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Canon SX400 vs SX520

The Canon PowerShot SX400 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS are two digital cameras that were officially introduced in July 2014. Both the SX400 and the SX520 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon SX400 versus Canon SX520
Canon SX400 Canon SX520
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 24-1008mm f/3.4-6
15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
720/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-3,200
No viewfinder, LCD framing No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 461k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.8 shutter flaps per second 1.6 shutter flaps per second
190 shots per battery charge210 shots per battery charge
104 x 69 x 80 mm, 313 g 120 x 82 x 92 mm, 441 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX400 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX520 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 physical size and weight of the Canon SX400 and the Canon SX520 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon SX400 vs Canon SX520
Compare SX400 versus SX520 top
Comparison SX400 or SX520 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SX520 is notably larger (37 percent) than the Canon SX400. Moreover, the SX520 is substantially heavier (41 percent) than the SX400. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX400 nor the SX520 are weather-sealed.

Concerning battery life, the SX400 gets 190 shots out of its NB-11LH battery, while the SX520 can take 210 images on a single charge of its NB-6LH power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 SX400 104 mm 69 mm 80 mm 313 g 190 n Jul 2014 249i
2.
 
Canon SX520 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 441 g 210 n Jul 2014 399i
3.
 
Canon SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299i
4.
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279i
5.
 
Canon SX530 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 210 n Jan 2015 429i
6.
 
Canon SX610 105 mm 61 mm 27 mm 191 g 270 n Jan 2015 249i
7.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349i
8.
 
Canon SX700 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 250 n Feb 2014 349i
9.
 
Canon SX600 104 mm 61 mm 26 mm 188 g 290 n Jan 2014 249i
10.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
11.
 
Canon T5 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
12.
 
Canon SX510 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 349 g 250 n Aug 2013 249i
13.
 
Nikon L840 113 mm 78 mm 96 mm 538 g 590 n Feb 2015 299i
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 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 SX400 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the SX520, which puts it into a different market segment. 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. 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. 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. 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 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.

Canon SX400 and Canon SX520 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 15.9 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the SX400 and the SX520 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. Moreover, the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. 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 SX400 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

SX400 versus SX520 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 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 SX400 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p........
2.
 
Canon SX520 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
3.
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
4.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p........
5.
 
Canon SX530 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
6.
 
Canon SX610 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p........
7.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
8.
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
9.
 
Canon SX600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
10.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
11.
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
12.
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p........
13.
 
Nikon L840 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i........

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 SX520 provides a better video resolution than the SX400. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the SX400 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 SX400 and the SX520 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX400 and Canon SX520 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 SX400none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
2.
 
Canon SX520none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
3.
 
Canon SX420none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX410none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX530none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX610none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5 Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX710none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX700none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5 Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX600none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 3.9 Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX60922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
11.
 
Canon T5optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon SX510none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8 Y Y
13.
 
Nikon L840none n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y

Both the SX400 and the SX520 have zoom lenses built in. The SX400 has a 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 optic and the SX520 offers a 24-1008mm f/3.4-6 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the SX400 and SX520 provide the same view at the wide-angle end, but the SX520 has more tele-photo reach at the long end. Both cameras offer the same maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX400 and the SX520 write their files to 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 SX400 IS and Canon PowerShot SX520 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 SX400-stereomono---2.0---
2.
 
Canon SX520-stereomono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX420-monomono---2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX410-stereomono---2.0---
5.
 
Canon SX530-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX610-----micro2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX710-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon SX700-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon SX600-monomono--micro2.0YY-
10.
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
11.
 
Canon T5Ymonomono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Canon SX510-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
13.
 
Nikon L840-stereomono--micro2.0YY-

Both the SX400 and the SX520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX400 was replaced by the Canon SX410, while the SX520 was followed by the Canon SX530. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX400 or the Canon SX520 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX400 IS:

  • More compact: Is smaller (104x69mm vs 120x82mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 128g or 29 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).


Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS:

  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/30p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/2000s vs 1/1600s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (1.6 vs 0.8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (210 versus 190) out of a single battery charge.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the SX520 emerges as the winner of the match-up (6 : 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 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.

SX400 03:06 SX520

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX400 and the Canon SX520 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SX400 or the SX520. 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 SX400..+...... Jul 2014 249i
2.
 
Canon SX520..+..3.5/53.5/5 Jul 2014 399i
3.
 
Canon SX420........3/5 Jan 2016 299i
4.
 
Canon SX410..o...... Feb 2015 279i
5.
 
Canon SX530..+ +..4/54/5 Jan 2015 429i
6.
 
Canon SX610......4/54/5 Jan 2015 249i
7.
 
Canon SX710..+..4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
8.
 
Canon SX700..+ +..4/54/5 Feb 2014 349i
9.
 
Canon SX600..+..4/54/5 Jan 2014 249i
10.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
11.
 
Canon T53/5+..4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
12.
 
Canon SX510..+ +..4.5/54/5 Aug 2013 249i
13.
 
Nikon L840..+ +..3.5/54/5 Feb 2015 299i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon SX400:
Check Ebay offers
Canon SX520:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Canon SX400 vs Canon SX520

    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 SX400 Canon SX520
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 24-1008mm f/3.4-6
    Launch Date July 2014 July 2014
    Launch Price USD 249 USD 399
    Sensor Specs Canon SX400 Canon SX520
    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 15.9 Megapixels 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4608 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 1.33 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 56.73 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4+ DIGIC 4+
    Screen Specs Canon SX400 Canon SX520
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 461k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX400 Canon SX520
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.8 shutter flaps/s 1.6 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX400 Canon SX520
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon SX400 Canon SX520
    Battery Type NB-11LH NB-6LH
    Battery Life (CIPA)190 shots per charge210 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 104 x 69 x 80 mm
    (4.1 x 2.7 x 3.1 in)
    120 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 313 g (11.0 oz) 441 g (15.6 oz)

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