Canon SX520 vs Nikon D70
The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and the Nikon D70 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2014 and January 2004. The SX520 is a fixed lens compact, while the D70 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX520) and an APS-C (D70) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 6 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 SX520 HS and the Nikon D70? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon SX520 and the Nikon D70 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D70 is considerably larger (58 percent) than the Canon SX520. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX520 nor the D70 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 D70 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 D70 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
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.
|1.||Canon SX520||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||441 g||210||n||Jul 2014||399|
|2.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|3.||Canon 4000D||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon 1300D||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449|
|5.||Canon SX540||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||205||n||Jan 2016||399|
|6.||Canon SX530||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||210||n||Jan 2015||429|
|7.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|8.||Canon SX700||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||250||n||Feb 2014||349|
|9.||Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|10.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|11.||Canon SX510||104 mm||70 mm||80 mm||349 g||250||n||Aug 2013||249|
|12.||Canon 300D||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|13.||Nikon B600||122 mm||82 mm||99 mm||500 g||280||n||Jan 2019||349|
|14.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|15.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|16.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|17.||Nikon D100||144 mm||116 mm||81 mm||780 g||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or 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 D70, 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. 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. 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. 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 SX520 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Nikon D70 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D70 is 1221 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 D70 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX520 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the Nikon D70. 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 1.33μm versus 7.85μm for the D70). However, it should be noted that the SX520 is much more recent (by 10 years and 6 months) than the D70, 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 SX520 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Canon SX520 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX520 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D70 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D70 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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.
| DXO |
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The SX520 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D70 does not. The highest resolution format that the SX520 can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D70 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX520 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX520 and Nikon D70 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
The SX520 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D70 uses Compact Flash 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 D70 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D70 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 D70 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D70 was replaced by the Nikon D70s, 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 there a clear favorite between the Canon SX520 and the Nikon D70? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 6MP) with a 59% higher linear resolution.
- 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 1080/30p movies.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 130k dots).
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D70 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x82mm vs 140x111mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D70).
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.0).
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 10 years and 6 months of technical progress since the D70 launch.
Advantages of the Nikon D70:
- 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.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1.6 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 (400 versus 210) 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 2004).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (12 points each). 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 D70 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX520 and the D70 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.
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 (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 SX520||..||+||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jul 2014||399|
|2.||Nikon D70||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|3.||Canon 4000D||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon 1300D||4/5||o||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449|
|5.||Canon SX540||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399|
|6.||Canon SX530||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||429|
|7.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|8.||Canon SX700||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||349|
|9.||Canon 1200D||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|10.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|11.||Canon SX510||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2013||249|
|12.||Canon 300D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|13.||Nikon B600||..||+||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||349|
|14.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|15.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|16.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|17.||Nikon D100||..||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon SX520 vs Nikon D70
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 D70|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||24-1008mm f/3.4-6||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2014||January 2004|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX520||Nikon D70|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||23.7 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||369.72 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||6 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||3008 x 2000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||7.85 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||1.63 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 1,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||50|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||20.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||529|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX520||Nikon D70|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||1.8inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||130k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX520||Nikon D70|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||1.6 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX520||Nikon D70|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 1.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon SX520||Nikon D70|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||210 shots per charge||400 shots per charge|
120 x 82 x 92 mm
(4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
140 x 111 x 78 mm
(5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||441 g (15.6 oz)||679 g (24.0 oz)|
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