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Canon SX20 vs SX30

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2009 and September 2010. Both the SX20 and the SX30 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The SX20 has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the SX30 provides 14 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon SX20 versus Canon SX30
Canon SX20 Canon SX30
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 24-840mm f/2.7-5.8
12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 14 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
720/30p Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 6,400)
Electronic viewfinder (202k dots) Electronic viewfinder (202k dots)
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 2.7 LCD, 230k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.7 shutter flaps per second 0.6 shutter flaps per second
123 x 88 x 87 mm, 600 g 123 x 92 x 108 mm, 601 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX30 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 physical size and weight of the Canon SX20 and the Canon SX30 are illustrated 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.

Size Canon SX20 vs Canon SX30
Compare SX20 versus SX30 top
Comparison SX20 or SX30 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SX30 is somewhat larger (5 percent) than the Canon SX20. Moreover, the SX30 is slightly heavier (0 percent) than the SX20. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX20 nor the SX30 are weather-sealed.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras 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 SX20 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Aug 2009 399i
2.
 
Canon SX30 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 601 g 370 n Sep 2010 429i
3.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399i
4.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
5.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
6.
 
Canon SX40 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 600 g 380 n Sep 2011 429i
7.
 
Canon SX10 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Sep 2008 399i
8.
 
Canon SX1 128 mm 88 mm 88 mm 615 g .. n Sep 2008 599i
9.
 
Canon XS 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449i
10.
 
Leica V-LUX 2 124 mm 80 mm 95 mm 520 g 410 n Sep 2010 849i
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499i
12.
 
Panasonic FZ100 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 540 g 410 n Jul 2010 499i
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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SX20 was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the SX30 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 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. 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 more expensive and 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 SX20 and Canon SX30 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the SX30 offers a higher resolution of 14 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the SX20. This megapixels advantage translates into a 8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the SX30 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.41μm versus 1.53μm for the SX20). However, it should be noted that the SX30 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the SX20, 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 SX30 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX30 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.6 x 16.2 inches or 54.9 x 41.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.4 x 10.8 inches or 36.6 x 27.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX20 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.

SX20 versus SX30 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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 SX20 1/2.3 12.0 4000 3000720/30p........
2.
 
Canon SX30 1/2.3 14.0 4320 3240720/30p........
3.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
4.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
5.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
6.
 
Canon SX40 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p........
7.
 
Canon SX10 1/2.3 10.0 3648 2736480/30p........
8.
 
Canon SX1 1/2.3 10.0 3648 27361080/30p........
9.
 
Canon XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none........
10.
 
Leica V-LUX 2 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i........
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240
12.
 
Panasonic FZ100 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i........

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (720/30p).

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SX20 and the SX30 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX20 and Canon SX30 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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 SX20202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
2.
 
Canon SX30202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.6 Y Y
3.
 
Canon SX730none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX60922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX50202 n 3.0 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX40202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 10.3 Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX10202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX1202 n 2.8 230 swivel n 1/3200s 4.0 Y Y
9.
 
Canon XSoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Leica V-LUX 2202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0 Y Y
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
12.
 
Panasonic FZ100202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0 Y Y

Both the SX20 and the SX30 have zoom lenses built in. The SX20 has a 28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 optic and the SX30 offers a 24-840mm f/2.7-5.8 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the SX30 provides a wider angle of view at the short end, as well as more tele-photo reach at the long end than the SX20. The SX30 offers the faster maximum aperture.

The SX20 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the SX30 uses SDXC 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 SX20 IS and Canon PowerShot SX30 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 SX20Ystereomono--YES2.0---
2.
 
Canon SX30Ystereomono--YES2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX730-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon SX40Ystereomono--YES2.0---
7.
 
Canon SX10Ystereomono---2.0---
8.
 
Canon SX1Ystereomono--YES2.0---
9.
 
Canon XSY-----2.0---
10.
 
Leica V-LUX 2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo---mini2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic FZ100Ystereomono--mini2.0---

Both the SX20 and the SX30 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX20 was replaced by the Canon SX30, while the SX30 was followed by the Canon SX40. 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 is the bottom line? Is the Canon SX20 better than the Canon SX30 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS:

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (0.7 vs 0.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2009).


Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (14 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/2.7 vs f/2.8).
  • Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SX30 is the clear winner of the contest (6 : 2 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.

SX20 02:06 SX30

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX20 and the Canon SX30 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX20 and the SX30 in practical situations. 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 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], 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 SX20..+ +73/100..4/5 Aug 2009 399i
2.
 
Canon SX303/5+ +..3.5/54/5 Sep 2010 429i
3.
 
Canon SX730..+..4/54/5 Apr 2017 399i
4.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
5.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
6.
 
Canon SX40..+..4.5/54/5 Sep 2011 429i
7.
 
Canon SX10..+ +....4/5 Sep 2008 399i
8.
 
Canon SX1..+ ++..3.5/5 Sep 2008 599i
9.
 
Canon XS..82/100+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
10.
 
Leica V-LUX 2.......... Sep 2010 849i
11.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499i
12.
 
Panasonic FZ100..+..4.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon SX20:
Check Ebay offers
Canon SX30:
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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon SX20 vs Canon SX30

    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 SX20 Canon SX30
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 24-840mm f/2.7-5.8
    Launch Date August 2009 September 2010
    Launch Price USD 399 USD 429
    Sensor Specs Canon SX20 Canon SX30
    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 12 Megapixels 14 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 pixels 4320 x 3240 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.53 μm 1.41 μm
    Pixel Density 42.74 MP/cm2 49.86 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 4
    Screen Specs Canon SX20 Canon SX30
    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 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX20 Canon SX30
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.7 shutter flaps/s 0.6 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX20 Canon SX30
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port YES HDMI YES HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon SX20 Canon SX30
    Battery Type 4xAA NB-7L
    Body Dimensions 123 x 88 x 87 mm
    (4.8 x 3.5 x 3.4 in)
    123 x 92 x 108 mm
    (4.8 x 3.6 x 4.3 in)
    Camera Weight 600 g (21.2 oz) 601 g (21.2 oz)

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