Canon SX720 vs Nikon D850
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS and the Nikon D850 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2016 and July 2017. The SX720 is a fixed lens compact, while the D850 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX720) and a full frame (D850) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 45.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon SX720||Nikon D850|
|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||45.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 80-3,200||ISO 64-25,600 (32 - 102,400)|
|No viewfinder, LCD framing||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0 LCD, 922k dots||3.2 LCD, 2359k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting touchscreen|
|5.9 shutter flaps per second||9 shutter flaps per second|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|250 shots per battery charge||1840 shots per battery charge|
|110 x 64 x 36 mm, 270 g||146 x 124 x 79 mm, 1005 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS and the Nikon D850? 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 SX720 and the Nikon D850. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The SX720 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the D850 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 D850 is considerably larger (157 percent) than the Canon SX720. It is noteworthy in this context that the D850 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 D850 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 D850 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|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 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|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 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|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|
|Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|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 naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 D850, 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 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 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 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 D850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D850 is 2964 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 D850 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 45.4MP, the D850 offers a higher resolution than the SX720 (20.2MP), but the D850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.35μm versus 1.18μm for the SX720) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D850 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the SX720, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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 Nikon D850 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D850 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41.3 x 27.5 inches or 104.9 x 69.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 33 x 22 inches or 83.9 x 55.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.5 x 18.3 inches or 69.9 x 46.6 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 D850 are ISO 64 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 32-102400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the D850 provides a better video resolution than the SX720. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D850 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX720, the Nikon D850, and comparable cameras.
|Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX720 has one, while the D850 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 D850 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 D850 uses SDHC or XQD cards. The D850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the SX720 only has one slot. The D850 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the SX720 can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 D850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the D850 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The SX720 does not feature such a mic input.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D850 (unlike the SX720) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The D850 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the SX720 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the SX720 was succeeded 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.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon SX720 better than the Nikon D850 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS:
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D850 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 146x124mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D850).
- 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2016).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D850:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (45.4 vs 20.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 53%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- 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.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 922k 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.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/3200s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 5.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- 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.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1840 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.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 5 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D850 is the clear winner of the contest (27 : 7 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 D850 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SX720 or the D850. 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 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 (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 D850||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Canon SX740||+||..||4/5||..||4/5||Jul 2018||399|
|Canon SX730||+||..||4/5||..||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|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 5DS||+||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon SX410||o||..||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279|
|Canon SX710||+||..||4/5||..||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|Nikon D810||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|Nikon D800||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|Nikon D800E||..||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|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.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
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- Canon SX720 vs Nikon D1X
- Canon SX720 vs Nikon P1000
- Canon SX720 vs Panasonic FZ2000
- Canon SX720 vs Panasonic GX1
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- Nikon D850 vs Panasonic GF1
Specifications: Canon SX720 vs Nikon D850
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 D850|
|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||July 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 379||USD 3,299|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX720||Nikon D850|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 Megapixels||45.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3888 pixels||8256 x 5504 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.18 μm||4.35 μm|
|Pixel Density||71.80 MP/cm2||5.30 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||64 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||32 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||EXPEED 5|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||100|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||26.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.8|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||2660|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX720||Nikon D850|
|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||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX720||Nikon D850|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5.9 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX720||Nikon D850|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|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 SX720||Nikon D850|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||1840 shots per charge|
110 x 64 x 36 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
146 x 124 x 79 mm
(5.7 x 4.9 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||270 g (9.5 oz)||1005 g (35.5 oz)|
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