Canon SX20 vs SX40
The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2009 and September 2011. Both the SX20 and the SX40 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12 megapixels.
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 PowerShot SX20 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX40 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 SX20 and the Canon SX40. 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 width, height and depth measures 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 Canon SX40 is somewhat larger (5 percent) than the Canon SX20. In terms of weight, the two cameras are very close. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX20 nor the SX40 are weather-sealed.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.
|1.||Canon SX20||123 mm||88 mm||87 mm||600 g||..||n||Aug 2009||399|
|2.||Canon SX40||123 mm||92 mm||108 mm||600 g||380||n||Sep 2011||429|
|3.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|4.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|5.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429|
|6.||Canon SX30||123 mm||92 mm||108 mm||601 g||370||n||Sep 2010||429|
|7.||Canon SX10||123 mm||88 mm||87 mm||600 g||..||n||Sep 2008||399|
|8.||Canon SX1||128 mm||88 mm||88 mm||615 g||..||n||Sep 2008||599|
|9.||Canon XS||126 mm||98 mm||65 mm||502 g||500||n||Jun 2008||449|
|10.||Leica V-LUX 2||124 mm||80 mm||95 mm||520 g||410||n||Sep 2010||849|
|11.||Panasonic FZ150||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||528 g||410||n||Aug 2011||499|
|12.||Panasonic FZ100||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||540 g||410||n||Jul 2010||499|
|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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The SX20 was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the SX40 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 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.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 12 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the SX20 and the SX40 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the SX40 is much more recent (by 2 years) than the SX20, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time. 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 Canon PowerShot SX20 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The Canon PowerShot SX40 HS offers exactly the same ISO settings.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|10.||Leica V-LUX 2||1/2.3||14.0||4320||3240||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the SX40 provides a better video resolution than the SX20. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/24p, while the SX20 is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SX20 and the SX40 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 SX20, the Canon SX40, and comparable cameras.
|10.||Leica V-LUX 2||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||11.0||Y||Y|
Both the SX20 and the SX40 have zoom lenses built in. The SX20 has a 28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 optic and the SX40 offers a 24-840mm f/2.7-5.8 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the SX40 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 SX40 offers the faster maximum aperture.
The SX20 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the SX40 uses SDXC 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 PowerShot SX20 IS and Canon PowerShot SX40 HS and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|10.||Leica V-LUX 2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the SX20 and the SX40 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX20 was replaced by the Canon SX30, while the SX40 was followed by the Canon SX50. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.
So how do things add up? Is the Canon SX20 better than the Canon SX40 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS:
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2009).
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS:
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/24p vs 720/30p).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10.3 vs 0.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- 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: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the SX20 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the SX40 is the clear winner of the contest (7 : 1 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX20 and the Canon SX40 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX20 or the SX40 perform in practice. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.
|1.||Canon SX20||..||+ +||73/100||..||4/5||Aug 2009||399|
|2.||Canon SX40||..||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2011||429|
|3.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|4.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|5.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429|
|6.||Canon SX30||3/5||+ +||..||3.5/5||4/5||Sep 2010||429|
|7.||Canon SX10||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||Sep 2008||399|
|8.||Canon SX1||..||+ +||+||..||3.5/5||Sep 2008||599|
|9.||Canon XS||..||82/100||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2008||449|
|10.||Leica V-LUX 2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2010||849|
|11.||Panasonic FZ150||3/5||+ +||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||499|
|12.||Panasonic FZ100||..||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon SX20 vs Canon SX40
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 SX20||Canon SX40|
|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 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 429|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX20||Canon SX40|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.53 μm||1.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||42.74 MP/cm2||42.74 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||1080/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX20||Canon SX40|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|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 SX40|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||0.7 shutter flaps/s||10.3 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-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 SX40|
|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 SX40|
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)||600 g (21.2 oz)|
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