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Canon SX20 vs XTi

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS and the Canon EOS Rebel XTi (labelled Canon 400D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2009 and August 2006. The SX20 is a fixed lens compact, while the XTi is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX20) and an APS-C (XTi) sensor. The SX20 has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the XTi provides 10.1 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 XTi
Canon SX20   Canon XTi
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 10.1 MP – APS-C sensor
720/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 100-1,600
Electronic viewfinder (202k dots) Optical viewfinder
2.5" LCD – 230k dots 2.5" 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 127 x 84 x 65 mm, 556 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS and the Canon EOS Rebel XTi? 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 SX20 and the Canon XTi is provided 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

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

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon XTi is somewhat smaller (1 percent) than the Canon SX20. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX20 nor the XTi 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 XTi 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 XTi and their specifications in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 399ebay.com
2.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799ebay.com
3.
 
Canon T6i 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749ebay.com
4.
 
Canon T6s 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649ebay.com
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799ebay.com
6.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549ebay.com
7.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799ebay.com
8.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429ebay.com
9.
 
Canon SX40 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 600 g 380 n Sep 2011 429ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 1100D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449ebay.com
11.
 
Canon SX30 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 601 g 370 n Sep 2010 429ebay.com
12.
 
Canon SX10 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Sep 2008 399ebay.com
13.
 
Canon SX1 128 mm 88 mm 88 mm 615 g .. n Sep 2008 599ebay.com
14.
 
Canon 1000D 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449ebay.com
15.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799ebay.com
16.
 
Canon XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899ebay.com
17.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899ebay.com
Note: 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 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 SX20 was launched at a lower price than the XTi, 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX20 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Canon XTi an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the XTi is 1075 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 XTi offers a 3:2 aspect.

In terms of chip-set technology, the SX20 uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4) than the XTi (DIGIC II), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon SX20 and Canon XTi sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX20 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 10.1 MP of the Canon XTi. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.53μm versus 5.71μm for the XTi). However, it should be noted that the SX20 is much more recent (by 2 years and 11 months) than the XTi, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. 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 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 XTi are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 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 EOS Rebel XTi are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

In terms of underlying technology, the SX20 is build around a CCD sensor, while the XTi uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

SX20 versus XTi MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 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 3000720/30p19.210.522537
2.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
3.
 
Canon T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
4.
 
Canon T6s APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
6.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
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 SX40 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.610.940941
10.
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
11.
 
Canon SX30 1/2.3 14.0 4320 3240720/30p19.410.732039
12.
 
Canon SX10 1/2.3 10.0 3648 2736480/30p19.010.314435
13.
 
Canon SX1 1/2.3 10.0 3648 27361080/30p19.010.314435
14.
 
Canon 1000D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.010.971962
15.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
16.
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
17.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The SX20 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the XTi does not. The highest resolution format that the SX20 can use is 720/30p.

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 XTi 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX20, the Canon XTi, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon SX20202 n2.5 / 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7/s Y Y
2.
 
Canon XTioptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon T6ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon T6soptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX60922 n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4/s Y Y
7.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/4000s 1.9/s Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX50202 n3.0 / 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2/s Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX40202 n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/3200s 10.3/s Y Y
10.
 
Canon 1100Doptical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
11.
 
Canon SX30202 n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.6/s Y Y
12.
 
Canon SX10202 n2.5 / 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7/s Y Y
13.
 
Canon SX1202 n2.8 / 230 swivel n 1/3200s 4.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Canon 1000Doptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
15.
 
Canon XSioptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
16.
 
Canon XToptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
17.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The SX20 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the XTi uses Compact Flash cards.

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 XTi 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon SX20Ystereo / mono--YES2.0---
2.
 
Canon XTiY- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon T6iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon T6sYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX60Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon G1 XYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon SX50Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon SX40Ystereo / mono--YES2.0---
10.
 
Canon 1100DYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Canon SX30Ystereo / mono--YES2.0---
12.
 
Canon SX10Ystereo / mono---2.0---
13.
 
Canon SX1Ystereo / mono--YES2.0---
14.
 
Canon 1000DY- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Canon XSiY- / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Canon XTY- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Canon RebelY- / ----1.1---

Both the SX20 and the XTi have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The XTi was replaced by the Canon Xsi, while the SX20 was followed by the Canon SX30. Further information on the features and operation of the SX20 and XTi can be found, respectively, in the Canon SX20 Manual (free pdf) or the online Canon XTi Manual.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon SX20 better than the Canon XTi or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (12 vs 10.1MP) with a 7% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4 vs DIGIC II).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/30p movies.
  • 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 XTi requires a separate lens.
  • 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 modern: Reflects 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the XTi launch.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel XTi:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • 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 heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2006).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (10 points each). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding 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 10:10 XTi

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX20 and the Canon XTi 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX20 and the XTi 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 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], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX20..+ +..73/100..4/5 Aug 2009 399ebay.com
2.
 
Canon XTi..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799ebay.com
3.
 
Canon T6i5/5....75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749ebay.com
4.
 
Canon T6s5/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649ebay.com
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799ebay.com
6.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549ebay.com
7.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+..76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799ebay.com
8.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429ebay.com
9.
 
Canon SX40..+....4.5/54/5 Sep 2011 429ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 1100D..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449ebay.com
11.
 
Canon SX303/5+ +....3.5/54/5 Sep 2010 429ebay.com
12.
 
Canon SX10..+ +......4/5 Sep 2008 399ebay.com
13.
 
Canon SX1..+ +..+..3.5/5 Sep 2008 599ebay.com
14.
 
Canon 1000D..82/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449ebay.com
15.
 
Canon XSi..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799ebay.com
16.
 
Canon XT..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899ebay.com
17.
 
Canon Rebel......+ +.... Aug 2003 899ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

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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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon SX20 vs Canon XTi

    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 XTi
    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 August 2006
    Launch Price USD 399 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Canon SX20 Canon XTi
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 22.2 x 14.8 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 328.56 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 26.7 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 12 Megapixels 10.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 pixels 3888 x 2592 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.53 μm 5.71 μm
    Pixel Density 42.74 MP/cm2 3.07 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC II
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 62
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 11.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 664
    Screen Specs Canon SX20 Canon XTi
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.49x
    Viewfinder Resolution 202k dots
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX20 Canon XTi
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.7 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards CF cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX20 Canon XTi
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port YES HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon SX20 Canon XTi
    Battery Type 4xAA NB-2LH
    Body Dimensions 123 x 88 x 87 mm
    (4.8 x 3.5 x 3.4 in)
    127 x 84 x 65 mm
    (5.0 x 3.3 x 2.6 in)
    Camera Weight 600 g (21.2 oz) 556 g (19.6 oz)
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    Check SX20 offers at
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    Check XTi offers at
    ebay.com

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