Canon SX420 vs Olympus E-M5 III
The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2016 and October 2019. The SX420 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-M5 III is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX420) and a Four Thirds (E-M5 III) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 19.9 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 20.2 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 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon SX420 and the Olympus E-M5 III is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The SX420 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the E-M5 III is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M5 III is considerably larger (48 percent) than the Canon SX420. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-M5 III is splash and dust-proof, while the SX420 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX420 has a lens built in, whereas the E-M5 III 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 E-M5 III and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the SX420 gets 195 shots out of its NB-11LH battery, while the E-M5 III can take 310 images on a single charge of its BLS-50 power pack. The power pack in the E-M5 III can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|2.||Olympus E-M5 III||125 mm||85 mm||50 mm||414 g||310||Y||Oct 2019||1,199|
|3.||Canon SX430||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||323 g||195||n||Jan 2017||299|
|4.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|5.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark II||106 mm||61 mm||42 mm||319 g||265||n||Feb 2016||699|
|7.||Canon SX620||97 mm||57 mm||28 mm||182 g||295||n||May 2016||279|
|8.||Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379|
|9.||Canon G5 X||112 mm||76 mm||44 mm||353 g||210||n||Oct 2015||799|
|10.||Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279|
|11.||Canon SX610||105 mm||61 mm||27 mm||191 g||270||n||Jan 2015||249|
|12.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|16.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|17.||Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|Notes: 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 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 launched at a lower price than the E-M5 III, 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.
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 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 Olympus E-M5 III a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M5 III is 704 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
With 20.2MP, the E-M5 III offers a higher resolution than the SX420 (19.9MP), but the E-M5 III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 1.19μm for the SX420) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the E-M5 III is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 9 months) than the SX420, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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 E-M5 III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the SX420, the E-M5 III has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (80MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 64-25600.
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.
| DXO |
|2.||Olympus E-M5 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Canon G5 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|16.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|17.||Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
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 E-M5 III provides a better video resolution than the SX420. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 720/25p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M5 III has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX420 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX420 and Olympus E-M5 III in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|2.||Olympus E-M5 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon G5 X||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX420 has one, while the E-M5 III 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.The E-M5 III has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the SX420 does not have a selfie-screen.
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 E-M5 III 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 Olympus E-M5 III 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 E-M5 III write their files to SDXC cards. The E-M5 III supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 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 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Olympus E-M5 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Canon G5 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the E-M5 III has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The SX420 does not feature such a mic input.
The E-M5 III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Olympus. In contrast, the SX420 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the SX420 was succeeded 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 Olympus websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX420 and the Olympus E-M5 III? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS:
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-M5 III requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (104x69mm vs 125x85mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-M5 III).
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- 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 heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2016).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III:
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/25p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 0.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (310 versus 195) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-II standard.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 9 months of technical progress since the SX420 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M5 III is the clear winner of the contest (25 : 7 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX420 and the Olympus E-M5 III 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SX420 or the E-M5 III. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
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], 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.||Olympus E-M5 III||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||1,199|
|3.||Canon SX430||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2017||299|
|4.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|5.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|6.||Canon G7 X Mark II||4.5/5||+ +||81/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||699|
|7.||Canon SX620||..||..||..||..||4/5||May 2016||279|
|8.||Canon SX720||..||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379|
|9.||Canon G5 X||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||799|
|10.||Canon SX410||..||o||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279|
|11.||Canon SX610||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||249|
|12.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|16.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|17.||Panasonic GX8||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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.
Specifications: Canon SX420 vs Olympus E-M5 III
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||Olympus E-M5 III|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016||October 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 299||USD 1,199|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus E-M5 III|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||19.9 Megapixels||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5152 x 3864 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.19 μm||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||70.91 MP/cm2||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||720/25p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||64 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4+||TruePic VIII|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus E-M5 III|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus E-M5 III|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||0.5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|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||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus E-M5 III|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus E-M5 III|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||195 shots per charge||310 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
104 x 69 x 85 mm
(4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
125 x 85 x 50 mm
(4.9 x 3.3 x 2.0 in)
|Camera Weight||325 g (11.5 oz)||414 g (14.6 oz)|
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