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Canon SX510 vs Panasonic GH2

The Canon PowerShot SX510 HS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2013 and September 2010. The SX510 is a fixed lens compact, while the GH2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX510) and a Four Thirds (GH2) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixels.

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 GH2
Canon SX510   Panasonic GH2
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 15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/24p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 80-3,200 ISO 160-12,800
No viewfinder, LCD framing Electronic viewfinder (1534k dots)
3.0 LCD, 461k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.8 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
250 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
104 x 70 x 80 mm, 349 g 124 x 90 x 76 mm, 442 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-GH2? 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 GH2. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The GH2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the SX510 is only available in black.

Size Canon SX510 vs Panasonic GH2
Compare SX510 versus GH2 top
Comparison SX510 or GH2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH2 is considerably larger (53 percent) than the Canon SX510. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX510 nor the GH2 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 GH2 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 GH2 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 GH2 can take 330 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLC12 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.
 
Panasonic GH2 124 mm 90 mm 76 mm 442 g 330 n Sep 2010 899i
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.
 
Panasonic GM5 99 mm 60 mm 36 mm 211 g 220 n Sep 2014 749i
13.
 
Panasonic GM1 99 mm 55 mm 30 mm 204 g 230 n Oct 2013 749i
14.
 
Panasonic GX7 123 mm 71 mm 55 mm 402 g 350 n Aug 2013 999i
15.
 
Panasonic GF1 119 mm 71 mm 36 mm 385 g 380 n Sep 2009 749i
16.
 
Panasonic GH1 124 mm 90 mm 45 mm 385 g 300 n Mar 2009 899i
17.
 
Sony H200 123 mm 83 mm 87 mm 530 g 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.

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 GH2, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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. 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX510 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Panasonic GH2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GH2 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.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Canon SX510 and Panasonic GH2 sensor measures

Even though the GH2 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 15.9 megapixels. This implies that the GH2 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 1.33μm for the SX510), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the SX510 is much more recent (by 2 years and 11 months) than the GH2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size. 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 Canon PowerShot SX510 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 are ISO 160 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

SX510 versus GH2 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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.

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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 34561080/24p........
2.
 
Panasonic GH2 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i21.211.365560
3.
 
Canon SX430 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
4.
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
5.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p........
6.
 
Canon SX520 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
7.
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
8.
 
Canon SX600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
9.
 
Canon SX400 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p........
10.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
11.
 
Canon SX500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p........
12.
 
Panasonic GM5 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.111.772166
13.
 
Panasonic GM1 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i22.311.766066
14.
 
Panasonic GX7 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.612.271870
15.
 
Panasonic GF1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354
16.
 
Panasonic GH1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.677264
17.
 
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 have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the GH2 provides a faster frame rate than the SX510. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/24p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the GH2 has an electronic viewfinder (1534k dots), which can be very helpful 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 Panasonic GH2 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon SX510none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8 Y Y
2.
 
Panasonic GH21534 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon SX430none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX420none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX410none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX520none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX700none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX600none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 3.9 Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX400none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX60922 n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX500none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
12.
 
Panasonic GM51166 n3.0 / 921 fixed Y 1/500s 5.8 n n
13.
 
Panasonic GM1none n3.0 / 1036 fixed Y 1/500s 5.0 Y n
14.
 
Panasonic GX72760 n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
15.
 
Panasonic GF1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Panasonic GH11440 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Sony H200none n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/1500s 0.8 Y Y
The GH2 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the SX510 does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX510 and the GH2 write their files to SDXC 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-GH2 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.
 
Panasonic GH2Ystereo / monoY-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.
 
Panasonic GM5Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
13.
 
Panasonic GM1-stereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
14.
 
Panasonic GX7Ystereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
15.
 
Panasonic GF1Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic GH1Ystereo / -Y-mini2.0---
17.
 
Sony H200-mono / mono---2.0---

It is notable that the SX510 offers wifi support, while the GH2 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the SX510 and the GH2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GH2 was replaced by the Panasonic GH3, 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 conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX510 better than the Panasonic GH2 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • 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 GH2 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (104x70mm vs 124x90mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the GH2).
  • 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 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the GH2 launch.

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2:

  • 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.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/24p).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • 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 (330 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 2010).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the GH2 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 9 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

SX510 09:15 GH2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX510 and the Panasonic GH2 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX510 and the GH2 in practical situations. 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 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.

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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.
 
Panasonic GH25/5+ +..79/1004.5/55/5 Sep 2010 899i
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.
 
Panasonic GM53.5/5+..77/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2014 749i
13.
 
Panasonic GM13/5+..78/1005/54.5/5 Oct 2013 749i
14.
 
Panasonic GX74/5+..79/1005/55/5 Aug 2013 999i
15.
 
Panasonic GF1..85/100..69/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749i
16.
 
Panasonic GH1..+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 899i
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. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon SX510:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic GH2:
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.

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    Specifications: Canon SX510 vs Panasonic GH2

    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 GH2
    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 2010
    Launch Price USD 249 USD 899
    Sensor Specs Canon SX510 Panasonic GH2
    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 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4608 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 3.76 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 7.08 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 160 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 Venus FHD
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 60
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 11.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 655
    Screen Specs Canon SX510 Panasonic GH2
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x
    Viewfinder Resolution 1534k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX510 Panasonic GH2
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.8 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX510 Panasonic GH2
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon SX510 Panasonic GH2
    Battery Type NB-6LH DMW-BLC12
    Battery Life (CIPA)250 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 104 x 70 x 80 mm
    (4.1 x 2.8 x 3.1 in)
    124 x 90 x 76 mm
    (4.9 x 3.5 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 349 g (12.3 oz) 442 g (15.6 oz)

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