Canon SX520 vs Nikon 1 J4
The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and the Nikon 1 J4 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2014 and April 2014. The SX520 is a fixed lens compact, while the J4 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX520) and an one-inch (J4) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 18.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon SX520||Nikon 1 J4|
|Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|24-1008mm f/3.4-6||Nikon 1 mount lenses|
|15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor||18.2 MP, 1" Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO 100-3200||ISO 160-12800|
|No viewfinder, LCD framing||No viewfinder, LCD framing|
|3.0" LCD, 461k dots||3.0" LCD, 1037k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Swivel touchscreen|
|1.6 shutter flaps per second||60 shutter flaps per second|
|210 shots per battery charge||300 shots per battery charge|
|120 x 82 x 92 mm, 441 g||100 x 60 x 29 mm, 232 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and the Nikon 1 J4? 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 SX520 and the Nikon 1 J4. 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 J4 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, orange, white), while the SX520 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon 1 J4 is considerably smaller (39 percent) than the Canon SX520. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX520 nor the J4 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX520 has a lens built in, whereas the J4 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Canon SX520»||4.7 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||15.6 oz||210||n||Jul 2014||399||Canon SX520|
|Nikon 1 J4«||3.9 in||2.4 in||1.1 in||8.2 oz||300||n||Apr 2014||549||Nikon 1 J4|
|Canon SX540« »||4.7 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||15.6 oz||205||n||Jan 2016||399||Canon SX540|
|Canon G9 X« »||3.9 in||2.3 in||1.2 in||7.4 oz||220||n||Oct 2015||529||Canon G9 X|
|Canon SX530« »||4.7 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||15.6 oz||210||n||Jan 2015||429||Canon SX530|
|Canon SX710« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||230||n||Jan 2015||349||Canon SX710|
|Canon SX700« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||250||n||Feb 2014||349||Canon SX700|
|Canon SX60« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||4.5 in||22.9 oz||340||n||Sep 2014||549||Canon SX60|
|Canon T5« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||16.9 oz||500||n||Feb 2014||449||Canon T5|
|Canon SX510« »||4.1 in||2.8 in||3.1 in||12.3 oz||250||n||Aug 2013||249||Canon SX510|
|Canon SL1« »||4.6 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||14.4 oz||380||n||Mar 2013||549||Canon SL1|
|Nikon B600« »||4.8 in||3.2 in||3.9 in||17.6 oz||280||n||Jan 2019||349||Nikon B600|
|Nikon 1 J5« »||3.9 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||8.1 oz||250||n||Apr 2015||399||Nikon 1 J5|
|Nikon 1 V3« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||13.4 oz||310||n||Mar 2014||799||Nikon 1 V3|
|Nikon 1 V2« »||4.3 in||3.2 in||1.8 in||9.8 oz||310||n||Oct 2012||799||Nikon 1 V2|
|Sony HX90V« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.4 in||8.6 oz||360||n||Apr 2015||429||Sony HX90V|
|Sony H200« »||4.8 in||3.3 in||3.4 in||18.7 oz||240||n||Jan 2013||249||Sony H200|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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 SX520 was launched at a lower price than the J4, 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.
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 Nikon 1 J4 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the J4 is 314 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 2.7. The sensor in the SX520 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the J4 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 18.2MP, the J4 offers a higher resolution than the SX520 (15.9MP), but the J4 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 2.52μm versus 1.33μm for the SX520) due to its larger sensor. However, the SX520 is a somewhat more recent model (by 3 months) than the J4, 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 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 Nikon 1 J4 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the J4 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 26.2 x 17.4 inch or 66.4 x 44.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.9 x 14 inch or 53.2 x 35.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.4 x 11.6 inch or 44.3 x 29.5 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX520 are 23 x 17.3 inch or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inch or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inch or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The J4 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon 1 J4 are ISO 160 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
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.
