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Canon SX540 vs Nikon B500

The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS and the Nikon Coolpix B500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public in January 2016. Both the SX540 and the B500 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 15.9 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon SX540
versus
Nikon B500
Canon SX540 Nikon B500
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5
20.2 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
1080/60p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 80-3,200 ISO 80-6,400
No viewfinder, LCD framing No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 461k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
5.9 shutter flaps per second 7.4 shutter flaps per second
205 shots per battery charge600 shots per battery charge
120 x 82 x 92 mm, 442 g 114 x 78 x 95 mm, 541 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS and the Nikon Coolpix B500? 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.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Canon SX540 and the Nikon B500 are illustrated 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The B500 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the SX540 is only available in black.

Size Canon SX540 vs Nikon B500
Compare SX540 versus B500 top
Comparison SX540 or B500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon B500 is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Canon SX540. However, the B500 is markedly heavier (22 percent) than the SX540. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX540 nor the B500 are weather-sealed.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX540 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 205 n Jan 2016 399 i
2.
 
Nikon B500 114 mm 78 mm 95 mm 541 g 600 n Jan 2016 299 i
3.
 
Canon 77D 131 mm 100 mm 76 mm 540 g 600 n Feb 2017 899 i
4.
 
Canon 200D 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 n Jun 2017 549 i
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark III 115 mm 78 mm 51 mm 399 g 200 Y Oct 2017 1,299 i
6.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 206 g 235 n Jan 2017 529 i
7.
 
Canon M6 112 mm 68 mm 45 mm 390 g 295 n Feb 2017 779 i
8.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399 i
9.
 
Canon 1300D 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 485 g 500 n Mar 2016 449 i
10.
 
Canon SX720 110 mm 64 mm 36 mm 270 g 250 n Feb 2016 379 i
11.
 
Canon SX530 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 210 n Jan 2015 429 i
12.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349 i
13.
 
Nikon B600 122 mm 82 mm 99 mm 500 g 280 n Jan 2019 349 i
14.
 
Nikon P900 140 mm 103 mm 137 mm 899 g 360 n Mar 2015 599 i
15.
 
Nikon L840 113 mm 78 mm 96 mm 538 g 590 n Feb 2015 299 i
16.
 
Panasonic FZ82 130 mm 94 mm 119 mm 616 g 330 n Jan 2017 399 i
17.
 
Sony HX80 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 245 g 390 n Mar 2016 349 i
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 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 B500 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the SX540, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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.

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.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around BSI-CMOS sensors.

Canon SX540 and Nikon B500 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the SX540 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 15.9 MP of the B500. This megapixels advantage translates into a 13 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the SX540 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.18μm versus 1.33μm for the B500). It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. 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 Canon SX540 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX540 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon B500 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 SX540 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon Coolpix B500 are ISO 80 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

SX540 versus B500 MP

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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon SX540 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
2.
 
Nikon B500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i...... ..
3.
 
Canon 77D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.3971 78
4.
 
Canon 200D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.41041 79
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark III APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p...... ..
6.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.912.5522 65
7.
 
Canon M6 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p...... ..
8.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
9.
 
Canon 1300D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p...... ..
10.
 
Canon SX720 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
11.
 
Canon SX530 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p...... ..
12.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
13.
 
Nikon B600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p...... ..
14.
 
Nikon P900 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p...... ..
15.
 
Nikon L840 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i...... ..
16.
 
Panasonic FZ82 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36724K/30p...... ..
17.
 
Sony HX80 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36721080/60p...... ..

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the SX540 provides a higher frame rate than the B500. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/60i.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SX540 and the B500 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 SX540 and Nikon B500 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon SX540none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 5.9 Y Y
2.
 
Nikon B500none n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y
3.
 
Canon 77Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 200Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark III2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/2000s 9.0 Y Y
6.
 
Canon G9 X Mark IInone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 8.2 Y Y
7.
 
Canon M6optional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 9.0 Y n
8.
 
Canon SX730none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
9.
 
Canon 1300Doptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon SX720none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX530none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
12.
 
