Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

Started Mar 5, 2013 | Questions
QuimOlhado New Member • Posts: 9
Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

I made a post in the Nature and Wildlife forum about deciding between a long-range DSLR lens for my Canon Rebel T3i or going with a superzoom camera (the Powershot SX50 in this case). It seemed that most suggested I would be disappointed by the results of a superzoom.

To give a little background: I do have the DSLR with two lenses (totaling from 18mm-250mm), so I have that range covered for family events and other similar times. I am a hobbyist – a college student who simply enjoys photography who earns nothing from doing it. I will be working in Yellowstone National Park this summer, and I would really like a camera (or lens) to capture the local fauna. Range is key!

I am aware that the quality of a superzoom will not be as good compared to a DSLR with a quality lens – smaller sensors, poorer ISO performance, etc. Still, the SX50 is cheaper than most long-range lenses that I have seen.

So my question to all of you Canon Powershot SX50 owners (particularly those who use it to shoot wildlife) is this: for a hobbyist who enjoys wildlife photography, would the SX50 be the way to go? I've seen some really nice pictures around, but it would be nice to hear from you. Would this be a purchase that I would end up regretting?

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Canon EOS 600D (EOS Rebel T3i / EOS Kiss X5)
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rimshot Regular Member • Posts: 351
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?
1

I have the Nikon P510 with the 42x zoom..I bought it before the SX50 came out..I was looking at a 150x500 Sigma for my DSLR for $1100 and I didn't have the cash so I have spent $400 on the P510 and got 1000mm plus video. I have been impressed with the results. I have yet to have somebody say, " It looks like you took that with a point and shoot', but I have had people say "Wow! How did you get that shot?" In my opinion, the SX50 is probably a better camera in several ways than the P510, having shot with both..The extra 8x zoom helps..Unless you are selling the photos I think the SX50 will do the job and more..It's a really good camera.. (Some people might still want to buy them.) Jimmymac

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rimshot Regular Member • Posts: 351
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?
1

I also know some of us older guys that are questioning why we are carrying around all that weight when you can get such good results from a small, light, camera. Don't underestimate the I.Q. of this camera..Jimmymac

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bobp556 Forum Member • Posts: 59
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

I do agree on this one. The SX50 is a good carry around birders (or other hobbyist) camera. Clearly a DSLR will give better quality in the long run but given a good day, on day to day basis the Canon will keep up and its lighter.

ISO 80. Equiv 1200mm at 1/250 handheld. About 40 metres distance. Should have tried RAW but forgot.

OP QuimOlhado New Member • Posts: 9
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

Thank you for your responses. It does seem like the SX50 is a really nice camera.

One of the problems that I have when making a big purchase – in photography recently – is that there seems to be a range of different goals and corresponding needs. Someone who sells their pictures needs far better equipment to get results that are suitable to them. On the other side, there are those that are ecstatic about their P&S camera (as well as other groups that fall in between). Trying to figure out where I fall in the spectrum and which camera is best in that category.

Ron Somerville Forum Member • Posts: 65
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?
1

Check out my post here:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/50964606

I have sold some of these photos many times, but that was never my intent.

Augustin Man
Augustin Man Veteran Member • Posts: 8,310
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

Ron Somerville wrote:

Check out my post here:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/50964606

I have sold some of these photos many times, but that was never my intent.

I admired your wildlife series above, but somehow I forgot to thank you as I should ! I'm doing  it now, because it's indeed an outstanding series!

Thank you for sharing,

Augustin

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OP QuimOlhado New Member • Posts: 9
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

Thanks you for showing me some of your shots. Those are indeed nice captures. They put my mind more at ease about choosing a superzoom over a longer focal length lens.

GEwart Regular Member • Posts: 397
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

I think this is difficult as I think you might be disappointed by the output from SX50 compared to your Canon DSLR though it has many points in it's favour. The image stabilizing of the SX50 is remarkable taking a movie at 200x digital zoom it's possible to keep the image steady handheld, pity that frame rate at full HD is only 24fps though

I think you might be pleasantly surprised at the effective noise control up to 400iso and even beyond.

We all need that 1200mm reach with this camera for birds and wildlife though because of that tiny sensor cropping images is not something you want to do to retain any detail in a subject.

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(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 3,073
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

In answer to your question "for a hobbyist who enjoys wildlife photography, would the SX50 be the way to go?" YES by all means!  If you shoot the photo of a life time while in Yellowstone you may be disapointed that you can't print it 20x30 or larger or sell it to a magazine that requires a LARGE TIF file?  You say you cover up to 250mm now with your DSLR lenses so if you were to add a X1.4 or X2 teleconverter you would be up to 350mm/500mm with little added weight or cost using your current kit.  I now it is not 1200mm but its pretty good and you might be able to hand hold.

I just recently sold all of my DSLR gear and now use the SX50 exclusively and I am very happy with my results and the fact that I don't have to lug all that heavy gear around at age 75.  I just got a check in the mail yesterday from some DSLR photos I took last year so that perk is probably gone with my decision to downsize but I'm okay with that.

I think my suggestion to you would be to add a x1.4 tele-converter to your DSLR kit and pick up the SX50 if you can afford both.  You will absolutely love those good light hand held 1200mm (eqivalant) photos!!

Have a great trip and please share some photos.

