"This camera was worth the wait!"5.0 starson by Alphonse-LX
Pros: * 50x zoom
* Image stabilization
* Image quality
* Shoots RAW
* Solid build quality
* Advanced "pro" functions
* Lightning speed
* Articulating screen
* Full HD video
* Available accessories
Cons: * Unimpressive low-light performance
* Viewfinder resolution
* Sometimes confusing menu
* No external mic jack
* No GPS
* No wireless
Summary: This camera was worth waiting for.
First for some background on me for context. I am an aspiring advanced photographer having been only a snap-happy point and shoot user over the years. 3 years ago I bought the Canon SX120 with the 10x optical zoom specifically for a function at which I was gonna be sitting some distance away from the action. I was very impressed with the zoom and the photo quality, especially considering this was an indoor function and the lighting was not great.
Ever since then I have been hooked on Canon and have been anticipating each generation of new high-end P&S cameras. I first fell for the SX30, then the SX40 and finally when the SX50 was announced I knew I HAD to have it. After researching all alternatives online for months I finally took the plunge and haven't regretted it since.
I got the camera just before Christmas 2012 and was tempted to write my first impressions at that time but thought better of it. So after nearly 4 months and over 3000 photos and videos here goes:
Build and layout
This is a $400 camera but feels like much more. It has an all-plastic body but there is nothing flimsy about it at all. Everything feels very solid in my hand. Those accustomed to using full-size DSLRs will notice it is somewhat lighter and smaller but the overall form factor is identical and allows users to "play photographer" just like the big boys (especially if you slapped on an EOS neck-strap like I did, haha).
The hand grip is deep enough to allow for a good solid one-handed grip on the camera (I'm 5'11" with big hands). With this hold though there is the likelihood of accidentally hitting the menu button or self-timer with the fleshy part of your palm at the right thumb. It happens infrequently and I have learnt how to hold the camera to prevent that happening, most times. Annoying, but not a deal-breaker for me.
Other cons on the layout: the card and battery compartment are located on the bottom of the camera and are inaccessible while using a tripod. My guess is that most users of this camera wont find that a big issue since tripod use is almost unnecessary considering the image-stabilization (IS) on this camera. Will get to that later.
Personally I would prefer to see the playback and video capture buttons reverse place (as in the SX40) because I find I have to adjust my grip to hit the video button while shooting stills and that can be awkward and sometimes causes me to lose a shot. Other than that the buttons are well laid out and within reach.
Menus and controls are fairly simple and intuitive, especially for previous Canon users. New users will appreciate the brief descriptive on-screen explanations and tips on each menu option. Sadly, a few things are inexplicably complex and inaccessible. (See my comment about hi-speed burst shooting in Performance below).
Believe the hype. The zoom on this camera is THAT good. It reaches so far that you can see details that are completely invisible to the naked eye. The tail numbers on jets passing overhead. Who knew that your favorite player had a wrist injury? This camera picks up his wrist-strap all the way from the bleachers. You can read the watch on the preacher's hand and signal him to stop already! Pictures of the moon are detailed and sharp - the craters are clearly visible. This camera is binoculars, telescope and spy-scope all in one!
Admittedly picture quality suffers at distance but not as much as one might expect. I am quite proud of my moon shots and the varied color and detailed plumage of the birds in my neighbor's tree are now clearly visible. I have great close-up shots of John Legend at his piano from mid-crowd about 400 feet away!
Digital zoom is helpful, but image quality degrades rapidly. It is the nature of digital zoom and not an issue unique to Canon.
Canon had the good sense to realize that zooming at those distances frequently means we lose sight of our subject and have included a "Zoom framing assist" feature which helps you to toggle quickly between focal lengths to re-acquire your subject. Brilliant!
Canon supplies this camera in a bare-bones package. You will need to get a memory card (SD, micro-SD with adapter, SDHC, - class 10 recommended).
I also recommend a spare battery, especially for a full day of shooting and night-time events.
I have chosen to attach a UV filter to my camera as this reduces the haze in some scenes. More importantly though, the UV filter serves as a protection for my lens (which, being non-interchangeable would kill your camera if it got damaged).
With the filter attached the lens cap no longer fits - which is fine for me as the filter provides the protection while allowing me to pick up my camera and start shooting right away without having to fiddle with a lens cap.
To fit a filter or a lens hood you are going to need a 67mm adapter. Canon supplies the FA-DC67A which works perfectly.
Tripod and remote trigger (RS-60E3) are useful for those looking to do portrait or macro work.
The camera has a hot shoe and accepts external flashes which puts it ahead of a number of its competitors. My own shooting style doesn't require me to use an external flash and I only rarely do. The built-in flash is fine for me. Its nice to know this little camera can accept external flashes though. You may research the Canon site for compatible speedlites. Other suppliers' equipment works too.
Image quality (IQ)
In the end this is the reason we take photos. To be honest this camera is not all-round brilliant in this area. It is unbeatable in good light where it approaches DSLR quality (no joke).
Low-light pics are not as impressive - usable, but I've seen better using other high-end P&S cameras.
The "hand-held night shot" feature is a good alternative in many situations. It shoots a composite of 4 photos to give the best result. This eats up memory though and introduces lengthy buffering so it slows down night-time shooting - definitely not recommended for fast-moving events such as birthday parties.
At full zoom in good light most pictures are very good. Not DSLR quality (this is NOT a DSLR replacement) but truthfully most DSLRs would not be able to reach out that far to get those pics anyway so the SX50 still wins.
I shoot mostly landscapes and birds on the weekends and I find that colors are very accurately captured. There is some fringing noticeable but only on the most contrasty shots, and only at full size/resolution. Pictures are not DSLR sharp but not far from it. Size 3.5" x 5" and 4"x6" prints will be fine. Pictures for posting on your social network page will be quite fine - brilliant even!