Canon SX710none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 Y Y
13.
 
Nikon B600none n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y
14.
 
Nikon P900921 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 7.0 Y Y
15.
 
Nikon L840none n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y
16.
 
Panasonic FZ821166 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y
17.
 
Sony HX80638 n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y

Both the SX540 and the B500 have zoom lenses built in. The SX540 has a 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 optic and the B500 offers a 22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Nikon provides a wider angle of view at the short end than the Canon, but less tele-photo reach at the long end. The B500 offers the faster maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX540 and the B500 write their files to SDXC cards. The SX540 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the B500 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

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Connectivity comparison

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 SX540 HS and Nikon Coolpix B500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon SX540-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
2.
 
Nikon B500-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
3.
 
Canon 77DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon 200DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIIYstereomono--micro2.0YYY
6.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
7.
 
Canon M6YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
8.
 
Canon SX730-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
9.
 
Canon 1300DYmonomono--mini2.0YY-
10.
 
Canon SX720-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
11.
 
Canon SX530-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
12.
 
Canon SX710-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
13.
 
Nikon B600-stereomono--micro2.0Y-Y
14.
 
Nikon P900-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
15.
 
Nikon L840-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
16.
 
Panasonic FZ82Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
17.
 
Sony HX80-stereomono--micro2.0YY-

The SX540 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the B500 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the B500 was succeeded by the Nikon B600. 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.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX540 better than the Nikon B500 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.2 vs 15.9MP) with a 13% higher linear resolution.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 99g or 18 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.

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Advantages of the Nikon Coolpix B500:

  • 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.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.4 vs 5.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/3.0 vs f/3.4).
  • Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (600 versus 205) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the B500 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 5 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 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.

SX540 05:09 B500

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX540 and the Nikon B500 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 SX540 and the B500 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.

Expert reviews

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 (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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX540.......... Jan 2016 399 i
2.
 
Nikon B500..+..4/53.5/5 Jan 2016 299 i
3.
 
Canon 77D4.5/5..82/1004.5/54/5 Feb 2017 899 i
4.
 
Canon 200D4/5+ +78/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549 i
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark III5/5+79/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2017 1,299 i
6.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II4/5..75/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 529 i
7.
 
Canon M6....80/1004/54/5 Feb 2017 779 i
8.
 
Canon SX730..+..4/54/5 Apr 2017 399 i
9.
 
Canon 1300D4/5o73/1004/54/5 Mar 2016 449 i
10.
 
Canon SX720..+..4/54.5/5 Feb 2016 379 i
11.
 
Canon SX530..+ +..4/54/5 Jan 2015 429 i
12.
 
Canon SX710..+..4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349 i
13.
 
Nikon B600..+..3.5/53/5 Jan 2019 349 i
14.
 
Nikon P900....77/1004/54/5 Mar 2015 599 i
15.
 
Nikon L840..+ +..3.5/54/5 Feb 2015 299 i
16.
 
Panasonic FZ82..+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 399 i
17.
 
Sony HX80.......... Mar 2016 349 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon SX540:
Check Amazon price
Nikon B500:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Canon SX540 vs Nikon B500

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Canon SX540 Nikon B500
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5
    Launch Date January 2016 January 2016
    Launch Price USD 399 USD 299
    Sensor Specs Canon SX540 Nikon B500
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS BSI-CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 5.6x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 20.2 Megapixels 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3888 pixels 4608 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.18 μm 1.33 μm
    Pixel Density 71.80 MP/cm2 56.73 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 80 - 6,400 ISO
    Screen Specs Canon SX540 Nikon B500
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Magnification
    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 SX540 Nikon B500
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5.9 shutter flaps/s 7.4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I no
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX540 Nikon B500
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in NFC built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Canon SX540 Nikon B500
    Battery Type NB-6LH 4xAA
    Battery Life (CIPA)205 shots per charge600 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 120 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    114 x 78 x 95 mm
    (4.5 x 3.1 x 3.7 in)
    Camera Weight 442 g (15.6 oz) 541 g (19.1 oz)

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