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Canon SX720 vs Nikon 1 J4

The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS and the Nikon 1 J4 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2016 and April 2014. The SX720 is a fixed lens compact, while the J4 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX720) and an one-inch (J4) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 18.2 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon SX720 versus Nikon 1 J4
Canon SX720 Nikon 1 J4
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
24-960mm f/3.3-6.9 Nikon 1 mount lenses
20.2 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 18.2 MP, 1" Sensor
1080/60p Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 80-3,200 ISO 160-12,800
No viewfinder, LCD framing No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 922k dots 3.0 LCD, 1037k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) no rear screen
5.9 shutter flaps per second 60 shutter flaps per second
250 shots per battery charge300 shots per battery charge
110 x 64 x 36 mm, 270 g 100 x 60 x 29 mm, 232 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS and the Nikon 1 J4? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon SX720 and the Nikon 1 J4. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The SX720 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the J4 is available in four color-versions (black, silver, orange, white).

Size Canon SX720 vs Nikon 1 J4
Compare SX720 versus J4 top
Comparison SX720 or J4 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon 1 J4 is notably smaller (15 percent) than the Canon SX720. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX720 nor the J4 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX720 has a lens built in, whereas the J4 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon SX720 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 250 n Feb 2016 379i
 
Nikon 1 J4 3.9 in 2.4 in 1.1 in 8.2 oz 300 n Apr 2014 549i
 
Canon SX740 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 265 n Jul 2018 399 i
 
Canon SX730 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.6 in 10.6 oz 250 n Apr 2017 399i
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 4.2 in 2.4 in 1.7 in 11.3 oz 265 n Feb 2016 699i
 
Canon SX420 4.1 in 2.7 in 3.3 in 11.5 oz 195 n Jan 2016 299 i
 
Canon SX540 4.7 in 3.2 in 3.6 in 15.6 oz 205 n Jan 2016 399 i
 
Canon G9 X 3.9 in 2.3 in 1.2 in 7.4 oz 220 n Oct 2015 529i
 
Canon SX410 4.1 in 2.7 in 3.3 in 11.5 oz 185 n Feb 2015 279i
 
Canon SX710 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 230 n Jan 2015 349i
 
Canon SL1 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 n Mar 2013 549i
 
Nikon 1 J5 3.9 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 8.1 oz 250 n Apr 2015 399i
 
Nikon 1 V3 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.3 in 13.4 oz 310 n Mar 2014 799i
 
Nikon 1 V2 4.3 in 3.2 in 1.8 in 9.8 oz 310 n Oct 2012 799i
 
Panasonic ZS70 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 11.4 oz 380 n Apr 2017 449i
 
Sony HX80 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.6 oz 390 n Mar 2016 349 i
 
Sony HX90V 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.6 oz 360 n Apr 2015 429 i
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.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SX720 was launched at a lower price than the J4, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX720 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Nikon 1 J4 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the J4 is 314 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 2.7. The sensor in the SX720 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the J4 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX720 and Nikon 1 J4 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX720 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 18.2 MP of the Nikon 1 J4. 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 2.52μm for the J4). However, it should be noted that the SX720 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 10 months) than the J4, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage. 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 J4 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon 1 J4 are ISO 160 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

SX720 versus J4 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). 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
 
Canon SX720 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
 
Nikon 1 J4 1-inch 18.2 5232 34881080/60p20.810.742653
 
Canon SX740 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p........
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p........
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
 
Canon SX540 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
 
Canon G9 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p........
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
 
Canon SL1 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
 
Nikon 1 J5 1-inch 20.7 5568 37124K/15p21.112.047965
 
Nikon 1 V3 1-inch 18.2 5232 34881080/60p20.810.738452
 
Nikon 1 V2 1-inch 14.2 4608 30721080/60p20.210.840350
 
Panasonic ZS70 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p19.110.610636
 
Sony HX80 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36721080/60p........
 
Sony HX90V 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36721080/60p........