This camera shines in: macro, landscape, architecture/still-life, moon-shots/astronomy (a category that competitors cannot even enter). People shots are pleasing and more than satisfactory but not best-in-class. For professional portraits get a DSLR.
Canon packed a lot of goodies into its video capabilities and there is much to be impressed with here. The Full-HD video is incomparable. `Nuff said. Moving up from the 720p of the SX120 the difference was clearly noticeable to me.
Luckily Canon supplies an HDMI cable with this camera so you can view your amazing videos on your flat-screen TV.
Super-slow motion is useful to have a closer look at your golf swing or capture your kids at sports day.
Stills can be snapped while your video is running but this creates a split second break in filming and captures the shutter sound in your video. No biggie. Of course, you can always use photo-grab to get a photo from your videos.
Stereo sound is captured via built-in dual microphones but there is no jack for an external mic. You cannot get it all in a $400 camera!
Zooming is available during video and zooming is quiet and precise. The auto-focus is reasonably good but tricky scenes and rapid movement can leave your subjects out of focus for a while as the camera struggles to keep up. There is a 30-minute limit on videos. Keep it short.
Don't expect to be Steven Spielberg with this camera but your vacation videos will be quite nice.
Image stabilsation (IS)
This is another area where the camera absolutely shines! Most users will never need a tripod to get great shots out of this camera. Hand-held shots are quite still even at full zoom. This is especially true for users whose grip is strong and stable and whose subjects don't move much (like the buildings, plants and trees I photograph, haha). Seriously though, Canon's lens-based IS system shines on all its P&S cameras. In the SX50 they really outdid themselves.
Videos are quite steady even while the user is moving/walking/riding/driving. Brilliant!
Electronic viewfinder (EVF)
This is my biggest disappointment with this camera. Canon should not even be allowed to call this a viewfinder. It is crappy!
It can only be used to get a general sense of where your subject is in the frame - little detail is available. Canon must at least quadruple the resolution on the next generation or forget about viewfinders. In fairness, all screen overlay information is available in the viewfinder - but that's just me searching for an up-side.
This will be your savior from the horrible viewfinder just described. Still, although Canon improved the resolution over 2 generations they are still behind the competition here. It is usable, but not brilliant. The best thing about it is the fact that it swivels.
There are four viewfinder/screen display options: overlay on and off, screen and viewfinder. Hitting the "Disp." button cycles you through that 4-step sequence. Tedious. Other manufacturers use a toggle that implements a lot nicer and easier. Some more work here Canon!
The camera shoots at an impressive speed with a frame rate of up to 13 frames per second (fps) in hi-speed burst mode. This means you can shoot 10 images of Junior blasting out of the blocks at his school track meet before they've gone 3 steps. 13fps is class-leading speed and users who shoot fast action will appreciate this feature.
I found it a bit difficult to locate it in the menu though and even tougher to toggle between this and regular shooting modes for those in-between shots that don't require 10-frame bursts.
Again, buffering will be an issue so users have to be careful of when to fire off their 10 frames because the camera will be unusable for another 3-5 seconds. Even so, these are not numbers that most competitors can match, indeed the frame rate on most DSLRs are less than half of what the SX50 can do.
Start up time is fast even if battery isn't fully charged. Battery life trails this class of cameras at 315 frames per charge. Still, 300+ pics per day is a lot of shooting for most casual users.
My shooting requirements don't involve me using a number of the features this camera has. I call them frills - they may be more useful to other users, though.
* HDR - high dynamic range. This feature exaggerates the dynamic range (differences in light and color intensity) in different parts of your image. This has the effect of making photos more dramatic, but in some subjects produces overly-stylized and even grotesque results. HDR works better on DSLRs that capture the subtle nuances in light more intelligently and gives more authentic results. IMO
* Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Soft Focus, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Color accent and Color swap are all novelty effects that some shooters will use to bring variety to their images. For me they are only "nice to have" since I rarely need them and can achieve most of them in post-production if ever required.
* Self-timer, blink detector and smile detector also fall into the nice-to-have category. There are many more - this camera is packed with extras. The "frills" that are not present and other users may miss include: GPS, wireless control and wi-fi.
The Canon Hack Development Kit is open-source software that is available for most Canon Powershot cameras. It is free and allows owners to make non-permanent, non-destructive software changes to their cameras. These changes can turn your camera into a super device by removing most of the factory limitations. Faster shutter speed, longer exposure times, motion detector, intervalometer (for time lapse shooting) and bracketing are some of the new capabilities that can be added to your camera.
I have not used CHDK myself and thus cannot vouch for it but its nice to know that the already awesome features of my Canon P&S camera can be extended even further.
This camera was worth the 3-year wait for me. It suits my needs perfectly. There is no denying its weaknesses (low-light IQ, viewfinder) but for me its strengths make it totally worth its price. Advanced beginners like myself will find this a useful intermediate step before diving into the DSLR world. It is sufficiently full-featured to challenge you and develop your photography skills while being simple enough for a child to pick up and get good shots of daddy frantically screaming "put that down!!"
For its 50x zoom and the image stabilization it is a worthy choice. Most importantly, image quality is top-notch in most situations.
I have deliberately tried to make this review detailed enough to cover most questions that a new user will have but still easy enough to read. And so I kept out a lot of the more technical terms that can be intimidating for beginners just looking for a decent point and shoot without having to pull out a photography glossary.
I suggest you have to check best offer for the SX50 HS at: Digitalcameradeals2k13.blogspot.com/p/canon-powershot-sx50-hs.html
Hope it helped. Happy snapping!!
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