Canon SX720 vs Nikon D3X
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS and the Nikon D3X are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2016 and December 2008. The SX720 is a fixed lens compact, while the D3X is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX720) and a full frame (D3X) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon SX720||Nikon D3X|
|Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|24-960mm f/3.3-6.9||Nikon F mount lenses|
|20.2 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor||24.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|1080/60p Video||no Video|
|ISO 80-3,200||ISO 100-1,600 (50 - 6,400)|
|No viewfinder, LCD framing||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0 LCD, 922k dots||3.0 LCD, 922k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|5.9 shutter flaps per second||5 shutter flaps per second|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|250 shots per battery charge||4400 shots per battery charge|
|110 x 64 x 36 mm, 270 g||160 x 157 x 88 mm, 1260 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS and the Nikon D3X? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon SX720 and the Nikon D3X is provided 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.
The SX720 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the D3X 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 Nikon D3X is considerably larger (257 percent) than the Canon SX720. It is noteworthy in this context that the D3X is splash and dust-proof, while the SX720 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX720 has a lens built in, whereas the D3X 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 D3X and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the SX720 gets 250 shots out of its NB-13L battery, while the D3X can take 4400 images on a single charge of its EN-EL4a power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D3X has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379|
|Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|Canon SX740||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||299 g||265||n||Jul 2018||399|
|Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||106 mm||61 mm||42 mm||319 g||265||n||Feb 2016||699|
|Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|Canon SX540||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||205||n||Jan 2016||399|
|Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279|
|Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Panasonic TZ90||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|Sony HX80||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||390||n||Mar 2016||349|
|Sony HX90V||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||360||n||Apr 2015||429|
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The SX720 was launched at a lower price than the D3X, 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. 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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX720 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Nikon D3X a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3X is 2979 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the SX720 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D3X offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24.4MP, the D3X offers a higher resolution than the SX720 (20.2MP), but the D3X nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 1.18μm for the SX720) due to its larger sensor. However, the SX720 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 2 months) than the D3X, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX720 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3X implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3X for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX720 are 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3X are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-6400.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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.
|Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The SX720 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D3X does not. The highest resolution format that the SX720 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D3X has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX720 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX720 and Nikon D3X in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX720 has one, while the D3X does not. While the built-in flash of the SX720 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D3X has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The SX720 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D3X uses Compact Flash cards. The D3X features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the SX720 only has one slot.
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 D3X and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon G7 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the SX720 offers wifi support, while the D3X does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D3X (unlike the SX720) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the SX720 and the D3X have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX720 was replaced by the Canon SX730, while the D3X does not have a direct successor. 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.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX720 and the Nikon D3X? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS:
- 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 1080/60p movies.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.9 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D3X requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D3X).
- 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.
- 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D3X launch.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3X:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 20.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 12%.
- 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.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/3200s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (4400 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in December 2008).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3X is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 12 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX720 and the Nikon D3X 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX720 or the D3X perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. 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 SX720||+||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379|
|Nikon D3X||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|Canon SX740||+||..||4/5||..||4/5||Jul 2018||399|
|Canon SX730||+||..||4/5||..||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||+ +||81/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||699|
|Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299|
|Canon SX540||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399|
|Canon SX410||o||..||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279|
|Canon SX710||+||..||4/5||..||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|Nikon D5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Nikon D3S||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|Nikon D700||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Nikon D3||..||+ +||5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Panasonic TZ90||+ +||..||4/5||..||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|Sony HX80||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2016||349|
|Sony HX90V||+ +||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Apr 2015||429|
|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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 350D vs Nikon D3X
- Canon M100 vs Canon SX720
- Canon M3 vs Nikon D3X
- Canon SX720 vs Leica D-LUX 7
- Canon SX720 vs Leica X1
- Canon SX720 vs Nikon D100
- Canon SX720 vs Olympus E-1
- Canon SX720 vs Panasonic S1R
- Leica SL vs Nikon D3X
- Nikon D3X vs Panasonic GX85
- Nikon D3X vs Panasonic LX100 II
- Nikon D3X vs Sony WX800
Specifications: Canon SX720 vs Nikon D3X
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 SX720||Nikon D3X|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||24-960mm f/3.3-6.9||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2016||December 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 379||USD 7,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX720||Nikon D3X|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 Megapixels||24.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3888 pixels||6048 x 4032 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.18 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||71.80 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||EXPEED|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||88|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1992|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX720||Nikon D3X|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX720||Nikon D3X|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5.9 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX720||Nikon D3X|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Canon SX720||Nikon D3X|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||4400 shots per charge|
110 x 64 x 36 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
|Camera Weight||270 g (9.5 oz)||1260 g (44.4 oz)|
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