12.1MP | 28-336mm (12X) Zoom | $269/£262

The Canon 510 HS (IXUS 1100 HS in Europe) is a small, stylish point-and-shoot camera that's packed with technology. Core features include a 12x optical zoom lens with an effective focal range of 28mm-336mm, a backlit CMOS sensor with a maximum output resolution of 12MP and a 3.2 inch touchscreen LCD, which is central to the camera's operation. Although Canon has recently refreshed its PowerShot lineup, the ELPH 510 HS, released late last year still boasts a compelling feature set.

Key Features:

  • 12x zoom (28-336mm equivalent)
  • 12.1MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100-3200
  • 3.2in, 461k-dot PureColor II Touch LCD
  • Powered IS Smart Auto (32 scenes)
  • High-speed Burst (7.8fps) and Super Slow Motion Movie
  • iFrame movie
  • Movie Digest (combines still images with short video clips)
  • Creative modes
  • Hints & Tips
  • Weight (with battery): 206g / 7.27 oz.
  • Dimensions: 99 x 59 x 22mm (3.9 x 2.3 x 8.7in)
Click here for full product information including reader reviews and image samples (opens in new window) The 510 HS comes bundled with a rechargeable battery and charger, a USB cable, wrist strap and a printed getting started guide. A full electronic manual is provided on a CD along with Digital Camera Solution Disk v. 93.0 JEC software, which includes ZoomBrowser 6.8 for Windows, ImageBrowser 6.8 for Mac along with Camera Window DC 8.6 and PhotoStitch 3.1/3.2. You'll need an SD/SDHC/SDXC card and, if you want to show off your photos and videos on an HDTV, pick up a mini-HDMI connector.

Available in silver, high gloss black or red, the stylish 510 HS measures a mere 3.9 x 2.32 x 0.86 inches, and at 7.27 ounces (206g) with battery and memory card, it slips easily into most pockets. As expected, there's no optical viewfinder but the 461,000 dot, 3.2-inch LCD is bright, clear and usable under almost all lighting conditions. As a touch panel, the 510's LCD responds to tap or touch (you can calibrate the screen for optimal responsiveness) and icons are large and easy to read. When enabled, the built-in help offers brief but useful explanations of the camera's various modes.

Handling and Operation

The ELPH 510 HS is impressively slim given its 12x optical zoom but fits comfortably in the hand.
Operation is centered around a touch-sensitive screen on the rear of the camera, but the screen response could be better, making setting certain functions and navigating the 510's menu system more frustrating on occasion than it should be.
The ELPH 510 HS is compatible with Canon's $149 HF-DC2 flashgun, which is attached via a clamp to the side of the camera and triggered automatically by the built-in flash.

Although the touchscreen is reasonably responsive (to the extent that touching it almost always causes something to happen), scrolling through the vertical Function and Menu lists is laggy, frustrating and nowhere near as fluid as using a typical touchscreen smartphone. It does have its advantages though, including convenient touch-to-focus and touch-to-capture functionality (the latter can be turned off if you prefer to use the mechanical shutter release).

Since the ELPH 510's operation is so heavily dependant on its less than perfect touch-sensitive screen, it often takes longer to change settings than it might with a more traditional button-driven interface. On the plus side the GUI is customizable to an extent. I added ISO and white balance to the main screen for example since those are two of the settings I adjust most often. A Function option (also onscreen, available by touching the FUNC icon) is available to adjust white balance, ISO, metering, exposure compensation, among other settings but you'll still have to go to the main menu to change autofocus mode, activate red-eye correction, apply the wind filter and many other functions.

The ELPH 510 HS is a slim camera which packs a powerful punch in the form of a 28-336mm (equivalent) optical zoom. Not only is this lens useful from the point of view of its versatility, but also sharpness is high throughout the zoom range.

The only physical controls on the 510 are the playback button on the rear panel and the shutter/zoom lever combo, on/off button and a toggle switch to move between auto and non-auto shooting modes. In addition to Program, Auto or the standard scene modes, the 510 also boasts a range of interesting options including Movie Digest, which captures a video clip for each shot you take to create a visual diary of a day's shooting and Smart Shutter, which can be programmed to take a picture when your subject enters the frame or winks or smiles.

The camera also features a high speed burst mode of 7.8 frames per second (at 3 megapixels) and slow motion video. When set to Best Image Selection, the camera shoots a series of 5 images (again at a reduced resolution of 3 megapixels) and then automatically selects the best shot. Handheld night scene also captures a series of images and combines them to get the best exposed, least blurry photo. For fun, there are special effects like fisheye, miniature, and toy camera, which can also be used in video mode.