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Canon SX420 vs SX500

The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2016 and August 2012. Both the SX420 and the SX500 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The SX420 has a resolution of 19.9 megapixels, whereas the SX500 provides 15.9 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon SX420
versus
Canon SX500
Canon SX420   Canon SX500
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8
19.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
720/25p Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 80-1,600
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)
0.5 shutter flaps per second 0.8 shutter flaps per second
195 shots per battery charge195 shots per battery charge
104 x 69 x 85 mm, 325 g 104 x 70 x 80 mm, 341 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS? 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 SX420 and the Canon SX500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The SX420 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the SX500 is only available in black.

Size Canon SX420 vs Canon SX500
Compare SX420 versus SX500 top
Comparison SX420 or SX500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SX500 is somewhat larger (1 percent) than the Canon SX420. Moreover, the SX500 is markedly heavier (5 percent) than the SX420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX420 nor the SX500 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 SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299 i
2.
 
Canon SX500 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 341 g 195 n Aug 2012 329 i
3.
 
Canon SX740 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 299 g 265 n Jul 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon SX430 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 323 g 195 n Jan 2017 299 i
5.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399 i
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 106 mm 61 mm 42 mm 319 g 265 n Feb 2016 699 i
7.
 
Canon SX620 97 mm 57 mm 28 mm 182 g 295 n May 2016 279 i
8.
 
Canon SX720 110 mm 64 mm 36 mm 270 g 250 n Feb 2016 379 i
9.
 
Canon G5 X 112 mm 76 mm 44 mm 353 g 210 n Oct 2015 799 i
10.
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279 i
11.
 
Canon SX610 105 mm 61 mm 27 mm 191 g 270 n Jan 2015 249 i
12.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349 i
13.
 
Canon SX510 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 349 g 250 n Aug 2013 249 i
14.
 
Panasonic ZS70 112 mm 67 mm 41 mm 322 g 380 n Apr 2017 449 i
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The SX420 was somewhat cheaper (by 9 percent) than the SX500 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.

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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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.

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.

In terms of chip-set technology, the SX420 uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4+) than the SX500 (DIGIC 4), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon SX420 and Canon SX500 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the SX420 offers a higher resolution of 19.9 megapixels, compared with 15.9 MP of the SX500. This megapixels advantage translates into a 12 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the SX420 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.19μm versus 1.33μm for the SX500). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the SX420 is much more recent (by 3 years and 4 months) than the SX500, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that 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 Canon SX420 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX420 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.8 x 19.3 inches or 65.4 x 49.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.6 x 15.5 inches or 52.3 x 39.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.2 x 12.9 inches or 43.6 x 32.7 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX500 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 SX420 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS are ISO 80 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

SX420 versus SX500 MP

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 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 SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p...... ..
2.
 
Canon SX500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p...... ..
3.
 
Canon SX740 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p...... ..
4.
 
Canon SX430 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p...... ..
5.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p...... ..
7.
 
Canon SX620 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p...... ..
8.
 
Canon SX720 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
9.
 
Canon G5 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p...... ..
10.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p...... ..
11.
 
Canon SX610 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p...... ..
12.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
13.
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p...... ..
14.
 
Panasonic ZS70 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p19.110.6106 36

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the SX500 provides a faster frame rate than the SX420. It can shoot movie footage at 720/30p, while the SX420 is limited to 720/25p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SX420 and the SX500 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX420, the Canon SX500, 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 SX420none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
2.
 
Canon SX500none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
3.
 
Canon SX740none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 10.0 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX430none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX730none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark IInone n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 8.0 Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX620none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX720none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
9.
 
Canon G5 X2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/2000s 5.9 Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX410none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX610none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5 Y Y
12.
 
Canon SX710none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 Y Y
13.
 
Canon SX510none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8 Y Y
14.
 
Panasonic ZS701166 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y

Both the SX420 and the SX500 have zoom lenses built in. The SX420 has a 24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 optic and the SX500 offers a 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the SX420 and SX500 provide the same view at the wide-angle end, but the SX500 has less tele-photo reach at the long end. The SX500 offers the faster maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX420 and the SX500 write their files to SDXC 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 SX420 IS and Canon PowerShot SX500 IS 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 SX420-monomono---2.0YY-
2.
 
Canon SX500-stereomono---2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX740-stereomono--micro2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Canon SX430-monomono---2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon SX730-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX620-monomono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon SX720-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon G5 XYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
10.
 
Canon SX410-stereomono---2.0---
11.
 
Canon SX610-----micro2.0YY-
12.
 
Canon SX710-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
13.
 
Canon SX510-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
14.
 
Panasonic ZS70-stereomono--micro2.0Y--

It is notable that the SX420 offers wifi support, while the SX500 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the SX420 and the SX500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX500 was replaced by the Canon SX510, while the SX420 was followed by the Canon SX430. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon SX420 better than the Canon SX500 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (19.9 vs 15.9MP) with a 12% higher linear resolution.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4+ vs DIGIC 4).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/1600s) to freeze action.
  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 4 months of technical progress since the SX500 launch.


Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS:

  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (720/30p versus 720/25p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (0.8 vs 0.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/3.4 vs f/3.5).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2012).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SX420 emerges as the winner of the contest (7 : 5 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.

SX420 07:05 SX500

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX420 and the Canon SX500 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX420 or the SX500 perform in practice. 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], 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 SX420........3/5 Jan 2016 299 i
2.
 
Canon SX500..+ +..4/54/5 Aug 2012 329 i
3.
 
Canon SX740..+..4/54/5 Jul 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon SX430......3.5/53.5/5 Jan 2017 299 i
5.
 
Canon SX730..+..4/54/5 Apr 2017 399 i
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II4.5/5+ +81/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 699 i
7.
 
Canon SX620........4/5 May 2016 279 i
8.
 
Canon SX720..+..4/54.5/5 Feb 2016 379 i
9.
 
Canon G5 X5/5+ +78/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799 i
10.
 
Canon SX410..o...... Feb 2015 279 i
11.
 
Canon SX610......4/54/5 Jan 2015 249 i
12.
 
Canon SX710..+..4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349 i
13.
 
Canon SX510..+ +..4.5/54/5 Aug 2013 249 i
14.
 
Panasonic ZS70..+ +..4/54/5 Apr 2017 449 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon SX420:
Check Ebay offers
Canon SX500:
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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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 SX420 vs Canon SX500

    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 SX420 Canon SX500
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8
    Launch Date January 2016 August 2012
    Launch Price USD 299 USD 329
    Sensor Specs Canon SX420 Canon SX500
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    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 19.9 Megapixels 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5152 x 3864 pixels 4608 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.19 μm 1.33 μm
    Pixel Density 70.91 MP/cm2 56.73 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 720/25p Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 80 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4+ DIGIC 4
    Screen Specs Canon SX420 Canon SX500
    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 SX420 Canon SX500
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.5 shutter flaps/s 0.8 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-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 SX420 Canon SX500
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Body Specs Canon SX420 Canon SX500
    Battery Type NB-11LH NB-6L
    Battery Life (CIPA)195 shots per charge195 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 104 x 69 x 85 mm
    (4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
    104 x 70 x 80 mm
    (4.1 x 2.8 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 325 g (11.5 oz) 341 g (12.0 oz)

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