You can get up and snapping quickly - the camera fires up from standby in a couple of seconds. A dedicated camera key on the side becomes a shutter button that provides a two-step autofocus trigger, with a narrow focus finder on screen.
The 3.2Mp camera: now you see it...
Sony Ericsson’s excellent BestPic multi-shot technology isn’t included on this particular model, but face detection allows the camera to automatically identify up to three faces when taking an image, and focus on the one you want, even if it’s off-centre.
The Smile Shutter option goes a step further: press the camera button halfway and it can detect those three faces, but press it to capture and it snaps only when it sees the subject is smiling. Both work remarkably well within a reasonable range of around two to three metres.
There’s a variety of shooting scene options for different shooting conditions, plus auto white balance overrides to cope with various indoor and outdoor lighting situations. The usual colour effects and frame gimmickry are to hand too. Although there’s no satnav functionality on board the C510, images can be tagged automatically with positional information using approximate basestation triangulation. Images can be viewed on maps showing where they were taken, either in Google Maps on the phone or on other suitable apps.
Shooting quality is pretty good for a 3.2Mp camera. In decent lighting conditions, you can capture images with a reasonable level of detail and sharpness, and colours are bright and accurate, with good reproduction of subtle tones. Contrast and auto exposure are adequately responsive too. The auto metering system works efficiently, focusing swiftly and accurately, while the macro mode allows for pleasingly crisp close-ups.
In parts of images with lower illumination, picture noise is apparent. The dual-LED flash has only limited effect in low light situations. We were disappointed by the darkness of some of its shots, even those just a metre or so away from the subject.
...now you don't
If you need to tweak shots, there's Photo DJ editing software on the phone or Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition, which Sony Ericsson bundles with the handset. Shots can be uploaded to any suitable web site, though the phone's pre-configured for Blogger, MySpace and Picasa.