|Canon SX520||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX520|
|Nikon 1 J4||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||426||53||Nikon 1 J4|
|Canon SX540||1/2.3||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX540|
|Canon G9 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.5||12.3||495||63||Canon G9 X|
|Canon SX530||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX530|
|Canon SX710||1/2.3||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX710|
|Canon SX700||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX700|
|Canon SX60||1/2.3||14.2||4608||3072||1080/60p||19.2||10.8||127||39||Canon SX60|
|Canon T5||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.9||11.3||724||63||Canon T5|
|Canon SX510||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/24p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX510|
|Canon SL1||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.8||11.3||843||63||Canon SL1|
|Nikon B600||1/2.3||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..||Nikon B600|
|Nikon 1 J5||1-inch||20.7||5568||3712||4K/15p||21.1||12.0||479||65||Nikon 1 J5|
|Nikon 1 V3||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||384||52||Nikon 1 V3|
|Nikon 1 V2||1-inch||14.2||4608||3072||1080/60p||20.2||10.8||403||50||Nikon 1 V2|
|Sony HX90V||1/2.3||18.0||4896||3672||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Sony HX90V|
|Sony H200||1/2.3||15.2||5184||2930||720/30p||..||..||..||..||Sony H200|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the J4 provides a faster frame rate than the SX520. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SX520 and the J4 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX520 and Nikon 1 J4 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon SX520||none||n||3.0||461||fixed||n||1/2000s||1.6||Y||Y||Canon SX520|
|Nikon 1 J4||none||n||3.0||1037||Fixed||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n||Nikon 1 J4|
|Canon SX540||none||n||3.0||461||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y||Canon SX540|
|Canon G9 X||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||6.0||Y||Y||Canon G9 X|
|Canon SX530||none||n||3.0||461||fixed||n||1/2000s||1.6||Y||Y||Canon SX530|
|Canon SX710||none||n||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/3200s||6.0||Y||Y||Canon SX710|
|Canon SX700||none||n||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/3200s||8.5||Y||Y||Canon SX700|
|Canon SX60||922||n||3.0||922||swivel||n||1/2000s||6.4||Y||Y||Canon SX60|
|Canon T5||optical||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon T5|
|Canon SX510||none||n||3.0||461||fixed||n||1/1600s||3.8||Y||Y||Canon SX510|
|Canon SL1||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.9||Y||n||Canon SL1|
|Nikon B600||none||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||7.4||Y||Y||Nikon B600|
|Nikon 1 J5||none||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n||Nikon 1 J5|
|Nikon 1 V3||optional||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n||Nikon 1 V3|
|Nikon 1 V2||1440||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||15.0||Y||n||Nikon 1 V2|
|Sony HX90V||638||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y||Sony HX90V|
|Sony H200||none||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/1500s||0.8||Y||Y||Sony H200|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The J4 has a touchscreen, while the SX520 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
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 J4 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 SX520 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the J4 uses micro SDXC cards. The J4 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the SX520 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 SX520 HS and Nikon 1 J4 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon SX520||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon SX520|
|Nikon 1 J4||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Nikon 1 J4|
|Canon SX540||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon SX540|
|Canon G9 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon G9 X|
|Canon SX530||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon SX530|
|Canon SX710||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon SX710|
|Canon SX700||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon SX700|
|Canon SX60||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon SX60|
|Canon T5||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T5|
|Canon SX510||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Canon SX510|
|Canon SL1||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon SL1|
|Nikon B600||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y||Nikon B600|
|Nikon 1 J5||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Nikon 1 J5|
|Nikon 1 V3||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Nikon 1 V3|
|Nikon 1 V2||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon 1 V2|
|Sony HX90V||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony HX90V|
|Sony H200||-||mono||mono||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Sony H200|
It is notable that the J4 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the SX520 does not offer wifi capability.
Both the SX520 and the J4 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The J4 was replaced by the Nikon 1 J5, while the SX520 was followed by the Canon SX530. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX520 better than the Nikon 1 J4 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS:
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the J4 requires a separate lens.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 3 months after the J4).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon 1 J4:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (18.2 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 9%.
- 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.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 461k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (60 vs 1.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- More compact: Is smaller (100x60mm vs 120x82mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (300 versus 210) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2014).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the J4 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 4 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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 SX520 and the Nikon 1 J4 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX520 or the J4 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D X vs Nikon 1 J4
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Canon SX520
- Canon 60D vs Canon SX520
- Canon M6 vs Canon SX520
- Canon SX520 vs Canon T2i
- Canon SX520 vs Fujifilm X-A2
- Canon SX520 vs Fujifilm X-A5
- Canon SX520 vs Leica M Typ 240
- Nikon 1 J4 vs Nikon 1 J5
- Nikon 1 J4 vs Nikon P1000
- Nikon 1 J4 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Nikon 1 J4 vs Sony RX100 VI
Specifications: Canon SX520 vs Nikon 1 J4
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 SX520||Nikon 1 J4|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-1008mm f/3.4-6||Nikon 1 mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2014||April 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX520||Nikon 1 J4|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||18.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||5232 x 3488 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||2.52 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||15.71 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-3200 ISO||160-12800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4+||Expeed 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||53|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||20.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||426|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX520||Nikon 1 J4|
|Viewfinder Type||No viewfinder||No viewfinder|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX520||Nikon 1 J4|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Continuous Shooting||1.6 shutter flaps/s||60 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||micro or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX520||Nikon 1 J4|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon SX520||Nikon 1 J4|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||210 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
120 x 82 x 92 mm
(4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
100 x 60 x 29 mm
(3.9 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)
|Camera Weight||441 g (15.6 oz)||232 g (8.2 oz)|
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