Canon Powershot SX50 HS Review

Canon Powershot SX50 HS Review

Canon Powershot SX50 HS.jpg

Camera companies love ‘world’s best’ labels, no matter whether they truly are ‘world’s best’ or merely biggest, smallest, longest, widest, quickest, smartest … or whackiest!

However, it’s hard to ignore Canon and its description of the PowerShot SX50 HS as possessing the ‘world’s largest optical zoom range in a compact camera.’ Simply because, at time of writing, it is!

Think of it this way: if you owned a 35mm SLR film camera, wouldn’t you simply love to clip on a zoom lens that ranged from an enjoyably wide 24mm to a fearfully long 1200mm? I know I would!

But, get real, and theorise about the physical practicality of such a 35mm film lens! It would weigh a ton, stick far out from the camera and probably constitute a wind hazard! And forget handholding it.

Canon Powershot SX50 Review SX50 HS back.jpg

In reality, the new Canon Powershot SX50 HS compact weighs just a little over half a kilo and is no larger than most compacts. Not pocketable but easy to carry, this new maxi zoom camera looks no larger than Canon’s first long zoom compact, the SX30 of two years ago.

How do they do it? Don’t ask me!

Canon Powershot SX50 HS Features

Aside from the 12.1 megapixels packed into the CMOS the maximum image size is 4000×3000 pixels, or 34x25cm as a print. True, the 12.1 figure is lower than many other digicams out there but you stand a better chance of avoiding noise in the Canon’s slightly larger pixels.

Movies? 1920×1080 Full HD.

First up, you notice that the tiltable LCD screen is a little larger than many recent cameras, at 7.1cm and has lower resolution. However, there is the turret viewfinder which is ideal for bright light shooting. I found it useful, to a certain degree, quite low in resolution but helpful in pointing the camera!

Many will be grateful that the array of external controls is limited.

Bark 2.JPG

The camera feels good in the hand and is well-balanced; you could operate it solely with the right hand with the lens at full wide …if you had to!

Top deck: at left is the button to release the flash; to the right are the shutter button and zoom lever sited on top of the prominent speed grip; back a bit is the on/off button and mode dial where can be found positions for auto, Program AE, aperture and shutter priority, scene modes, custom settings etc.

At rear: a shortcut button is at far left … this gives two avenues to assign a function; to the right is replay, the four way rocker to access macro, timer, ISO setting and exposure compensation; lower is a button for the display options, including access to the turret finder and then the menu button.

Framing Assist 2.jpg

The viewfinder menu layout is less complex than many seen in recent months, a factor I suspect will be appreciated by many.

Framing Assist 1.jpg

There are two front mounted framing assist buttons which will considerably assist the use of the long zoom: if you’re zoomed in at any distance, the button temporarily whizzes the zoom back to full wide to let you know where you are, with a white outline indicating where you were (in tele)!

Canon Powershot SX50 Distortion

Slight barrel distortion was evident at the wide end of the zoom, along with slight pincushion distortion at the tele end.

Canon Powershot SX50 HS ISO Tests

Canon SX50 HS ISO 80.JPG

Canon SX50 HS ISO 400.JPG

Canon SX50 HS ISO 800.JPG

Canon SX50 HS ISO 1600.JPG

Canon SX50 HS ISO 3200.JPG

Canon SX50 HS ISO 6400.JPG

A good performance right up to ISO 1600; at ISO 3200 sharpness began to drop off; by ISO 6400 sharpness was well gone but surprisingly noise was not objectionable.

Narrabeen lagoon wide 1.JPG

Narrabeen lagoon tele 1.JPG

Canon Powershot SX50 HS Review Verdict

Quality: above average. Bear in mind, using the tele end of the zoom will see you face off atmospheric haze. In this shot the bridge capture by the tele end was actually 1.8km or just over a mile away.

Why you’d buy the Canon Powershot SX50: the 50x zoom!

Why you wouldn’t buy the Canon Powershot SX50: the 50x zoom! Too hard to deal with, you need some patience, a decent tripod and suitable subject matter to use it satisfactorily.

Take note: if you plan to do any amount of long lens shooting, go get yourself a decent tripod; try out the camera in the store before you buy and avoid wobbly legs!

