Canon 550D vs SX720
The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon T2i in some regions) and the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2010 and February 2016. The 550D is a DSLR, while the SX720 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (550D) and a 1/2.3-inch (SX720) sensor. The 550D has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the SX720 provides 20.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 550D and the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 550D and the Canon SX720. 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 SX720 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the 550D is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SX720 is considerably smaller (44 percent) than the Canon 550D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 550D nor the SX720 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX720 has a lens built in, whereas the 550D 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 550D and their specifications in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|2.||Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 4000D||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon SX740||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||299 g||265||n||Jul 2018||399||amazon.com|
|5.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|13.||Canon 600D||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|15.||Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The SX720 was launched at a lower price than the 550D, 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.
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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 550D features an APS-C sensor and the Canon SX720 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the SX720 is 92 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 5.6. The sensor in the 550D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the SX720 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Technology-wise, the SX720 uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 6) than the 550D (DIGIC 4), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the SX720 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 17.9 MP of the 550D. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.18μm versus 4.31μm for the 550D). However, it should be noted that the SX720 is much more recent (by 6 years) than the 550D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX720 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The Canon EOS 550D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS are ISO 80 to ISO 3200 (no boost).
In terms of underlying technology, the 550D is build around a CMOS sensor, while the SX720 uses a BSI-CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
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 SX720 provides a faster frame rate than the 550D. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the 550D is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the 550D has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX720 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 550D and Canon SX720 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 550D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|2.||Canon SX720||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon 4000D||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon SX740||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/3200s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon SX730||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/3200s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon 750D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Canon 760D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon SX410||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon SX710||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon 1200D||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 700D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Canon 650D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Canon 600D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|14.||Canon 1100D||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Canon 500D||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4/s||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||1166||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 550D and the SX720 write their files to SDXC cards. The SX720 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the 550D cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 550D and Canon PowerShot SX720 HS and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 550D||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Canon SX720||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon 4000D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon SX740||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Canon SX730||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon 750D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon 760D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon SX410||-||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon SX710||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Canon 1200D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 700D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 650D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Canon 600D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Canon 1100D||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Canon 500D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D5100||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the 550D has a hotshoe, while the SX720 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the 550D and the SX720 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 550D was replaced by the Canon 600D, while the SX720 was followed by the Canon SX730. Further information on the features and operation of the 550D and SX720 can be found, respectively, in the Canon 550D Manual (free pdf) or the online Canon SX720 Manual.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 550D and the Canon SX720? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 550D:
- 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 sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/3200s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (440 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2010).
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 6 vs DIGIC 4).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.9 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the 550D requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the 550D).
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the 550D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (13 points each). 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. 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 550D and the Canon SX720 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Superzoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 550D and the SX720 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
|1.||Canon 550D||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|2.||Canon SX720||..||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 4000D||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon SX740||..||+||3.5/5||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2018||399||amazon.com|
|5.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon SX410||..||o||..||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 1200D||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 700D||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon 650D||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|13.||Canon 600D||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Canon 1100D||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|15.||Canon 500D||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||449||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1D X vs Canon 550D
- Canon 250D vs Canon 550D
- Canon 550D vs Kodak AZ901
- Canon 550D vs Leica D-LUX 6
- Canon 550D vs Panasonic G5
- Canon 550D vs Panasonic G9
- Canon SL3 vs Canon SX720
- Canon SX430 vs Canon SX720
- Canon SX720 vs Fujifilm X-T3
- Canon SX720 vs Nikon D2Xs
- Canon SX720 vs Panasonic GF1
- Canon SX720 vs Ricoh GR III
Specifications: Canon 550D vs Canon SX720
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 550D||Canon SX720|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||24-960mm f/3.3-6.9|
|Launch Date||February 2010||February 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 379|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 550D||Canon SX720|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||1.18 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||71.80 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||80 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||DIGIC 6|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||784||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 550D||Canon SX720|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 550D||Canon SX720|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||5.9 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 550D||Canon SX720|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 550D||Canon SX720|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||250 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
110 x 64 x 36 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||530 g (18.7 oz)||270 g (9.5 oz)|
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