS is still a pretty chic-looking device.

The shiny finish is something of a double-edged sword: on the one hand it initially looks great, but after a days’ handling it picks up more fingerprints than a crime scene.

There’s no terribly natural way to hold it, either. There’s no grippy area on the front, and you have to hold the camera with your thumb underneath the bottom edge to avoid tripping the touchscreen, which occupies the entire back surface, with the exception of a 4mm bezel on the right-hand edge. Supporting the camera with a hand on the left-hand side works pretty well.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

Speaking of the touchscreen, it’s a resistive, rather than capacitative, screen, which means it’s less sensitive and a little more bendy than the high-calibre glass screens on high-end phones. But it’s still pretty accurate – typing Wi-Fi access point passwords is simple enough, for instance.

Swiping gestures work a little less reliably, but it’s always possible to simply tap your way through the menus.

In general, using the touchscreen to navigate the Canon IXUS 510 HS’s various options works very nearly as well as using the buttons on Canon’s non-touchscreen cameras. The menu system is recognisable from other IXUS cameras.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

The wireless features are among the camera’s most interesting. The playback screen has a Wi-Fi logo at the top left; give it a poke and by default you can send images to another camera, a mobile phone or a computer.

Setting up a wireless network is quick and easy, and Canon’s CameraWindow app, though basic, is free and works well. It’s a tad sluggish, with high-quality previews of images on the camera taking around four seconds to render from their low-res counterparts, but being able to browse the contents of the camera from a connected iPad or iPhone is undeniably cool.

CameraWindow also enables you to post images to Facebook, save them to your device’s camera roll, or email them out. Assuming your device has a 3G connection, being able to create an ad hoc wireless network is a great way to share photos without needing to splash out on Apple’s £25/$29 Camera Connection Kit.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

At places with internet-connected Wi-Fi networks, it’s possible to share directly from the camera, although this takes a little more legwork. You need, for instance, to sign up to Canon’s Image Gateway service, then add that to your Facebook profile. All this needs to be done from Canon’s desktop CameraWindow software and the settings synced to the camera over a USB cable, but it’s a one-time job.

Frustratingly, you can’t define the name of the Facebook album you’re uploading to without connecting to a computer: the camera simply uploads everything to the same set of pictures, which is great if you’ve set up an album before going away for the week, but less ideal if you’re away for a year and fancy splitting your shots up by country.

There are also restrictions when it comes to sending shots by email – you can’t tap in an email address on the camera itself. Instead you have to create a group of email addresses on your PC, then sideload it to the camera. From the camera itself you can select these preset groups and email out links to your galleries.

Another one-time annoyance is the Canon IXUS 510 HS’ taste in memory cards – the 8.6cm wide, 2cm-deep camera only takes microSD cards, so most – including those upgrading from another compact camera – will need to add one to their shopping list.

Performance

Image quality is generally excellent from the Canon IXUS 510 HS, which is impressive considering the small 1/2.3-inch sensor with 10.1 million pixels jammed onto it.

You can set the sensitivity to up to ISO 3200 in the Canon IXUS 510 HS’s Program mode, and below ISO 800 images are more or less indistinguishable from each other, which is impressive. Canon’s noise-supression is effective at ISO 1600 and 3200, although the trade-off is significantly less sharpness in images at the higher reaches.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

The 12x zoom, f/3.4-5.6 lens held its own well in our tests. As well as offering an entirely practical amount of reach for most situations (it’s ideal for travel), chromatic aberration is very well controlled across the board.

Appropriately for a camera that can send pictures straight to the web, the Canon IXUS 510 HS comes with a number of image presets. These run a rather familiar gamut – think a faux fish-eye effect, a fake tilt-shift mode and so on – but it’s still pleasing to be able to turn out stylised images without needing to go near a computer.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

Disappointingly, none of these effects can be applied after the fact, so you can’t shoot a standard image and then apply a punched-up, vignetted style to it, so a bit of anticipation helps.

Elsewhere, Canon’s compact camera expertise is on show – gained from making cameras such as the excellent Canon IXUS 125 HS, Canon IXUS 230 HS and Canon PowerShot G1 X. White balance and exposure is consistently accurate, and there are a few features to help more advanced photographers get the most out of their shots. Evaluative, centre-weighted and spot metering are all on offer, and you can set your autofocus point manually with a well-aimed prod at the screen.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

Image quality and resolution

As part of our image quality testing for the Canon IXUS 510 HS, we’ve shot our resolution chart.

