Canon SX520 vs Sony HX90V
The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2014 and April 2015. Both the SX520 and the HX90V are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 18 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V? 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 Sony HX90V. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. 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 Sony HX90V is considerably smaller (40 percent) than the Canon SX520. Moreover, the HX90V is substantially lighter (44 percent) than the SX520. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX520 nor the HX90V are weather-sealed.
Concerning battery life, the SX520 gets 210 shots out of its NB-6LH battery, while the HX90V can take 360 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the HX90V can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon SX520||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||441 g||210||n||Jul 2014||399|
|2.||Sony HX90V||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||360||n||Apr 2015||429|
|3.||Canon SX540||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||205||n||Jan 2016||399|
|4.||Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379|
|5.||Canon SX530||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||210||n||Jan 2015||429|
|6.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|7.||Canon SX700||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||250||n||Feb 2014||349|
|8.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|9.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|10.||Canon SX510||104 mm||70 mm||80 mm||349 g||250||n||Aug 2013||249|
|11.||Nikon B600||122 mm||82 mm||99 mm||500 g||280||n||Jan 2019||349|
|12.||Sony HX99||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||242 g||370||n||Aug 2018||449|
|13.||Sony HX95||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||242 g||370||n||Aug 2018||429|
|14.||Sony WX800||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||233 g||370||n||Oct 2018||399|
|15.||Sony HX400V||130 mm||93 mm||103 mm||660 g||300||n||Feb 2014||499|
|16.||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.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SX520 was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the HX90V at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature a 1/2.3-inch sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 5.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the smaller-sensor digicams that favor affordability and compact design. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with BSI-CMOS (Backside Illuminated Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the HX90V offers a higher resolution of 18 megapixels, compared with 15.9 MP of the SX520. This megapixels advantage translates into a 6 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the HX90V has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.25μm versus 1.33μm for the SX520). However, it should be noted that the HX90V is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the SX520, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size. 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 Sony HX90V implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the HX90V for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.5 x 18.4 inches or 62.2 x 46.6 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.6 x 14.7 inches or 49.7 x 37.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.3 x 12.2 inches or 41.5 x 31.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX520 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V are ISO 80 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-12800.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the HX90V 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 variety of features. For example, the HX90V has an electronic viewfinder (638k 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX520 and Sony HX90V along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
Both the SX520 and the HX90V have zoom lenses built in. The SX520 has a 24-1008mm f/3.4-6 optic and the HX90V offers a 24-720mm f/3.5-6.4 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Canon and Sony provide the same view at the wide-angle end, but the Sony has less tele-photo reach at the long end. The SX520 offers the faster maximum aperture.
The SX520 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the HX90V uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The HX90V 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the HX90V 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.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the HX90V has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The HX90V is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the SX520 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the SX520 was succeeded 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 Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX520 better than the Sony HX90V or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS:
- Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/3.4 vs f/3.5).
- More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2014).
Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (18 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 6%.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 461k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 1.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 120x82mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 196g or 44 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (360 versus 210) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (8 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the HX90V is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 3 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 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 Sony HX90V place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX520 and the HX90V in practical situations. 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 expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.||Sony HX90V||4/5||+ +||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||429|
|3.||Canon SX540||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399|
|4.||Canon SX720||..||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379|
|5.||Canon SX530||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||429|
|6.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|7.||Canon SX700||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||349|
|8.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|9.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|10.||Canon SX510||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2013||249|
|11.||Nikon B600||..||+||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||349|
|12.||Sony HX99||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||449|
|13.||Sony HX95||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2018||429|
|14.||Sony WX800||..||..||..||..||..||Oct 2018||399|
|15.||Sony HX400V||4/5||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||499|
|16.||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 assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. 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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon SX520 vs Sony HX90V
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||Sony HX90V|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||24-1008mm f/3.4-6||24-720mm f/3.5-6.4|
|Launch Date||July 2014||April 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 429|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX520||Sony HX90V|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||18 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4896 x 3672 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||1.25 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||64.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||80 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4+||BIONZ X|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX520||Sony HX90V|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||638k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX520||Sony HX90V|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||1.6 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX520||Sony HX90V|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon SX520||Sony HX90V|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||210 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
120 x 82 x 92 mm
(4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
102 x 58 x 36 mm
(4.0 x 2.3 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||441 g (15.6 oz)||245 g (8.6 oz)|
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