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Canon SX520 vs Leica X Vario

The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and the Leica X Vario (Typ 107) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2014 and June 2013. Both the SX520 and the X Vario are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX520) and an APS-C (X Vario) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 16.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon SX520
versus
Leica X Vario
Canon SX520   Leica X Vario
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
24-1008mm f/3.4-6 28-70mm f/3.5-6.4
15.9 MP – 1/2.3" sensor 16.1 MP – APS-C sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 100-12,500
No viewfinder, LCD framing Viewfinder optional
3.0" LCD – 461k dots 3.0" LCD – 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.6 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
210 shots per battery charge450 shots per battery charge
120 x 82 x 92 mm, 441 g 133 x 73 x 95 mm, 680 g
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Check SX520 offers at
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Check X Vario offers at
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and the Leica X Vario (Typ 107)? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon SX520 and the Leica X Vario is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 X Vario can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the SX520 is only available in black.

Size Canon SX520 vs Leica X Vario
Compare SX520 versus X Vario top
Comparison SX520 or X Vario rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica X Vario is somewhat smaller (1 percent) than the Canon SX520. However, the X Vario is substantially heavier (54 percent) than the SX520. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX520 nor the X Vario are weather-sealed.

Concerning battery life, the SX520 gets 210 shots out of its NB-6LH battery, while the X Vario can take 450 images on a single charge of its BP-DC8 power pack.

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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX520 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 441 g 210 n Jul 2014 399ebay.com
2.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 4000D 129 mm 102 mm 77 mm 436 g 500 n Feb 2018 399 amazon.com
4.
 
Canon 1300D 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 485 g 500 n Mar 2016 449ebay.com
5.
 
Canon SX540 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 205 n Jan 2016 399ebay.com
6.
 
Canon SX530 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 210 n Jan 2015 429ebay.com
7.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349ebay.com
8.
 
Canon SX700 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 250 n Feb 2014 349ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 1200D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449ebay.com
10.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549ebay.com
11.
 
Canon SX510 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 349 g 250 n Aug 2013 249ebay.com
12.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 n Jun 2015 4,249ebay.com
13.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
14.
 
Nikon B600 122 mm 82 mm 99 mm 500 g 280 n Jan 2019 349 amazon.com
15.
 
Nikon Df 144 mm 110 mm 67 mm 760 g 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 n Jun 2014 899ebay.com
17.
 
Sony RX1R 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Jun 2013 2,799ebay.com
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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SX520 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 86 percent) than the X Vario, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX520 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Leica X Vario an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the X Vario 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 SX520 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the X Vario offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX520 and Leica X Vario sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the X Vario offers a higher resolution than the SX520 (15.9MP), but the X Vario nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 1.33μm for the SX520) due to its larger sensor. However, the SX520 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the X Vario, and its sensor might 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 SX520 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica X Vario (Typ 107) are ISO 100 to ISO 12500 (no boost).

In terms of underlying technology, the SX520 is build around a BSI-CMOS sensor, while the X Vario uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

SX520 versus X Vario MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon SX520 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p20.111.567246
2.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
3.
 
Canon 4000D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.469563
4.
 
Canon 1300D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.612.9149779
5.
 
Canon SX540 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.311.780648
6.
 
Canon SX530 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p20.211.671247
7.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.211.671247
8.
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p20.111.462945
9.
 
Canon 1200D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
10.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
11.
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p20.011.358645
12.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
13.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.612.8149178
14.
 
Nikon B600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p20.712.2109552
15.
 
Nikon Df Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280none24.613.1327989
16.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
17.
 
Sony RX1R Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791
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 also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SX520 and the X Vario 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 X Vario can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF 2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX520 and Leica X Vario in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon SX520none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6/s Y Y
2.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon 4000Doptical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon 1300Doptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
5.
 
Canon SX540none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 5.9/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX530none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6/s Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX710none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0/s Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX700none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5/s Y Y
9.
 
Canon 1200Doptical n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
10.
 
Canon SX60922 n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4/s Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX510none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8/s Y Y
12.
 
