Canon SX400 vs Nikon D3500
The Canon PowerShot SX400 IS and the Nikon D3500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2014 and August 2018. The SX400 is a fixed lens compact, while the D3500 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX400) and an APS-C (D3500) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX400 IS and the Nikon D3500? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon SX400 and the Nikon D3500 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3500 is considerably larger (68 percent) than the Canon SX400. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX400 nor the D3500 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX400 has a lens built in, whereas the D3500 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 D3500 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon SX400||104 mm||69 mm||80 mm||313 g||190||n||Jul 2014||249|
|2.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||365 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429|
|3.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|5.||Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279|
|6.||Canon SX530||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||210||n||Jan 2015||429|
|7.||Canon SX610||105 mm||61 mm||27 mm||191 g||270||n||Jan 2015||249|
|8.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|9.||Canon SX700||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||250||n||Feb 2014||349|
|10.||Canon SX600||104 mm||61 mm||26 mm||188 g||290||n||Jan 2014||249|
|11.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|12.||Canon SX510||104 mm||70 mm||80 mm||349 g||250||n||Aug 2013||249|
|13.||Fujifilm X-A7||119 mm||68 mm||41 mm||320 g||440||n||Sep 2019||499|
|14.||Fujifilm X-E3||121 mm||74 mm||43 mm||337 g||350||n||Sep 2017||899|
|15.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|16.||Nikon L840||113 mm||78 mm||96 mm||538 g||590||n||Feb 2015||299|
|17.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SX400 was launched at a lower price than the D3500, despite having a lens built in. 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.
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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX400 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Nikon D3500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D3500 is 1211 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the SX400 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D3500 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24MP, the D3500 offers a higher resolution than the SX400 (15.9MP), but the D3500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 1.33μm for the SX400) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D3500 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 1 month) than the SX400, and its sensor will 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 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 Nikon D3500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX400 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot SX400 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3500 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the D3500 provides a better video resolution than the SX400. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D3500 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX400 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX400 and Nikon D3500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX400 and the D3500 write their files to SDXC cards. The D3500 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the SX400 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 Nikon D3500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D3500 has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The SX400 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
The D3500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the SX400 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the SX400 was succeeded by the Canon SX410. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX400 better than the Nikon D3500 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX400 IS:
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D3500 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (104x69mm vs 124x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D3500).
- 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 available for much longer (launched in July 2014).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3500:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
- 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.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/30p).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/1600s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 0.8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1550 versus 190) out of a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 1 month of technical progress since the SX400 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3500 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 6 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX400 and the Nikon D3500 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 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 SX400 or the D3500 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.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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.
|1.||Canon SX400||..||+||..||..||..||Jul 2014||249|
|2.||Nikon D3500||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429|
|3.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299|
|5.||Canon SX410||..||o||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279|
|6.||Canon SX530||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||429|
|7.||Canon SX610||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||249|
|8.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|9.||Canon SX700||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||349|
|10.||Canon SX600||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2014||249|
|11.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|12.||Canon SX510||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2013||249|
|13.||Fujifilm X-A7||3/5||..||81/100||4/5||3.5/5||Sep 2019||499|
|14.||Fujifilm X-E3||4.5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2017||899|
|15.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|16.||Nikon L840||..||+ +||..||3.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||299|
|17.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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.
Specifications: Canon SX400 vs Nikon D3500
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 Model||Canon SX400||Nikon D3500|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||24-720mm f/3.4-5.8||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2014||August 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 249||USD 429|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX400||Nikon D3500|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4+||EXPEED 4|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX400||Nikon D3500|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX400||Nikon D3500|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||0.8 shutter flaps/s||5 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||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX400||Nikon D3500|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon SX400||Nikon D3500|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||190 shots per charge||1550 shots per charge|
104 x 69 x 80 mm
(4.1 x 2.7 x 3.1 in)
124 x 97 x 70 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
|Camera Weight||313 g (11.0 oz)||365 g (12.9 oz)|
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