Canon PowerShot SX420 Review

Canon PowerShot SX420 review
A 42X optical zoom lens highlights the design of the Canon PowerShot SX420. Canon

The digital camera marketplace continues to see smartphone cameras erode the low end, point and shoot portion of the market. There just isn't enough difference between a smartphone camera and a basic model to entice people to carry both units. But that's where my Canon PowerShot SX420 review shows how an easy to use camera can set itself apart in the market -- by making use of a large optical zoom lens.

The Canon SX420 has a 42X optical zoom lens, something smartphone cameras cannot match. You'll have to decide whether carrying this large camera is something you want to do to gain the benefit of the large zoom lens, versus carrying a thinner digital camera or a smartphone camera only. But you will be impressed with the types of photos you can shoot because of the large optical zoom this camera provides.

Outside of its optical zoom lens, the PowerShot SX420 has a lot of features that will remind you of other point and shoot cameras. The SX420's image quality is good inadequate lighting and is below average in low light. It is very easy to use with almost no manual controls, meaning it works best as an automatic camera. And it carries a reasonable price, making it a tempting option.


  • Resolution: 20.0 megapixels
  • Optical zoom: 42X
  • LCD: 3.0-inch, 230,000 pixels
  • Maximum image size: 5152 x 3864 pixels
  • Battery: Rechargeable Li-Ion
  • Dimensions: 4.1 x 2.7 x 3.35 inches
  • Weight: 11.5 ounces (with battery and memory card)
  • Image sensor: APS-C CMOS, 22.3 x 14.9 mm (0.88 x 0.59 in.)
  • Movie mode: HD 1280x720


  • Long 42X zoom lens in lightweight camera
  • Built-in Wi-Fi feature
  • Fast power up 
  • Good price for a large zoom camera
  • Very easy to use


  • Doesn't offer full 1080p HD video recording
  • Image quality struggles in low light conditions
  • Battery life could be better
  • LCD screen isn't as sharp as it could be
  • Shutter lag can be a problem in some scenes

Image Quality

As with most very basic cameras, the image quality for the PowerShot SX420 is adequate when the lighting is good. But the SX420 struggles to create great looking images in low light conditions, just as you'd expect with a camera that has a 1/2.3-inch image sensor.

Canon did give the SX420 20 megapixels of resolution, which is a desirable level of resolution in the digital camera market currently. Still, the small 1/2.3-inch image sensor limits the effectiveness of the 20MP of resolution.

You cannot shot in the RAW image format with this camera, which is, again, common with cameras in this price range and with 1/2.3-inch image sensors.

You will have access to numerous special effect shooting modes, which can help you create some interesting looking images. The special effects also make the SX420 fun to use.

The PowerShot SX420 is limited to 720p HD video recording, which is uncommon in today's digital camera market, where most models can record 1080p HD video or 4K video.


Burst mode is about two frames per second with this model, which doesn't make it a good option for action photos.

Canon did give the SX420 an easy to use Wi-Fi option, which is a good feature to find in a camera in this price range.

Don't expect to find much in the way of manual control features with this model. Canon chose not to include a mode dial with the SX420, as it's designed to be used as an automatic control button. You can make minor changes to the camera's settings by pressing the Func/Set button on the back of the camera or through the camera's menus, but these are very basic options.


The key feature of the Canon PowerShot SX420 is its 42X optical zoom lens. Having a large optical zoom lens is one of the primary ways to set a fixed lens camera apart from smartphone cameras, which have no optical zoom capability. (Keep in mind that optical zoom vs. digital zoom are different measurements.)

And the 42X optical zoom lens is among the biggest you'll find in our list of the best ultra-zoom cameras, so Canon has created a desirable model here. Canon also included an effective image stabilization feature with the SX420, which makes it possible to hand-hold the camera and still record sharp images that don't suffer from blur from camera shake ... as long as the lighting in the scene is good, that is. Low light images are almost impossible to record while hand holding the camera, even with the strong IS system.

Surprisingly, the Canon SX420 only weighs about 11.5 ounces, even with a battery and memory card installed. It's one of the lightest large zoom cameras on the market in terms of weight. It's still a large camera body, similar to other large zoom cameras, as the lens extends more than 8 inches from the camera body at the full optical zoom.setting.

One design aspect that plagues a lot of point and shoot Canon cameras is control buttons on the back of the camera that are too small and too tightly set to the camera body to be used comfortably. The PowerShot SX420 also suffers from this problem. However, because you'll be using this model in automatic mode, you may not need to use these buttons all that often.

It's also a little disappointing that Canon didn't give the SX420 a touchscreen LCD, as such a feature simplifies the operation of a camera. Touch screens are great for beginning photographers and for entry-level cameras, but Canon chose to keep the starting price of the SX420 lower by not including the touchscreen. Still, there are plenty of easy to use features with this camera that you'll have no problem picking it up and using it successfully on the first try.