Leica Q Typ 1163680 n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0/s n Y
13.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
14.
 
Nikon B600none n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 7.4/s Y Y
15.
 
Nikon Dfoptical Y3.2 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5/s n n
16.
 
Panasonic FZ10002359 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0/s Y Y
17.
 
Sony RX1Roptional n3.0 / 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

Both the SX520 and the X Vario have zoom lenses built in. The SX520 has a 24-1008mm f/3.4-6 optic and the X Vario offers a 28-70mm f/3.5-6.4 (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 Leica. The SX520 offers the faster maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX520 and the X Vario write their files to SDXC cards.

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 SX520 HS and Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon SX520-stereo / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon 4000DYmono / mono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 1300DYmono / mono--mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon SX540-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX530-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX710-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon SX700-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon 1200DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon SX60Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
11.
 
Canon SX510-stereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
12.
 
Leica Q Typ 116Ystereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
13.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Nikon B600-stereo / mono--micro2.0Y-Y
15.
 
Nikon DfY- / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic FZ1000Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0YY-
17.
 
Sony RX1RYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---

It is notable that the X Vario has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The SX520 does not feature such an accessory-socket.

Both the SX520 and the X Vario have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The SX520 was replaced by the Canon SX530, while the X Vario does not have a direct successor. Further information on the features and operation of the SX520 and X Vario can be found, respectively, in the Canon SX520 Manual (free pdf) or the online Leica X Vario Manual.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX520 or the Leica X Vario – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/3.4 vs f/3.5).
  • 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.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 239g or 35 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (86 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 1 month after the X Vario).

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Advantages of the Leica X Vario (Typ 107):

  • 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.
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 461k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 1.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (450 versus 210) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2013).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the X Vario is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 8 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.

SX520 08:12 X Vario

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX520 and the Leica X Vario 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX520 and the X Vario in practical situations. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews 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], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX520..+....3.5/53.5/5 Jul 2014 399ebay.com
2.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 4000D..o3/5..3.5/53.5/5 Feb 2018 399 amazon.com
4.
 
Canon 1300D4/5o4/573/1004/54/5 Mar 2016 449ebay.com
5.
 
Canon SX540............ Jan 2016 399ebay.com
6.
 
Canon SX530..+ +....4/54/5 Jan 2015 429ebay.com
7.
 
Canon SX710..+....4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349ebay.com
8.
 
Canon SX700..+ +....4/54/5 Feb 2014 349ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 1200D3/5+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449ebay.com
10.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549ebay.com
11.
 
Canon SX510..+ +....4.5/54/5 Aug 2013 249ebay.com
12.
 
Leica Q Typ 1165/5....80/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249ebay.com
13.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
14.
 
Nikon B600..+....3.5/53/5 Jan 2019 349 amazon.com
15.
 
Nikon Df4/5....81/1004/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic FZ10004/5+ +..82/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899ebay.com
17.
 
Sony RX1R5/5......4/54.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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.

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Check SX520 offers at
ebay.com
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Check X Vario offers at
ebay.com

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.

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    Specifications: Canon SX520 vs Leica X Vario

    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 SX520 Leica X Vario
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 24-1008mm f/3.4-6 28-70mm f/3.5-6.4
    Launch Date July 2014 June 2013
    Launch Price USD 399 USD 2,850
    Sensor Specs Canon SX520 Leica X Vario
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4928 x 3272 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 4.80 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 4.35 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 12,500 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 78
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 23.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1320
    Screen Specs Canon SX520 Leica X Vario
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX520 Leica X Vario
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.6 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX520 Leica X Vario
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon SX520 Leica X Vario
    Battery Type NB-6LH BP-DC8
    Battery Life (CIPA)210 shots per charge450 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 120 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    133 x 73 x 95 mm
    (5.2 x 2.9 x 3.7 in)
    Camera Weight 441 g (15.6 oz) 680 g (24.0 oz)
    logo
    Check SX520 offers at
    ebay.com
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    Check X Vario offers at
    ebay.com

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