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Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review

Looking for a compact camera with lots of optical zoom? You won't find more than the 50x found on the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS.

| Canon PowerShot SX50 HS in Compact Cameras
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Canon Powershot Sx50 Is (4)

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 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Canon Powershot Sx50 Is (7)

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.

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Canon Powershot Sx50 Is (9)

Key Features

  • 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
  • ISO 80-6400
  • 0cm minimum focusing distance
  • 13 fps full resolution continuous shooting
  • HDR mode
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Canon Powershot Sx50 Is (1)

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.

Shutter Response   0.1 seconds
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.35 seconds
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.4 seconds
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   1.9 seconds
Shot to Shot (without flash)   2.6 seconds
Shot to Shot with Flash   3.3 seconds
Continuous Shooting   0.9 fps
Continuous Shooting with flash   0.5 fps
Continuous Shooting in Sports mode   5.0 fps
High-speed Burst HQ   12.9 fps

All of the continuous shooting modes record at full 12.1 megapixel resolution.

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Canon Powershot Sx50 Is (11)

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.

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Sport Mode | 1/1250 sec | f/5.6 | 118.2 mm | ISO 500
Sport Mode | 1/1250 sec | f/5.6 | 118.2 mm | ISO 500
  Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Zoom Example 3 | 1/1250 sec | f/6.5 | 204.3 mm | ISO 320
Zoom Example | 1/1250 sec | f/6.5 | 204.3 mm | ISO 320
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Low Light | 0.4 sec | f/5.0 | 14.7 mm | ISO 100
Low Light | 0.4 sec | f/5.0 | 14.7 mm | ISO 100
  Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: HDR | 1/500 sec | f/4.0 | 5.8 mm | ISO 80
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.

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Olympus SP-810UZ Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Fuji FinePix SL300 Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Fuji FinePix HS30 EXR Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Nikon Coolpix P510 Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review: Sony Cyber-Shot HX200V
Olympus SP-810UZ Fujifilm FinePix SL300 Fuji FinePix HS30 EXR Nikon Coolpix P510 Sony Cyber-Shot HX200V
£176.00 £185.00 £262.00 £294.00 £364.00

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Verdict

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.

  Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x Optical Zoom Digital Camera Review:
  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
Swivel screen
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


Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.4 - f/6.5
35mm equivalent24mm - 1200mm
Optical Zoom50x
Image Sensor
Pixels12.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4000
Pixels (H)3000
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
  • 4:5
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor2.8in
Screen resolution461,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus0cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest15sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting2.2fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-10L
Battery Life (CIPA rating)315shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsBattery pack, battery charger, neck strap, lens cap, getting started guide, manual disk, solution disk, warranty system booklet

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Photographs taken using the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS

Lake Paringa 18Lake Matheson 16Lake Moeraki 13Lake Moeraki 12Lake Rotoiti 6Blue Pools 7Thunder Creek Falls 6Lake Brunner 45Bain Bay 4Oparara River 12Moria Gate Arch 7Franz Josef Glacier 21Franz Josef Glacier 20Peter's Pool 8Lake Brunner 44

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Niknut Avatar
Niknut Plus
13 3.7k 82 United Kingdom
16 Oct 2012 4:44PM
Great review.....& what great results !!

The Hi-res images, from wide to full tele are amazing from such a small sensor !!!!!...the
Hi-res shots can be blown up on screen by hitting Ctrl and +, up to 8 times for an incredibly
massive image from a 6.16 x 4.6 mm sensor....superb quality !!!!!!

I believe the EVF resolution is a lowly 220,000 dots, which is a little disappointing, so
if one can live with that it's an amazing do-it-all camera...........especially as it shoots
RAW, with quick access to 'Drive', Exp.Comp., ISO, & Macro....Mmmmmm, tasty !!

Very tempting !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
lemmy Avatar
lemmy 16 2.9k United Kingdom
16 Oct 2012 7:10PM

Quote:6.16 x 4.6 mm sensor

I wonder how such an easily understood sensor measurement as 6.16x4.6mm ever became 1/2.3inch, about as obscure a way of expressing size as could be devised?

The interesting thing with these ultra-long teles is that even if the lens is sharp, atmospherics will blur them most days.

