Canon SX510 vs Nikon D3S
The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and the Nikon D3S are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2013 and October 2009. The SX510 is a fixed lens compact, while the D3S is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX510) and a full frame (D3S) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.1 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and the Nikon D3S? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon SX510 and the Nikon D3S is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3S is considerably larger (245 percent) than the Canon SX510. It is noteworthy in this context that the D3S is splash and dust-proof, while the SX510 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX510 has a lens built in, whereas the D3S 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 D3S and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the SX510 gets 250 shots out of its NB-6LH battery, while the D3S can take 4200 images on a single charge of its EN-EL4a power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D3S has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon SX510||104 mm||70 mm||80 mm||349 g||250||n||Aug 2013||249||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon SX430||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||323 g||195||n||Jan 2017||299||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX520||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||441 g||210||n||Jul 2014||399||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon SX700||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||250||n||Feb 2014||349||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon SX600||104 mm||61 mm||26 mm||188 g||290||n||Jan 2014||249||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon SX400||104 mm||69 mm||80 mm||313 g||190||n||Jul 2014||249||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon SX500||104 mm||70 mm||80 mm||341 g||195||n||Aug 2012||329||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony H200||123 mm||83 mm||87 mm||530 g||240||n||Jan 2013||249||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The SX510 was launched at a lower price than the D3S, 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 Nikon D3S a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3S is 2971 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the SX510 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D3S offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX510 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 12.1 MP of the Nikon D3S. 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 8.43μm for the D3S). However, it should be noted that the SX510 is much more recent (by 3 years and 10 months) than the D3S, 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 Nikon D3S are 21.3 x 14.2 inches or 54.1 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.2 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.4 inches or 36 x 24 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 Nikon D3S are ISO 200 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-102400.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|12.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|13.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|14.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|15.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|16.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|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 can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the SX510 provides a higher video resolution than the D3S. It can shoot video footage at 1080/24p, while the Nikon is limited to 720/24p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D3S 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 Nikon D3S along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon SX510||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/1600s||3.8/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon SX430||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon SX420||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon SX410||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon SX520||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/2000s||1.6/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon SX700||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||8.5/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon SX600||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.9/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon SX400||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/1600s||0.8/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon SX60||922||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/2000s||6.4/s||Y||Y|
|11.||Canon SX500||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/1600s||0.8/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Nikon D5||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|13.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|14.||Nikon D3X||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|15.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|17.||Sony H200||none||n||3.0 / 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.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX510 has one, while the D3S does not. While the built-in flash of the SX510 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D3S has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The SX510 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D3S uses Compact Flash cards. The D3S features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the SX510 only has one slot.
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 Nikon D3S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon SX510||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D3S||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon SX430||-||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon SX420||-||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon SX410||-||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon SX520||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon SX700||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon SX600||-||mono / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Canon SX400||-||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon SX60||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Canon SX500||-||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D3X||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony H200||-||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the SX510 offers wifi support, while the D3S does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D3S (unlike the SX510) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the SX510 and the D3S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D3S was replaced by the Nikon D4, while the SX510 was followed by the Canon SX520. Further information on the features and operation of the SX510 and D3S can be found, respectively, in the Canon SX510 Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon D3S Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX510 better than the Nikon D3S or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 12.1MP) with a 13% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/24p vs 720/24p).
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D3S requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (104x70mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D3S).
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- 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 3 years and 10 months of technical progress since the D3S launch.
Advantages of the Nikon D3S:
- 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.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 461k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/1600s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3.8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (4200 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2009).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3S is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 11 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX510 and the Nikon D3S 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SX510 or the D3S. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
|1.||Canon SX510||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2013||249||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon SX430||..||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2017||299||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon SX410||..||o||..||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon SX520||..||+||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jul 2014||399||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon SX700||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||349||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon SX600||..||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2014||249||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon SX400||..||+||..||..||..||..||Jul 2014||249||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon SX500||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2012||329||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D5||..||..||4/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D3X||..||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony H200||..||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2013||249||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 400D vs Canon SX510
- Canon M50 vs Nikon D3S
- Canon SX510 vs Nikon Coolpix A
- Canon SX510 vs Nikon W150
- Canon SX510 vs Panasonic G1
- Canon SX510 vs Panasonic LX5
- Canon SX510 vs Zeiss ZX1
- Nikon D3S vs Olympus E-5
- Nikon D3S vs Olympus E-PM2
- Nikon D3S vs Panasonic G1
- Nikon D3S vs Sony H200
- Nikon D3S vs Sony HX80
Specifications: Canon SX510 vs Nikon D3S
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 Model||Canon SX510||Nikon D3S|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||24-720mm f/3.4-5.8||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2013||October 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 249||USD 5,199|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX510||Nikon D3S|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||36.0 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||860.4 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||12.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4256 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||8.43 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||1.40 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/24p Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||EXPEED|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||82|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||3253|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX510||Nikon D3S|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX510||Nikon D3S|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.8 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX510||Nikon D3S|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|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||Nikon D3S|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||4200 shots per charge|
104 x 70 x 80 mm
(4.1 x 2.8 x 3.1 in)
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
|Camera Weight||349 g (12.3 oz)||1240 g (43.7 oz)|
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