Canon SX720 vs Olympus E-M5 III
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2016 and October 2019. The SX720 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-M5 III is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX720) and a Four Thirds (E-M5 III) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 20.2 megapixels.
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 SX720 HS and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III? 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 Olympus E-M5 III. 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 SX720 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the E-M5 III is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M5 III is considerably larger (51 percent) than the Canon SX720. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-M5 III 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 E-M5 III 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 E-M5 III and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the SX720 gets 250 shots out of its NB-13L battery, while the E-M5 III can take 310 images on a single charge of its BLS-50 power pack. The power pack in the E-M5 III can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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 SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379|
|2.||Olympus E-M5 III||125 mm||85 mm||50 mm||414 g||310||Y||Oct 2019||1,199|
|3.||Canon SX740||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||299 g||265||n||Jul 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SX430||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||323 g||195||n||Jan 2017||299|
|5.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|6.||Canon SX420||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||195||n||Jan 2016||299|
|7.||Canon SX540||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||205||n||Jan 2016||399|
|8.||Canon SX410||104 mm||69 mm||85 mm||325 g||185||n||Feb 2015||279|
|9.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|10.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|12.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|13.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|14.||Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|15.||Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|16.||Sony HX80||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||390||n||Mar 2016||349|
|17.||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.|
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 E-M5 III, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 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 Olympus E-M5 III a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M5 III is 704 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
Even though the E-M5 III has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 20.2 megapixels. This implies that the E-M5 III has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 1.18μm for the SX720), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the E-M5 III is much more recent (by 3 years and 7 months) than the SX720, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time. 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 E-M5 III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the SX720, the E-M5 III has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (80MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 64-25600.
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 |
|2.||Olympus E-M5 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|12.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|13.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|15.||Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the E-M5 III 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 E-M5 III has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), which can be very helpful 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 Olympus E-M5 III in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|2.||Olympus E-M5 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX720 has one, while the E-M5 III 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 E-M5 III 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 SX720 does not have a selfie-screen.
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 E-M5 III 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 Olympus E-M5 III 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX720 and the E-M5 III write their files to SDXC cards. The E-M5 III 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 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Olympus E-M5 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the E-M5 III 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.
The E-M5 III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Olympus. 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 Olympus websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX720 and the Olympus E-M5 III? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS:
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-M5 III requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 125x85mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-M5 III).
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- 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 heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2016).
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III:
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- 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 live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or 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 (1/8000s vs 1/3200s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (310 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- 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.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 7 months of technical progress since the SX720 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M5 III is the clear winner of the contest (25 : 7 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. 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 Olympus E-M5 III 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 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 E-M5 III 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.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 SX720||..||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379|
|2.||Olympus E-M5 III||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||1,199|
|3.||Canon SX740||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2018||399|
|4.||Canon SX430||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2017||299|
|5.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|6.||Canon SX420||..||..||..||..||3/5||Jan 2016||299|
|7.||Canon SX540||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399|
|8.||Canon SX410||..||o||..||..||..||Feb 2015||279|
|9.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|10.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|11.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|12.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|13.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|14.||Panasonic ZS70||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|15.||Panasonic GX8||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|16.||Sony HX80||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2016||349|
|17.||Sony HX90V||4/5||+ +||..||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 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.
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 use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon SX720 vs Olympus E-M5 III
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||Olympus E-M5 III|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-960mm f/3.3-6.9||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2016||October 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 379||USD 1,199|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX720||Olympus E-M5 III|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 Megapixels||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3888 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.18 μm||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||71.80 MP/cm2||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||64 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||TruePic VIII|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX720||Olympus E-M5 III|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX720||Olympus E-M5 III|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/3200s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5.9 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX720||Olympus E-M5 III|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon SX720||Olympus E-M5 III|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||310 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
110 x 64 x 36 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
125 x 85 x 50 mm
(4.9 x 3.3 x 2.0 in)
|Camera Weight||270 g (9.5 oz)||414 g (14.6 oz)|
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