Canon SX520 vs Olympus E-M5 II
The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2014 and February 2015. The SX520 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-M5 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX520) and a Four Thirds (E-M5 II) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixels.
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 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II? 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 Olympus E-M5 II 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 E-M5 II can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), 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 Olympus E-M5 II is notably larger (7 percent) than the Canon SX520. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-M5 II is splash and dust-proof, while the SX520 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX520 has a lens built in, whereas the E-M5 II 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 E-M5 II 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. 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.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|3.||Canon SX540||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||205||n||Jan 2016||399|
|4.||Canon SX530||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||210||n||Jan 2015||429|
|5.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|6.||Canon SX700||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||250||n||Feb 2014||349|
|7.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|8.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|9.||Canon SX510||104 mm||70 mm||80 mm||349 g||250||n||Aug 2013||249|
|10.||Nikon B600||122 mm||82 mm||99 mm||500 g||280||n||Jan 2019||349|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 III||125 mm||85 mm||50 mm||414 g||310||Y||Oct 2019||1,199|
|12.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|13.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|14.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|15.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|16.||Sony HX90V||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||360||n||Apr 2015||429|
|17.||Sony H200||123 mm||83 mm||87 mm||530 g||240||n||Jan 2013||249|
|Notes: 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 lower price than the E-M5 II, 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.
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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX520 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Olympus E-M5 II a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M5 II 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.
Even though the E-M5 II has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 15.9 megapixels. This implies that the E-M5 II has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 1.33μm for the SX520), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the E-M5 II is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the SX520, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. 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.
Unlike the SX520, the E-M5 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (40MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
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.
| DXO |
|2.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|13.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|14.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|15.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the E-M5 II 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. For example, the E-M5 II has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX520 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX520 and Olympus E-M5 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|2.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|12.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX520 has one, while the E-M5 II does not. While the built-in flash of the SX520 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The E-M5 II 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 SX520 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 E-M5 II 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 Olympus E-M5 II 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 SX520 and the E-M5 II write their files to SDXC cards. The E-M5 II supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 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 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|12.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the E-M5 II 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 provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-M5 II (unlike the SX520) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the SX520 and the E-M5 II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX520 was replaced by the Canon SX530, while the E-M5 II was followed by the Olympus E-M5 III. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX520 or the Olympus E-M5 II – 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.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-M5 II requires a separate lens.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-M5 II).
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- 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 July 2014).
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- 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 movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 461k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or 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 shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 1.6 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.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (310 versus 210) 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.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-II standard.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (6 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-M5 II is the clear winner of the contest (25 : 6 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 SX520 and the Olympus E-M5 II 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 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 E-M5 II in practical situations. 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.
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], 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.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|3.||Canon SX540||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399|
|4.||Canon SX530||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||429|
|5.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|6.||Canon SX700||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||349|
|7.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|8.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|9.||Canon SX510||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2013||249|
|10.||Nikon B600||..||+||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||349|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 III||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||1,199|
|12.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|13.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|14.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|15.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|16.||Sony HX90V||4/5||+ +||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||429|
|17.||Sony H200||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2013||249|
|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.
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 SX520 vs Olympus E-M5 II
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||Olympus E-M5 II|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-1008mm f/3.4-6||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2014||February 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 1,099|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX520||Olympus E-M5 II|
|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||15.9 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4+||TruePic VII|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||842|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX520||Olympus E-M5 II|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX520||Olympus E-M5 II|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||1.6 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX520||Olympus E-M5 II|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon SX520||Olympus E-M5 II|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||210 shots per charge||310 shots per charge|
120 x 82 x 92 mm
(4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
124 x 85 x 45 mm
(4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 in)
|Camera Weight||441 g (15.6 oz)||469 g (16.5 oz)|
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