Canon SX420 vs Panasonic GX850
The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 (labelled Panasonic GX800 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and January 2017. The SX420 is a fixed lens compact, while the GX850 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX420) and a Four Thirds (GX850) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 19.9 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850? 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 Panasonic GX850. 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The SX420 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the GX850 is available in three color-versions (black, silver, red).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GX850 is somewhat smaller (3 percent) than the Canon SX420. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX420 nor the GX850 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 GX850 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 GX850 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
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.
|1.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|2.||Panasonic GX850||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||269 g||210||n||Jan 2017||549|
|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.||Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|13.||Panasonic GF7||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||266 g||230||n||Jan 2015||499|
|14.||Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|15.||Panasonic G5||120 mm||83 mm||71 mm||396 g||320||n||Jul 2012||599|
|16.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|Note: 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 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 GX850, despite having a lens built in. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 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. 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 Panasonic GX850 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GX850 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX420 offers a higher resolution of 19.9 megapixels, compared with 15.8 MP of the Panasonic GX850. 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 3.77μm for the GX850). Moreover, it should be noted that the GX850 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the SX420, and its sensor might 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 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 Panasonic GX850 are 23 x 17.2 inches or 58.3 x 43.8 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.7 x 35 cm for very good quality, and 15.3 x 11.5 inches or 38.9 x 29.2 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73|
|5.||Canon G7 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.8||11.9||260||62|
|8.||Canon G5 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.8||11.9||227||61|
|13.||Panasonic GF7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.7||12.3||874||70|
|14.||Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|15.||Panasonic G5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.3||11.9||643||66|
|16.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|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 two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the GX850 provides a better video resolution than the SX420. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 720/25p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SX420 and the GX850 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 Panasonic GX850 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon SX420||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Panasonic GX850||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/500s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon SX430||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon SX730||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/3200s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon SX620||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/2000s||2.5/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon SX720||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon G5 X||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon SX410||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||0.5/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon SX610||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/2000s||2.5/s||Y||Y|
|11.||Canon SX710||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Panasonic ZS70||1166||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|13.||Panasonic GF7||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/500s||5.8/s||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic G6||1440||n||3.0 / 1036||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Panasonic G5||1440||n||3.0 / 920||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic G3||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.2/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GX850 has a touchscreen, while the SX420 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The GX850 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 GX850 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 Panasonic GX850 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 GX850 write their files to SDXC cards. The GX850 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 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.||Panasonic GX850||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|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.||Panasonic ZS70||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic GF7||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Panasonic G6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Panasonic G5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic G3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
The GX850 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. 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 Panasonic websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX420 better than the Panasonic GX850 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (19.9 vs 15.8MP) with a 12% higher linear resolution.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/500s) to freeze action.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the GX850 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 heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2016).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850:
- 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).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in 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 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GX850 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 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 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 Panasonic GX850 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX420 or the GX850 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.
This is why expert reviews are important. 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.||Panasonic GX850||..||+||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||549|
|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.||Panasonic ZS70||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|13.||Panasonic GF7||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||499|
|14.||Panasonic G6||4/5||+ +||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|15.||Panasonic G5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|16.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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. 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 5D vs Canon SX420
- Canon G9 X vs Panasonic GX850
- Canon SX420 vs Fujifilm X-T30
- Canon SX420 vs Leica D-LUX Typ 109
- Canon SX420 vs Nikon D1
- Canon SX420 vs Panasonic ZS70
- Canon SX420 vs Sony NEX-5R
- Canon T4i vs Panasonic GX850
- Canon XC10 vs Panasonic GX850
- Canon XT vs Panasonic GX850
- Leica D-LUX 7 vs Panasonic GX850
- Panasonic GX850 vs Sony H400
Specifications: Canon SX420 vs Panasonic GX850
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||Panasonic GX850|
|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||January 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 299||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX420||Panasonic GX850|
|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||15.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5152 x 3864 pixels||4592 x 3448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.19 μm||3.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||70.91 MP/cm2||7.04 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||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4+||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||586|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX420||Panasonic GX850|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX420||Panasonic GX850|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/500s|
|Continuous Shooting||0.5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|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||Panasonic GX850|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Canon SX420||Panasonic GX850|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||195 shots per charge||210 shots per charge|
104 x 69 x 85 mm
(4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
107 x 65 x 33 mm
(4.2 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||325 g (11.5 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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