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Canon M vs SX420

The Canon EOS M and the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2012 and January 2016. The Canon M is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the SX420 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (Canon M) and a 1/2.3-inch (SX420) sensor. The Canon M has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the SX420 provides 19.9 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon M
versus
Canon SX420
Canon M   Canon SX420
Mirrorless system camera Fixed lens compact camera
Canon EF-M mount lenses 24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6
17.9 MP – APS-C sensor 19.9 MP – 1/2.3" sensor
1080/30p Video 720/25p Video
ISO 100-12,800 (100 - 25,600) ISO 100-1,600
No viewfinder, LCD framing No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0" LCD – 1040k dots 3.0" LCD – 230k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4.3 shutter flaps per second 0.5 shutter flaps per second
230 shots per battery charge195 shots per battery charge
109 x 66 x 32 mm, 298 g 104 x 69 x 85 mm, 325 g
Canon M:
Check Ebay offers
Canon SX420:
Check Ebay offers

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS M and the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS? 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon M and the Canon SX420. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The Canon M can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the SX420 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, red).

Size Canon M vs Canon SX420
Compare Canon M versus SX420 top
Comparison Canon M or SX420 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon M and the Canon SX420 are of equal size. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Canon M nor the SX420 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX420 has a lens built in, whereas the Canon M is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

Concerning battery life, the Canon M gets 230 shots out of its LP-E12 battery, while the SX420 can take 195 images on a single charge of its NB-11LH 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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon M 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 n Jul 2012 599i
2.
 
Canon SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299i
3.
 
Canon SX430 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 323 g 195 n Jan 2017 299 i
4.
 
Canon M100 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499i
5.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399i
6.
 
Canon M10 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 301 g 255 n Oct 2015 499i
7.
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279i
8.
 
Canon SX610 105 mm 61 mm 27 mm 191 g 270 n Jan 2015 249i
9.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349i
10.
 
Canon G7 X 103 mm 60 mm 40 mm 304 g 210 n Sep 2014 699i
11.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
12.
 
Canon SL1 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549i
13.
 
Canon T5i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
14.
 
Canon T3i 133 mm 100 mm 80 mm 570 g 440 n Feb 2011 599i
15.
 
Panasonic GF6 111 mm 65 mm 38 mm 323 g 340 n Apr 2013 499i
16.
 
Panasonic G3 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 n May 2011 599i
17.
 
Sony NEX-3N 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

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 SX420 was launched at a lower price than the Canon M, 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.

Sensor comparison

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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon M features an APS-C sensor and the Canon SX420 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the SX420 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 Canon M has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the SX420 offers a 4:3 aspect.

In terms of chip-set technology, the Canon M uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC V) than the SX420 (DIGIC 4+), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon M and Canon SX420 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the SX420 offers a higher resolution of 19.9 megapixels, compared with 17.9 MP of the Canon M. 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 1.19μm versus 4.31μm for the Canon M). However, it should be noted that the SX420 is much more recent (by 3 years and 5 months) than the Canon M, 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 SX420 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The Canon M has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Canon EOS M has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

Canon M versus SX420 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon M APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765
2.
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p20.311.780648
3.
 
Canon SX430 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p20.511.990049
4.
 
Canon M100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278
5.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.511.992450
6.
 
Canon M10 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365
7.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p20.211.672047
8.
 
Canon SX610 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p20.211.671247
9.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.211.671247
10.
 
Canon G7 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671
11.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
12.
 
Canon SL1 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
13.
 
Canon T5i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
14.
 
Canon T3i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365
15.
 
Panasonic GF6 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i20.710.662254
16.
 
Panasonic G3 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756
17.
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the Canon M provides a higher video resolution than the SX420. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the SX420 is limited to 720/25p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The Canon M and the SX420 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon M and Canon SX420 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon Mnone n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3/s n n
2.
 
Canon SX420none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
3.
 
Canon SX430none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon M100none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.1/s Y n
5.
 
Canon SX730none n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon M10none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.6/s Y n
7.
 
