40x optical zoom in your pocket, but how’s the I.Q.? Canon SX720 First Shots posted


posted Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at 5:16 PM EDT


We crave generous zoom range in a small package, and why not… it's tantalizing! There's power in that long zoom range, versatility, and so many shot possibilities open up to you. And if it comes in a package you can easily fit in a vest pocket or small purse, hey, all the better! This is what the 40x Canon SX720 offers in a nutshell.

But zoom range in a compact body has always come with its trade-offs. Technological advancements continue as always, but when you're dealing with small sensors with a ton of megapixels crammed onto them, and complex lenses occupying a small area, you're still bumping hard and fast into the laws of physics and just how far you can push image quality boundaries.

And this is one of the main reasons you come to us! It's nice to hear about what something can do on paper (like that 24-960mm eq. zoom range!) but you also want some idea of what to expect in the real world from the image quality. Our laboratory First Shots are a great place to start, as they allow you to compare this camera in our world-renowned Comparometer to its predecessor, the current competition or any camera we've ever tested.

Below are a few side-by-side 1:1 comparisons at base ISO and ISO 800 to get you started against its predecessor, the 30x Canon SX710 (also 20.3mp), the 30x Panasonic ZS60 (18.1mp) and the 30x Sony HX90V (18.2mp). The slight difference in target size is due to the small variation in sensor resolution against the ZS60 and HX90V.

Base ISO

Canon SX710                    Base ISO                    Canon SX720

Sporting the same sensor and processor, it's not a big surprise to see these two appear very similar for overall image quality, at least in this central area of our Still Life test target. Stay tuned for additional lab shots fully zoomed to show the lens performance in the corners.

Panasonic ZS60                 Base ISO                    Canon SX720

The SX720 certainly outperforms the ZS60 here at base ISO, and not just because it has a few more megapixels resolution. There's just not nearly as much fine detail available from the ZS60.

Sony HX90V                    Base ISO                    Canon SX720

The base ISO image from the HX90V certainly has more pop, as well as more obvious contrast dialed into the JPEG engine. Close inspection though reveals some mottling in certain areas like the green label, and more obvious sharpening halos around some finely detailed objects and lettering. It really comes down to personal preference on this, but it's easier to boost contrast in post-production than to remove unwanted sharpening artifacts. It's often possible to achieve less aggressive results in-camera by customizing your settings, though, so keep this in mind if you own or acquire an HX90V.

ISO 800

This is where the real fun begins, because cameras with 1/2.3" type sensors have traditionally not been able to handle much beyond ISO 400. And ISO is very important for a long-zooming camera because you tend to need faster shutter speeds as you zoom farther, and also for anything like capturing sports or wildlife.

Canon SX710                    ISO 800                    Canon SX720

Once again we see very similar results here from the SX720 as compared to the SX710, with only subtle differences in overall image quality and perhaps a slight bit more fine detail from the SX720.

Panasonic ZS60                 ISO 800                    Canon SX720

While neither of these images look very good, the SX720 certainly surpasses the ZS60 in virtually all aspects of image quality, including fine detail, noise levels and saturation.

Sony HX90V                   ISO 800                    Canon SX720

Sony's aggressive JPEG processing becomes more obvious here as ISO rises, with the above-referenced mottling far more evident. The SX720's noise reduction algorithm here at default settings is more even-keeled in its approach, and yield a more usable image in general.

Dive into our Comparometer to see more of the above images and to make your own comparisons, and see our Canon SX720 Samples Page for access to individual images and EXIF data (note: there are no RAW files available with this camera).

Canon SX720Lab SamplesComparometer

Canon SX710 vs Canon SX720

Panasonic ZS60 vs Canon SX720

Sony HX90V vs Canon SX720

Best SX720 Prices

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