Body and Design
Despite its giant lens, the PowerShot SX50 HS is still a mid-sized super zoom camera. Build quality is quite similar to that of Panasonic FZ200, which means that it has a plastic shell covering a metal chassis and lens barrel.
The biggest feature on the PowerShot SX50 is undoubtedly its lens -- no pun intended. This F3.4-6.5, 50X Canon zoom lens has a focal length of 4.3 - 215.0 mm, which is equivalent to an unreal 24 - 1200 mm. With that maximum aperture range, the SX50 has one of the slower lenses in its class, meaning that it allows less light through the lens. That's the trade-off that one will have to accept to have this much zoom power. Like that of its predecessors, the lens uses an ultrasonic motor (USM in Canon-speak), which allows for quiet focusing, which is especially useful when you're recording movies. While the lens itself isn't threaded, the optional filter adapter has 67mm threads.
The only other item of note on the front of the camera is the AF-assist lamp, located to the upper-right of the lens. In addition to its focus-aiding abilities, this lamp is also used for redeye reduction and for visually counting down the self-timer.
It goes without saying that a camera like this needs image stabilization. The SX50 has IS of the lens-shift variety, and uses Canon's Intelligent IS feature to select the right mode (panning, hybrid, dynamic, tripod, etc) for the situation. The camera has a dynamic mode to reduce extreme camera shake when recording movies, as well as a powered mode for shooting at full telephoto. Directly above that 50X lens is the SX50's pop-up flash, which is released manually.
On the rear of the SX50 HS you'll find its 2.8" LCD display, which is fully articulated and can rotate a total of 270 degrees. This allows you to shoot over the heads of people in front of you, or take photos on a tripod without straining your neck. The LCD can also put in the traditional position or closed entirely. While there are sharper LCDs out there (on the Coolpix P510 and Sony HX200V, for example), the one on the PowerShot SX50 is more than adequate. I was pleased with both the outdoor and low light visibility of the LCD. I'm not really thrilled with the sharpness and clarity of the viewfinder though, and find the LCD much more pleasant to use.
On the opposite side of the EVF is the button for entering playback mode. Keep going to the right and you'll find the dedicated movie recording button. Under that is the button that you'll use to select the focus point.
If you're attaching an external flash, do note that Canon models will work best, as they'll sync with the SX50's metering system. You'll be able to adjust the flash settings using the camera's interface, and you will also be able to use the AF-assist, redeye reduction, and high speed flash sync features of the flash. If you're using the really fancy flashes (580EX and above), they can also serve as wireless masters. Not using a Canon flash? Then you'll probably have to adjust the exposure manually.
On the right side of the camera, under a rubber cover, are the SX50's three I/O ports. They're for a wired remote control (new to the SX40), USB + A/V output, and mini-HDMI. Underneath those is the flap through which you feed the power cable for the optional AC adapter.
In your hand
The camera feels fairly solid, though the grip could be larger and less slippery. I'm mostly content with the control layout, though I can't stand the combination four-way controller / scroll dial on the back of the camera. The dial doesn't turn smoothly, and the way the two parts are flush with each other is uncomfortable. The SX50 is an excellent candidate for a supplemental zoom controller on the side of the camera, which you'll find on Nikon and Panasonic's flagship super zooms.
|Full wide-angle (24 mm)||Full telephoto (1200 mm)|
Let's take a look at how it compares to other super zooms in terms of size and weight:
|Volume (bulk)||Weight (empty)|
|Canon PowerShot SX50 HS||4.8 x 3.4 x 4.2 in.||68.5 cu in.||551 g|
|Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR||5.1 x 3.8 x 4.9 in.||95 cu in.||637 g|
|Nikon Coolpix P510||4.8 x 4.1 x 3.3 in.||64.9 cu in.||555 g|
|Olympus SP-820UZ iHS||4.6 x 3.1 x 3.7 in.||52.8 cu in.||485 g|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200||4.9 x 3.4 x 4.3 in.||71.6 cu in.||537 g|
|Pentax X-5||4.7 x 3.4 x 4.2 in.||67.1 cu in.||507 g|
|Samsung WB100||4.5 x 3.1 x 3.4 in.||47.4 cu in.||403 g|
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V||4.9 x 3.5 x 3.8 in.||65.2 cu in.||531 g|
The PowerShot SX50 is bigger than average both in terms of size and weight.