Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Review

The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS is a brand-new super-zoom camera that comes equipped with a 50x zoom lens. This gives the camera a focal length range that is similar to 24-1200mm. The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS is the successor to the PowerShot SX40 HS and features a 12-megapixel back-illuminated sensor, a DIGIC 5 image processor, a 4.5-stop optical Image Stabilizer with Intelligent IS technology, full manual controls, ISO 80-6400, 12-bit RAW format support, full 1080p HD movie recording with stereo sound and an HDMI port, 10 frames per second of burst shooting, a 2.8 inch vari-angle LCD The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS comes in black and can be purchased for £449 or $479.99 respectively.

Ease of Operation

The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, much like other large zoom bridge cameras, is a hefty beast that is not all that much smaller than the entry-level digital SLR from which it derives its design cues. This is because it takes its design cues from that camera. However, the primary selling feature is the monster of a 50x optical lens, which boasts a thoroughly and imaginatively broad focal range extending from 24mm to 1200mm. Such a focal range would ordinarily be either prohibitively expensive or impracticable for the ordinary DSLR user. What the SX50 HS lacks in image quality compared to a DSLR it makes up for in terms of adaptability – the photographer is able to quickly move from wide-angle framing to candid close-ups from a distance – and, all things considered, reasonable value, despite the fact that it is not a cheap buy.

When taking into account the SX50 HS, one must definitely get past the ‘ouch’ factor due to the fact that the suggested retail price in the UK is $449. Taking into consideration the fact that you could acquire an entry-level digital SLR camera for the same amount of money, but one that comes equipped with a basic 18-55mm lens that only has a 3x zoom rather than a 50x zoom. On the other hand, when contrasted with the comparable Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200, which is offered at a recommended price of £439.99 and, to be fair, features a lens with a constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout its 24x zoom range, the Canon appears to be fairly inexpensive, at least on paper.

If we are going to be able to achieve anything approaching critical sharpness when shooting handheld toward the maximum telephoto setting, a bulky body and some added weight courtesy of the chunky 315-shot rechargeable lithium-ion battery in the handgrip (total weight of 600g when the SX50 HS is ‘loaded’) makes perfect sense considering the zoom range that is offered here. The lens shift kind of image stabilization provides a 4.5 stop advantage, according to the manufacturer.

Both an Ultrasonic Motor and a Voice Coil Motor are included in the SX50 HS, just like they were in its predecessor. These motors work together to provide zooming that is not only relatively quick but also smooth and silent. This is especially important when capturing video, which is why a record button that can be operated with the thumb is included. The lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.4 at 24mm and slows down to f/6.5 when it is fully extended to 1200mm; this is a touch sluggish to begin with but is not terrible when considering the enormous focal range that is available.

The SX50 HS (for ‘High Speed’) seems more angular and DSLR-like from the front than the SX40 IS did, with a larger hand-grip and a further projecting pop-up flash. The only other difference between the two models is the change in the model number. To the right of the enormous lens is a porthole that serves as an AF illuminator and a self-timer. Just above the lens is where the pop-up flash is concealed, and to the left of the lens is where the deep carved plastic grip is located. We were able to fit three fingers around the grip without any of our knuckles getting scraped on the next barrel, despite the fact that the surface has a somewhat roughened texture that is useful in avoiding slippage but is not particularly pleasant.

Two extra buttons have been added to the barrel of the lens in order to make operating the 50x zoom simpler. When the topmost Seek button is pressed, the zoom level is rapidly decreased, which is helpful when you need to reposition the subject that you had previously zoomed in on. When the button is released, the zoom level is returned to the focal length that you had previously selected. The bottom Lock button latches onto and automatically tracks your subject, ensuring that they remain in the middle of the frame until the photo is taken. The SX range of cameras has been updated with a new external hot shoe that is located on top of the camera. This hot shoe is compatible with an external Canon Speedlite EX flashgun, which significantly increases the capabilities of the SX50 HS in low-light settings.

The SX50 HS is equipped with the company’s high-speed Digic 5 image processor, which provides a variety of quick-fire continuous capture options, including up to 13 frames per second for up to ten shots, 120fps or 240fps slow-motion video replay options at 640×480 or 320×240 pixels respectively, and the now-expected capability to record regular Full HD 1920×1080 pixels video at 24 frames per second. All of these options are available in addition to the ability to record regularly If you want 30 frames per second, then you will need to lower the resolution to 1280 by 720 pixels.

