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Canon SX420 vs Nikon 1 J4

The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Nikon 1 J4 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2016 and April 2014. The SX420 is a fixed lens compact, while the J4 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX420) and an one-inch (J4) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 19.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 18.2 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 Nikon 1 J4
Canon SX420 Nikon 1 J4
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 Nikon 1 mount lenses
19.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 18.2 MP, 1" Sensor
720/25p Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 160-12,800
No viewfinder, LCD framing No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 1037k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) no rear screen
0.5 shutter flaps per second 60 shutter flaps per second
195 shots per battery charge300 shots per battery charge
104 x 69 x 85 mm, 325 g 100 x 60 x 29 mm, 232 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Nikon 1 J4? 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 Nikon 1 J4. 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 J4 is available in four color-versions (black, silver, orange, white).

Size Canon SX420 vs Nikon 1 J4
Compare SX420 versus J4 top
Comparison SX420 or J4 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon 1 J4 is notably smaller (16 percent) than the Canon SX420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX420 nor the J4 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 J4 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also 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 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299 i
 
Nikon 1 J4 100 mm 60 mm 29 mm 232 g 300 n Apr 2014 549i
 
Canon M6 112 mm 68 mm 45 mm 390 g 295 n Feb 2017 779i
 
Canon M100 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499i
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399i
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 106 mm 61 mm 42 mm 319 g 265 n Feb 2016 699i
 
Canon SX620 97 mm 57 mm 28 mm 182 g 295 n May 2016 279 i
 
Canon SX720 110 mm 64 mm 36 mm 270 g 250 n Feb 2016 379i
 
Canon G5 X 112 mm 76 mm 44 mm 353 g 210 n Oct 2015 799i
 
Canon G9 X 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 209 g 220 n Oct 2015 529i
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279i
 
Canon SX610 105 mm 61 mm 27 mm 191 g 270 n Jan 2015 249i
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349i
 
Canon 100D 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549i
 
Nikon 1 J5 98 mm 60 mm 32 mm 231 g 250 n Apr 2015 399i
 
Nikon 1 V3 111 mm 65 mm 33 mm 381 g 310 n Mar 2014 799i
 
Panasonic G6 122 mm 85 mm 71 mm 390 g 340 n Apr 2013 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

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 lower price than the J4, 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX420 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Nikon 1 J4 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the J4 is 314 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 2.7. The sensor in the SX420 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the J4 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX420 and Nikon 1 J4 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX420 offers a higher resolution of 19.9 megapixels, compared with 18.2 MP of the Nikon 1 J4. 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 2.52μm for the J4). However, it should be noted that the SX420 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the J4, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage. 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 J4 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon 1 J4 are ISO 160 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

SX420 versus J4 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 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
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
 
Nikon 1 J4 1-inch 18.2 5232 34881080/60p20.810.742653
 
Canon M6 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
 
Canon M100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p........
 
Canon SX620 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p........
 
Canon SX720 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
 
Canon G5 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p........
 
Canon G9 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p........
 
Canon SX610 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p........
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
 
Canon 100D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
 
Nikon 1 J5 1-inch 20.7 5568 37124K/15p21.112.047965
 
Nikon 1 V3 1-inch 18.2 5232 34881080/60p20.810.738452
 
Panasonic G6 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the J4 provides a better video resolution than the SX420. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 720/25p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SX420 and the J4 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX420 and Nikon 1 J4 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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
 
Canon SX420none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
 
Nikon 1 J4none n 3.0 1037 Fixed Y 1/4000s 60.0 Y n
 
Canon M6optional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 9.0 Y n
 
Canon M100none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.1 Y n
 
Canon SX730none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
 
Canon G7 X Mark IInone n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 8.0 Y Y
 
Canon SX620none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5 Y Y
 
Canon SX720none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
 
Canon G5 X2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/2000s 5.9 Y Y
 
Canon G9 Xnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 6.0 Y Y
 
Canon SX410none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
 
Canon SX610none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5 Y Y
 
Canon SX710none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 Y Y
 
Canon 100Doptical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
 
Nikon 1 J5none n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 60.0 Y n
 
Nikon 1 V3optional n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 60.0 Y n
 
Panasonic G61440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y n

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The J4 has a touchscreen, while the SX420 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the J4 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).

