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Canon SX20 vs SX50

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2009 and September 2012. Both the SX20 and the SX50 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.

Headline Specifications
Canon SX20 versus Canon SX50
Canon SX20 Canon SX50
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5
12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
720/30p Video 1080/24p Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 80-6,400
Electronic viewfinder (202k dots) Electronic viewfinder (202k dots)
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 461k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.7 shutter flaps per second 2.2 shutter flaps per second
123 x 88 x 87 mm, 600 g 123 x 87 x 106 mm, 595 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX50 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon SX20 and the Canon SX50. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon SX20 vs Canon SX50
Compare SX20 versus SX50 top
Comparison SX20 or SX50 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SX50 is somewhat smaller (1 percent) than the Canon SX20. Moreover, the SX50 is slightly lighter (1 percent) than the SX20. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX20 nor the SX50 are weather-sealed.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 SX20 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Aug 2009 399i
2.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799i
4.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
5.
 
Canon S120 100 mm 59 mm 29 mm 217 g 230 n Aug 2013 449i
6.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
7.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499i
8.
 
Canon SX40 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 600 g 380 n Sep 2011 429i
9.
 
Canon 1100D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
10.
 
Canon SX30 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 601 g 370 n Sep 2010 429i
11.
 
Canon SX10 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Sep 2008 399i
12.
 
Canon SX1 128 mm 88 mm 88 mm 615 g .. n Sep 2008 599i
13.
 
Canon 1000D 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449i
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 SX50 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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.

Technology-wise, the SX50 uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 5) than the SX20 (DIGIC 4), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon SX20 and Canon SX50 sensor measures

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 SX50 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the SX50 is much more recent (by 3 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 the SX20 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS are ISO 80 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

SX20 versus SX50 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 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 SX20 1/2.3 12.0 4000 3000720/30p........
2.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
4.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
5.
 
Canon S120 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.311.924656
6.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
7.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
8.
 
Canon SX40 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p........
9.
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
10.
 
Canon SX30 1/2.3 14.0 4320 3240720/30p........
11.
 
Canon SX10 1/2.3 10.0 3648 2736480/30p........
12.
 
Canon SX1 1/2.3 10.0 3648 27361080/30p........
13.
 
Canon 1000D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none........
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the SX50 provides a better video resolution than the SX20. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/24p, while the SX20 is limited to 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SX20 and the SX50 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 SX50, 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 SX20202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
2.
 
Canon SX50202 n 3.0 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX60922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
5.
 
Canon S120none n 3.0 922 fixed Y 1/2000s 12.1 Y Y
6.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n 3.0 922 Swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
7.
 
Canon G15optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX40202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 10.3 Y Y
9.
 
Canon 1100Doptical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon SX30202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.6 Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX10202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
12.
 
Canon SX1202 n 2.8 230 swivel n 1/3200s 4.0 Y Y
13.
 
Canon 1000Doptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
The SX50 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the SX20 does not have a selfie-screen.

Both the SX20 and the SX50 have zoom lenses built in. The SX20 has a 28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 optic and the SX50 offers a 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the SX50 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 SX20 offers the faster maximum aperture.

The SX20 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the SX50 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 SX50 HS 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 SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon S120-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Canon G1 XYstereomono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon G15Ystereomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon SX40Ystereomono--YES2.0---
9.
 
Canon 1100DYstereomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon SX30Ystereomono--YES2.0---
11.
 
Canon SX10Ystereomono---2.0---
12.
 
Canon SX1Ystereomono--YES2.0---
13.
 
Canon 1000DY-----2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo---mini2.0---

Both the SX20 and the SX50 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX20 was replaced by the Canon SX30, while the SX50 was followed by the Canon SX60. 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 SX50 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/3200s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/2.8 vs f/3.4).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2009).


Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 5 vs DIGIC 4).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/24p vs 720/30p).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 230k dots).
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (2.2 vs 0.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • 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 3 years of technical progress since the SX20 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SX50 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 4 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 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.

SX20 04:10 SX50

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX20 and the Canon SX50 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 SX50 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.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews 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 SX503/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
4.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
5.
 
Canon S120..+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 449i
6.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
7.
 
Canon G154/5+76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
8.
 
Canon SX40..+..4.5/54/5 Sep 2011 429i
9.
 
Canon 1100D..80/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
10.
 
Canon SX303/5+ +..3.5/54/5 Sep 2010 429i
11.
 
Canon SX10..+ +....4/5 Sep 2008 399i
12.
 
Canon SX1..+ ++..3.5/5 Sep 2008 599i
13.
 
Canon 1000D..82/100+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
14.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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 SX20:
Check Ebay offers
Canon SX50:
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 make your choice using the following search menu. 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 SX50

    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 SX50
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5
    Launch Date August 2009 September 2012
    Launch Price USD 399 USD 429
    Sensor Specs Canon SX20 Canon SX50
    Sensor Technology CCD BSI-CMOS
    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 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 Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video 1080/24p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 80 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 5
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 47
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 20.3
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 11.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 179
    Screen Specs Canon SX20 Canon SX50
    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 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 461k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX20 Canon SX50
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.7 shutter flaps/s 2.2 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 SX50
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port YES HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon SX20 Canon SX50
    Battery Type 4xAA NB-10L
    Body Dimensions 123 x 88 x 87 mm
    (4.8 x 3.5 x 3.4 in)
    123 x 87 x 106 mm
    (4.8 x 3.4 x 4.2 in)
    Camera Weight 600 g (21.2 oz) 595 g (21.0 oz)

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