Superzooms have been a popular choice with travel photographers for many years now. The combination of a huge focal range within a single fixed lens body appeals to many who don’t have the space for extra lenses or maybe don’t want the hassle of carrying around additional glass. What’s more, the features and quality offered from superzoom cameras in recent years has increased dramatically. Two of the very best on the market are the Canon SX70 HS, which was released back in September 2018 and the much newer Nikon P950, which came to market in January 2020. While there is a price difference (with the newer Nikon being more expensive) these are the two cameras most will consider when looking to buy a superzoom, so we’re comparing the key features to help you make the right choice to meet your photography needs…
One: Focal length
Let’s jump straight to the number one reason most photographs buy a superzoom camera – those huge focal ranges. The Canon SX70 HS offers an incredible 65x zoom range, which translates to a versatile 21-1365mm (35mm equivalent). Astonishingly, the Nikon P950 goes even further; although it can’t go as wide as the Canon, the P950 does go further, offering a 83x zoom resulting in a focal range of 24–2000mm. This focal range should cover off every photo situation you could encounter on your travels; from wide angle landscapes, mid-range portraits, right through to more travel-friendly long-range shots.
Although both cameras share the same size 1/2.3-inch sensor, there is a difference in resolutions. While the Nikon P950 serves up 16-megapixels, the older Canon SX70 HS ups this figure to 20-megapixels. This means that the Nikon can produce a maximum file size of 4608×3456 pixels, while the Canon delivers a max file size of 5184×3888 pixels.
Three: Autofocus system
Offering a contrast-detection autofocus system, the Nikon P950 offers a number of focus modes including Face-detection and tracking, while the Canon SX70 HS also packs face-detection and tracking with a 9-AF points on hand. Both cameras offer a macro mode that enables users to shoot close up to subjects (1cm for the Nikon and less than 1cm for the Canon).
If you’re looking at a superzoom, it’s likely size and weight will be a priority as you look to save space in your luggage or camera bag. The flip-side of the Canon featuring a smaller focal length is that the Canon is smaller and lighter than the Nikon P950. In fact, the SX70 HS tips the scales at 610g (including battery and memory card), while the heavier Nikon weighs in at 1005g (including battery and memory card). In terms of size, the Canon measures 127 x 90.9 x 116.6 mm compared to the 140.2 x 109.6 x 149.8 mm P950.
Five: Battery Life
Although you can of course buy extra batteries, having a longer battery life with your superzoom means you don’t have to stop the fun of photography to swap in some fresh power. While the Nikon P950 offers a decent figure of 290 shots on a single charge, the Canon comes out on top, with the SX70 HS offering 325 shots in normal operation or up to 405 shots on a single charge when used in Eco mode.
Six: Lens design
While both cameras feature a single fixed lens, there are a few differences between the two models. The Nikon P950 uses a 16 elements in 12 groups design with five 5 ED lens elements and one super ED lens element and this offers a variable aperture of f/2.8 at the widest end of the focal length and f/6.5 at the longest end. Meanwhile the Canon SX70 HS uses a 15 elements in 11 groups design with a variable aperture of f/3.4 at the wide-angle end and f/6.5 at the longest end. Both lenses feature Image Stabilisation technology to keep images sharp.
Seven: Burst rate
Okay, so superzooms will never be as fast as purpose-built DSLRs used by sports photographers, but both cameras in our head-to-head do offer a decent maximum burst rate. While the Nikon P950 offers a good figure of 7 frames per second (FPS), the Canon pushes things even further, serving up 10 frames per second. This is fast enough to capture general wildlife photography situations that you may encounter on your travels.
Eight: Video mode
Along with packing impressive features to capture stills, both cameras offer impressive video specifications too. Each model can capture ultra high-quality 4K footage up to 30p and also offers Full HD up to 60p, meaning this footage can be used at half-speed to create slow-motion sequences. The Nikon P950 and Canon SX70 HS both write stills and video to a single SD card slot.
Nine: Maximum shutter speed
Maximum shutter speeds can be important when shooting in sunny conditions to prevent overexposure and the Canon SX70 HS serves up a decent max shutter speed of 1/2000sec. The P950 also offers a 1/2000sec max shutter speed but if you are using the Nikon at its widest focal length, this figure increases to 1/4000sec.
Ten: ISO range
A vast ISO range enables photographers to keep shooting when light levels become low. Canon’s SX70 HS features a ISO range of 100-3200, while the Nikon P950 features a wider range of ISO100 to 1600 that can be extended up to ISO 6400. While the Nikon uses an EXPEED image processor engine, the SX70 HS packs Canon’s powerful DIGIC 8 processor.
Eleven: LCD design
A versatile LCD design enables photographers to make easy work of awkward high-low compositions and both the SX70 HS and P950 features LCDs with a vari-angle design. While both screens share virtually the same resolution, the Nikon’s LCD is slightly larger at 3.2-inch (compared to the Canon’s 3-inch version). Photographers can also also use an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) to compose their images and, again, the resolution for the EVFs is virtually the same on the SX70 HS and P950 cameras.