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Canon SX10 vs SX20

The Canon PowerShot SX10 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2008 and August 2009. Both the SX10 and the SX20 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The SX10 has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the SX20 provides 12 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon SX10 versus Canon SX20
Canon SX10 Canon SX20
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 28-560mm f/2.8-5.7
10 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
480/30p Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 100-3,200
Electronic viewfinder (202k dots) Electronic viewfinder (202k dots)
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.7 shutter flaps per second 0.7 shutter flaps per second
123 x 88 x 87 mm, 600 g 123 x 88 x 87 mm, 600 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX20 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon SX10 and the Canon SX20 is provided 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon SX10 vs Canon SX20
Compare SX10 versus SX20 top
Comparison SX10 or SX20 rear

In this particular case, the Canon SX10 and the Canon SX20 have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. Moreover, the two cameras also share the same weight. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX10 nor the SX20 are weather-sealed.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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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 SX10 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Sep 2008 399 i
2.
 
Canon SX20 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Aug 2009 399 i
3.
 
Canon SX740 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 299 g 265 n Jul 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon SX70 127 mm 91 mm 117 mm 608 g 325 n Sep 2018 549 i
5.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399 i
6.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429 i
7.
 
Canon SX40 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 600 g 380 n Sep 2011 429 i
8.
 
Canon SX30 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 601 g 370 n Sep 2010 429 i
9.
 
Canon SX1 128 mm 88 mm 88 mm 615 g .. n Sep 2008 599 i
10.
 
Canon XS 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449 i
11.
 
Nikon B600 122 mm 82 mm 99 mm 500 g 280 n Jan 2019 349 i
Notes: 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 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 two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a 1/2.3-inch sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 5.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the smaller-sensor digicams that favor affordability and compact design. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon SX10 and Canon SX20 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the SX20 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the SX10. This megapixels advantage translates into a 10 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the SX20 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.53μm versus 1.67μm for the SX10). However, it should be noted that the SX20 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the SX10, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Canon SX20 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX20 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX10 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot SX10 IS 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 Canon PowerShot SX20 IS are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

SX10 versus SX20 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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 SX10 1/2.3 10.0 3648 2736480/30p...... ..
2.
 
Canon SX20 1/2.3 12.0 4000 3000720/30p...... ..
3.
 
Canon SX740 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p...... ..
4.
 
Canon SX70 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p...... ..
5.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
6.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.2179 47
7.
 
Canon SX40 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p...... ..
8.
 
Canon SX30 1/2.3 14.0 4320 3240720/30p...... ..
9.
 
Canon SX1 1/2.3 10.0 3648 27361080/30p...... ..
10.
 
Canon XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none...... ..
11.
 
Nikon B600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p...... ..

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 SX20 provides a better video resolution than the SX10. It can shoot movie footage at 720/30p, while the SX10 is limited to 480/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SX10 and the SX20 are similar in the sense that both feature an electronic viewfinder, which is helpful when framing images in bright sunlight. Moreover, their viewfinders offer an identical resolution of 202k dots. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX10, the Canon SX20, and comparable cameras.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon SX10202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
2.
 
Canon SX20202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
3.
 
Canon SX740none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 10.0 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX702360 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX730none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX50202 n 3.0 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX40202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 10.3 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX30202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.6 Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX1202 n 2.8 230 swivel n 1/3200s 4.0 Y Y
10.
 
Canon XSoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon B600none n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y

Both the SX10 and the SX20 have zoom lenses built in. Both optics have identical focal length range and aperture specifications (5-100mm f/2.8-5.7). Both cameras offer the same maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX10 and the SX20 write their files to SDHC cards.

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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 PowerShot SX10 IS and Canon PowerShot SX20 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon SX10Ystereomono---2.0---
2.
 
Canon SX20Ystereomono--YES2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX740-stereomono--micro2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Canon SX70-stereomonoY-micro2.0Y-Y
5.
 
Canon SX730-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
6.
 
Canon SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon SX40Ystereomono--YES2.0---
8.
 
Canon SX30Ystereomono--YES2.0---
9.
 
Canon SX1Ystereomono--YES2.0---
10.
 
Canon XSY-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon B600-stereomono--micro2.0Y-Y

Both the SX10 and the SX20 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX10 was replaced by the Canon SX20, while the SX20 was followed by the Canon SX30. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX10 or the Canon SX20 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2008).


Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (720/30p vs 480/30p).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the SX20 emerges as the winner of the match-up (3 : 1 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. 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.

SX10 01:03 SX20

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX10 and the Canon SX20 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera listing 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX10 or the SX20 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX10..+ +....4/5 Sep 2008 399 i
2.
 
Canon SX20..+ +73/100..4/5 Aug 2009 399 i
3.
 
Canon SX740..+..4/54/5 Jul 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon SX70..+ +..3.5/53.5/5 Sep 2018 549 i
5.
 
Canon SX730..+..4/54/5 Apr 2017 399 i
6.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429 i
7.
 
Canon SX40..+..4.5/54/5 Sep 2011 429 i
8.
 
Canon SX303/5+ +..3.5/54/5 Sep 2010 429 i
9.
 
Canon SX1..+ ++..3.5/5 Sep 2008 599 i
10.
 
Canon XS..82/100+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449 i
11.
 
Nikon B600..+..3.5/53/5 Jan 2019 349 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon SX10:
Check Ebay offers
Canon SX20:
Check Ebay offers

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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon SX10 vs Canon SX20

    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 SX10 Canon SX20
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 28-560mm f/2.8-5.7
    Launch Date September 2008 August 2009
    Launch Price USD 399 USD 399
    Sensor Specs Canon SX10 Canon SX20
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3648 x 2736 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.67 μm 1.53 μm
    Pixel Density 35.55 MP/cm2 42.74 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 480/30p Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    Screen Specs Canon SX10 Canon SX20
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification
    Viewfinder Resolution 202k dots 202k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX10 Canon SX20
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.7 shutter flaps/s 0.7 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX10 Canon SX20
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI YES HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon SX10 Canon SX20
    Battery Type 4xAA 4xAA
    Body Dimensions 123 x 88 x 87 mm
    (4.8 x 3.5 x 3.4 in)
    123 x 88 x 87 mm
    (4.8 x 3.5 x 3.4 in)
    Camera Weight 600 g (21.2 oz) 600 g (21.2 oz)

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