The lens shift image stabilization, which was also a feature of the predecessor of the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, gives the equivalent of 4.5 stops, with the camera identifying and picking the “proper” form of stabilization based on the shooting conditions and the subject being photographed.

Normal IS, Dynamic IS, Powered IS (using camcorder technology to ensure the ability to record footage at a long zoom range), Panning IS (deployed in one direction and useful for recording racetrack action), Macro IS, Tripod Mode (image stabilizer automatically deactivated), or Dynamic macro IS are the seven options that are supposedly available to choose from with the SX50 HS. Normal IS, Dynamic IS, Powered IS, Panning IS, Macro IS, and Dynamic macro IS

The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS boasts 12.1 effective megapixels thanks to a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that is backlit to improve its light-collecting properties. These properties are improved since cables do not come in the way of the sensor, which means that the light can travel more freely. The noise reduction performance of the new Digic 5 processor is said to be an astounding 75 percent greater than the performance of its predecessor, the Digic 4.

Because there is less noise, you are able to avoid utilizing the flash at different focal lengths, which, by the way, must be raised manually rather than automatically popping up, and instead increase the ISO when shooting handheld. The available ISO settings range from 80 to 6400.

Top Side

When utilized in conjunction with tungsten lighting, the multi-area white balance feature of a camera ensures that both the subject’s face and the backdrop preserve their naturally occurring color balance. The camera makes the discovery that there are two distinct sources of light and, as a result, acquires measurements that are area-specific. However, while having facial identification and AF tracking built-in, this camera only has a single point of autofocus, which is a far lower number of AF points than even the most basic DSLRs have.

The learning curve for this camera is far lower compared to that of a standard DSLR, making it much simpler to pick up and begin shooting with. The buttons and controls on the SX50 HS are well placed (and spaced), with a shooting mode dial the size of a ten-pen piece and a shutter release button the size of a dime that is encircled by a lever for operating the zoom. The zoom lever is located at the top of the handgrip, where it automatically falls under the forefinger of the right hand.

This is a power zoom for folks with larger hands who generally complain about the small, precise buttons on most digital cameras. The only part of the device that is occasionally cumbersome to operate with the thumb is the scroll wheel that surrounds the control pad at the rear of the device. When we used it, switching between its settings was as simple as switching between any of the other options on the device. Although the majority of super-zooms have a lever that can be used to fast go back and forth within the focal range, we found ourselves longing for the ability to manually rotate the lens barrel in order to more quickly get the desired framing.

The shooting mode dial on the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS has a total of 12 settings. These settings range from a scene and subject recognizing smart auto mode to the more traditional program, shutter priority, aperture priority, and manual settings. Other settings include a movie digest mode, sports mode, scene mode, and an unusual digital effects mode. Within this model, features such as miniature mode and HDR can be found. Additionally, there is a dedicated video setting from which the previously mentioned slow-motion movie capture options can be implemented

JPEG and/or RAW image capture is now available, which is a great move that brings the SX range into line with important competitors. It also makes perfect sense for a camera that wants to replace a DSLR in terms of functionality. On the dial that controls the shooting mode, there are two programmable options for people who enjoy having a greater degree of control. In spite of the fact that there is a dedicated video control on the shooting dial, you are not required to set it at this position in order to start recording (this is a means in place of adjusting the aforementioned video settings from regular speed to slow-mo by pressing the ‘function set’ button).

Simply press the button designated for recording regardless of the alternative stills mode you have selected, and about a second later, the screen display will change from the standard 4:3 aspect ratio to the 16:9 aspect ratio, simulating how the video will appear when it is played back on your flat panel TV. There is, as we would anticipate, a small HDMI connection available for this purpose behind a rubber flap at the side of the camera; however, there is no lead included with the camera itself, which is not unusual. The resolution of the new 2.8-inch screen has been increased to 460k pixels, which is on par with the resolution of the SX50’s competitors.

Flash Top That Pops Up

When you turn the camera on by pressing the obvious on/off switch that is located next to the shooting mode dial, it turns on in just under two seconds, which is respectably quick. At the same time as the rear LCD begins to function, the lens barrel clearly stretches to its widest possible setting of 24 millimeters. Because it is indicated on the top of the lens barrel, we are aware of the setting. Also helpful are the incremental settings that go all the way up to 1200mm and become visible progressively as the lens expands away from the body of the camera.