Canon Powershot SX50 Specifications

Image Sensor: 12.1 million effective pixels.
Sensor: 11mm CMOS.
Metering: Evaluative, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens: f3.4-6.5/4.3-215mm (24-1200mm as 35 SLR equivalent)
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 15-1/2000 second.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4000×3000 to 640×480.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480.
Viewfinder: Turret and 7.1cm LCD screen (461,000).
File Formats: JPEG, MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 112.5×87.5×105.5 WHDmm.
Weight: 551 g (body only).
Price: get a price on the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS at Amazon.

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Canon Powershot SX50 HS
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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

Some Older Comments

  • keelan1234 April 11, 2013 09:21 pm

    Upon reading this review it is evident that you have not used the flash function on this camera, only looked at the buttons. As an owner of this camera I can tell you the flash button does not actually release the flash, it is required that that be done manually. The flash button simply toggle the flash betweens modes (off, on, auto).

  • Joel March 25, 2013 06:23 am

    Does the Canon sx50HS have a built in light meter ? I am relatively new to photography , and this is my first camera I am learning manual settings on.

  • Pixellicious Photos March 12, 2013 09:34 am

    @zachary... Trying fast shutter in good light conditions????
    I got some decent results.....
    Here's a sample....

    Birds in flight

  • Pixellicious Photos March 12, 2013 09:28 am

    I got this one a few days back... Loved it!

    Here's a sample....

    Birds of Mumbai

  • clive February 2, 2013 11:56 am

    The problems I have experienced with similar canon cameras are noise in low light situations. Does anybody know if this camera still has these issues?

  • Zachary February 2, 2013 08:49 am

    On my cannon sx50 when I set my shutter speed to 1/2000 the picture is extremely dark ( picture looks black). Even with the ISO at max or min the picture is still dark. I'm trying to capture wing flutter from birds.

  • rado January 30, 2013 06:03 am

    i have problem with shutter speed priority at day light when i set up shutter speed on 1/1000 when is the subject focused it jumps down to for example 1/50 how is it possible I ' we done something wrong

  • Claire January 26, 2013 12:33 am

    I am working in the bush & love taking pictures .At the moment I have the Fijifilm FinepixS 26x zoom & 14 pixel. No offense but its the worst camera I've had. On the same settings it will take 2 great pics, 1 ok & about 5 bad ones. I am constantly changing the settings to see which one takes the best pics. I am then doubting my picture taking.

    Please advise which will be the best camera to get. I'm taking macro pics of bugs / flowers. Sunsets / rises. Moons. Landscape & animals.
    I like the Nikon D3200 SLR & the Canon SX50

    Many thanks

  • Aaron Gibson January 21, 2013 09:51 pm

    Battery life seems to be fine - I took the camera away on holiday for 2 weeks and tooks photos / movies most days and the zoom was being used a LOT. I only charged the battery once during that holiday which I reckon would match the life I used to get out of a good set of batteries on the old S5. Wasn't really watching the time to charge but I'd estimate it was around 2 hours for a full charge.
    As for sporting shots you will love this camera - in sport mode I think it can take around 13 photos in 1 second HQ burst mode, which makes it quite easy to get the action shot. And the zoom will allow you to get right into the action.

  • Sesto Rino January 20, 2013 04:43 am

    Thank for an interesting and thorough review. My last Canon was was a Powershot 20SX who did not like slipping from my fingers and hitting a marble floor. So goes life. I loved it and I think I'll go for this new model. Just one question, how good the battery is? I appreciated quite a lot the fact of powering the previous model with 4 (rechargeable) A2 batteries. How does this specific battery compare? How many pictures can I take with it? How long does it take to recharge? Thanks for your input,

  • Kim January 18, 2013 04:24 am

    My goal is to get much better action shots of my son in sports and other things--obviously from a distance. The SX50 caught my eye, but I am a pretty amateur photographer. Is this camera recommended?

  • Rod Watson January 16, 2013 05:45 pm

    The Canon SX40 and SX50 are super if you require camera that is compact that can do all without the complications of carring a bag full of lenses. I found it was better than the Nikon P510 when focusing had much better reaction time. A good friend who is an owner of a photo shop when covering events takes only his Caon SX50 as it is compact without having to change lenes. To summarize - A all in one does all camera.

