Canon SX540 vs Sony NEX-5T
The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS and the Sony Alpha NEX-5T are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and August 2013. The SX540 is a fixed lens compact, while the NEX-5T is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX540) and an APS-C (NEX-5T) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 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 SX540 HS and the Sony Alpha NEX-5T? 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 SX540 and the Sony NEX-5T are illustrated 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-5T can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the SX540 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 Sony NEX-5T is considerably smaller (33 percent) than the Canon SX540. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX540 nor the NEX-5T are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX540 has a lens built in, whereas the NEX-5T 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 NEX-5T and their specifications in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 SX540||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||205||n||Jan 2016||399|
|2.||Sony NEX-5T||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2013||699|
|3.||Canon SX740||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||299 g||265||n||Jul 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|5.||Canon T6||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449|
|6.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|7.||Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379|
|8.||Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279|
|9.||Canon SX530||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||210||n||Jan 2015||429|
|10.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|11.||Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|12.||Panasonic FZ80||130 mm||94 mm||119 mm||616 g||330||n||Jan 2017||399|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|15.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699|
|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 SX540 was launched at a lower price than the NEX-5T, 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX540 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Sony NEX-5T an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-5T is 1204 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 SX540 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-5T offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX540 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 16 MP of the Sony NEX-5T. 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 1.18μm versus 4.78μm for the NEX-5T). However, it should be noted that the SX540 is much more recent (by 2 years and 4 months) than the NEX-5T, 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 SX540 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its 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 Sony NEX-5T are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 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 Sony Alpha NEX-5T are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SX540 and the NEX-5T 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. That said, the NEX-5T can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1S. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX540 and Sony NEX-5T in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX540 has one, while the NEX-5T does not. While the built-in flash of the SX540 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The NEX-5T 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 SX540 does not have a selfie-screen.
The SX540 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-5T uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The SX540 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-5T 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 SX540 HS and Sony Alpha NEX-5T and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the NEX-5T has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The SX540 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
The SX540 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the NEX-5T has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the NEX-5T was succeeded by the Sony A5100. 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 how do things add up? Is the Canon SX540 better than the Sony NEX-5T or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.2 vs 16MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
- 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 NEX-5T requires a separate lens.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 4 months of technical progress since the NEX-5T launch.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-5T:
- 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.
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 461k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in 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 (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 120x82mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (330 versus 205) 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 August 2013).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-5T is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 8 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 SX540 and the Sony NEX-5T 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 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 NEX-5T 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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 SX540||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399|
|2.||Sony NEX-5T||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||699|
|3.||Canon SX740||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|5.||Canon T6||4/5||o||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449|
|6.||Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299|
|7.||Canon SX720||..||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379|
|8.||Canon SX410||..||o||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279|
|9.||Canon SX530||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||429|
|10.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|11.||Panasonic ZS70||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|12.||Panasonic FZ80||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||399|
|13.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|15.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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? 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 SX540 vs Sony NEX-5T
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 SX540||Sony NEX-5T|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016||August 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX540||Sony NEX-5T|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3888 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.18 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||71.80 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1015|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX540||Sony NEX-5T|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX540||Sony NEX-5T|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5.9 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX540||Sony NEX-5T|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon SX540||Sony NEX-5T|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||205 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
120 x 82 x 92 mm
(4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
111 x 59 x 39 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||442 g (15.6 oz)||276 g (9.7 oz)|
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