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Canon 20D versus Canon SL1

The Canon EOS 20D and the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (labelled Canon 100D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2004 and March 2013. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 20D has a resolution of 8.2 megapixel, whereas the SL1 provides 17.9 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 SL1

The physical size and weight of the Canon 20D and the Canon SL1 are illustrated 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display 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 SL1
Compare 20D versus SL1 top
Compare 20D and SL1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SL1 is considerably smaller (30 percent) than the Canon 20D. Moreover, the SL1 is substantially lighter (47 percent) than the 20D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 20D nor the SL1 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 20D gets 700 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the SL1 can take 380 images on a single charge of its LP-E12 power pack.

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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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 SL1« 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 n Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
Canon SL2« » 4.8 in 3.7 in 2.8 in 16.0 oz 650 n Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon T5« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 16.9 oz 500 n Feb 2014 449- i Canon T5
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 T5i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
Canon G16« » 4.3 in 3.0 in 1.6 in 12.6 oz 360 n Aug 2013 549 i i Canon G16
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
Panasonic G6« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 13.8 oz 340 n Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SL1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 63 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 20D vs Canon SL1

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. 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the SL1 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.

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

Canon 20D and Canon SL1 sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the SL1 offers a higher resolution of 17.9 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 4.31μm versus 6.42μm for the 20D). However, it should be noted that the SL1 is much more recent (by 8 years and 7 months) 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 SL1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. 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 SL1« APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363Canon SL1
Canon SL2« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179Canon SL2
Canon T5« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463Canon T5
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270Canon 7D II
Canon T5i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161Canon T5i
Canon G16« » 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054Canon G16
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
Panasonic G6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961Panasonic G6

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The SL1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 20D does not. The highest resolution format that the SL1 can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 20D vs Canon SL1

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 20D and the SL1 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 20D, the Canon SL1, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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 SL1«optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.9 Y n Canon SL1
Canon SL2« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon SL2
Canon T5« »optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon T5
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n Canon 7D II
Canon T5i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T5i
Canon G16« »optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 4000 2.2 Y Y Canon G16
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
Panasonic G6« »1440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n Panasonic G6

Both the 20D and the SL1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 20D was replaced by the Canon 30D, while the SL1 was followed by the Canon SL2.

Review summary: Canon 20D vs Canon SL1

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 20D and the Canon SL1? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 20D:

  • 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 380) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2004).


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel SL1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (17.9 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 48%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 118k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • More compact: Is smaller (117x91mm vs 144x106mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 363g or 47 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (63 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 8 years and 7 months of technical progress since the 20D launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL1 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 4 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.

20D 04:09 SL1

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 20D and the SL1 in practical situations. 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 table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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 SL1«Rec78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549- i Canon SL1
Canon SL2« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon T5« »Rec-4/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449- i Canon T5
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon T5i« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
Canon G16« »Rec-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i i Canon G16
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
Panasonic G6« »HiRec-5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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