If you view our crops of the resolution chart’s central section at 100% (or Actual Pixels) you will see that, for example, at ISO 100 the Canon IXUS 510 HS is capable of resolving up to around 16 (line widths per picture height x100) in its highest quality JPEG files.

For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them, check out our full explanation of our camera testing resolution charts.

Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:

Canon IXUS 510 HS

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

ISO 100, score: 16 (Click here for the full resolution image)

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

ISO 200, score: 16 (Click here for the full resolution image)

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

ISO 400, score: 14 (Click here for the full resolution image)

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

ISO 800, score: 14 (Click here for the full resolution image)

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

ISO 1600, score: 12 (Click here for the full resolution image)

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

ISO 3200, score: n/a (Click here for the full resolution image)

Noise and dynamic range

We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using DXO Analyzer software to generate the data to produce the graphs below.

A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.

For more more details on how to interpret our test data, check out our full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests.

JPEG signal to noise ratio

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

JPEG images from the Canon IXUS 510 HS show that noise is handled well up to a sensitivity of ISO 800. Above this value noise starts to become more of an issue.

Dynamic range

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

This chart indicates that the Canon IXUS 510 HS compares well against the Nikon Coolpix S9300,Panasonic TZ30 and Canon IXUS 500 HS up to a sensitivity of ISO 800. Above this value, tonal graduation in both the shadows and highlights can be lost easily.

Sample images

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

Click here to see the full resolution image

The Canon IXUS 510 HS’s ability to create well-saturated, stylised shots in-camera is useful as you can simply upload shots straight to the internet.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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The long focal length is handy for shy wildlife – or avoiding being attacked by geese.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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Unprocessed shots can look a little flat, but that’s to the benefit of those who want to process their images properly afterwards.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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The Canon IXUS 510 HS’s Macro mode is at work in this shot.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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The Miniature mode produces a tilt-shift effect.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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A longer focal length (we’re zoomed all the way in here) has captured a fair amount of atmospheric haze, but that’s hardly the camera’s fault.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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The Miniature mode works very well when presented with an appropriate subject.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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Some of the effects are fairly heavy-handed, but used sparingly can be effective. This is the camera’s Toy Camera mode.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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The heavy vignette effect here fades the background to black – a nice effect to have without employing the flash.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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Again, a touch of exposure compensation (a third of a stop) has been used to get a balanced exposure.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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Despite the small sensor, convincing depth-of-field effects can be had by zooming in.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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The minimum focus distance of 1cm makes itself useful in Macro mode.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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The over-saturated effect is useful for the sign in the foreground, but the bricks behind are too orange.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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The camera has got white balance bang-on here.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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A tricky exposure with a wide range of tones which the 510 HS has handled well.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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Finding subjects appropriate for the camera’s various styles is all part of the fun.

Sensitivity and noise

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

Full ISO image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 100

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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ISO 200

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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ISO 400

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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ISO 800

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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ISO 1600

Canon IXUS 510 HS review

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ISO 3200

Final thoughts

The Canon IXUS 510 HS offers an enormous amount to the casual photographer. In particular, the ability to send images to the internet is useful for those who don’t want to travel with a laptop in tow. Alternatively, being able to send images to an iPad – which could be loaded with an image editing app – is a good way of processing and sending shots.

Other aspects of the wireless features feel a little under-developed – it would be nice if you could define Facebook albums, for instance, or single email addresses.

We liked

The Canon IXUS 510 HS is a very reasonable amount of camera for the money, with the long lens and integrated Wi-Fi being particular draws. It’s good value as long as you’re sure you’ll use the extra features.

We disliked

The aesthetics-led design makes for a camera that’s occasionally awkward, and the Wi-Fi, while certainly useful as it is, could do with a few more features.

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Long lens
  • Integrated Wi-Fi

Cons

  • The aesthetics-led design
  • Wi-Fi needs more features

Verdict

Build and image quality are both more than up to par, leaving you only with the unpleasant task of actually paying for the Canon IXUS 510 HS.

At around £350 (about $550), it’s expensive for a compact camera; in fact, it’s actually a little more than Canon’s cheapest DSLR, the Canon EOS 1100D, is currently selling for in some places, albeit without a lens.

If you’re willing to compromise on the integrated Wi-Fi and a bit of lens length, you’ll find cheaper cameras out there, but it’s unlikely you’ll find anything more convenient.

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