Canon SX420 vs Nikon D5100
The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Nikon D5100 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and April 2011. The SX420 is a fixed lens compact, while the D5100 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX420) and an APS-C (D5100) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 19.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 16.1 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 SX420 IS and the Nikon D5100? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon SX420 and the Nikon D5100. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The SX420 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the D5100 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5100 is considerably larger (73 percent) than the Canon SX420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX420 nor the D5100 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 D5100 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 D5100 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|2.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|3.||Canon SX430||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||323 g||195||n||Jan 2017||299|
|4.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|5.||Canon G7 X Mark II||106 mm||61 mm||42 mm||319 g||265||n||Feb 2016||699|
|6.||Canon SX620||97 mm||57 mm||28 mm||182 g||295||n||May 2016||279|
|7.||Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379|
|8.||Canon G5 X||112 mm||76 mm||44 mm||353 g||210||n||Oct 2015||799|
|9.||Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279|
|10.||Canon SX610||105 mm||61 mm||27 mm||191 g||270||n||Jan 2015||249|
|11.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|12.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||470 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|13.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|14.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|15.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|16.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|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 SX420 was launched at a lower price than the D5100, 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 Nikon D5100 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D5100 is 1225 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 D5100 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX420 offers a higher resolution of 19.9 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the Nikon D5100. 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 4.80μm for the D5100). However, it should be noted that the SX420 is much more recent (by 4 years and 9 months) than the D5100, 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 Nikon D5100 are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 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 Nikon D5100 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
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.
|5.||Canon G7 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Canon G5 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
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 D5100 provides a better video resolution than the SX420. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the Canon is limited to 720/25p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D5100 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 Nikon D5100, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon SX420||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5||Y||Y|
|2.||Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|3.||Canon SX430||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon SX730||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/3200s||5.9||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon SX620||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/2000s||2.5||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon SX720||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||5.9||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon G5 X||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon SX410||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon SX610||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/2000s||2.5||Y||Y|
|11.||Canon SX710||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||6.0||Y||Y|
|12.||Nikon D5500||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D5200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||1166||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
The Nikon D5100 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX420 and the D5100 write their files to SDXC cards. The D5100 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.
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 D5100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon SX420||-||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|2.||Nikon D5100||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon SX430||-||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon SX730||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon G7 X Mark II||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon SX620||-||mono / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon SX720||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon G5 X||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Canon SX410||-||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon SX610||-||- / -||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Canon SX710||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Nikon D5500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D5300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D5200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D3100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the SX420 offers wifi support, while the D5100 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the SX420 and the D5100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D5100 was replaced by the Nikon D5200, 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 Nikon websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX420 and the Nikon D5100? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (19.9 vs 16.1MP) with a 9% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D5100 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (104x69mm vs 128x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D5100).
- 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 at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 9 months of technical progress since the D5100 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5100:
- 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.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/25p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- 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).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 0.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (660 versus 195) out of a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in April 2011).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5100 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 10 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX420 and the Nikon D5100 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 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 D5100. 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.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
|1.||Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299|
|2.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|3.||Canon SX430||..||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2017||299|
|4.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|5.||Canon G7 X Mark II||4.5/5||+ +||..||81/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||699|
|6.||Canon SX620||..||..||..||..||..||4/5||May 2016||279|
|7.||Canon SX720||..||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379|
|8.||Canon G5 X||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||799|
|9.||Canon SX410||..||o||..||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279|
|10.||Canon SX610||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||249|
|11.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|12.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|13.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|14.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|15.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|16.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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.
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.
- Canon 30D vs Canon SX420
- Canon 350D vs Nikon D5100
- Canon SL2 vs Canon SX420
- Canon SX420 vs Fujifilm X10
- Canon SX420 vs Nikon B500
- Canon SX420 vs Olympus E-M10 III
- Canon SX420 vs Olympus E-M5
- Fujifilm X-A10 vs Nikon D5100
- Fujifilm X-E2S vs Nikon D5100
- Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D60
- Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D610
- Nikon D5100 vs Nikon Z50
Specifications: Canon SX420 vs Nikon D5100
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 SX420||Nikon D5100|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016||April 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 299||USD 749|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX420||Nikon D5100|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||23.6 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||370.52 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||28.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||19.9 Megapixels||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5152 x 3864 pixels||4928 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.19 μm||4.80 μm|
|Pixel Density||70.91 MP/cm2||4.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/25p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4+||EXPEED 2|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1183|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX420||Nikon D5100|
|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||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX420||Nikon D5100|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||0.5 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|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||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX420||Nikon D5100|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Canon SX420||Nikon D5100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||195 shots per charge||660 shots per charge|
104 x 69 x 85 mm
(4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
128 x 97 x 79 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||325 g (11.5 oz)||560 g (19.8 oz)|
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