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If the major camera manufacturers are not trying to outdo each other with one feature, then they quickly switch to another. It appears that they haven’t stopped competing over who has the largest super zoom lens on a compact camera. Nikon grabbed the crown during the spring of 2012 with the Coolpix P510 and its rather astounding 42x zoom lens, or the equivalent of 24–1,000mm in 35mm format. Canon wasn’t far behind, however, upping the ante during September 2012 with the PowerShot SX50 HS that features nothing less than a 50x f/3.4–6.5 4.3–215mm super zoom lens, or a 24–1,200mm focal length range.
These compact cameras are primarily built for and marketed to casual photographers who do plenty of traveling or want to capture their friends’ facial pores from across a room. At this rate, photographers won’t have to travel to the other side of the globe, they can just point the camera in the general direction and the super zoom, super crazy focal length will allow them to create a complete travelogue album without leaving home! That’s being tongue-in-cheek and a bit flippant, of course, but the PowerShot SX50 HS will fill the frame with a relatively sharp and tight image from a distance of 2 miles. The amazing reach of the SX50 comes at a price, however. To shoot the best quality image, the correct ISO setting is 80; but that will force you to use such a slow shutter speed (relatively speaking) that virtually all images at 1,000 to 1,200mm will require a tripod. For handheld shooting, your only option is to increase the ISO setting significantly, so the matching shutter speed is much faster, even though the camera does include an image stabilization system. This is not all bad, as the SX50 produces rather good image quality at ISO 800, with a bit of noise evident at 1600.
By far, the addition of the 50x super zoom lens is what primarily distinguishes the PowerShot SX50 from its predecessor, the SX40. Canon retained the SX40’s 12.1-MP CMOS sensor, DIGIC 5 processor, rotating LCD display, manual controls and a hot shoe. New on the SX50 are RAW support, a bit larger and sharper LCD display, faster autofocus and burst mode speeds and a few other odds-and-ends.
For the photographers to whom Canon is targeting the SX50, they will like the camera’s more contemporary design and the solid feel of a metal chassis encased in a plastic shell. At 4.8 x 4.1 x 3.5” (122mm x 104mm x 90mm) and 1.31 lbs. (595g), the PowerShot SX50 is certainly not a pocket compact, but neither does it become unwieldy when the lens is racked to the full zoom range.
Despite a good set of external controls and access to much information via the LCD monitor, the Canon PowerShot SX50 is easy for point-and-shooters to use with the help of the Smart Auto mode. It features no less than 58 scene models, including recognizing when you are using a tripod, and various scene modes, highlighted by Smart Shutter, High-Speed Burst HQ, Handheld Night Scene and Stitch Assist for panoramic images.
The SX50 also has a rather complete selection of playback functions, including Movie Digest, Smart Shuffle, My Category, Photobooks, i-Contrast, Redeye correction, My Colors, Rotate/Resize/Crop and Jump.
Performance speed is another significant improvement on the SX50 compared to the older SX40. Now, the autofocus system is 50% faster and shutter lag, 44%. In addition, you can continue to capture images until you’ve filled a high-speed memory card, even in RAW capture. You also never find yourself waiting for the buffer to clear. These are the kinds of technical capabilities that point-and-shoot travel/vacation photographers will appreciate with the PowerShot SX50.
Taken in total, the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS digital camera has its pros and cons, the incredible 50X super zoom being the biggest attractor. That makes it perfect for the casual photographer who doesn’t want to miss any scene or subject during travel, vacations and everyday life. At $429.00 from Amazon, the SX50 delivers exceptional value. Order yours HERE
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Photo © 2013 Canon U.S.A., Inc
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