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Sony A7S versus Canon XC10

The Sony Alpha A7S and the Canon XC10 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2014 and April 2015. The A7S is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the XC10 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (A7S) and an one-inch (XC10) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12 megapixel. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Sony A7S vs Canon XC10

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7S and the Canon XC10. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the A7S – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony A7S vs Canon XC10
Compare A7S versus XC10 top
Compare A7S and XC10 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon XC10 is notably larger (7 percent) than the Sony A7S. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A7S is splash and dust resistant, while the XC10 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the XC10 has a lens build in, whereas the A7S is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the A7S and their specifications in the Sony FE Lens Catalog.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony A7S» 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 17.2 oz 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Canon XC10« 4.9 in 4.0 in 4.8 in 36.7 oz .. n Apr 2015 2,499- i Canon XC10
Canon G5 X« » 4.4 in 3.0 in 1.7 in 12.5 oz 210 n Oct 2015 799 i i Canon G5 X
Canon SX60« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 4.5 in 22.9 oz 340 n Sep 2014 549 i i Canon SX60
Canon G1 X Mark II« » 4.6 in 2.9 in 2.6 in 19.5 oz 240 n Feb 2014 799 i i Canon G1 X Mark II
Canon G16« » 4.3 in 3.0 in 1.6 in 12.6 oz 360 n Aug 2013 549 i i Canon G16
Leica X Typ 113« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.1 in 17.1 oz 350 n Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
Nikon D750« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i i Nikon D750
Nikon Df« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Nikon D700« » 5.8 in 4.8 in 3.0 in 37.9 oz 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7R II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Sony A7S II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.1 oz 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R

Any camera purchase 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. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony A7S vs Canon XC10

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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A7S features a full frame sensor and the Canon XC10 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the XC10 is 86 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.75. The sensor in the A7S has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the XC10 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Sony A7S and Canon XC10 sensor measures

Even though the A7S has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 12 megapixel. This implies that the A7S has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 8.45μm versus 3.20μm for the XC10), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the XC10 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the A7S, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

A7S versus XC10 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Sony A7S» Full Frame 12.0 4240 28321080/60p23.913.2370287Sony A7S
Canon XC10« 1-inch 12.0 4000 30004K/30p----Canon XC10
Canon G5 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p----Canon G5 X
Canon SX60« » 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739Canon SX60
Canon G1 X Mark II« » 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158Canon G1 X Mark II
Canon G16« » 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054Canon G16
Leica X Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----Leica X Typ 113
Nikon D750« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693Nikon D750
Nikon Df« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280-24.613.1327989Nikon Df
Nikon D700« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2230380Nikon D700
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785Sony A6300
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498Sony A7R II
Sony A7S II« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385Sony A7S II
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990Sony A7 II
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890Sony A7
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791Sony RX1R

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 XC10 provides a better video resolution than the A7S. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony A7S vs Canon XC10

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A7S has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the XC10 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A7S, the Canon XC10, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Sony A7S»2400 n 3.0 921 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7S
Canon XC10«- n 3.0 1030 tilting Y 2000 3.8 n Y Canon XC10
Canon G5 X« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 2000 5.9 Y Y Canon G5 X
Canon SX60« »922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 2000 6.4 Y Y Canon SX60
Canon G1 X Mark II« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 5.2 Y Y Canon G1 X Mark II
Canon G16« »optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 4000 2.2 Y Y Canon G16
Leica X Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X Typ 113
Nikon D750« »optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D750
Nikon Df« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 n n Nikon Df
Nikon D700« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n Nikon D700
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6300
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7R II
Sony A7S II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7S II
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7 II
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1R

Both the A7S and the XC10 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A7S was replaced by the Sony A7S II, while the XC10 was followed by the Canon XC20.

Review summary: Sony A7S vs Canon XC10

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A7S and the Canon XC10? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7S:

  • Better low-light imaging: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for better high-ISO images.
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2014).

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Reasons to prefer the Canon XC10:

  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1030k vs 921k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the A7S necessitates an extra lens.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7S comes out slightly ahead of the XC10 (7 : 6 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.

A7S 07:06 XC10

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A7S or the XC10. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony A7S»-86/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Canon XC10«-80/100--- Apr 2015 2,499- i Canon XC10
Canon G5 X« »HiRec78/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799 i i Canon G5 X
Canon SX60« »HiRec75/1004/5-4.5/5 Sep 2014 549 i i Canon SX60
Canon G1 X Mark II« »Rec77/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799 i i Canon G1 X Mark II
Canon G16« »Rec-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i i Canon G16
Leica X Typ 113« »--3.5/5-4/5 Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
Nikon D750« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i i Nikon D750
Nikon Df« »-81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Nikon D700« »89/100HiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Sony A7S II« »Rec-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« »--4/5rev4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, 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. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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