Canon PowerShot SX50 HS review

January 19, 2013

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Canon’s PowerShot SX50 HS bridge camera offers a whopping 1,200mm stabilised zoom lens, but is it a bridge too far? Read the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS review...



Image: This overcast scene has been captured at ISO 200, and the difference in the crispness of detail between raw and JPEG capture is minimal  

There is much to write about the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, but its headline feature is its class-leading 50x optical zoom. The maximum aperture of this lens at its wide 24mm end is f/3.5, which is reduced down to f/6.4 at the 1,200mm telephoto setting. The lens has a few tricks to ensure that the telephoto settings are usable. In Intelligent IS mode, the camera automatically selects the amount of stabilisation appropriate for the situation and settings. Canon claims the lens can be stabilised up to 4.5EV. For sharp images, it is best to use at least the equivalent shutter speed to the focal length. At 1,200mm, a speed of 1/1250sec or quicker should be used, while at f/6.4 this shutter speed would make the camera usable only in bright light. If the 4.5-stop stabilisation is effective, sharp images should, in theory, be achieved at around 1/60sec.

When using such extreme focal lengths, any kind of camera shake is amplified and it is very difficult to compose an image correctly. Of course, it is best to use a tripod, which, combined with the SX50 HS’s electronic shutter and timer drive mode with remote triggering, keeps in-camera shake to a minimum. However, the camera has tools designed to make handheld use possible, too. Enhanced Zoom Framing Assistant can lock onto a subject to keep it in the frame. Also, a seek button quickly zooms the camera out, so a subject that has left the frame can be relocated and brought back in. All in all, the camera provides what is needed to achieve sharp results in the telephoto settings. It is just the unavoidable effect of haze over long distances that can get in the way.

The SX50 HS may feature the same 12.1-million-pixel, 1/2.3in (6.17×4.55mm) CMOS sensor as its predecessor, but raw capture is now possible along with JPEG files. With manual exposure available, too, there is a high level of user control over the image-making process. Exposure compensation is easily accessed via the control wheel, and exposure bracketing can be achieved through the menu. The ISO sensitivity is ISO 80-6400, with all settings available at full resolution.

There are a good number of shooting modes available. There are nine scene modes, including the stitch-assist panorama mode, which is available in right and left direction. A high-speed-burst HQ mode offers a 13fps burst for up to ten frames, although the exposure and focus are locked off at the first frame in this mode. Full AF and exposure control are possible in the 2.2fps continuous shooting drive mode.

A further ten creative effects are accessed through the shooting mode dial, including vivid, monochrome and HDR mode. HDR is recorded over three frames and requires a tripod for the frames to be lined up properly.

On paper, the SX50 HS is impressive, but a true test of the camera is how it performs in the field.

  • Metering System: Evaluative (linked to face detection AF), centreweighted, spot
  • Dimensions: 122.5 x 87.3 x 105.5mm
  • Focusing Modes: Single, continuous, tracking AF, manual
  • ISO: 80-6400
  • RRP: £449
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV in 1/3 steps
  • Connectivity / Interface: Mini HDMI, digital/video out, remote
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Drive Mode: Single, self-timer 2secs, 10secs or custom, continuous up to 2.2fps or High Speed Burst HQ at 10fps
  • Shutter Speeds: Up to 15-1/2000sec
  • AF array: Flexizone AF (multi), individually selectable single-point, AF tracking, face detection
  • File Format: JPEG, raw, JPEG+raw
  • Lens: Canon 4.3-215mm (24-1,200mm equivalent) f/3.4-6.5
  • Power: NB-10L rechargeable Li-Ion
  • Weight: 595g (including battery and card)
  • Exposure Modes: Auto, PASM, custom 1 and 2, sports, video, 9 scenes and 10 creative filters
  • Focal Length Mag: 4.92x
  • Sensor: 12.1-million-effective-pixel, 1/2.3in, back-illuminated CMOS (6.17 x 4.55mm)
  • AF Points: Flexizone AF (multi), individually selectable single-point, AF tracking, face detection
  • LCD: 2.8in, 461,000-dot, articulated
  • Output Size: 4000 x 3000 pixels
  • Viewfinder Type: 202,000-dot EVF
  • Memory Card: SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Built-in Flash: Yes
  • White Balance: Auto, 6 presets and two custom
  • External mic: No
  • Video: Full 1080p HD (24fps), 720p (30fps), slow motion, H.264 MOV video with stereo sound
  • Tested as: Bridge camera

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