  • Aaron Gibson January 14, 2013 01:01 pm

    To max barrett - I too owned the S5 and recently bought the SX50 to replace it. The extra zoom and HD movies were the main reason for the upgrade and I've not been disappointed yet - the zoom is extremely easy to use even without a tripod - love the ability to get macro type photos from a distance. Image quality appears to be quite a bit better too. My only frustrations are the location of the self-timer and video buttons (I keep bumping the timer, and find the video button is too awkward to press without moving the camera), I loved the auto lens cap removal on the old S5 when you turned it on, also I had a genuine canon bag for my S5 and it doesn't fit the SX50.
    Overall it has been well worth the upgrade!

  • Michael January 9, 2013 01:13 am

    Sorry, you need an adapter and you can then put on 67mm filters.

  • Michael January 9, 2013 01:06 am

    To Edmund... there is a filter thread on this camera so you can put on a UV filter if you so choose.

  • max barrett January 7, 2013 09:50 pm

    I currently have an S5 and before that an S2. They have been excellent tools for me. I do not wish to tote a bag full of stuff when I go somewhere, that was my original premise and it still holds. So my question is, is either the sx40 or the sx50 a significant improvement on what I own. How usable is the sx50 without a tripod? Is the 50 worth a few bucks more? Are extra batteries available? Cheaply?

  • Gabe December 24, 2012 07:38 am

    Very thorough review. I love this camera. If you want to see an unboxing of it just follow this link:

  • Todd December 21, 2012 11:24 pm

    is the aperture worth the zoom, I guess, is the issue. I could use the full zooming for wildlife photography and going above 600mm would be good for sports events; however, I'd be concerned about the aperture. Also, how is for nighttime shooting, as it pertains to sky color and capturing the black

  • Barrie Smith December 20, 2012 09:02 am

    Not weatherproof.

  • Sondra December 20, 2012 08:53 am

    I am going to have to add this to my wish list! Is it weatherproof?

  • Barrie Smith December 17, 2012 08:06 am

    Yes it does have RAW capture.

  • Richard Crowe December 16, 2012 11:11 am

    Does this camera have RAW capture capability?

  • mickey December 10, 2012 10:29 am

    You forgot to add that this camera also shoots RAW along with JPEG.
    This is definitely an added bonus for those who want to do advanced editing.

    The only negative for the SX50 HS is that the minimum aperture is only F8.

  • ronald.c.lee-harris December 9, 2012 12:06 pm

    greetings...going to have a great birthday this year,A CANON SX50 IS ON THE TABLE. the choice was between this and a panasonic fz200. dollars were the final choice.$391.00 a/a $469.00. these two cameras copped a very close scrutiny they should be closer priced, may be just buy both and to hell with the mortage. time will tell if the choice is right...ronald.c.lee-harris.

  • Ashutosh December 5, 2012 05:47 pm

    Hi All,

    I have used D5100 of my friend. Impressed by the Image Quality wana know how much will be the difference b/w Sx50 and D5100 images?

  • edmund November 23, 2012 04:19 am

    I had an earlier version of this compact camera. My wife put it in her handbag and the automatic lens cap forced its way open and scratched the lens. Never again, interchangeable lens with front UV filter is a must!

  • Simon November 19, 2012 10:28 am

    Somewhat annoyingly, this one came out just a few months after I bought the previous model SX40, owing to my old camera (an SX10) having taken a knock that damaged the zoom. I've been pretty happy with both those earlier models - my only concern is whether that 50x zoom is actually usable in the real world. The image stabilisation for the 35x zoom on the SX40 works well enough for shooting from the hand, but simply aiming the thing in the right direction can be a challenge.

  • Chitra Sivasankar Arunagiri November 19, 2012 06:13 am

    My friend just bought this camera. He has been getting good results with it. He is just starting out and he recently got this to get to know the basic stuffs. You can view his pics on the facebook.

    Hope you guys can see it.

  • Abhinav November 18, 2012 05:50 pm

    Thank you for the review. I had read other reviews on SX50, but was waiting for it to come on dPS. Some pointed out that the lens became more slower than the previous SX40, f2.7 to f3.4. Is it a big concern?