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Canon SX20 vs T3

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS and the Canon EOS Rebel T3 (labelled Canon 1100D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2009 and February 2011. The SX20 is a fixed lens compact, while the T3 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX20) and an APS-C (T3) sensor. The SX20 has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the T3 provides 12.2 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 T3
Canon SX20 Canon T3
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 Canon EF mount lenses
12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
720/30p Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 100-6,400
Electronic viewfinder (202k dots) Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 2.7 LCD, 230k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.7 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
123 x 88 x 87 mm, 600 g 130 x 100 x 78 mm, 495 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS and the Canon EOS Rebel T3? 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 T3 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 T3
Compare SX20 versus T3 top
Comparison SX20 or T3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon T3 is notably larger (20 percent) than the Canon SX20. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX20 nor the T3 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX20 has a lens built in, whereas the T3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the T3 and their specifications in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

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 SX20 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Aug 2009 399i
2.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
3.
 
Canon T100 129 mm 102 mm 77 mm 436 g 500 n Feb 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399i
5.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
6.
 
Canon T5 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
7.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
8.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
9.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
10.
 
Canon SX40 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 600 g 380 n Sep 2011 429i
11.
 
Canon SX30 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 601 g 370 n Sep 2010 429i
12.
 
Canon SX10 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Sep 2008 399i
13.
 
Canon SX1 128 mm 88 mm 88 mm 615 g .. n Sep 2008 599i
14.
 
Canon XS 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449i
15.
 
Leica V-LUX 2 124 mm 80 mm 95 mm 520 g 410 n Sep 2010 849i
16.
 
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 launched at a lower price than the T3, 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. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX20 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Canon T3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the T3 is 1054 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.6. The sensor in the SX20 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the T3 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX20 and Canon T3 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the T3 offers a higher resolution than the SX20 (12MP), but the T3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.15μm versus 1.53μm for the SX20) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the T3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the SX20, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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 EOS Rebel T3 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

SX20 versus T3 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 SX20 1/2.3 12.0 4000 3000720/30p........
2.
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
3.
 
Canon T100 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.469563
4.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
5.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
6.
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
7.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
8.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
9.
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
10.
 
Canon SX40 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p........
11.
 
Canon SX30 1/2.3 14.0 4320 3240720/30p........
12.
 
Canon SX10 1/2.3 10.0 3648 2736480/30p........
13.
 
Canon SX1 1/2.3 10.0 3648 27361080/30p........
14.
 
Canon XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none........
15.
 
Leica V-LUX 2 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i........
16.
 
Panasonic FZ100 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i........

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, 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. For example, the SX20 has an electronic viewfinder (202k dots), while the T3 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX20 and Canon T3 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 T3optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon T100optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon SX730none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX60922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
6.
 
Canon T5optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n 3.0 922 Swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX50202 n 3.0 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
9.
 
Canon T4ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon SX40202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 10.3 Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX30202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.6 Y Y
12.
 
Canon SX10202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
13.
 
Canon SX1202 n 2.8 230 swivel n 1/3200s 4.0 Y Y
14.
 
Canon XSoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Leica V-LUX 2202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0 Y Y
16.
 
Panasonic FZ100202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0 Y Y

The SX20 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the T3 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 EOS Rebel T3 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 T3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon T100Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX730-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
5.
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon T5Ymonomono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon G1 XYstereomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon T4iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon SX40Ystereomono--YES2.0---
11.
 
Canon SX30Ystereomono--YES2.0---
12.
 
Canon SX10Ystereomono---2.0---
13.
 
Canon SX1Ystereomono--YES2.0---
14.
 
Canon XSY-----2.0---
15.
 
Leica V-LUX 2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic FZ100Ystereomono--mini2.0---

Both the SX20 and the T3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX20 was replaced by the Canon SX30, while the T3 was followed by the Canon T5. 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? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX20 and the Canon T3? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the T3 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (123x88mm vs 130x100mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2009).


Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel T3:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
  • Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/3200s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 0.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 5 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the T3 emerges as the winner of the match-up (11 : 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.

SX20 08:11 T3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX20 and the Canon T3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best DSLR 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX20 and the T3 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 T3..80/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
3.
 
Canon T100..o..3.5/53.5/5 Feb 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon SX730..+..4/54/5 Apr 2017 399i
5.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
6.
 
Canon T53/5+..4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
7.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
8.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
9.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
10.
 
Canon SX40..+..4.5/54/5 Sep 2011 429i
11.
 
Canon SX303/5+ +..3.5/54/5 Sep 2010 429i
12.
 
Canon SX10..+ +....4/5 Sep 2008 399i
13.
 
Canon SX1..+ ++..3.5/5 Sep 2008 599i
14.
 
Canon XS..82/100+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
15.
 
Leica V-LUX 2.......... Sep 2010 849i
16.
 
Panasonic FZ100..+..4.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. 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 T3:
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 T3

    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 T3
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2009 February 2011
    Launch Price USD 399 USD 449
    Sensor Specs Canon SX20 Canon T3
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 22.0 x 14.7 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 323.4 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 26.5 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 12 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 pixels 4272 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.53 μm 5.15 μm
    Pixel Density 42.74 MP/cm2 3.76 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 4
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 62
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.9
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 11.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 755
    Screen Specs Canon SX20 Canon T3
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x
    Viewfinder Resolution 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 Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX20 Canon T3
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.7 shutter flaps/s 3 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 T3
    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 T3
    Battery Type 4xAA LP-E10
    Body Dimensions 123 x 88 x 87 mm
    (4.8 x 3.5 x 3.4 in)
    130 x 100 x 78 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 600 g (21.2 oz) 495 g (17.5 oz)

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