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Canon SX510 vs XSi

The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and the Canon EOS Rebel XSi (labelled Canon 450D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2013 and January 2008. The SX510 is a fixed lens compact, while the XSi is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX510) and an APS-C (XSi) sensor. The SX510 has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the XSi provides 12.2 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon SX510
versus
Canon XSi
Canon SX510   Canon XSi
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 Canon EF mount lenses
15.9 MP – 1/2.3" sensor 12.2 MP – APS-C sensor
1080/24p Video no Video
ISO 80-3,200 ISO 100-1,600
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 461k dots 3.0" LCD – 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.8 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
250 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
104 x 70 x 80 mm, 349 g 129 x 98 x 62 mm, 524 g
Canon SX510:
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Canon XSi:
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and the Canon EOS Rebel XSi? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon SX510 and the Canon XSi. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon SX510 vs Canon XSi
Compare SX510 versus XSi top
Comparison SX510 or XSi rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon XSi is considerably larger (74 percent) than the Canon SX510. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX510 nor the XSi are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX510 has a lens built in, whereas the XSi is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the XSi and their specifications in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the SX510 gets 250 shots out of its NB-6LH battery, while the XSi can take 500 images on a single charge of its LP-E5 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX510 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 349 g 250 n Aug 2013 249i
2.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
3.
 
Canon SX430 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 323 g 195 n Jan 2017 299 i
4.
 
Canon SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299i
5.
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279i
6.
 
Canon SX520 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 441 g 210 n Jul 2014 399i
7.
 
Canon SX700 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 250 n Feb 2014 349i
8.
 
Canon SX600 104 mm 61 mm 26 mm 188 g 290 n Jan 2014 249i
9.
 
Canon SX400 104 mm 69 mm 80 mm 313 g 190 n Jul 2014 249i
10.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
11.
 
Canon SX500 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 341 g 195 n Aug 2012 329i
12.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
13.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
14.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
15.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
16.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
17.
 
Sony H200 123 mm 83 mm 87 mm 530 g 240 n Jan 2013 249 i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SX510 was launched at a lower price than the XSi, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

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Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX510 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Canon XSi an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the XSi is 1075 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.6. The sensor in the SX510 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the XSi offers a 3:2 aspect.

In terms of chip-set technology, the SX510 uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4) than the XSi (DIGIC 3), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon SX510 and Canon XSi sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX510 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the Canon XSi. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.33μm versus 5.19μm for the XSi). However, it should be noted that the SX510 is much more recent (by 5 years and 6 months) than the XSi, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX510 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Canon SX510 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX510 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon XSi are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.3 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.1 x 11.4 inches or 43.4 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.5 inches or 36.2 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS Rebel XSi are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

SX510 versus XSi MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p20.011.358645
2.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
3.
 
Canon SX430 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p20.511.990049
4.
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p20.311.780648
5.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p20.211.672047
6.
 
Canon SX520 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p20.111.567246
7.
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p20.111.462945
8.
 
Canon SX600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p20.011.462045
9.
 
Canon SX400 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p20.111.567246
10.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
11.
 
Canon SX500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p19.811.149443
12.
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
13.
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
14.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
15.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
16.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
17.
 
Sony H200 1/2.3 15.2 5184 2930720/30p19.911.252944
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The SX510 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the XSi does not. The highest resolution format that the SX510 can use is 1080/24p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the XSi has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX510 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX510 and Canon XSi along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon SX510none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8/s Y Y
2.
 
Canon XSioptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
3.
 
Canon SX430none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX420none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX410none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX520none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6/s Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX700none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5/s Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX600none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 3.9/s Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX400none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8/s Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX60922 n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4/s Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX500none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8/s Y Y
12.
 
Canon T4ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
13.
 
Canon T3optical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
14.
 
Canon T1ioptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4/s Y n
15.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5/s Y n
16.
 
Canon XTioptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
17.
 
Sony H200none n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/1500s 0.8/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The SX510 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the XSi uses SDHC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and Canon EOS Rebel XSi and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon SX510-stereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
2.
 
Canon XSiY- / ---mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX430-mono / mono---2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX420-mono / mono---2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon SX410-stereo / mono---2.0---
6.
 
Canon SX520-stereo / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon SX700-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon SX600-mono / mono--micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon SX400-stereo / mono---2.0---
10.
 
Canon SX60Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
11.
 
Canon SX500-stereo / mono---2.0---
12.
 
Canon T4iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
13.
 
Canon T3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Canon T1iYmono / mono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Canon 40DY- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Canon XTiY- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Sony H200-mono / mono---2.0---

It is notable that the SX510 offers wifi support, while the XSi does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the SX510 and the XSi have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XSi was replaced by the Canon T1i, while the SX510 was followed by the Canon SX520. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon SX510 better than the Canon XSi or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 12.2MP) with a 12% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4 vs DIGIC 3).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/24p movies.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 230k dots).
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the XSi requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (104x70mm vs 129x98mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the XSi).
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 6 months of technical progress since the XSi launch.


Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel XSi:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/1600s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (500 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in January 2008).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the SX510 comes out slightly ahead of the XSi (12 : 11 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

SX510 12:11 XSi

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX510 and the Canon XSi place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX510 or the XSi perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX510..+ +....4.5/54/5 Aug 2013 249i
2.
 
Canon XSi..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
3.
 
Canon SX430........3.5/53.5/5 Jan 2017 299 i
4.
 
Canon SX420..........3/5 Jan 2016 299i
5.
 
Canon SX410..o........ Feb 2015 279i
6.
 
Canon SX520..+....3.5/53.5/5 Jul 2014 399i
7.
 
Canon SX700..+ +....4/54/5 Feb 2014 349i
8.
 
Canon SX600..+....4/54/5 Jan 2014 249i
9.
 
Canon SX400..+........ Jul 2014 249i
10.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
11.
 
Canon SX500..+ +....4/54/5 Aug 2012 329i
12.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
13.
 
Canon T3..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
14.
 
Canon T1i..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
15.
 
Canon 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
16.
 
Canon XTi..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
17.
 
Sony H200........3.5/53.5/5 Jan 2013 249 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon SX510:
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Canon XSi:
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Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon SX510 vs Canon XSi

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon SX510 Canon XSi
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2013 January 2008
    Launch Price USD 249 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Canon SX510 Canon XSi
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 22.2 x 14.8 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 328.56 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 26.7 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4272 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 5.19 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 3.70 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 3
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.9
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.8
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 692
    Screen Specs Canon SX510 Canon XSi
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX510 Canon XSi
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.8 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX510 Canon XSi
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon SX510 Canon XSi
    Battery Type NB-6LH LP-E5
    Battery Life (CIPA)250 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 104 x 70 x 80 mm
    (4.1 x 2.8 x 3.1 in)
    129 x 98 x 62 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
    Camera Weight 349 g (12.3 oz) 524 g (18.5 oz)
    Canon SX510:
    Check current offers at
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    Canon XSi:
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