Observations on the SX50

Started Sep 20, 2012 | Discussions thread
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VisionLight
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Observations on the SX50
Sep 20, 2012

As shown countless times on these threads, our SX40s are very versatile cameras with the ability to produce very fine results. But it does have shortcomings and my interest in the SX50 depends very much on how they have been addressed.

Two of my most oft stated complaints have been the slow autofocus and long shutter lag. Now since this is a P&S, maybe "complaint" is too harsh a word, but the number of related lost shots has been annoying. Canon states that they have improved both by more than 40%. OK, if this pans out in real world usage, for me that's two big points in the SX50's favor.

My third biggest problem has been with dynamic range. Now I am well aware of the limitations of the small sensor, but with the SX40 it is still way too easy to blow highlights when the ambient light values indicate otherwise. Got to admit, it's helped improve my ability to expose to the right and bring up deep shadows in post. But I'd much rather see better results in camera. On the S100, Canon included a very usable highlight control in iContrast (Dynamic Range Correction). The SX40 only included the unusable shadow control, which just like on the S100, should be kept turned off. Points here are up in the air, depending on any improvments in dymnamic range in SX50 real world usage.

In the millimeter race, I see that my personal usage of 840mm (or higher with the Digital TC) is 43% of the time with the SX40. The camera is, after all, a superzoom. Now if the 1200mm on the SX50 gives better results than the SX40's 840mm plus TC, that will add more points. The higher minimum f-stop on the SX50's long end doesn't bother me. After all, it's not much different (well in f-stop anyway) than Canon's legendary 1200mm f5.6 prime lens that can be had for about $100,000.

Other observations on the high end of the zoom include plus points for the improved zoom assist, which I use often. I have lost shots in the past due to waiting for the SX40 to zoom in and out, so an increase in speed is very welcome. But there are potential minus points on the long end as well. Has anyone noticed how close the 1200mm marking is to the 600mm marking on the lens barrel? For a motorized zoom, how easy or not is it going to be to frame a subject in this zoom range? From 600mm to 840mm on the SX40 was never much fun, going in a little, out a little to get the proper frame. Wondering how the zoom lever on the SX50 is going to behave.

Which brings us to the 24mm end and its f-stop. Points here, plus or minus, are up in the air. I tend to use my SX40 between ISO 100 and 400 and have to be forced by ambient light to go any higher. Usually just not pleased with higher ISO results. Although Canon has increased the ISO range of the SX50, I have not seen anything that specifically states that it has a new improved sensor. Will the loss of a partial f-stop at the low end force me more often into an ISO range I am not comfortable with? Unless there's a real improvement, points here will be on the minus side.

And finally, there's overall IQ. For a P&S camera, dynamic range aside for a second, I've most often been surprisingly pleased with the SX40. Since my main use for the output is presentation on Full HD computer screens and TVs, it has done the job well. People have often been impressed that the images are from a P&S. So what will the SX50 images look like? I've only seen the one 24mm example on Canon's website. OK, detail looks like it's from a small sensor camera and it shows un-natural edge banding between high contrast image components. But overall it is a pleasing image. Surprising that for a superzoom, they didn't put up a 1200mm image. The wildcard here as well is that the SX50 now has RAW (sorry, I still haven't used CHDK). It will be interesting to see what we can pull out of it. So points here, plus or minus, are still to be determined.

One last point, and that is price. C'mon now Canon, an almost 12% increase in MSRP for a one year upgrade? Exchange rates and inflation certainly don't support it, so it's either R&D recovery, better materials cost recovery, sticking it to your customers or some degree of all three. I'd love a reasonable explanation, but since we'll probably never get it, it's definetly minus points in this case.

So I've got my questions, but at the same time a very fine SX40. Can I be coaxed into a SX50? (My wife does occasionally eye my SX40 to complement her SX230.) Only answers to these questions will tell the final tale.

 VisionLight's gear list:VisionLight's gear list
Canon PowerShot S100 Canon PowerShot SX40 HS Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Canon EOS 5D Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM +4 more
Panasonic Lumix DMC-F5
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