Canon 20D vs Sony A7S II
The Canon EOS 20D and the Sony Alpha 7S II are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2004 and September 2015. The 20D is a DSLR, while the A7S II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (20D) and a full frame (A7S II) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon 20D||Sony A7S II|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|8.2 MP, APS-C Sensor||12 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200)||ISO 100-102,400 (50 - 409,600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)|
|1.8 LCD, 118k dots||3.0 LCD, 1229k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|5 shutter flaps per second||5 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|700 shots per battery charge||370 shots per battery charge|
|144 x 106 x 72 mm, 770 g||127 x 96 x 60 mm, 627 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 20D and the Sony Alpha 7S II? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 20D and the Sony A7S II is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7S II is notably smaller (20 percent) than the Canon 20D. Moreover, the A7S II is markedly lighter (19 percent) than the 20D. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7S II is splash and dust-proof, while the 20D does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (20D) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7S II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A7S II, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
Concerning battery life, the 20D gets 700 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the A7S II can take 370 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A7S II can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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.
|Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399|
|Canon 350D||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|Canon 300D||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7S||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||489 g||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499|
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.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 20D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the A7S II, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 20D features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7S II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7S II is 151 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 12MP, the A7S II offers a higher resolution than the 20D (8.2MP), but the A7S II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.40μm versus 6.42μm for the 20D) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7S II is a much more recent model (by 11 years) than the 20D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7S II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7S II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.2 x 14.2 inches or 53.8 x 36 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.1 x 28.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.1 x 9.4 inches or 35.9 x 24 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 20D are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 20D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha 7S II are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-409600.
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 A7S II offers substantially better image quality than the 20D (overall score 23 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.7 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.1 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.
|Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The A7S II indeed provides for movie recording, while the 20D does not. The highest resolution format that the A7S II can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7S II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k 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 viewfinder in the A7S II offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 20D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A7S II has a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.56x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 20D and Sony A7S II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n|
|Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 20D has one, while the A7S II does not. While the built-in flash of the 20D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the A7S II is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The 20D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the A7S II uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.
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 EOS 20D and Sony Alpha 7S II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon 7D II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7S II offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the 20D does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 20D (unlike the A7S II) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 20D and the A7S II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 20D was replaced by the Canon 30D, while the A7S II was followed by the Sony A7S III. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Canon 20D better than the Sony A7S II or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 20D:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (700 versus 370) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2004).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha 7S II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 21%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (23 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.7 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.1 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.56x).
- 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 (1229k vs 118k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (127x96mm vs 144x106mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 143g or 19 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More modern: Reflects 11 years of technical progress since the 20D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7S II is the clear winner of the contest (22 : 7 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 20D and the Sony A7S II place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR 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 20D and the A7S II 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 why expert reviews are important. 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.
|Canon 20D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|Sony A7S II||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Canon 7D II||+||84/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|Canon 60D||+||79/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|Canon 7D||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon 50D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Canon 40D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Canon 30D||+ +||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399|
|Canon 350D||80/100||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|Canon 10D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|Canon 300D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2003||899|
|Nikon D200||+ +||+ +||o||5/5||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|Sony A7S III||..||..||..||..||..||Jul 2020||3,499|
|Sony A7R III||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7 II||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7S||..||86/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499|
|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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 20D vs Canon RP
- Canon 20D vs Canon T4i
- Canon 20D vs Nikon D300
- Canon 20D vs Olympus E-450
- Canon T5 vs Sony A7S II
- Canon XTi vs Sony A7S II
- Fujifilm X10 vs Sony A7S II
- Fujifilm X100F vs Sony A7S II
- Nikon D70s vs Sony A7S II
- Olympus E-420 vs Sony A7S II
- Panasonic FZ2000 vs Sony A7S II
- Panasonic G10 vs Sony A7S II
Specifications: Canon 20D vs Sony A7S II
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 Model||Canon 20D||Sony A7S II|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2004||September 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 1,499||USD 2,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 20D||Sony A7S II|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.5 x 15.0 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||337.5 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8.2 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3504 x 2336 pixels||4240 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.42 μm||8.40 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.43 MP/cm2||1.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||50 - 409,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 2||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||85|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.9||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||721||2993|
|Screen Specs||Canon 20D||Sony A7S II|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||1.8inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||118k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 20D||Sony A7S II|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||50 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 20D||Sony A7S II|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 20D||Sony A7S II|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||700 shots per charge||370 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
144 x 106 x 72 mm
(5.7 x 4.2 x 2.8 in)
127 x 96 x 60 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in)
|Camera Weight||770 g (27.2 oz)||627 g (22.1 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.