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Canon SX510 vs Panasonic GF1

The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2013 and September 2009. The SX510 is a fixed lens compact, while the GF1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX510) and a Four Thirds (GF1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 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 Panasonic GF1
Canon SX510 Panasonic GF1
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses
15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/24p Video 720/30p Video
ISO 80-3,200 ISO 100-3,200
No viewfinder, LCD framing Viewfinder optional
3.0 LCD, 461k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.8 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
250 shots per battery charge380 shots per battery charge
104 x 70 x 80 mm, 349 g 119 x 71 x 36 mm, 385 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1? 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 Panasonic GF1. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon SX510 vs Panasonic GF1
Compare SX510 versus GF1 top
Comparison SX510 or GF1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF1 is notably larger (16 percent) than the Canon SX510. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX510 nor the GF1 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 GF1 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 GF1 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the SX510 gets 250 shots out of its NB-6LH battery, while the GF1 can take 380 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLB13 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon SX510 4.1 in 2.8 in 3.1 in 12.3 oz 250 n Aug 2013 249i
 
Panasonic GF1 4.7 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 13.6 oz 380 n Sep 2009 749i
 
Canon SX420 4.1 in 2.7 in 3.3 in 11.5 oz 195 n Jan 2016 299 i
 
Canon SX410 4.1 in 2.7 in 3.3 in 11.5 oz 185 n Feb 2015 279i
 
Canon SX520 4.7 in 3.2 in 3.6 in 15.6 oz 210 n Jul 2014 399i
 
Canon SX700 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 250 n Feb 2014 349i
 
Canon SX600 4.1 in 2.4 in 1.0 in 6.6 oz 290 n Jan 2014 249i
 
Canon SX400 4.1 in 2.7 in 3.1 in 11.0 oz 190 n Jul 2014 249i
 
Canon SX60 5.0 in 3.7 in 4.5 in 22.9 oz 340 n Sep 2014 549i
 
Canon SX500 4.1 in 2.8 in 3.1 in 12.0 oz 195 n Aug 2012 329i
 
Nikon A1000 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.6 in 11.6 oz 250 n Jan 2019 429 i
 
Panasonic GX1 4.6 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 11.2 oz 320 n Nov 2011 699i
 
Panasonic G10 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 13.7 oz 380 n Mar 2010 499i
 
Panasonic G2 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 15.1 oz 360 n Mar 2010 599i
 
Panasonic GH1 4.9 in 3.5 in 1.8 in 13.6 oz 300 n Mar 2009 899i
 
Panasonic G1 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 12.7 oz 410 n Sep 2008 599i
 
Sony H200 4.8 in 3.3 in 3.4 in 18.7 oz 240 n Jan 2013 249 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 GF1, despite having a lens built in. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 Panasonic GF1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF1 is 704 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon SX510 and Panasonic GF1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX510 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the Panasonic GF1. 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 4.33μm for the GF1). However, it should be noted that the SX510 is much more recent (by 3 years and 11 months) than the GF1, 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 Panasonic GF1 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

SX510 versus GF1 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p........
 
Panasonic GF1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p........
 
Canon SX520 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
 
Canon SX600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
 
Canon SX400 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p........
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
 
Canon SX500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p........
 
Nikon A1000 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34564K/30p........
 
Panasonic GX1 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p20.810.670355
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
 
Panasonic GH1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.677264
 
Panasonic G1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000none21.110.346353
 
Sony H200 1/2.3 15.2 5184 2930720/30p........

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the SX510 provides a higher video resolution than the GF1. It can shoot video footage at 1080/24p, while the Panasonic is limited to 720/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SX510 and the GF1 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the GF1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX510, the Panasonic GF1, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon SX510none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8 Y Y
 
Panasonic GF1optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon SX420none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
 
Canon SX410none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
 
Canon SX520none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
 
Canon SX700none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5 Y Y
 
Canon SX600none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 3.9 Y Y
 
Canon SX400none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
 
Canon SX60922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
 
Canon SX500none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
 
Nikon A10001166 n 3.0 1036 tilting Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y Y
 
Panasonic GX1optional n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n
 
Panasonic G10202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
 
Panasonic G21440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
 
Panasonic GH11440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Panasonic G11440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Sony H200none n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/1500s 0.8 Y Y

The SX510 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the GF1 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon SX510-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Panasonic GF1Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon SX420-monomono---2.0YY-
 
Canon SX410-stereomono---2.0---
 
Canon SX520-stereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon SX700-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon SX600-monomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon SX400-stereomono---2.0---
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon SX500-stereomono---2.0---
 
Nikon A1000-stereomono--micro2.0Y-Y
 
Panasonic GX1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Panasonic G10Ymono---mini2.0---
 
Panasonic G2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Panasonic GH1Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---
 
Panasonic G1Y----mini2.0---
 
Sony H200-monomono---2.0---

It is notable that the SX510 offers wifi support, while the GF1 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the SX510 and the GF1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF1 was replaced by the Panasonic DMC-GF2, 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 Panasonic websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX510 and the Panasonic GF1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 12MP) with a 15% 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 720/30p).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.8 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the GF1 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (104x70mm vs 119x71mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the GF1).
  • 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 3 years and 11 months of technical progress since the GF1 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1:

  • 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.
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/1600s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (380 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 September 2009).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (11 points each). 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 11:11 GF1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX510 and the Panasonic GF1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX510 or the GF1 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon SX510+ +..4.5/5..4/5 Aug 2013 249i
 
Panasonic GF185/10069/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749i
 
Canon SX420........3/5 Jan 2016 299 i
 
Canon SX410o........ Feb 2015 279i
 
Canon SX520+..3.5/5..3.5/5 Jul 2014 399i
 
Canon SX700+ +..4/5..4/5 Feb 2014 349i
 
Canon SX600+..4/5..4/5 Jan 2014 249i
 
Canon SX400+........ Jul 2014 249i
 
Canon SX60+ +75/1004/5..4.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
 
Canon SX500+ +..4/5..4/5 Aug 2012 329i
 
Nikon A1000+ +..3.5/5..3/5 Jan 2019 429 i
 
Panasonic GX1+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2011 699i
 
Panasonic G10..70/1004/5..4/5 Mar 2010 499i
 
Panasonic G2..72/1004/54/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599i
 
Panasonic GH1+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 899i
 
Panasonic G1+ +70/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2008 599i
 
Sony H200....3.5/5..3.5/5 Jan 2013 249 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon SX510:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic GF1:
Check Ebay offers

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.

~

    Specifications: Canon SX510 vs Panasonic GF1

    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 Panasonic GF1
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date August 2013 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 249 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Canon SX510 Panasonic GF1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 4.33 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 5.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 Venus HD
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 54
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 513
    Screen Specs Canon SX510 Panasonic GF1
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX510 Panasonic GF1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.8 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-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 Panasonic GF1
    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 Panasonic GF1
    Battery Type NB-6LH DMW-BLB13
    Battery Life (CIPA)250 shots per charge380 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 104 x 70 x 80 mm
    (4.1 x 2.8 x 3.1 in)
    119 x 71 x 36 mm
    (4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 349 g (12.3 oz) 385 g (13.6 oz)

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