Because this is a bridge camera as well as a power zoom, the rear of the camera features an LCD monitor that can be angled in several directions in addition to a fixed electronic viewfinder right above it. If you have rotated the LCD screen such that it is pointing inwards toward the camera body, this feature will activate immediately. Because there is neither an eye sensor below nor an eye sensor above, nor is there a button that is specifically designated for switching between the bigger screen and the smaller EVF, it would be relatively simple for the majority of users to consistently avoid making use of this feature entirely. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has a resolution of 202k dots, which is not very high. However, the back screen can be tilted and rotated, so even if light reflections make viewing temporarily difficult, this issue may be easily remedied by tilting the screen.

If you give the zoom lever a quick flick with your forefinger, the lens will move from its widest possible angle to its farthest possible telephoto in exactly four seconds. The minimum and maximum (infinity) focus ranges will be displayed in a small text box at the top of the screen, and they will change quickly as the lens moves forward or backward. While the lens is being adjusted, there is a perceptible buzzing sound coming from the mechanism, however, it is not obtrusive. However, when you switch to capturing video, the zoom movement slows down significantly, making the transitions much more seamless. It takes the lens ten seconds to traverse across its focal range when you are recording video. The mechanics of the lens are less visible when this setting is applied, which is precisely what we would like to happen.

At the rear of the camera, the LCD screen takes up most of the space and is positioned in the exact center below the electronic viewfinder (EVF). The EVF has a tough rubber frame around the eyepiece and a dioptre dial for adjusting the level of vision alongside it. This particular Canon model has a direct-print button to the left and a playback button to the right of the electronic viewfinder (EVF).

The other controls are arranged on the right side of the screen, with the most prominent one enabling users to quickly begin recording a video clip. As long as you are using one of the creative shooting modes, the next one down enables you to adjust the size of the single AF point, make it larger or smaller, or move it about with the help of the multi-directional control pad that is located beneath it. Otherwise, consecutive pushes in smart auto mode will switch face detection on or off. Meanwhile, in playback mode, this multi-use control conveniently doubles up as a Delete button. In addition, the multi-use control has a number of other functions. It takes some experimentation to figure this out because, once again, the comprehensive manual is only included on the accompanying CD. There is only a brief quick-start booklet included in the package, and it doesn’t cover anything other than the fundamentals, which are obvious from the product’s name.

The four-way control pad can be used to make adjustments to the exposure compensation (+/- 2EV), the self-timer (off, two seconds, ten seconds, or a 10-second option that fires three consecutive shots), the ISO settings (ISO100-3200), and finally the focus, with switchable settings between the normal, macro, and manual options offered if necessary.

The latter enables the use of the scroll wheel to dial in distance settings ranging from 0 centimeters to infinity, with an enlarged central square on the screen providing a general notion as to whether or not the picture is adequately crisp enough.

If you push the Function / Set button that is located in the center of the scroll wheel/control pad, you will be presented with the typical L-shaped menu that every user of a Canon compact camera will be immediately familiar with. This menu displays the most important functions at a glance.

In program mode, for example, we have the ability to adjust the dynamic range correction, the white balance, select from the various ‘My Color’ options, which include our favorite vivid saturation boosting option, and we also have the ability to specify darker or lighter skin tones, as well as shoot in sepia or black and white in-camera. All of these options are accessible from the very top of this toolbar.

Following that is an option for bracketing, which takes either three pictures automatically with three different exposures or three pictures at three different focal distances. Additionally, there is an option to switch from single to continuous capture, adjust the exposure compensation to +/- 2 EV, or swap metering between evaluative, center-weighted, and spot.

It is possible to change the image aspect ratio from the factory default of 4:3 to 16:9, 3:2, or even more uncommonly 1:1 and 4:5, among other options. Through the use of this L-shaped toolbar, PowerShot users are able to specify big, medium, or tiny files and even alter the video resolution on the fly, going from 1920×1080 down to 640×480 pixels and as low as 1280×720.

If, on the other hand, the camera is in its intelligent auto mode, the only things that can be changed are the image aspect ratio, the file size, and the video resolution. There is no indication of the existence of the other choices.

