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Conclusion - Pros:

  • Very good photo quality for a super-zoom
  • Enormous 50X, 24 - 1200mm equivalent lens
  • Optical image stabilization, with Intelligent IS feature that selects the right IS mode for you
  • Sharp, rotating 2.8" LCD display with 461,000 pixels offers good outdoor and low light visibility
  • Full manual controls, now with RAW support
  • Smart Auto mode picks a scene mode for you, can even tell when babies are smiling or sleeping (well, it tries)
  • Plenty of scene modes and Creative Filters
  • Dynamic range correction and HDR features improve image contrast (though a tripod is recommended for the latter)
  • Customizable button, menu, and spots on mode dial
  • Electronic level (single-axis)
  • Handy Zoom Framing Assist feature lets you quickly recompose when at the telephoto end of the lens
  • Records Full HD (1080/24p) video with stereo sound, use of optical zoom, and continuous AF
  • Support for external flash, wired remote, and lens filters

Conclusion - Cons:

  • Likes to clip highlights (hint: use DR correction)
  • Noise becomes pretty intense at ISO 800 and beyond
  • Redeye a problem (though removal tool in playback mode helps)
  • Electronic viewfinder isn't great
  • Slow max framerate of ~1fps with AF (but increasing to 2fps with AF/AE lock and 12.8fps in High Speed Burst HQ mode)
  • Lens is on the slow side (in terms of maximum aperture); tripod almost a necessity when shooting at 50X zoom
  • ISO fixed at 80 at shutter speeds at or below 1 second
  • Below average battery life
  • Rear dial is flush with four-way controller, difficult to turn
  • Movies are a bit choppy due to 24 fps frame rate; no manual controls available
  • Can't access memory card when using a tripod
  • Cheapo bundle puts manual on CD-ROM, doesn't even include a USB cable anymore

Overall Conclusion:

For photographers who just can't get enough telephoto power, there's the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS HS. This camera packs a whopping 50X, 24 - 1200mm lens, which is more than you'll find on any other super zoom on the market (at least for now). While having all that telephoto power sounds appealing, keep in mind that you'll need to either use a tripod or crank up the ISO a bit in order to get a sharp photo at full telephoto, and of course the latter comes with a penalty in image quality. The SX50 HS has received a nice face-lift since last year's PowerShot SX40, with good control placement and solid build quality. The only thing I don't really like is the rear dial, which is flush with the four-way controller and difficult to turn. I think this camera would also benefit from having a side-mounted zoom controller, which you'll find on some of its competitors.

A few other things about the SX50 HS's monster lens: it has a maximum aperture range of F3.4-6.5, so its on the slow side (certainly compared to the constant F2.8 of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200). The camera features a handy Zoom Assist feature which lets you quickly zoom out, recompose, and then return the lens right back where it was before. Naturally, there's an image stabilization system built into the lens, and the SX50 HS can select the correct IS mode (e.g. panning, macro, dynamic) depending on the situation. On the back of the camera is 2.8" LCD display with 461,000 pixels (both numbers are improvements since the SX40) which can flip to the side and rotate 270 degrees. You can also compose photos on the camera's electronic viewfinder, though I wouldn't, as it's pretty lousy. The PowerShot SX50 HS supports an external flash, filters (with an optional adapter), and a wired remote control, among other things.

The PowerShot SX50 HS has the standard 2012 Canon feature set, and that's mostly a good thing. Point-and-shoot photographers can simply set the mode dial to the Smart Auto position and let the camera do the rest. It'll select one of fifty-eight scene modes for you, with the ability to detect when you're using a tripod, or whether the baby in the frame is sleeping or smiling. There are also a host of scene modes and 'Creative Filters' (special effects) at your disposal. One of them is an HDR (high dynamic range) feature, which dramatically improves image contrast, though a tripod is essentially required. There are two other tools for improving contrast: DR and Shadow Correction, though you'll need to be in one of the manual modes in order to use those. DR Correction is especially helpful at reducing the highlight clipping that is a big problem on this camera.

The SX50 HS allows you to manually adjust the shutter speed and aperture, white balance (with fine-tuning), and focus. While you can bracket for exposure and focus, you can't do so for white balance. One good piece of news is that the PowerShot SX50 HS supports the RAW format, where prior models did not. The camera also features a customizable button, menu, and spots on the mode dial. One beef I have with the SX50 HS (and several other recent Canon models for that matter) is that the ISO is fixed at 80 when the shutter speed is 1 second or less, even in full manual mode.

The SX50 HS's movie mode hasn't changed, which means that it records Full HD video at 1080/24p with stereo sound for up to 15 minutes. While you can use the optical zoom and image stabilizer, there are no manual controls available, aside from a wind filter and mic level adjustment. It would be nice if Canon brought their cameras into the 21st Century and increased the frame rate and offered some real manual controls!