Canon SX410none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX610none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5/s Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX710none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0/s Y Y
10.
 
Canon G7 Xnone n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 6.5/s Y Y
11.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2/s Y Y
12.
 
Canon SL1optical n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9/s Y n
13.
 
Canon T5ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
14.
 
Canon T3ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/4000s 3.7/s Y n
15.
 
Panasonic GF6none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2/s Y n
16.
 
Panasonic G31440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
17.
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The Canon M has a touchscreen, while the SX420 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the Canon M and the SX420 write their files to SDXC cards. The Canon M supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the SX420 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

Connectivity comparison

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 M and Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon MYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
2.
 
Canon SX420-mono / mono---2.0YY-
3.
 
Canon SX430-mono / mono---2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon M100-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
5.
 
Canon SX730-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
6.
 
Canon M10-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX410-stereo / mono---2.0---
8.
 
Canon SX610-- / ---micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon SX710-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
10.
 
Canon G7 X-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
11.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
12.
 
Canon SL1Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
13.
 
Canon T5iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
14.
 
Canon T3iYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic GF6-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
16.
 
Panasonic G3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereo / mono--micro2.0---

It is notable that the Canon M has a hotshoe, while the SX420 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Both the Canon M and the SX420 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The Canon M was replaced by the Canon EOS M3, while the SX420 was followed by the Canon SX430. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon M and the Canon SX420? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS M:

  • 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 jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC V vs DIGIC 4+).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/25p).
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.3 vs 0.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (230 versus 195) on a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2012).


Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the Canon M necessitates an extra lens.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • 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 affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 5 months of technical progress since the Canon M launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the Canon M is the clear winner of the match-up (17 : 8 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

Canon M 17:08 SX420

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon M and the Canon SX420 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Superzoom 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the Canon M or the SX420. 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon M3/5+....4/54/5 Jul 2012 599i
2.
 
Canon SX420..........3/5 Jan 2016 299i
3.
 
Canon SX430........3.5/53.5/5 Jan 2017 299 i
4.
 
Canon M1003/5+....4/53.5/5 Aug 2017 499i
5.
 
Canon SX730..+....4/54/5 Apr 2017 399i
6.
 
Canon M10..........4/5 Oct 2015 499i
7.
 
Canon SX410..o........ Feb 2015 279i
8.
 
Canon SX610........4/54/5 Jan 2015 249i
9.
 
Canon SX710..+....4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
10.
 
Canon G7 X4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699i
11.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
12.
 
Canon SL14/5+..78/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
13.
 
Canon T5i......76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
14.
 
Canon T3i3/5o..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599i
15.
 
Panasonic GF6..+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 499i
16.
 
Panasonic G33/5+ +..75/1004.5/55/5 May 2011 599i
17.
 
Sony NEX-3N3/5......4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499i
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. 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.

Canon M:
Check Ebay offers
Canon SX420:
Check Ebay offers

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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon M vs Canon SX420

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Canon M Canon SX420
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF-M mount lenses 24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6
    Launch Date July 2012 January 2016
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 299
    Sensor Specs Canon M Canon SX420
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    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
    Crop Factor 1.6x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 17.9 Megapixels 19.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels 5152 x 3864 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.31 μm 1.19 μm
    Pixel Density 5.39 MP/cm2 70.91 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 720/25p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 25,600 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC V DIGIC 4+
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 65 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.2 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 827 ..
    Screen Specs Canon M Canon SX420
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder no viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon M Canon SX420
    Focus System On-Sensor Phase-detect Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4.3 shutter flaps/s 0.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I no
    Connectivity Specs Canon M Canon SX420
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no 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 M Canon SX420
    Battery Type LP-E12 NB-11LH
    Battery Life (CIPA)230 shots per charge195 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 109 x 66 x 32 mm
    (4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
    104 x 69 x 85 mm
    (4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
    Camera Weight 298 g (10.5 oz) 325 g (11.5 oz)
    Canon M:
    Check Ebay offers
    Canon SX420:
    Check Ebay offers

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