The self-explanatory display and menu may be accessed via the last two buttons located on the rear of the camera. Subsequent clicks of the display button will bring up a nine-zone compositional grid, or they will completely turn off the LCD, at which time the EVF above will immediately light and come into action.

If you want to have quicker access to your most often used settings, you may pre-configure them by pressing the “menu” button, which brings up three straightforward folders on the screen: a capture folder, a setup folder, and my menu folder. These folders are easy to navigate. Not only can the volume of the microphone be changed, but the wind filter can also be toggled on and off. This is an interesting feature that can be found in the capture folder with the usual suspects.

You may toggle through these menu items by pressing your thumb on the four-way control pad, or you can scroll through them more quickly by utilizing the wheel that is around the control pad.

If you are still looking at the camera from the back, additional points of interest on the SX50 HS include a single speaker located on the left, which also features the hinge about which the variable-angle LCD screen pivots. Additionally, the HDMI port, the AV port, and the remote control port are all covered and are located on the right flank of the camera.

The battery compartment and the adjacent slot for the SD memory card are both protected by a sliding plastic door that is located on the bottom of the camera. This door is located close to a metal off-center screw thread that may be used with a tripod. If you set this PowerShot on a tripod, you will need to unscrew it first in order to extract the memory card. This is something you should be aware of.

Quality of the Image

The SuperFine JPEG option at 12 megapixels was used to capture each of the sample photographs included in this study. This setting results in an image that is around 4 megabytes in size on average.

Throughout the course of our examination, the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS generated photographs of satisfactory quality. Up to ISO 1600, noise is well-controlled; nevertheless, beginning at that setting, artifacts, blurring of detail, and a minor loss of color saturation become visible.

From an ISO setting of 1600 all the way up to the fastest setting of 6400, which isn’t really very usable at all, the amount of noise and the loss of detail gets progressively worse.

However, if you shoot in the new RAW format, you won’t have access to the Dynamic Range Correction and, more importantly, the HDR settings. Both of these choices allow you to extract more data from the highlights and shadows.

Chromatic aberrations were managed quite effectively by the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, with well-controlled but broad effects of purple and green fringing evident in high contrast conditions. The default setting produced photographs that were sufficiently crisp even when the 12-megapixel resolution was used.

Even though there is a lot of lens distortion and shadows at such a short distance, the performance of the camera’s macro mode is a standout highlight, allowing you to focus as close to the subject as 0 centimeters away from the object of your photograph.

The built-in flash did a fantastic job indoors, producing images free of red-eye and with enough exposure overall. The nighttime shot turned out quite well, and the fact that the maximum shutter speed was 15 seconds meant that you were able to catch sufficient light for almost any scenario.

Although the 4.5-stop anti-shake system works extremely well when hand-holding the camera in low-light circumstances or when utilizing the telephoto end of the enormous zoom range, it is still preferable to use a tripod or other steady support if at all feasible considering the enormous focal length that is on offer.

Battery capacity

The lithium-ion battery that was used in the SX50 HS’s predecessor is also used in the SX50 HS. Inside of its plastic casing, this battery has a capacity of 6.8 Wh, which is about par for the course when it comes to batteries for super zoom cameras. When compared to other mega-zoom cameras, the SX50 has a significantly longer battery life than the following:

CameraBattery life
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS315 shotsNB-10L
Fuji FinePix HS30EXR600 shotsNP-W126
Nikon Coolpix P510240 shotsEN-EL5
Olympus SP-820UZ HSN/A4 x AA
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200540 shotsDMW-BLC12
Pentax X-5500 shots *4 x AA
Samsung WB100N/A4 x AA
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V450 shotsNP-FH50

You are already aware of the fact that the battery life of the SX50 is significantly less than that of its predecessor, the SX40. In comparison to the other cameras for which I have data, the battery life of the SX50 falls roughly 30 percentage points below the group average. Consequently, you should consider purchasing an additional battery, the cost of which will be around $39 for a Canon-branded NB-10L.

