Imagine photographing a large group of people within a small room and clicking a close-up of a bird sitting on a tree branch far away, all with a single camera that doesn’t even require professional skills. Canon makes it possible with the PowerShot SX50 HS high-end advanced digital camera that features a whopping 50x optical zoom power. This simply means, the camera offers a 35mm-equivalent focal length from an ultra wide 24mm to an overwhelming 1200mm super telephoto angle. Besides, the HS series camera features sensitivity up to ISO 6400 that lets you shoot clear pictures under very dim light conditions. Let’s get up close with this new generation compact camera that seems to threaten any average DSLR counterpart.
Design & Build Quality:
The SX50 HS is an upgrade from the SX40 HS and continues with the similar design SLR-like body. The buttons are well spread out keeping in mind ergonomics. Canon has conventionally placed the zoom button around the shutter release button so that you can zoom in or zoom out conveniently while clicking pictures. The protruding-type lens comes marked with 35mm equivalent focal lengths. It is designed with 3 ultra-low dispersion lens elements to minimize aberration. Whenever you turn the camera off, it automatically retracts the lens into the barrel.
The camera features a 12.1 Megapixel sensor that gets you large enough pictures for getting A4 size high quality printouts. Canon incorporates the DIGIC 5 image processor to ensure high quality images with sharp and vibrant colours. The ultrahigh zoom factor is supported by Zoom Framing Assist Seek and Lock functions and 2 dedicated buttons assigned for these can be conveniently accessed with left thumb. High-speed autofocus lets you click sharp action photographs. Also there is inbuilt image stabilization function that Canon claims to offer a compensation of up to 4.5 f-stops.
Apart from an electronic viewfinder, the high-end compact camera features a 2.8 inch Vari-angle LCD that can be rotated in many angles. There is a dedicated hot-shoe that accepts Canon’s Speedlite flashguns. On the movie recording front, the SX50 HS camera is capable of shooting Full HD video clips.
It’s a boon that the lens starts at an ultra-wide 24mm angle and it lets you shoot wide landscapes as well as cover a large group of people in the frame from pretty close. On the other hand, 1200mm equivalent telephoto angle is quite useful for wildlife photography to get close-up pictures. At long telephoto angles, the image stabiliser comes to rescue effectively. While it’s quite easy to lose the subject from the frame at telephoto angles, a zoom seek and a lock button help to follow and lock sharp focus on subjects (even those that are moving). This Zoom Assist Function renders the camera suitable for sports and action photography to an extent. Having said that, capturing a flying bird’s close-up shot is quite a challenge, especially under low-light conditions. This is primarily because the lens aperture narrows down to f/5.6 to f/6.5 at tele angle, leaving you fully dependent only on the increased ISO sensitivity.
Sensitivity up to ISO 400 gives very good results. Images come up vibrant and well exposed. However, 100% crop shows slight colour fringing. The autofocus system works best and fastest at widest angles and as you zoom in, it tends to slow down a bit. At extreme telephoto end, there are some focus-hunting issues under dim light condition. Apart from JPEG, the camera can capture RAW format photographs. Shooting movie in wide angles provides good results. There is stereo mic input which is practically welcome. However, in spite of a movie wind cut feature, the microphones catch sound noise when there is crosswind.
The Bottom line:
As a all-in-one camera, the camera fairs well, whether it’s image fidelity or the details received from the 12.1 MP sensor. The 50x optical zoom with image stabiliser and Zoom Assist Function is the star feature to look out for this camera. Although there is slight image fringing, amateur photographers wouldn’t go into such detail to notice this. If you are a frequent traveller and want a camera that can shoot wide to ultra telephoto shots, this is the one.