The amount of optical zoom packed into modern digital cameras is increasing at a steady rate and Canon have broken new ground with the PowerShot SX50 HS - as the name suggests, it has 50x optical zoom, a 35mm equivalent of 24-1200mm. It is available to purchase at £449.00.
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Features
The SX50 HS has a 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, designed for shooting with low noise and high image quality, even in low light. The 50x optical zoom lens is a 35mm equivalent of 24-1200mm, which can be extended to 100x using Zoom Plus. Thanks to its Ultra Sonic Motor the lens has near-silent zooming. To help take the sharpest shots possible there is 4.5 stop optical image stabilisation.
As well as Smart Auto, which selects the correct camera settings from 58 scenes, there are full manual controls and you also shoot in RAW. You can record full resolution images at up to 13 fps for up to 10 shots using High-speed Burst HQ mode. When zooming you can use Enhanced Zoom Framing Assist to help keep track of subjects in the distance.
Videos are recorded at full 1080p HD at 24 fps with stereo sound. To ensure they are as steady as possible there is Enhanced Dynamic IS to compensate for rolling motion and conventional camera shake for steady movies. The camera can be connected to a HDTV via HDMI for playback.
12.1 megapixel HS System with DIGIC 5
50x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 24-1200mm)
4.5 stop optical image stabilisation
2.8 inch vari-angle LCD screen
Full manual controls and RAW
Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)
Full 1080p HD video recording with stereo sound
0cm minimum focusing distance
13 fps full resolution continuous shooting
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Handling
The SX50 looks very much like a DSLR and has a solid plastic body and feels extremely well made. Although it's not rubberised, there is a chunky hand grip, aided by a dotted groove for your right hand thumb. There is also a hotshoe socket and mode dial which adds to its DSLR feel. To activate the flash you need to manually pop it up, with a dedicated button to the side to switch between flash modes.
The 2.8 inch is bright and clear and can be manipulated into many articles to make it easy to shoot low down, high up or self-portraits. The EVF is also bright, useful for shooting in low light conditions or when using the zoom at a long length. To switch to the EVF you need to press the display button, it would be good if this was automatic when you put your eye to the eyepiece. This also switches on the level which helps keep your shots level.
There are two buttons on the side of the camera, located near the lens barrel. These are Framing Assist seek and lock. Seek allows you to quickly zoom out and back in again, ideal if you lost your subject from the frame. Lock enables image stabilisation when you are composing your shot, to help you frame your shot perfectly.
Other buttons include face select and ISO as well as other typical buttons such as macro and exposure compensation. The menu system is well laid out and easy to understand. The function button gives you quick access to many of the settings available in the mode you are in.
The battery has an impressive CIPA rating of 315 shots, we managed this and more and just one charge during testing. We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot (without flash)
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous Shooting with flash
Continuous Shooting in Sports mode
High-speed Burst HQ
All of the continuous shooting modes record at full 12.1 megapixel resolution.
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Sample Photos
Sample Photos - Images are well exposed with excellent colour production and portraits have very pleasant skin tones as well as being free of red-eye. The camera is capable of taking pictures of faraway objects, including the moon, with a good amount of detail.
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Lens test images
Lens Performance - Detail is really good at both ends of the lens, the Canon has 100x ZoomPlus written on the camera, but image quality is not better than you'd expect when using digital zoom. There isn't too much signs of purple fringing in contrasting areas. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 0cm, meaning it can be touching your subject and still take a picture, of course this means there needs to be light coming from your subject, so we have demonstrated it by taking a picture of the computer screen. When viewing at 100% you can see the red, blue and green segments that make up each pixel.
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 80 and 100, with very little appearing at ISO 200, 400 and 800. Images become softer at ISO 1600 and more so at ISO 3200, although image quality is still good. Images at ISO 6400 are very soft, with a significant reduction in image quality.
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights, the AWB setting gives an orange cast, with the incandecent preset taking the better picture. When switching to our fluorescent lights, both the AWB and fluorescent presets perform really well.
Sport Mode | 1/1250 sec | f/5.6 | 118.2 mm | ISO 500
Zoom Example | 1/1250 sec | f/6.5 | 204.3 mm | ISO 320
Low Light | 0.4 sec | f/5.0 | 14.7 mm | ISO 100
HDR | 1/500 sec | f/4.0 | 5.8 mm | ISO 80
A camera with a long zoom is going to be popular with those who want to attempt sports photography, with examples above demonstrating its ability to shoot at fast shutter speeds, even when using plenty of zoom.
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Digital filters
Digital Filters - There are a number of very creative filters, if you've owned a recent Canon compact camera you'll already be familiar with them. When using normal shooting modes, such as P, S, A and M, there are also My Colours which can make your pictures unique, although they can't be used if you're shooting in RAW,
Video - Below is a video recorded in full 1080p HD. Quality is good. You can use optical zoom when recording as well, focusing is quick and you can't hear any noise from the mechanism. You can see an example on the ePHOTOzine Youtube Page.
Value For Money
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS is available for £449.00. If it's all about the zoom for you, then the only option at 50x optical zoom is the SX50 HS. The next one down is the Nikon Coolpix P510 with 42x optical zoom.
The most attractive feature of the SX50 is clearly it's 50x optical zoom lens, not found yet on any other digital cameras. But as well as this, there are ample other features which make it a fantastic option for those looking for a versatile camera. If you're not looking for a camera with interchangeable lenses this could be the camera for you, if you have a decent budget available.
At £449.00 it is a fair investment, but it really doesn't disappoint. Image quality is great, even at higher ISO's up to 3200, with fast continuous shooting, fantastic macros, pleasing portraits and superb close-ups on distance subjects. We found very little to complain about, although the screen could be a little bigger. The SX50 comes highly recommended.
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS is an extremely versatile camera and delivers excellent results.
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Pros
Excellent amount of optical zoom
0cm minimum focusing distance
Good rate of continuous shooting a full resolution
Excellent battery life
Excellent image quality
Great noise performance at higher ISO's
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Cons
Screen is a little small
Price is comparable to entry-level DSLRs
Have to activate EVF with a button press