Canon SX420 vs Olympus XZ-1
The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Olympus XZ-1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2016 and January 2011. Both the SX420 and the XZ-1 are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX420) and a 1/1.7-inch (XZ-1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 19.9 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10.1 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 Olympus XZ-1? 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 Olympus XZ-1. 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 XZ-1 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SX420 and the Olympus XZ-1 are of equal size. However, the XZ-1 is markedly lighter (15 percent) than the SX420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX420 nor the XZ-1 are weather-sealed.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 XZ-1||111 mm||65 mm||42 mm||275 g||320||n||Jan 2011||499|
|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.||Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|14.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|17.||Panasonic LX5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Jul 2010||499|
|Notes: 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 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 markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the XZ-1, 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 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 Olympus XZ-1 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the XZ-1 is 64 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 4.4. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX420 offers a higher resolution of 19.9 megapixels, compared with 10.1 MP of the Olympus XZ-1. 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 2.13μm for the XZ-1). However, it should be noted that the SX420 is much more recent (by 5 years) than the XZ-1, 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 Olympus XZ-1 are 18.3 x 13.8 inches or 46.5 x 35 cm for good quality, 14.7 x 11 inches or 37.2 x 28 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.2 inches or 31 x 23.3 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 Olympus XZ-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|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||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|14.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the XZ-1 provides a faster frame rate than the SX420. It can shoot movie footage at 720/30p, while the Canon is limited to 720/25p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SX420 and the XZ-1 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. That said, the XZ-1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX420 and Olympus XZ-1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|5.||Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon G5 X||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
The Olympus XZ-1 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.
Both the SX420 and the XZ-1 have zoom lenses built in. The SX420 has a 24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 optic and the XZ-1 offers a 28-112mm f/1.8-2.5 (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 Olympus. The XZ-1 offers the faster maximum aperture.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX420 and the XZ-1 write their files to SDXC 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 XZ-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Canon G7 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon G5 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the SX420 offers wifi support, while the XZ-1 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the SX420 and the XZ-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XZ-1 was replaced by the Olympus XZ-2, 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 Olympus websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX420 and the Olympus XZ-1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (19.9 vs 10.1MP) with a 41% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- 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.
- More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
- 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 (40 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years of technical progress since the XZ-1 launch.
Advantages of the Olympus XZ-1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (720/30p versus 720/25p).
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (614k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (2 vs 0.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/1.8 vs f/3.5).
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 50g or 15 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (320 versus 195) out of a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in January 2011).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the XZ-1 emerges as the winner of the match-up (11 : 9 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 XZ-1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best Travel-Zoom 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX420 or the XZ-1 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.
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], 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 XZ-1||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||499|
|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.||Olympus XZ-2||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|14.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic ZS70||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|17.||Panasonic LX5||4/5||+||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu 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 XZ-1
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 XZ-1|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6||28-112mm f/1.8-2.5|
|Launch Date||January 2016||January 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 299||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus XZ-1|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||7.85 x 5.89 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||46.2365 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||9.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||19.9 Megapixels||10.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5152 x 3864 pixels||3664 x 2752 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.19 μm||2.13 μm|
|Pixel Density||70.91 MP/cm2||21.81 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/25p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4+||TruePic V|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||34|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||18.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||117|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus XZ-1|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||614k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus XZ-1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||0.5 shutter flaps/s||2 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|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||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX420||Olympus XZ-1|
|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||Olympus XZ-1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||195 shots per charge||320 shots per charge|
104 x 69 x 85 mm
(4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
111 x 65 x 42 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||325 g (11.5 oz)||275 g (9.7 oz)|
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