Hands-On Review of Canon's Amazing 12.1 Megapixel PowerShot SX50 HS

Oct 24, 2012 (05:10 PM EDT)

50x Optical Zoom and Very Good Image Quality in a Walk-around Camera

NEW YORK, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- A sunny October Monday in New York City presented the perfect opportunity to take Canon's new PowerShot SX50 HS 12.1 Megapixel "super-zoom" (or "bridge camera") out near H and B Digital's Midtown New York store for a quick hands-on test.  This relatively compact, all-in-one camera is flat out amazing, with a first-ever 50 times optical zoom range from a wide angle 24mm to a super-zoom of 1200mm (35mm equivalent).


The SX50 produces very good images at all focal lengths, has quick, responsive autofocus, and is feature rich—feature loaded is more like it—with options for fully-automated shooting or a wide range of manual user controls.  In short, the SX50 is a great all-around camera, a perfect lightweight alternative to a DSLR for traveling or general purpose shooting.

For a longer review of the PowerShot SX50, please visit H and B Digital's blog.

24mm to 1200mm Equivalent !?! (Expandable to 2400mm!)

To put the astounding 24mm to 1200mm range in perspective, a wide angle shot in Bryant Park captured at least 30 people standing around a fountain, trees behind them and the first 15 floors of the building across the street; an instantaneous zoom to 1200mm captured the sneakers of someone 50 feet away whom you can barely see in the first shot.  The resulting image is more than just adequate, it's very, very impressive.

The lens is fortunately equipped with Canon's Image Stabilizer, and you can use the viewfinder to keep the camera steady and can trust the autofocus to hit the mark.

To help keep track of your subjects at such extreme zoom lengths, Canon includes the very helpful and easy to use Zoom Framing Assist, which quickly zooms the lens back out, allowing you to follow your subject, then zooms back in so you can take the shot.  There's also an auto tracking feature. 

Image Quality:  Overall Very Good and Amazing at the Extremes

The SX50 employs a 12.1 Megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor and Canon's DIGIC 5 Image Processor, with an ISO range from 80 to 6400.

How are the resulting images?  Very good, and given the preposterously broad zoom range in such a compact camera, honestly quite amazing.  One cannot compare this camera to a DSLR—indeed, no SLR zoom lens that we're aware of offers anything near such range (the Tamron 28-300mm comes closest, and weighs and costs almost as much as the SX50; the optically superior Canon 28-300mm L costs $2,600 and weighs 3.7 pounds). 

At the wide and mid ranges, the SX50 produces typical Canon color quality, with appropriate saturation, consistent contrast, and relatively sharp edges, although one should not expect to crop too much into a wide angle shot for, say, a large print.  Skin tones are natural and bright colors pop.  Metering is also typical Canon, consistent and reliable.

Are the SX50's images tack sharp at 1200mm?  Perhaps not, but compared to what?  They're really quite amazing.  Here is the uncropped shot of the sneakers from at least 50 feet away.  The colors are great and the canvas and sole of the sneakers on the front shoe are pretty darn sharp.  Yes, there is some loss of detail on the eyelets, but not surprising given the zoom range.

Hands On

Like other Mega Zooms, the SX50 is relatively compact, much smaller than a DSLR.  External controls are very straightforward and not overwhelming, with the mode selector dial well-placed on top of the camera and Canon's set of menu controls easily accessible on the back of the camera.  Exposure compensation, ISO, self-timer and focus modes (including manual focus override) are all easily controlled with the thumb dial.

The variable articulated screen is very useful, and the SX50 has an adequate electronic viewfinder (EVF).

Other Features

The SX50 shoots in RAW image format and 1080p HD video with stereo sound, and has various face and subject-tracking modes, special effects and HDR options.


The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS is an amazing mid-sized camera.  It is perfect for those looking for a small, all-in-one walk-around camera or a DSLR alternative.  The SX50 would be a dream for traveling.  Image quality does not quite approach that of DSLR's, but for most uses is more than adequate.  The camera is feature-rich but, as is typical of Canons, not overly complicated—it is simple to use right out of the box.  We highly recommend the SX50.

For a longer review of the PowerShot SX50, please visit H and B Digital's blog

Media Contact: Dan M H and B Digital, 212-354-1341,

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SOURCE H and B Digital