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60p).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The SX720 and the J4 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX720, the Nikon 1 J4, and comparable 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
 
Canon SX720none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
 
Nikon 1 J4none n 3.0 1037 Fixed Y 1/4000s 60.0 Y n
 
Canon SX740none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 10.0 Y Y
 
Canon SX730none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
 
Canon G7 X Mark IInone n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 8.0 Y Y
 
Canon SX420none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
 
Canon SX540none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 5.9 Y Y
 
Canon G9 Xnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 6.0 Y Y
 
Canon SX410none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
 
Canon SX710none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 Y Y
 
Canon SL1optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
 
Nikon 1 J5none n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 60.0 Y n
 
Nikon 1 V3optional n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 60.0 Y n
 
Nikon 1 V21440 n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 15.0 Y n
 
Panasonic ZS701166 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y
 
Sony HX80638 n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y
 
Sony HX90V638 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The J4 has a touchscreen, while the SX720 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

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 J4 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 SX720 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the J4 uses micro SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

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 SX720 HS and Nikon 1 J4 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
 
Canon SX720-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Nikon 1 J4-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Canon SX740-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
 
Canon SX730-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
 
Canon G7 X Mark II-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon SX420-monomono---2.0YY-
 
Canon SX540-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon G9 X-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon SX410-stereomono---2.0---
 
Canon SX710-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon SL1YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon 1 J5-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Nikon 1 V3-stereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Nikon 1 V2-stereomono--mini2.0---
 
Panasonic ZS70-stereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Sony HX80-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Sony HX90V-stereomono--micro2.0YY-

Both the SX720 and the J4 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The J4 was replaced by the Nikon 1 J5, while the SX720 was followed by the Canon SX730. 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.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon SX720 better than the Nikon 1 J4 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS:

  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the J4 requires a separate lens.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 10 months after the J4).

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon 1 J4:

  • 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.
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 922k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/3200s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (60 vs 5.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More compact: Is smaller (100x60mm vs 110x64mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (300 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2014).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the J4 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 5 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 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.

SX720 05:14 J4

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX720 and the Nikon 1 J4 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX720 or the J4 perform in practice. 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.

Expert reviews

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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon SX720+..4/5..4.5/5 Feb 2016 379i
 
Nikon 1 J4....4.5/5..4/5 Apr 2014 549i
 
Canon SX740+..4/5..4/5 Jul 2018 399 i
 
Canon SX730+..4/5..4/5 Apr 2017 399i
 
Canon G7 X Mark II+ +81/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2016 699i
 
Canon SX420........3/5 Jan 2016 299 i
 
Canon SX540.......... Jan 2016 399 i
 
Canon G9 X+ +..4.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529i
 
Canon SX410o........ Feb 2015 279i
 
Canon SX710+..4/5..3.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
 
Canon SL1+78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
 
Nikon 1 J5....4.5/54/54.5/5 Apr 2015 399i
 
Nikon 1 V3..76/1004.5/53/54/5 Mar 2014 799i
 
Nikon 1 V2....4.5/5..4/5 Oct 2012 799i
 
Panasonic ZS70+ +..4/5..4/5 Apr 2017 449i
 
Sony HX80.......... Mar 2016 349 i
 
Sony HX90V+ +..4/5..4.5/5 Apr 2015 429 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.

Canon SX720:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon 1 J4:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, 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.

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    Specifications: Canon SX720 vs Nikon 1 J4

    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 SX720 Nikon 1 J4
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 24-960mm f/3.3-6.9 Nikon 1 mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2016 April 2014
    Launch Price USD 379 USD 549
    Sensor Specs Canon SX720 Nikon 1 J4
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor 1" Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 13.2 x 8.8 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 116.16 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 15.9 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 2.7x
    Sensor Resolution 20.2 Megapixels 18.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3888 pixels 5232 x 3488 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.18 μm 2.52 μm
    Pixel Density 71.80 MP/cm2 15.71 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 160 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 6 Expeed 4
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 53
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 20.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 426
    Screen Specs Canon SX720 Nikon 1 J4
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 1037k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX720 Nikon 1 J4
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF On-Sensor Phase-detect
    Continuous Shooting 5.9 shutter flaps/s 60 shutter flaps/s
    Electronic Shutterno E-Shutterup to 1/16000s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards micro or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX720 Nikon 1 J4
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Body Specs Canon SX720 Nikon 1 J4
    Battery Type NB-13L EN-EL22
    Battery Life (CIPA)250 shots per charge300 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 110 x 64 x 36 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
    100 x 60 x 29 mm
    (3.9 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)
    Camera Weight 270 g (9.5 oz) 232 g (8.2 oz)

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