Amazing how these cameras are coming on.
josa Avatar
josa 11 25 Czech Republic
17 Oct 2012 1:23PM
Not bad at all, I expected much worse....@ lemmy: you have to find it on internet, it's little complicated...
chensuriashi Avatar
chensuriashi Plus
17 338 18 England
17 Oct 2012 5:24PM
I am really tempted with this one as my Xmas pressie, and not get a tripod...I hope someone has some mid range 700/800mm shots to see, as I do have one in mind. Looks great so far just hope someone can help there?? Chen.
lemmy Avatar
lemmy 16 2.9k United Kingdom
17 Oct 2012 5:30PM
I think you'd need a tripod for the telephoto end of this camera. No-one can hand hold a 1200mm equivalent lens!
Abey Avatar
Abey 13 Sri Lanka
19 Oct 2012 3:44AM
With such a small sensor and such high ISO settings, why does anyone need a lens, a pin hole should do the needful!
petebfrance Avatar
21 Oct 2012 1:29PM
This camera interests me for photographing birds, but I do have some reservations and am watching internet sites to see how people are getting on with it.
A few thoughts, though:
1. Shutter speed at 1200mm equivalent 'hand held.'
Now in theory, the minimum shutter speed required is 1/1200.
If, and of course, it's a big 'if', the IS is as effective as claimed then 4.5 stops advantage would bring the required speed down to something like 1/75s (for 4 stops) - I wonder if it works.
2. Diffraction.
I don't know the the limit at which diffraction is supposed to cause noticeable image degradation, but suspect that at the long end the maximum aperture is well into diffraction territory.
3. Focus / shutter response speeds are reasonable, but if relying on the IS to help reduce the maximum shutter speed needed then how long before the IS is 'ready'?
Neutrino Avatar
25 Oct 2012 9:32PM
Can someone please tell me if this camera records in stereo sound or not ????

The specs here say "NO" .....specs on other review sites say "YES" .

Who is right ....who is wrong ????

Also, if anyone knows, what format does a recorded video record in ?
Is it .AVI or .MOV or AVCHD ....or possibly even something else ?

Will the software work with Windows XP ???
YoBellzaa Avatar
26 Oct 2012 8:20AM
Hello, sorry about that, it shoud say YES.

From the Canon spec sheet on their site:

MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (stereo)]

Windows 7 SP1/ Vista SP2/ XP SP3
Mac OS X v10.6 – 10.7

Hope this answers your questions.
NBK Avatar
NBK 11 Australia
27 Oct 2012 3:29PM
Now that I know it's been done, even if imperfectly, I'd suggest waiting until another manufacturer (e.g.Fujii, Pentax) bring out this zoom range. They won't be as expensive and the photo quality won't be that different, to any noticeable degree, to the average photographer.
Neutrino Avatar
28 Oct 2012 3:18PM
Thanks, YoBellzaa, for the reply !
Bought my SX50HS today.....but not allowed to touch it until Christmas.
( don't know if I'll make it another 58 days LOL )
philzee Avatar
philzee 14 2 United Kingdom
4 Nov 2012 11:02PM
is there a way to attach a filter to this camera?
Neutrino Avatar
4 Nov 2012 11:32PM
As an option, Canon provides what they call a BAYONET ADAPTOR to fix filters to the lens.
You should be able to find it by looking up the SX50HS on the Canon site.
chensuriashi Avatar
chensuriashi Plus
17 338 18 England
12 Dec 2012 2:50PM
Hey!!! I got one too...Cant wait till Xmas!!
mshulver1 Avatar
mshulver1 12 20 United Kingdom
27 Dec 2012 2:00PM
the reviews for this camera look good, i have a nikon d90 with 70-300mm lens and i'm not really getting on with it. i mainly shoot wildlife and can't afford a bigger lens, so i was wondering if anyone has the SX50 and what its like for wildlife photography with its super zoom, , just weary of the image quality at longer focal lengths.

any help/advice please

sx50noise Avatar
sx50noise 10 5 United States
15 May 2013 11:38PM
Hell to all!
I just got this camera a month ago and have yet to get a photo without lots of photo noise. If my sx50 took photos like the ones posted here, I would be happy. I am going to contact Canon to see if this is a problem that only I have or is it something common. Because I've tried all settings and still can't get a low noise photo. Any advise?

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