Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS Review
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS offers nothing that can't be found elsewhere for less.
The 510 HS's had only a couple of strengths, namely its color accuracy in video mode and its sharpness scores. These proclivities were dragged down though, by noisy images, below average color performance, and persistent chromatic aberration.
Color accuracy in video mode and still mode varied greatly, with the former performing very well and the latter poorly.
The 510 HS' color accuracy on still photographs is below average, returning an error value of 3.4 in our test where lower scores are better. Light blues are the least lifelike shades, but the camera also has some problems with light yellows, light greens, and moderate reds. Captured images will be less convincing and lifelike as a result, especially photos with human subjects.
Video is a different story—its color accuracy is actually much better. The color error value came down to 2.76 and saturation was almost perfect, off by only 0.2%. If we didn't run this test ourselves, we may not have believed the result. It's a shame though, because in terms of sharpness, video fails to impress. The 510 HS is only able to resolve 550 lw/ph vertically and 350 horizontally during Full HD capture.
Shots are prone to artifacting, and the problem is worse in low light.
The way the 510 HS renders unwanted image noise is very even keel across the ISO spectrum, and this is desirable since many small cameras are prone to drastic and intrusive noise reduction software. Sadly, even though noise behaves properly, overall artifact levels are too high. Only ISO 100 comes away with less than 1.00% noise in normal light, with rates as high as 1.91% at the ISO 3200 maximum.
On average, noise rates are a little over 12% worse when subjected to our 60 lux low light test, a fairly wide gap that we don't always see. In fact, many cameras actually offer superior noise performance in these conditions. The behavior of noise reduction is the same however, progressing slowly and linearly from ISO 100 up to 3200.
Sharpness & Chromatic Aberration
The 510 HS is quite sharp, but chromatic aberration is a constant pest.
Like many cameras of this sort, this ELPH uses artificial software to boost image sharpness. Perhaps it's a necessary evil though, because the 510 HS registered a median average of 2109 MTF50's of detail at the widest focal length and 2003 at the middle of the zoom range. We noticed only a moderate falloff to 1680 at the farthest focal length.
Shifting gears, consistency is usually a good thing, but not when it comes to chromatic aberration. Fringing manifests constantly and predictably with focal length. At the widest setting, green fringing pollutes all edges of the frame in areas of high contrast. At medium focal lengths, blue fringing takes over, for a less pronounced but still noticeable effect. Finally, at 60mm, purple fringing disrupts lines and adds a layer of artificiality to the edges of our shots.
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