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Canon SX20 vs Panasonic FZ100

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2009 and July 2010. Both the SX20 and the FZ100 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic 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 Panasonic FZ100
Canon SX20 Panasonic FZ100
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 25-600mm f/2.8-5.2
12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 14 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
720/30p Video 1080/60i 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 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.7 shutter flaps per second 11 shutter flaps per second
123 x 88 x 87 mm, 600 g 124 x 82 x 92 mm, 540 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100? 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 Panasonic FZ100. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon SX20 vs Panasonic FZ100
Compare SX20 versus FZ100 top
Comparison SX20 or FZ100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic FZ100 is notably smaller (6 percent) than the Canon SX20. Moreover, the FZ100 is markedly lighter (10 percent) than the SX20. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX20 nor the FZ100 are weather-sealed.

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 399i
2.
 
Panasonic FZ100 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 540 g 410 n Jul 2010 499i
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 G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
6.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
7.
 
Canon SX40 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 600 g 380 n Sep 2011 429i
8.
 
Canon 1100D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
9.
 
Canon SX30 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 601 g 370 n Sep 2010 429i
10.
 
Canon SX10 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Sep 2008 399i
11.
 
Canon SX1 128 mm 88 mm 88 mm 615 g .. n Sep 2008 599i
12.
 
Canon 1000D 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449i
13.
 
Panasonic FZ200 125 mm 87 mm 110 mm 588 g 540 n Jul 2012 599i
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499i
15.
 
Panasonic G3 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 n May 2011 599i
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 somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the FZ100, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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.

Canon SX20 and Panasonic FZ100 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the FZ100 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 FZ100 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 FZ100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) 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 Panasonic FZ100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the FZ100 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.

SX20 versus FZ100 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 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.
 
Panasonic FZ100 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i........
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 G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
6.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
7.
 
Canon SX40 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p........
8.
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
9.
 
Canon SX30 1/2.3 14.0 4320 3240720/30p........
10.
 
Canon SX10 1/2.3 10.0 3648 2736480/30p........
11.
 
Canon SX1 1/2.3 10.0 3648 27361080/30p........
12.
 
Canon 1000D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none........
13.
 
Panasonic FZ200 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.110.811437
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240
15.
 
Panasonic G3 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756

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, but the FZ100 provides a better video resolution than the SX20. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SX20 and the FZ100 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 Panasonic FZ100, 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.
 
Panasonic FZ100202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0 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 G1 Xoptical n 3.0 922 Swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX50202 n 3.0 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX40202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 10.3 Y Y
8.
 
Canon 1100Doptical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon SX30202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.6 Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX10202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX1202 n 2.8 230 swivel n 1/3200s 4.0 Y Y
12.
 
Canon 1000Doptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Panasonic FZ2001312 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
15.
 
Panasonic G31440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
The FZ100 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 FZ100 have zoom lenses built in. The SX20 has a 28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 optic and the FZ100 offers a 25-600mm f/2.8-5.2 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Panasonic provides a wider angle of view at the short end, as well as more tele-photo reach at the long end than the Canon. Both cameras offer the same maximum aperture.

The SX20 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the FZ100 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 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.
 
Panasonic FZ100Ystereomono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon G1 XYstereomono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon SX40Ystereomono--YES2.0---
8.
 
Canon 1100DYstereomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon SX30Ystereomono--YES2.0---
10.
 
Canon SX10Ystereomono---2.0---
11.
 
Canon SX1Ystereomono--YES2.0---
12.
 
Canon 1000DY-----2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic FZ200YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo---mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic G3Ystereomono--mini2.0---

Both the SX20 and the FZ100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX20 was replaced by the Canon SX30, while the FZ100 was followed by the Panasonic FZ150. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Panasonic websites.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX20 and the Panasonic FZ100? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS:

  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/3200s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2009).

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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (14 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i 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 (460k vs 230k dots).
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 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: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the FZ100 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 3 points). 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 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 03:09 FZ100

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX20 and the Panasonic FZ100 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX20 or the FZ100 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.

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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.
 
Panasonic FZ100..+..4.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
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 G1 X5/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
6.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
7.
 
Canon SX40..+..4.5/54/5 Sep 2011 429i
8.
 
Canon 1100D..80/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
9.
 
Canon SX303/5+ +..3.5/54/5 Sep 2010 429i
10.
 
Canon SX10..+ +....4/5 Sep 2008 399i
11.
 
Canon SX1..+ ++..3.5/5 Sep 2008 599i
12.
 
Canon 1000D..82/100+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
13.
 
Panasonic FZ2003/5+ +80/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2012 599i
14.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499i
15.
 
Panasonic G33/5+ +75/1004.5/55/5 May 2011 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon SX20:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic FZ100:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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 Panasonic FZ100

    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 Panasonic FZ100
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 28-560mm f/2.8-5.7 25-600mm f/2.8-5.2
    Launch Date August 2009 July 2010
    Launch Price USD 399 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Canon SX20 Panasonic FZ100
    Sensor Technology CCD 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 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 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 Venus FHD
    Screen Specs Canon SX20 Panasonic FZ100
    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 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX20 Panasonic FZ100
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.7 shutter flaps/s 11 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 Panasonic FZ100
    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 Panasonic FZ100
    Battery Type 4xAA DMW-BMB9
    Body Dimensions 123 x 88 x 87 mm
    (4.8 x 3.5 x 3.4 in)
    124 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.9 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 600 g (21.2 oz) 540 g (19.0 oz)

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