Canon SX510 vs Nikon D800E
The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and the Nikon D800E are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2013 and February 2012. The SX510 is a fixed lens compact, while the D800E is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX510) and a full frame (D800E) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 36.2 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 D800E? 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 D800E is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures 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 D800E is considerably larger (147 percent) than the Canon SX510. It is noteworthy in this context that the D800E 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 D800E 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 D800E and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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|
|2.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|3.||Canon SX430||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||323 g||195||n||Jan 2017||299|
|4.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|5.||Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279|
|6.||Canon SX520||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||441 g||210||n||Jul 2014||399|
|7.||Canon SX700||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||250||n||Feb 2014||349|
|8.||Canon SX600||104 mm||61 mm||26 mm||188 g||290||n||Jan 2014||249|
|9.||Canon SX400||104 mm||69 mm||80 mm||313 g||190||n||Jul 2014||249|
|10.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|11.||Canon SX500||104 mm||70 mm||80 mm||341 g||195||n||Aug 2012||329|
|12.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|13.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|14.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|15.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|16.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|17.||Sony H200||123 mm||83 mm||87 mm||530 g||240||n||Jan 2013||249|
|Notes: 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 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 D800E, 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 D800E a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D800E is 2979 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 D800E offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 36.2MP, the D800E offers a higher resolution than the SX510 (15.9MP), but the D800E nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 1.33μm for the SX510) due to its larger sensor. However, the SX510 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 6 months) than the D800E, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D800E implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D800E for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX510 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 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 D800E are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|2.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|12.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|13.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|14.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|15.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|16.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the D800E provides a faster frame rate than the SX510. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/24p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D800E 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX510 and Nikon D800E in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One feature that is present on the D800E, but is missing on the SX510 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The Nikon D800E 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 D800E uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The D800E features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the SX510 only has one slot. The D800E supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the SX510 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 D800E and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the SX510 offers wifi support, while the D800E 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 D800E (unlike the SX510) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the SX510 and the D800E have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D800E was replaced by the Nikon D810, 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 and Nikon websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX510 better than the Nikon D800E or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS:
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D800E requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (104x70mm vs 146x123mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D800E).
- 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: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 6 months after the D800E).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D800E:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 54%.
- 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.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/24p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- 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.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- 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.
- 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.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (900 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.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2012).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D800E is the clear winner of the contest (23 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 D800E 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SX510 or the D800E. 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.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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|
|2.||Nikon D800E||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|3.||Canon SX430||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2017||299|
|4.||Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299|
|5.||Canon SX410||..||o||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279|
|6.||Canon SX520||..||+||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jul 2014||399|
|7.||Canon SX700||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||349|
|8.||Canon SX600||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2014||249|
|9.||Canon SX400||..||+||..||..||..||Jul 2014||249|
|10.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|11.||Canon SX500||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2012||329|
|12.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|13.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|14.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|15.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|16.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|17.||Sony H200||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2013||249|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Canon SX510 vs Nikon D800E
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 D800E|
|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||February 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 249||USD 3,299|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX510||Nikon D800E|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/24p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||EXPEED 3|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||96|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||25.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||2979|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX510||Nikon D800E|
|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||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX510||Nikon D800E|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.8 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX510||Nikon D800E|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon SX510||Nikon D800E|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||900 shots per charge|
104 x 70 x 80 mm
(4.1 x 2.8 x 3.1 in)
146 x 123 x 82 mm
(5.7 x 4.8 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||349 g (12.3 oz)||1000 g (35.3 oz)|
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