Specifications

Body typeSLR-like (bridge)
Body materialComposite
Sensor
Max resolution4000 x 3000
Other resolutions4000 x 3000, 4000 x 2248, 4000 x 2664, 2992 x 2992, 2816 x 2112, 2816 x 1880, 2816 x 1584, 2112 x 2112, 1920 x 1080, 1600 x 1200, 1600 x 1064, 1200 x 1200, 640 x 480, 640 x 424, 640 x 360, 480 x 480
Image ratio w:h1:1, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels12 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeBSI-CMOS
ProcessorDigic 5
Color spacesRGB
Color filter arrayPrimary Color Filter
Image
ISOAuto, 80, 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1000, 1250, 1600, 2000, 2500, 3200, 4000, 5000, 6400
White balance presets7
Custom white balanceYes (2)
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.)24–1200 mm
Optical zoom50×
Maximum apertureF3.4–6.5
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View
Autofocus assist lampYes
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Macro focus range0 cm (0″)
Number of focus points9
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFully articulated
Screen size2.8″
Screen dots461,000
Touch screenNo
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeElectronic
Viewfinder coverage100%
Viewfinder resolution202,000
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/2000 sec
Exposure modesSmart AutoProgram AEShutter priority AEAperture priority AEManualCustomSceneCreative FiltersMovie DigestMovie
Scene modesPortraitSmooth SkinSmart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf- Timer)High-speed Burst HQHandheld Night SceneUnderwaterSnowFireworksStitch Assist
Built-in flashYes
Flash range5.50 m
External flashYes (Hot-shoe)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, Second Curtain
Drive modesSingleContinuousContinuous with AFSelf-Timer
Continuous drive2.2 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing(at 1/3 EV steps)
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (24 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
FormatH.264
Videography notesMiniature Effect (HD, L) 6fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps
MicrophoneStereo
SpeakerMono
Storage
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
Connectivity
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini)
Remote controlYes (RS60E3)
Physical
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-10L rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)315
Weight (inc. batteries)595 g (1.31 lb / 20.99 oz)
Dimensions123 x 87 x 106 mm (4.84 x 3.43 x 4.17″)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo
GPSNone

Conclusion

The Closing Statement
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS HS is an excellent option to consider purchasing if you are interested in purchasing a camera that is capable of covering a significant amount of ground. If the conditions are right, it is capable of capturing virtually any kind of picture, since its lens has an equivalent range of 24 to 1200 millimeters.

If you don’t mind taking JPEGs exclusively and foregoing exposure control, there is a 12.8fps scene mode that you can use, but other than that, I wouldn’t say it’s a fantastic camera for low light or quick action. Its lens is sluggish, and its continuous shooting isn’t very impressive. If capturing images of subjects in motion is something you enjoy doing, you should seriously consider purchasing the more expensive Lumix DMC-FZ200 model made by Panasonic.

If, on the other hand, you want to be able to record the special moments that occur throughout your travels to other lands, then the SX50 HS is definitely something you should look into.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Visibility is excellent both in bright sunlight and in dim lighting thanks to the sharp 2.8-inch LCD display’s 461,000 pixels.
  • Very decent photo quality for a super-zoom Enormous 50X, 24 – 1200mm equivalent lens
  • Optical image stabilization, together with an Intelligent IS function that automatically chooses the most appropriate IS mode for the photographer.
Need Improvement
  • The electronic viewfinder does not perform very well.
  • Enjoys splicing together highlight reels (hint: use DR correction)
  • When the ISO is increased over 800, noise becomes more noticeable.
  • Redeye an issue (though removal tool in playback mode helps)
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
focus accuracy
Image quality
Low light / high ISO performance
Optics
Performance
Movie / video mode
Value
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS offers the most ambitious lens of any camera in its class, and under good conditions it's hard to top in terms of framing versatility. Image quality compares well to its competitors, and we like the camera's ergonomics (although a zoom control on the lens would be very welcome) but where the SX50 HS falls down is highlight clipping in JPEGs, a relatively slow lens and sub-par operational speed, which compares rather poorly to its peers.

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Canon PowerShot SX50 HS ReviewThe Canon PowerShot SX50 HS offers the most ambitious lens of any camera in its class, and under good conditions it's hard to top in terms of framing versatility. Image quality compares well to its competitors, and we like the camera's ergonomics (although a zoom control on the lens would be very welcome) but where the SX50 HS falls down is highlight clipping in JPEGs, a relatively slow lens and sub-par operational speed, which compares rather poorly to its peers.