Conclusion - Pros

  • Good resolution for a budget 3.2 megapixel camera
  • Bright, vivid - though natural - color
  • Good edge-to-edge sharpness
  • Useful new 35-140mm equiv. 4x zoom lens
  • Reliable focus and exposure
  • Lots of manual controls
  • Excellent build quality for a budget camera
  • Very little purple fringing
  • Excellent flash exposures and color
  • Good screen
  • Excellent battery life from 2x NiMH batteries
  • Zoom-linked flash
  • Usable manual focus
  • Playback histogram
  • Excellent value for money

Conclusion - Cons

  • Images need sharpening
  • Focus can be slow - especially at the long end of the zoom
  • Flash recycle way too slow
  • Minimum two-second shot-to-shot time
  • Slow start-up

Overall Conclusion

Everything we said about the PowerShot A520 applies equally to the A510; it would be hard to find a more suitable first digital camera for the novice digital photographer on a budget. No matter what the situation, the A510 turns out perfectly exposed and focused results shot after shot. And the fact that as well as idiot-proof 'point and shoot' modes and scene modes you get a full array of manual options means it's a camera that you can grow with as your skills develop.

The build quality is excellent, the results - though probably a little 'over-processed' for purists (and almost all are in need of a little sharpening in post processing) are perfect for the target market; bright, colorful and contrasty. Our only serious complaints are to do with some aspects of the speed of operation - focus can struggle in low light at the long end of the zoom (sometimes taking up to two seconds to find its mark), the shot-to-shot time (when not in burst mode) feels very slow if you're trying to grab shots quickly, and the flash recycle time is frankly unacceptable.

Compared to the A520, the PowerShot A510 has the advantage of price (it's around $100 cheaper), slightly faster playback and burst mode and lower noise (though you'll only really see the difference shooting at ISO 400). It manages to capture nearly - though not quite - as much detail (maybe 10 or 15% less), and has all the positive qualities of its big brother; superb metal-bodied build, sophisticated features and excellent battery life. If you are unlikely to print at sizes about about 5 x 7 inches (at which point the A520's extra resolution starts to show) and are looking for a well-specified first camera that won't break the bank, the PowerShot A510 is well worth a closer look.


Want to make sure you don't miss out on any future reviews?
Sign up for our free weekly newsletter!

Enter the 'Canon Talk' Discussion Forum