Canon seems to have made a concerted effort to improve performance in the SX50 HS compared to its earlier generation super-zooms and it has certainly done that. Is the SX50 HS now the fastest super zoom in the land? No, but it's pretty good. The camera starts up in a very respectable 1.2 seconds, which is better-than-average. Focus speeds are 50% better than on the SX40 (per Canon), bringing them up to 'average'. I didn't find shutter lag to be an issue, and shot-to-shot delays were in the 2-3 second range. The PowerShot SX50 HS has several continuous shooting modes. The fastest one, High-Speed Burst HQ, takes ten shots in a row at 12.8 frames/second. Unfortunately, the LCD is blacked out during shooting, so you can't track a moving subject. If you want to do that, you'll have to slow things down considerably, to 1-2 frames/sec (depending on the quality setting). The SX50 HS clears its buffer quickly, so there are no long delays after a burst of photos is taken. One of the weak spots on the SX50 HS is battery life, which is not only worse than on the SX40, but 30% below its peers.

Image quality is good, and at low ISOs it is certainly comparable to the best super zooms on the market. The SX50 HS's biggest flaws are in the exposure department. The major issue is highlight clipping, which is a common problem on cameras with small sensors (which is to say, most compacts). You can reduce this quite a bit by using DR Correction, though noise levels will increase when using that feature. You can also shoot Raw if you want to recover a little of that lost highlight detail. The SX50 HS also overexposes at times and while its predecessor did not have any issues with redeye, that's not the case with the SX50 HS. Thankfully, there's a tool in playback mode which will remove it for you.Otherwise, you'll get good color and relatively sharp subjects when shooting with the PowerShot SX50 HS. Noise levels are low until around ISO 800 in low light and ISO 1600 in good light. Again, shooting in Raw mode will allow you to take more control over noise-reduction for better image quality if you have the time.

The Final Word

If you're looking for a camera that can really cover some distance, then you should certainly be looking at the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS HS. With its 24 - 1200mm equivalent lens, there's really no type of scene it can't capture, given favorable conditions. I wouldn't say it's a great camera for low light or fast action, as its lens is slow and continuous shooting lackluster (although if you don't mind shooting JPEGs only and sacrificing exposure control there is a 12.8fps scene mode). If shooting fast-moving subjects is something you're into, you should really be considering Panasonic's more expensive Lumix DMC-FZ200. But if you're looking for something to capture the moments on your exotic vacations, then the SX50 HS is worth checking out.

Some other super zoom cameras to consider include the Fuji FinePix HS30EXR, Nikon Coolpix P510, Olympus SP-820UZ iHS, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200, Pentax X-5, Samsung WB100, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V.

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Category: Super-zoom Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Flash performance
Low light / high ISO performance
Performance (speed)
Movie / video mode
Good for
Travel photography, where the 24-1200mm lens is really invaluable for framing everything from intimate interiors to distant details
Not so good for
Shooting action, sports or kids playing - the slow lens and limited continuous shooting options will quickly become frustrating.
Overall score
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS boasts the most ambitious lens of any camera in its class, and in favorable conditions it's hard to beat in terms of framing versatility. Image quality compares well to its competitors, and we like the camera's ergonomics (although a zoom control on the lens would be very welcome) but where the SX50 HS falls down is highlight clipping in JPEGs, a relatively slow lens and sub-par operational speed, which compares rather poorly to its peers.

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About Jeff Keller

Jeff Keller is the Founder and Publisher of the Digital Camera Resource Page. When it was created in 1997, DCResource was the first digital camera news and review site on the Internet. Jeff's love of gadgetry introduced him to digital cameras in the mid-90's, from which his passion for photography developed. Until recently, Jeff ran DCResource from his home in Oakland, CA, and will be joining the dpreview team full-time in spring 2013.

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Total comments: 22

There is 'HAND' sign beside the 'auto' sign (the hand is in a stop position. Is this the problem?


my camera will not let me take photos. It clicks, ok, but the image is sheer darkness, what did I do wrong. It's been working perfect to date.


I want to know how the image quality compares between the SX40 and the SX50 .. Thank you.

I photograph wildlife and birds .. I am not so much concerned about the ability to track and capture as the ability to capture with the best image quality .. I do not need the extra zoom of the SX50 as I live in the woods and cannot see very far because of the trees.
I want to know if the SX40 is better at capturing birds say taking off and landing due to having a significantly faster shutter speed by 40%.
I want to know if one them is better at capturing say two birds together like one behind the other because it has more depth of field in say sport or bust mode.
I am confused the by stats that say the aperture is wider on the SX40 as some reviewers have said that they both the same at 35X zoom.

1 upvote
Leandros S

The SX40 has an f/2.7 to f/5.8 lens rather than the f/3.4 to f/6.5 of the SX50, so at least at the wide angle end, the SX40 has the potential to use more light. If you wanted to shoot at a particular ISO and shutter speed, then the SX40 could still do so in slightly darker conditions. However, this may to some extent be compensated by better stabilisation and/or autofocus allowing for longer exposures with the SX50. If your subject is moving, however, a shorter shutter speed may be required, so then the SX40 may be the better choice.

