Canon SX520 vs Panasonic L1
The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2014 and February 2006. The SX520 is a fixed lens compact, while the L1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX520) and a Four Thirds (L1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 7.4 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon SX520 and the Panasonic L1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic L1 is notably larger (29 percent) than the Canon SX520. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX520 nor the L1 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 L1 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 L1 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.
|Canon SX520||4.7 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||15.6 oz||210||n||Jul 2014||399|
|Panasonic L1||5.7 in||3.4 in||2.5 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Feb 2006||999|
|Canon SX540||4.7 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||15.6 oz||205||n||Jan 2016||399|
|Canon SX530||4.7 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||15.6 oz||210||n||Jan 2015||429|
|Canon SX710||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|Canon SX700||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||250||n||Feb 2014||349|
|Canon SX60||5.0 in||3.7 in||4.5 in||22.9 oz||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|Canon T5||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||16.9 oz||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|Canon SX510||4.1 in||2.8 in||3.1 in||12.3 oz||250||n||Aug 2013||249|
|Canon XT||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||19.0 oz||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|Leica Digilux 3||5.7 in||3.4 in||3.0 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|Nikon B600||4.8 in||3.2 in||3.9 in||17.6 oz||280||n||Jan 2019||349|
|Olympus E-330||5.5 in||3.4 in||2.8 in||22.5 oz||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|Olympus E-300||5.8 in||3.3 in||2.5 in||22.0 oz||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|Panasonic L10||5.3 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|Sony HX90V||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.4 in||8.6 oz||360||n||Apr 2015||429|
|Sony H200||4.8 in||3.3 in||3.4 in||18.7 oz||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.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 SX520 was launched at a lower price than the L1, 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 Panasonic L1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the L1 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX520 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 7.4 MP of the Panasonic L1. 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 5.51μm for the L1). However, it should be noted that the SX520 is much more recent (by 8 years and 5 months) than the L1, 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 Panasonic L1 are 15.7 x 11.8 inches or 39.8 x 29.9 cm for good quality, 12.5 x 9.4 inches or 31.9 x 23.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.5 x 7.8 inches or 26.6 x 19.9 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Panasonic L1||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The SX520 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the L1 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 variety of features. For example, the L1 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 Panasonic L1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
The SX520 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the L1 uses SDHC 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the L1 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 L1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The L1 was replaced by the Panasonic L10, 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 Panasonic websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX520 or the Panasonic L1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 7.4MP) with a 47% 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 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 207k dots).
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the L1 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x82mm vs 146x87mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the L1).
- 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: Reflects 8 years and 5 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
- 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 (1/4000s 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 (750 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 February 2006).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the L1 comes out slightly ahead of the SX520 (12 : 11 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX520 and the Panasonic L1 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 L1 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 why expert reviews are important. 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.
|Canon SX520||+||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||Jul 2014||399|
|Panasonic L1||85/100||+||..||o||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999|
|Canon SX540||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399|
|Canon SX530||+ +||..||4/5||..||4/5||Jan 2015||429|
|Canon SX710||+||..||4/5||..||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|Canon SX700||+ +||..||4/5||..||4/5||Feb 2014||349|
|Canon SX60||+ +||75/100||4/5||..||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|Canon T5||+||..||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|Canon SX510||+ +||..||4.5/5||..||4/5||Aug 2013||249|
|Canon XT||80/100||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|Nikon B600||+||..||3.5/5||..||3/5||Jan 2019||349|
|Olympus E-330||..||+||o||3.5/5||..||Jan 2006||999|
|Olympus E-300||..||+||o||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|Panasonic L10||85/100||+||3.5/5||o||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|Sony HX90V||+ +||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Apr 2015||429|
|Sony H200||..||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||Jan 2013||249|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. 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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1Ds vs Panasonic L1
- Canon G7 X Mark III vs Canon SX520
- Canon M50 vs Panasonic L1
- Canon SX520 vs Leica V-LUX 3
- Canon SX520 vs Panasonic FZ2500
- Canon SX520 vs Sony A3000
- Canon SX520 vs Sony RX0 II
- Canon SX520 vs Sony RX100 IV
- Nikon A1000 vs Panasonic L1
- Nikon D1X vs Panasonic L1
- Nikon D800E vs Panasonic L1
- Panasonic L1 vs Sony NEX-5T
Specifications: Canon SX520 vs Panasonic L1
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||Panasonic L1|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||24-1008mm f/3.4-6||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2014||February 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX520||Panasonic L1|
|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||7.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||3136 x 2352 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||5.51 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4+||Venus|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX520||Panasonic L1|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||207k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX520||Panasonic L1|
|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||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX520||Panasonic L1|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon SX520||Panasonic L1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||210 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
120 x 82 x 92 mm
(4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
146 x 87 x 64 mm
(5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||441 g (15.6 oz)||606 g (21.4 oz)|
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