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Canon SX420 vs Leica X1

The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Leica X1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and September 2009. Both the SX420 and the X1 are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX420) and an APS-C (X1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 19.9 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 12.2 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 X1
Canon SX420   Leica X1
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 36mm f/2.8
19.9 MP – 1/2.3" sensor 12.2 MP – APS-C sensor
720/25p Video no 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 – 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
195 shots per battery charge260 shots per battery charge
104 x 69 x 85 mm, 325 g 124 x 60 x 32 mm, 306 g
Canon SX420:
Check Ebay offers
Leica X1:
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 X1? 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 X1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The SX420 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the X1 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).

Size Canon SX420 vs Leica X1
Compare SX420 versus X1 top
Comparison SX420 or X1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica X1 is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Canon SX420. However, the X1 is markedly lighter (6 percent) than the SX420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX420 nor the X1 are weather-sealed.

Concerning battery life, the SX420 gets 195 shots out of its NB-11LH battery, while the X1 can take 260 images on a single charge of its BP-DC8 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299i
2.
 
Leica X1 124 mm 60 mm 32 mm 306 g 260 n Sep 2009 1,995i
3.
 
Canon SX430 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 323 g 195 n Jan 2017 299 i
4.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399i
5.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 106 mm 61 mm 42 mm 319 g 265 n Feb 2016 699i
6.
 
Canon SX620 97 mm 57 mm 28 mm 182 g 295 n May 2016 279 i
7.
 
Canon SX720 110 mm 64 mm 36 mm 270 g 250 n Feb 2016 379i
8.
 
Canon G5 X 112 mm 76 mm 44 mm 353 g 210 n Oct 2015 799i
9.
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279i
10.
 
Canon SX610 105 mm 61 mm 27 mm 191 g 270 n Jan 2015 249i
11.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349i
12.
 
Fujifilm X100 126 mm 75 mm 54 mm 445 g 300 n Sep 2010 1,199i
13.
 
Leica D-LUX 6 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Sep 2012 699i
14.
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
15.
 
Leica D-LUX 5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Sep 2010 699i
16.
 
Panasonic ZS70 112 mm 67 mm 41 mm 322 g 380 n Apr 2017 449i
17.
 
Panasonic LX5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Jul 2010 499i
Note: 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 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 markedly lower price (by 85 percent) than the X1, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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 X1 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the X1 is 1221 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 SX420 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the X1 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX420 and Leica X1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX420 offers a higher resolution of 19.9 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the Leica X1. 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 5.51μm for the X1). However, it should be noted that the SX420 is much more recent (by 6 years and 3 months) than the X1, 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 the SX420 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its 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 X1 are 21.4 x 14.3 inches or 54.3 x 36.3 cm for good quality, 17.1 x 11.4 inches or 43.4 x 29 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.5 inches or 36.2 x 24.2 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 X1 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

SX420 versus X1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.

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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 X1 APS-C 12.2 4272 2856none22.611.8103769
3.
 
Canon SX430 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p20.511.990049
4.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.511.992450
5.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.811.926062
6.
 
Canon SX620 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p20.411.883849
7.
 
Canon SX720 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.311.881748
8.
 
Canon G5 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.811.922761
9.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p20.211.672047
10.
 
Canon SX610 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p20.211.671247
11.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.211.671247
12.
 
Fujifilm X100 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/30p22.912.4100173
13.
 
Leica D-LUX 6 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p19.810.8-30343
14.
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none23.212.4127574
15.
 
Leica D-LUX 5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.510.4-58339
16.
 
Panasonic ZS70 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p19.110.610636
17.
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The SX420 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the X1 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. The SX420 and the X1 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 SX420 and Leica X1 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
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 X1none n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon SX430none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX730none n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9/s Y Y
5.
 
Canon G7 X Mark IInone n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 8.0/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX620none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5/s Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX720none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 5.9/s Y Y
8.
 
Canon G5 X2360 n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/2000s 5.9/s Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX410none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5/s Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX610none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5/s Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX710none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0/s Y Y
12.
 
Fujifilm X1001440 n2.8 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
13.
 
Leica D-LUX 6optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Leica X2optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
15.
 
Leica D-LUX 5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y Y
16.
 
Panasonic ZS701166 n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
17.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The SX420 is equipped with a zoom lens, while the X1 comes with a built-in prime. The SX420 has a 24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 optic and the X1 offers a 36mm f/2.8 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Canon provides a wider angle of view at the short end, as well as more tele-photo reach at the long end than the Leica. The X1 offers the faster maximum aperture.

The SX420 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the X1 uses SDHC 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 X1 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 X1Y- / ---mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX430-mono / mono---2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX730-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
5.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX620-mono / mono--micro2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX720-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon G5 XYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon SX410-stereo / mono---2.0---
10.
 
Canon SX610-- / ---micro2.0YY-
11.
 
Canon SX710-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
12.
 
Fujifilm X100Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
13.
 
Leica D-LUX 6Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Leica X2Y- / ---mini2.0---
15.
 
Leica D-LUX 5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic ZS70-stereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
17.
 
Panasonic LX5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the SX420 offers wifi support, while the X1 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the SX420 and the X1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The X1 was replaced by the Leica X2, 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX420 better than the Leica X1 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (19.9 vs 12.2MP) with a 25% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/25p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • 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 into a lower priced category (85 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 3 months of technical progress since the X1 launch.

ilogo

Advantages of the Leica X1:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • 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.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 0.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/2.8 vs f/3.5).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (260 versus 195) out of a single battery charge.
  • 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 2009).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (11 points each). 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 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 11:11 X1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX420 and the Leica X1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings 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 SX420 or the X1. 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 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], 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 X13/5....+..4/5 Sep 2009 1,995i
3.
 
Canon SX430........3.5/53.5/5 Jan 2017 299 i
4.
 
Canon SX730..+....4/54/5 Apr 2017 399i
5.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II4.5/5+ +..81/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 699i
6.
 
Canon SX620..........4/5 May 2016 279 i
7.
 
Canon SX720..+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2016 379i
8.
 
Canon G5 X5/5+ +..78/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799i
9.
 
Canon SX410..o........ Feb 2015 279i
10.
 
Canon SX610........4/54/5 Jan 2015 249i
11.
 
Canon SX710..+....4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
12.
 
Fujifilm X1003/5....75/1004/55/5 Sep 2010 1,199i
13.
 
Leica D-LUX 6........4/54/5 Sep 2012 699i
14.
 
Leica X23/5......3/54/5 May 2012 1,995i
15.
 
Leica D-LUX 5........4.5/54/5 Sep 2010 699i
16.
 
Panasonic ZS70..+ +....4/54/5 Apr 2017 449i
17.
 
Panasonic LX54/5+..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon SX420:
Check Ebay offers
Leica X1:
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 Leica X1

    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 X1
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 36mm f/2.8
    Launch Date January 2016 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 299 USD 1,995
    Sensor Specs Canon SX420 Leica X1
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 19.9 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5152 x 3864 pixels 4272 x 2856 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.19 μm 5.51 μm
    Pixel Density 70.91 MP/cm2 3.30 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/25p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    Screen Specs Canon SX420 Leica X1
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder no viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX420 Leica X1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX420 Leica X1
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Body Specs Canon SX420 Leica X1
    Battery Type NB-11LH BP-DC8
    Battery Life (CIPA)195 shots per charge260 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 104 x 69 x 85 mm
    (4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
    124 x 60 x 32 mm
    (4.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 325 g (11.5 oz) 306 g (10.8 oz)
    Canon SX420:
    Check Ebay offers
    Leica X1:
    Check Ebay offers

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