Image quality wise, there isn't much between the two if you compare them at the same ISO.

1 upvote

Canon and Nikon aren't the only ones in the game. I have a Panasonic Lumix FZ 47, discontinued, 12.1mp 24x optical, 25mm - 700mm and a Panasonic Lumix FZ 70, 16.1mp, 60x optical, 20mm - 1200mm, and if you go into digital mode you can double that to 120x or 2400mm without a lot of degradation which I have been very successful with on a tripod and doing moonshots. Then you can go even further than that up to 300x but anything above the 120x is junk.


Primary use is along the waterfront and in awkward locations where I need a movable viewing panel.

Used an SX10 with great results.... but has been dropped enough to look for a back-up (and hoped for an up-grade with similar features).

The SX50 HS does not seem to be an upgrade... only a compromise (SX10 was more versatile and less cumbersome to use.


All of a sudden (in the last few months), the resolution on pictures taken by my Canon PowerShot SX50HS has become very bad. I think I must have accidentally changed things. Can someone help?


Thanks for the most thorough review I’ve seen so far. I’m looking to upgrade from my SX10 and have to say I’m torn between this and the FZ200 - wanting a thorough review of that one, which seems quite a revolution in a different direction. I suspect Canon has much the superior in camera jpeg. I would have liked a comment about the famously slippery and dodgy “control wheel” of the SXx predecessors and whether it’s been worked on.

1 upvote

I had Canon SX40 and I was happy in general for 2 years. Some how I felt maybe better to update. I sold it. And I got Canon SX50. MP is 12 and sensor is 3.4, and I don't need that much zoom and I felt low light is not good other than if you are using hand handle night mode which needs waiting time in every click :/ I'm taking my kids swimming and water polo games the most.
I'm planning to give back the cam in couple of days and get the SX40 and I need advise.
Thank you all.


Powershot SX60 HS: 3.7-242.0mm f/3.4-6.5 (21-1365 FF)
Canon 79.3∠1.09 ∅ 3.4 ev (Wide: 3.7/3.4=1.09)
Canon 1.5∠37.23 ∅ 6.5 ev (Tele: 242/6.5=37.23)

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting

Powershot SX50 HS: 4.3-215.0mm f/3.4-6.5*
Canon 71.6∠1.26 ∅ 3.4 ev (Wide)
Canon 1.7∠33.08 ∅ 6.5 ev (Tele)

*∠ for 4:3 (not 3:2 in previous comment below)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote

SX50 4.3mm-215.0mm Zoom Lens
Max.Ap.Diam: 1.3mm (4.3/3.4) Wide
Max.Ap.Diam: 33.1mm (215.0/6.5) Tele
Horiz.AoV: 71.31° Wide
Horiz.AoV: 1.64° Tele*

Visual Diameters of celestial objects viewed from Earth:
Sun: 31.6′ – 32.7′ (Div by 60'/degrees)= 0.5267° to 0.5450°
Moon: 29.3′ – 34.1′ (Div by 60'/degrees)= 0.4883° to 0.5683°

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 14 minutes after posting
1 upvote

DPReview, please report the sensor size in mm. The designation 1/2.3" is inscrutable to most people. The sensor size of the SX50 is 6.17 x 4.55mm, I believe, which is very small.


You are right. The sensor is as big as Sony Xperia Z2 phone camera sensor. This is, IMO, just not good enough.


Yeah, obviously no one could do anything decent with it


The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a camera recall.
Camera recalled due to a chemical used in the rubber part of the viewfinder can cause skin or eye irritation or an allergic reaction to the user.

Read more:


If you have a hard time making up your mind, search for santu.brahma on facebook and look at his galleries...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting

Lumix-dmc-G6 has external mic in the same class.
Sensor Size -
Canon - 1/2.3" (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Lumix - Four Thirds (17.3 x 13 mm)
Explain This Difference before I explode...
Why are specs mixed format? To keep us confused?

I try to give best advice to new students - now I'm handicapped with non standard specs between models.


I just saw a friend's shot of the full moon at maximum telescope- unbelievable, hand held, too. The definition of the craters were something but seeing the jagged edge of mountains really stunned me. His telephoto shots of pelicans on Richardson Bay are really impressive. I would like to see a larger sensor to match its RAW capability, but the price is certainly right.


I have one amazing

ali k

It's amazing camera.but f/3.4 seems not very well.

1 upvote

Must have in the future; information about the Minimum LUX, in video mode. So we can determine how good is the camera shooting in night light!
I realize manufacturers are dogging this issue deliberately so that less educated consumers will fall into very mediocre product. And to be fair. it is not only Canon, but all manufacturers. So Lets Ask For This Important Information!

Total comments: 22