The SX420 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the J4 uses micro SDXC cards. The J4 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the SX420 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 Nikon 1 J4 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
 
Canon SX420-monomono---2.0YY-
 
Nikon 1 J4-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Canon M6YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Canon M100-stereomono--mini2.0YYY
 
Canon SX730-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
 
Canon G7 X Mark II-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon SX620-monomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon SX720-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon G5 XYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon G9 X-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon SX410-stereomono---2.0---
 
Canon SX610-----micro2.0YY-
 
Canon SX710-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon 100DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon 1 J5-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Nikon 1 V3-stereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Panasonic G6YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-

The SX420 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the J4 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the J4 was succeeded by the Nikon 1 J5. 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.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Canon SX420 better than the Nikon 1 J4 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS:

  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the J4 requires a separate lens.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • 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: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 8 months after the J4).

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Advantages of the Nikon 1 J4:

  • 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.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/25p).
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (60 vs 0.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More compact: Is smaller (100x60mm vs 104x69mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (300 versus 195) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2014).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the J4 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 5 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 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 05:15 J4

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX420 and the Nikon 1 J4 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 SX420 or the J4 perform in practice. 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 expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon SX420........3/5 Jan 2016 299 i
 
Nikon 1 J4....4.5/5..4/5 Apr 2014 549i
 
Canon M6..80/1004/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 779i
 
Canon M100+..4/5..3.5/5 Aug 2017 499i
 
Canon SX730+..4/5..4/5 Apr 2017 399i
 
Canon G7 X Mark II+ +81/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2016 699i
 
Canon SX620........4/5 May 2016 279 i
 
Canon SX720+..4/5..4.5/5 Feb 2016 379i
 
Canon G5 X+ +78/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799i
 
Canon G9 X+ +..4.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529i
 
Canon SX410o........ Feb 2015 279i
 
Canon SX610....4/5..4/5 Jan 2015 249i
 
Canon SX710+..4/5..3.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
 
Canon 100D+78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
 
Nikon 1 J5....4.5/54/54.5/5 Apr 2015 399i
 
Nikon 1 V3..76/1004.5/53/54/5 Mar 2014 799i
 
Panasonic G6+ +..5/5..4.5/5 Apr 2013 599i
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 SX420:
Check Amazon price
Nikon 1 J4:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon SX420 vs Nikon 1 J4

    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 Nikon 1 J4
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 Nikon 1 mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2016 April 2014
    Launch Price USD 299 USD 549
    Sensor Specs Canon SX420 Nikon 1 J4
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor 1" Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 13.2 x 8.8 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 116.16 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 15.9 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 2.7x
    Sensor Resolution 19.9 Megapixels 18.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5152 x 3864 pixels 5232 x 3488 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.19 μm 2.52 μm
    Pixel Density 70.91 MP/cm2 15.71 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 720/25p Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 160 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4+ Expeed 4
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 53
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 20.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 426
    Screen Specs Canon SX420 Nikon 1 J4
    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 1037k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX420 Nikon 1 J4
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF On-Sensor Phase-detect
    Continuous Shooting 0.5 shutter flaps/s 60 shutter flaps/s
    Electronic Shutterno E-Shutterup to 1/16000s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards micro or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX420 Nikon 1 J4
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Body Specs Canon SX420 Nikon 1 J4
    Battery Type NB-11LH EN-EL22
    Battery Life (CIPA)195 shots per charge300 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 104 x 69 x 85 mm
    (4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
    100 x 60 x 29 mm
    (3.9 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)
    Camera Weight 325 g (11.5 oz) 232 g (8.2 oz)

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