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Canon SX420 vs Leica M8

The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Leica M8 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2016 and September 2006. The SX420 is a fixed lens compact, while the M8 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX420) and an APS-H (M8) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 19.9 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 10.4 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
Leica M8
Canon SX420   Leica M8
Fixed lens compact camera Rangefinder camera
24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 Leica M mount lenses
19.9 MP – 1/2.3" sensor 10.4 MP – APS-H sensor
720/25p Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 160-2,500
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 230k dots 3.0" LCD – 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.5 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
104 x 69 x 85 mm, 325 g 139 x 80 x 37 mm, 591 g
Canon SX420:
Check Ebay offers
Leica M8:
Check Ebay offers

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Leica M8? 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 SX420 and the Leica M8. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The SX420 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the M8 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).

Size Canon SX420 vs Leica M8
Compare SX420 versus M8 top
Comparison SX420 or M8 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M8 is considerably larger (55 percent) than the Canon SX420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX420 nor the M8 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX420 has a lens built in, whereas the M8 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 M8 and their specifications in the Leica M Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 299i
2.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
3.
 
Canon SX430 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 323 g 195 n Jan 2017 299 i
4.
 
Canon M100 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499i
5.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399i
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 106 mm 61 mm 42 mm 319 g 265 n Feb 2016 699i
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 379i
9.
 
Canon G5 X 112 mm 76 mm 44 mm 353 g 210 n Oct 2015 799i
10.
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279i
11.
 
Canon SX610 105 mm 61 mm 27 mm 191 g 270 n Jan 2015 249i
12.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349i
13.
 
Canon 400D 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
14.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
15.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
16.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
17.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599i
Note: 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 SX420 was launched at a lower price than the M8, 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 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. 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 SX420 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Leica M8 an APS-H sensor. The sensor area in the M8 is 1636 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.3. The sensor in the SX420 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the M8 offers a 3:2 aspect.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CCD sensors.

Canon SX420 and Leica M8 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX420 offers a higher resolution of 19.9 megapixels, compared with 10.4 MP of the Leica M8. 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 1.19μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). However, it should be noted that the SX420 is much more recent (by 9 years and 3 months) than the M8, 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 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 Leica M8 are 19.7 x 13.2 inches or 50 x 33.4 cm for good quality, 15.7 x 10.5 inches or 40 x 26.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.1 x 8.8 inches or 33.3 x 22.3 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 Leica M8 are ISO 160 to ISO 2500 (no boost).

SX420 versus M8 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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 3864720/25p20.311.780648
2.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
3.
 
Canon SX430 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p20.511.990049
4.
 
Canon M100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278
5.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.511.992450
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.811.926062
7.
 
Canon SX620 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p20.411.883849
8.
 
Canon SX720 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.311.881748
9.
 
Canon G5 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.811.922761
10.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p20.211.672047
11.
 
Canon SX610 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p20.211.671247
12.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.211.671247
13.
 
Canon 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
14.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
15.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
16.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
17.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The SX420 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the SX420 can use is 720/25p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the M8 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX420 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX420, the Leica M8, 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 SX420none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
2.
 
Leica M8optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0/s n n
3.
 
Canon SX430none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon M100none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.1/s Y n
5.
 
Canon SX730none n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark IInone n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 8.0/s Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX620none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5/s Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX720none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 5.9/s Y Y
9.
 
Canon G5 X2360 n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/2000s 5.9/s Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX410none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX610none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5/s Y Y
12.
 
Canon SX710none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0/s Y Y
13.
 
Canon 400Doptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
14.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s n n
15.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0/s n n
16.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
17.
 
Panasonic L10optical n2.5 / 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX420 has one, while the M8 does not. While the built-in flash of the SX420 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX420 and the M8 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 Leica M8 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 SX420-mono / mono---2.0YY-
2.
 
Leica M8Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX430-mono / mono---2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon M100-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
5.
 
Canon SX730-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX620-mono / mono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon SX720-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon G5 XYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
10.
 
Canon SX410-stereo / mono---2.0---
11.
 
Canon SX610-- / ---micro2.0YY-
12.
 
Canon SX710-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
13.
 
Canon 400DY- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
15.
 
Leica M9Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic L10Y- / ----2.0---

It is notable that the SX420 offers wifi support, while the M8 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the SX420 and the M8 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, 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 and Leica websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX420 or the Leica M8 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (19.9 vs 10.4MP) with a 36% higher linear resolution.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/25p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the M8 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (104x69mm vs 139x80mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the M8).
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • 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 affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 9 years and 3 months of technical progress since the M8 launch.

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Leica M8:

  • 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.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (2 vs 0.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with different optics.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2006).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SX420 comes out slightly ahead of the M8 (12 : 11 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

SX420 12:11 M8

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX420 or the M8 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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 SX420..........3/5 Jan 2016 299i
2.
 
Leica M8......+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
3.
 
Canon SX430........3.5/53.5/5 Jan 2017 299 i
4.
 
Canon M1003/5+....4/53.5/5 Aug 2017 499i
5.
 
Canon SX730..+....4/54/5 Apr 2017 399i
6.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II4.5/5+ +..81/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 699i
7.
 
Canon SX620..........4/5 May 2016 279 i
8.
 
Canon SX720..+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2016 379i
9.
 
Canon G5 X5/5+ +..78/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799i
10.
 
Canon SX410..o........ Feb 2015 279i
11.
 
Canon SX610........4/54/5 Jan 2015 249i
12.
 
Canon SX710..+....4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
13.
 
Canon 400D..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
14.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
15.
 
Leica M9........4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
16.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
17.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100..+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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
Leica M8:
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 SX420 vs Leica M8

    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 Leica M8
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens 24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2016 September 2006
    Launch Price USD 299 USD 5,499
    Sensor Specs Canon SX420 Leica M8
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor APS-H Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 27.0 x 18.0 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 486 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 32.4 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.3x
    Sensor Resolution 19.9 Megapixels 10.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5152 x 3864 pixels 3936 x 2630 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.19 μm 6.84 μm
    Pixel Density 70.91 MP/cm2 2.13 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 720/25p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 160 - 2,500 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 59
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 11.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 663
    Screen Specs Canon SX420 Leica M8
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX420 Leica M8
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 0.5 shutter flaps/s 2 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board 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 Leica M8
    External Flash no Hotshoe 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 Leica M8
    Battery Type NB-11LH BLI-312
    Body Dimensions 104 x 69 x 85 mm
    (4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
    139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 325 g (11.5 oz) 591 g (20.8 oz)
    Canon SX420:
    Check Ebay offers
    Leica M8:
    Check Ebay offers

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