Ur-Leica Contax Camera Comparison
Leica 1600mm Vivitar Shutter count
A potelyt.com – Photography & Imaging Resources
ad
PW

Canon SX420 vs Sony A850

The Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Sony Alpha A850 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2016 and August 2009. The SX420 is a fixed lens compact, while the A850 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX420) and a full frame (A850) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 19.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 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 Sony A850
Canon SX420 Sony A850
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 Sony A mount lenses
19.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 24.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor
720/25p Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 200-3,200 (100 - 6,400)
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 922k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Lens-based stabilizationIn-body stabilization
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
195 shots per battery charge880 shots per battery charge
104 x 69 x 85 mm, 325 g 156 x 117 x 82 mm, 895 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS and the Sony Alpha A850? 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 Sony A850. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The SX420 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the A850 is only available in black.

Size Canon SX420 vs Sony A850
Compare SX420 versus A850 top
Comparison SX420 or A850 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A850 is considerably larger (154 percent) than the Canon SX420. It is noteworthy in this context that the A850 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 A850 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

scroll hint
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
 
Sony A850 156 mm 117 mm 82 mm 895 g 880 Y Aug 2009 1,999i
 
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 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
 
Sony A99 II 143 mm 104 mm 76 mm 849 g 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i
 
Sony A7 II 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999i
 
Sony A99 147 mm 111 mm 78 mm 812 g 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony A77 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 732 g 470 Y Aug 2011 1,399i
 
Sony A900 156 mm 117 mm 82 mm 895 g 880 Y Sep 2008 2,999i
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 naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The SX420 was launched at a lower price than the A850, 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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 Sony A850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A850 is 2979 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the SX420 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A850 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX420 and Sony A850 sensor measures

With 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the SX420 (19.9MP), but the A850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 1.19μm for the SX420) due to its larger sensor. However, the SX420 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 4 months) than the A850, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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 Sony A850 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A850 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX420 are 25.8 x 19.3 inches or 65.4 x 49.1 cm for good quality, 20.6 x 15.5 inches or 52.3 x 39.3 cm for very good quality, and 17.2 x 12.9 inches or 43.6 x 32.7 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 Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.

SX420 versus A850 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

scroll hint
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........
 
Sony A850 Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none23.812.2141579
 
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 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........
 
Sony A99 II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
 
Sony A7 II Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
 
Sony A99 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589
 
Sony A77 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.280178
 
Sony A900 Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none23.712.3143179

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The SX420 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the SX420 can use is 720/25p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A850 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX420 and Sony A850 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

scroll hint
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
 
Sony A850optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n Y
 
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 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
 
Sony A99 II2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 n Y
 
Sony A7 II2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y
 
Sony A992359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 6.0 n Y
 
Sony A772359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 Y Y
 
Sony A900optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX420 has one, while the A850 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 SX420 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the SX420 only has one slot.

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 Sony Alpha A850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

scroll hint
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-
 
Sony A850Y----mini2.0---
 
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 SX410-stereomono---2.0---
 
Canon SX610-----micro2.0YY-
 
Canon SX710-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A99 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYY
 
Sony A7 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
 
Sony A99YstereomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Sony A77YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Sony A900Y----mini2.0---

It is notable that the SX420 offers wifi support, while the A850 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A850 (unlike the SX420) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

The SX420 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the A850 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the A850 from Sony. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX420 and the Sony A850? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

ilogo

Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/25p movies.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the A850 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (104x69mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the A850).
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • 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 6 years and 4 months of technical progress since the A850 launch.

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A850:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 19.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 13%.
  • 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.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 0.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 195) out of a single battery charge.
  • 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.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2009).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A850 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 10 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

SX420 10:18 A850

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX420 and the Sony A850 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SX420 or the A850. 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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.

scroll hint
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
 
Sony A850..75/100..4/54.5/5 Aug 2009 1,999i
 
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 SX410o........ Feb 2015 279i
 
Canon SX610....4/5..4/5 Jan 2015 249i
 
Canon SX710+..4/5..3.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
 
Sony A99 II..85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i
 
Sony A7 II+82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999i
 
Sony A99..84/1004.5/5o4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony A7791/10081/100..4.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,399i
 
Sony A900+ ++ +4.5/54/55/5 Sep 2008 2,999i
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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
Sony A850:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. 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 Sony A850

    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 Sony A850
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 24-1008mm f/3.5-6.6 Sony A mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2016 August 2009
    Launch Price USD 299 USD 1,999
    Sensor Specs Canon SX420 Sony A850
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 861.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 19.9 Megapixels 24.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5152 x 3864 pixels 6048 x 4032 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.19 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 70.91 MP/cm2 2.83 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/25p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4+ BIONZ
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 79
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 23.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1415
    Screen Specs Canon SX420 Sony A850
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 98%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.74x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX420 Sony A850
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens-based stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF or MS cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX420 Sony A850
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    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 Sony A850
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NB-11LH NP-FM500H
    Battery Life (CIPA)195 shots per charge880 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 104 x 69 x 85 mm
    (4.1 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)
    156 x 117 x 82 mm
    (6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 325 g (11.5 oz) 895 g (31.6 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

    You are here Home  »  CAM-parator  »  Canon SX420 vs Sony A850

    Thanks for your vote!

    You rated this page 4 out of 5.


    Rating

    Any additional comment or suggestion for improvement would be welcome.



    If you like it, make sure you share it.

    • Mention this page to your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
    • Bookmark it in your browser for future reference by pressing "Crtl" + "D".
    • Create a hyperlink by copying the text below into your web-project or discussion forum entry.

    Once again, thanks for taking the time to provide feedback.