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Canon 20D versus Canon M5

The Canon EOS 20D and the Canon EOS M5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2004 and September 2016. The 20D is a DSLR, while the M5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 20D has a resolution of 8.2 megapixel, whereas the M5 provides 24 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 20D vs Canon M5

The physical size and weight of the Canon 20D and the Canon M5 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 20D – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 20D vs Canon M5
Compare 20D versus M5 top
Compare 20D and M5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon M5 is considerably smaller (32 percent) than the Canon 20D. Moreover, the M5 is substantially lighter (45 percent) than the 20D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 20D nor the M5 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

Concerning battery life, the 20D gets 700 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the M5 can take 295 images on a single charge of its LP-E17 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 20D» 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon M5« 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
Canon 77D« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 19.0 oz 600 n Feb 2017 899 i i Canon 77D
Canon SL2« » 4.8 in 3.7 in 2.8 in 16.0 oz 650 n Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon M10« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 10.6 oz 255 n Oct 2015 499- i Canon M10
Canon M3« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.7 in 12.9 oz 250 n Feb 2015 679- i Canon M3
Canon T6s« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 849- i Canon T6s
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon 60D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 50D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 40D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Canon 10D« » 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« » 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Nikon D200« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 32.5 oz 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699- i Nikon D200

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 M5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 35 percent) than the 20D, which puts it into a different market segment. 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: Canon 20D vs Canon M5

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the M5 is 2 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 20D and Canon M5 sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the M5 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 8.2 MP of the 20D. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 6.42μm for the 20D). However, it should be noted that the M5 is much more recent (by 12 years) than the 20D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

20D versus M5 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the M5 offers substantially better image quality than the 20D (overall score 15 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 20D» APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162Canon 20D
Canon M5« APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277Canon M5
Canon 77D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.397178Canon 77D
Canon SL2« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179Canon SL2
Canon M10« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365Canon M10
Canon M3« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.811.8116972Canon M3
Canon T6s« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570Canon T6s
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270Canon 7D II
Canon 60D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366Canon 60D
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466Canon 7D
Canon 50D« » APS-C 15.1 4752 3168-21.811.469663Canon 50D
Canon 40D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364Canon 40D
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659Canon 30D
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760Canon XT
Canon 10D« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.110.957157Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.010.854455Canon Rebel
Nikon D200« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.558364Nikon D200

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The M5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 20D does not. The highest resolution format that the M5 can use is 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 20D vs Canon M5

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the M5 has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the 20D has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 20D, the Canon M5, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 20D»optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 20D
Canon M5«2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n Canon M5
Canon 77D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.0 Y n Canon 77D
Canon SL2« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon SL2
Canon M10« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.6 Y n Canon M10
Canon M3« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.2 Y n Canon M3
Canon T6s« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T6s
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n Canon 7D II
Canon 60D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 8000 5.3 Y n Canon 60D
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n Canon 7D
Canon 50D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 6.3 Y n Canon 50D
Canon 40D« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 30D
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XT
Canon 10D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« »optical n 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Canon Rebel
Nikon D200« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Nikon D200

The M5 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the 20D has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 20D was succeeded by the Canon 30D.

Review summary: Canon 20D vs Canon M5

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 20D or the Canon M5 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 20D:

  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (700 versus 295) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2004).


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS M5:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 71%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 118k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (116x89mm vs 144x106mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 343g or 45 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (35 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 12 years of technical progress since the 20D launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M5 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 5 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.

20D 05:17 M5

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 20D or the M5. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 20D»-HiRec-rev- Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon M5«Rec82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
Canon 77D« »-82/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 899 i i Canon 77D
Canon SL2« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon M10« »---rev4/5 Oct 2015 499- i Canon M10
Canon M3« »rev75/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2015 679- i Canon M3
Canon T6s« »Rec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 849- i Canon T6s
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon 60D« »Rec79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 7D« »HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 50D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 40D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon XT« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Canon 10D« »-HiRec-rev- Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Nikon D200« »HiRecHiRecrev5/5- Nov 2005 1,699- i Nikon D200

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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