Best Super-Zoom Camera: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
The PowerShot SX50 HS captures sharp, colorful photos from up-close to far-away.
Interchangeable lens cameras are great, but many times you simply don’t want to carry a hefty DSLR. With a superzoom camera, however, you get a terrific focal range, from wide angle to telephoto, without having to swap lenses. And you would need several expensive SLR lenses to equal the built-in lens of a superzoom. None of these cameras go longer than the new Canon PowerShot SX50 HS with its 50x optical zoom.
Why We Like It
The compact, 12.1MP PowerShot SX50 HS ($479) has a 50x zoom lens, by far the longest of any point-and-shoot camera available. It starts at a 24mm focal length, for photos of great wide landscapes or big groups of friends. The lens reaches all the way out to a 1200mm focal length, allowing you to zoom in on a tree in the background and see individual leaves.
Compared to its predecessor, the new SX50 HS has a higher ISO (light-sensitivity) capability of 6400, enough to photograph a candlelit dinner without using the flash. It also has a beefed-up the Smart Auto, aka Intelligent Auto, setting. The camera does all the work, intelligently guessing the type of scene and making all the appropriate adjustments (aperture, shutter speed, white balance and so on).
One of the camera’s best features is the Zoom Frame Seek, which lets you find your subject again if you move the camera and lose sight of your target. Press a button on the lens barrel and the lens zooms back so you re-frame that faraway tree. Press again and it zooms back in.
[SEE ALSO: What Makes a High-Quality Camera?]
A 50x zoom is all well and good, but it’s useless unless the camera takes solid images. On still-photos, the SX50 HS does a fine job. Colors are rich and accurate, with a bit of punch we find appealing.
Keep in Mind
Even with its DSLR shape, this is a point-and-shoot camera with a small image sensor, so digital noise (graininess) at higher ISO sensitivity is a given. We started seeing a lot at ISO 800, about what you would need to take indoor shots without flash.
Colors are good on video, but the frame rate is too slow at the top high-definition level of 1920 by 1080 pixels. While other cameras shoot at 30 or even 60 frames per second, the Canon achieves only 24 fps, meaning motion is not quite as fluid as with other digicams. It's OK for YouTube clips on a computer, but won't knock you out on a 50-inch HDTV.
And since this is a great camera for travelers, it's a shame that it lacks a built-in GPS sensor to record where each photo is taken. (Its main rival, the Nikon Coolpix P510, does have GPS.)
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS is for anyone who wants an excellent superzoom. It has a few limitations, such as some graininess in low light and the lack of GPS. But that doesn’t prevent us from heartily recommending this all-around quality camera.
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Key Specs
- 24mm - 1200mm fixed-zoom lens
- Optical Image Stabilization
- 12.1MP CMOS sensor
- Maximum 6400 ISO light sensitivity
- 2.8-inch tilting LCD
- Maximum frame rate of 13 shots per second
- Approx. 4.8 x 3.4 x 4.15 inches, 21 ounces with battery and card