Customer Review

147 of 161 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Superzoom on the Market, Ideal for Birding, Significant Improvement over SX40, October 16, 2012
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This review is from: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 12MP Digital Camera with 2.8-Inch LCD (Black) (Electronics)
My wife and I are birders and are always on the look for a camera with great zooming ability that is still sufficiently light to carry. We have owned Canon's prior model, the SX40, for just 2 months and loved it. When the SX50 came out, we were tempted, but skeptical about the faster auto focus and the additional zooming ability. We decided to give it a try. The verdict: Canon managed to noticeably improve on an already excellent product, and we bit the bullet and bought the new model.

Here are our observations:

General impression: the camera is light, has a nice grip, and takes amazing bird pictures even with free hands. The image quality further improves with the aid of a light tripod. When it comes to landscape pictures, the image is less ideal (less sharp) comparing to those taken by Canon S95, a compact camera we own. So our solution is to carry both cameras (both are so light) if we want to have excellent pictures for birding/wild life and landscape.

Below is a direct comparison between SX50 and SX40:

Auto focus: It really is much faster and more reliable than the SX40's. This is a big deal, particularly for taking pictures of birds.

1200mm zoom: This sounds too good to be true for free-hand shooting with a compact camera and in a way it is. At some point cropping yields better results than zooming. So I was skeptical whether SX50's extra zooming ability would really add any value compared to the SX40. Some extensive testing revealed that the SX50 performs equally well as the SX40 at the same (840mm) zoom level. When zooming in further, there is some additional resolution (sharper image) compared to cropping. However, the added value is small and disappears in all but at the very best lighting conditions.

Aperture: The aperture numbers are less than stellar: 3.4W-6.5T. Keep in mind though that at 1200mm poor aperture numbers are simply a fact of life. Also worth mentioning: At around 840mm, the aperture is the same as the SX40's, so no loss there. That being said, I would not recommend using this camera except for its amazing zooming ability. In the standard or wide angle range most any compact camera will deliver better results than the SX50.

In summary, the SX50 is an amazing camera if used for the special purpose that it is good for. This includes birding, wild life photography, and anything else that really needs zooming in to the max. However, this is not an all-purpose camera. If your main need is to take amazing landscape pictures, other compact cameras would be a better option. (For higher quality images, we use Canon S95 or 5D depending on weight restrictions).

Worth mentioning: Before we purchased our SX40, we also tested Nikon P510. SX40 outperformed P510 in auto focus (speed & reliability) and picture quality (sharpness).

Useful accessories to greatly improve image quality:
- Sirui T-1204X: ultra lightweight and super sturdy tripod, essential to keep the ISO low.
SIRUI 4 Section Pro Carbon Fiber Tripod T1204x with Professional Travel Bag

- Sirui G-10 ball head: lightweight and smooth. Total weight with the T-1204X is about 2.5lb
SIRUI G-10 29mm Ballhead with Quick Release, 40 lbs Load Capacity

- Canon remote switch: to avoid shaking caused by pushing the shutter release button.
Canon Remote Switch RS60 E3
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 20, 2012 10:36:40 PM PDT
Asmarios says:
THANKS!!!!!! Based on your observation.....I'll keep my SX40.

Posted on Oct 22, 2012 9:21:49 AM PDT
doktirbob says:
Hi FFDR, I appreciate your posting. I'm currently the happy owner of the SX40 and recently completed a week long cycling trip with it and very pleased overall. Of course, I was equally frustrated to see the SX50 come out very shortly after I had gotten my 40. I have 2 questions for you.

1) Canon is saying the focusing speed is significantly (50%) faster and the shot lag time has been reduced (by 44%) as well in the 50. Have you seen that to be true? This is a big issue for me shooting on the fly and with kids sports.
2) Could you tell a difference at wide angle of the smaller aperature from 2.7 to 3.4? I was able to get some nice flower and portrait shots with the blurred background effect, that you'll obviously start to lose as the aperature gets smaller.

thanks for your time and input!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2012 11:06:49 AM PDT
FFDR says:
The auto focus is definitely faster, which is important at the tele range of the zoom where focusing is a real challenge. Whether it is really 50% faster I cannot tell, but it is noticeable. I did not notice the change in shutter delay, but it is much less of an issue to begin with.

About shooting in the mid/wide angle range, I have to admit that I did not use either the SX40 or the SX50 much for that purpose (the little I did was not encouraging). However, with exception of speed, you should expect the SX50 to perform worse in that area.

My hunch would be that if most of your shots are with long focus lengths (above 300mm or so), and if you end up missing a lot of shots because the camera reacts to slowly, you may well consider buying the SX50. If you only occasionally zoom beyond 300mm, the SX40 will probably serve you better.

Posted on Dec 17, 2012 8:57:12 AM PST
Orth says:
Any idea about how this camera would perform at a concert?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012 6:15:23 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 17, 2012 6:18:06 PM PST
FFDR says:
It all comes down to to the light conditions. Assuming that you are somewhat far from the stage and want to zoom in, you will face the double challenge of high aperture numbers and the need for short exposure times to limit shaking. With a lot of light that is not much of an issue, but with dim light the camera will react by increasing the ISO, which means noisy pictures. Using a tripod (if that is an option) may help somewhat. Shooting movies will be less challenging than stills.

Posted on Jan 7, 2013 10:37:39 AM PST
Roger James says:
Excellent review and very well balanced. This model seems ideally suited for the birder and outside candid photographer. Personally I prefer the balanced approach to the bridge camera. Unfortunately, no matter how much you pay today, there is no perfect camera. However, If you could mate the Panasonic FZ200 lens to a quality micro 4/3 body you might come close.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2013 5:35:45 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2013 5:40:52 AM PST
Agreed. I will stay with my Amazon Marketplace "Like New" SX40 with its exceptional price, esp since I also have a Nikon P7700 for the "wide and/or standard" range.

BUT...I did borrow an SX50 from a friend, and use it for RAW shooting. It has a very nice advantage, in that whereas I would rarely let the SX40 go past ISO800, with RAW on the SX50, I frequently recovered very usable ISO 1600, or even a few ISO 3200 depending on subject and lighting. Not that RAW is magic, but that it does allow selective noise clean-up and sharpening once you are experienced. RAW on the SX50 was a good idea by the Canon engineers, because to my eyes, ISO 400 and 800 are a bit better on the 40 than the 50, so post-processing noise correction can address that.

As you put it so clearly, the SX50 has a drawback on the 2.7 vs 3.4 lens comparison, but an advantage of range and focusing at distant shots, and that RAW ability..... It depends on what you commonly need, and whether you will ever want to get into learning about post-processing.
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