Murry

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kenn threed Contributing Member • Posts: 852
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

GEwart wrote:

I think this is difficult as I think you might be disappointed by the output from SX50 compared to your Canon DSLR though it has many points in it's favour. The image stabilizing of the SX50 is remarkable taking a movie at 200x digital zoom it's possible to keep the image steady handheld, pity that frame rate at full HD is only 24fps though

I think you might be pleasantly surprised at the effective noise control up to 400iso and even beyond.

We all need that 1200mm reach with this camera for birds and wildlife though because of that tiny sensor cropping images is not something you want to do to retain any detail in a subject.

Not disagreeing with any of this generally, I'd just like to add a bit of perspective on the last paragraph...

Distance from your subject is crucial to resolving detail with any camera regardless of lens or sensor size. You simply must get sufficient "pixels on the bird" if you want to capture fine details. To bring the same subject as close in the frame with your DSLR as the SX50 can, requires a large, heavy, and very expensive lens, which will also be considerably more difficult to hold steady. But neither solution will work well at resolving feathers and fur if you can't get close enough.
In good light at reasonable distances, the 1200mm reach of the SX50 can be very hard to match with larger gear, even with cropping. And the pixel level IQ of the SX50 is easily the most "cropable" amongst the currently available superzooms, imo.

All the images in our SX50 gallery are cropped... and many are quite deeply cropped:
http://kenn3d.smugmug.com/Nature/SX50/26958224_MRBrRB#!i=2395850827&k=v7KMsWX

Hope this is helpful,

Kenn

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Markr041 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,470
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

Here is a link to wildlife pictures (and videos) taken with a long-zoom camera (Panasonic FZ200), showing what such a camera can do. Btw, the FZ200 has somewhat shorter reach (600mm) but a much faster lens at extended focal lengths, and fastewr autofocus (key for moving animals).

But the main point is that such all-in-ones can take great widlife pictures and video (whether Canon or Panasonic).

http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/gallery/fz200/Bence_Mate/hungary/index.html

Btw, again, I encourage you to consider video as well as stills (the canon shoots video) - animals move in interesting ways.

Here are wildlife videos:

http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/gallery/fz200/Bence_Mate/video/index.html

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OP QuimOlhado New Member • Posts: 9
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

Taking into account the responses here, I feel confident in purchasing the Canon Powershot SX50. Although it will not capture images that are quite on par with a DSLR and L glass, I feel that I will be content with the images the SX50 will be able to capture.

One thing that I had not even considered was the video capability of the SX50. Although I doubt it will ever become a chief use of the camera, it will be nice to know I can capture nice video with it.

Ron Somerville Forum Member • Posts: 65
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

For the money you would have to spend on DSLR equipment to get better photos is almost not worth it unless you are being paid handsomely to do so. I print all my photos at 13"x19" using a Canon printer even after cropping. I printed one commercially at 18"x24" and it looks fine framed and mounted on a doctor's wall. I also created a 33"x50" from an SX40 photo. I actually printed the photo on 20 8.5x11 sheets of paper to create a prototype for a friend's wall. Spliced it together and it looked awesome. It will cost about $200 just to print so he and I will have to wait.

I have never regretted buying the SX40 nor the SX50.

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 3,073
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

I got this YouTube link from my brother-in-law and thought it might peak your interest in shooting some videos while in Yellowstone?

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=BUOQ_yPW_0s

Murry

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Loraine Arnold Senior Member • Posts: 1,208
Re: Canon Powershot SX50 for Wildlife?

I purchased the SX40 (predecessor to SX50) instead of a long zoom lens because it was much cheaper than an SLR lens and I do not that often need a very long zoom. I have been very happy with the camera. I take it kayaking to capture turtles, etc that I see and it works very well.

I used it in Florida to take bird pictures. Examples at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorain9/sets/72157629703966829/

It is harder to take long zoom pictures of fast moving animals. The DSLR has faster focusing for moving subjects.

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Patricia S. Jones Senior Member • Posts: 1,017
Your Florida wildlife gallery...

...has some great examples of birds I love.  The shot of the snowy egret and its chick is lovely; I keep going back to look at the chick's neck!

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OP QuimOlhado New Member • Posts: 9
Re: Your Florida wildlife gallery...

I went ahead and visited Best Buy earlier today to get a feel for the SX50. After working with it for a few minutes, I realized that I perhaps expected a bit oo much out of the camera. A few things that displaced my certainty:

  • The EVF is miserable to use – particularly after having used the OVF in my DSLR. I suppose that is something that I will just have to get used to. I do have concerns that this will make precise focusing rather difficult.
  • I am not a huge fan of the zoom wheel, particularly after having been able to zoom using the lens on my DSLR. I have not read too many complaints about this, however. I suppose this is something that I will learn to work with? Framing assist with certainly help, at least.
  • Poor camera performance. I do realize that I will not be shooting in a poorly lit Best Buy once I get the camera, but it still was a bit disheartening. Again, I realize that the conditions I will use it in will be far better (and the pictures I have seen as examples are amazing), but still.

For the first two, are these things that I will learn to work around? Using the LCD screen will be different, but perhaps that is something I need to get used to for this camera. Maybe the same thing goes for the second as well. At least I know that this camera can capture excellent images – as long as the photographer knows what he is doing!

vipictureman Forum Member • Posts: 81
Re: Your Florida wildlife gallery...

QuimOlhado wrote:

I went ahead and visited Best Buy earlier today to get a feel for the SX50. After working with it for a few minutes, I realized that I perhaps expected a bit oo much out of the camera. A few things that displaced my certainty:

  • The EVF is miserable to use – particularly after having used the OVF in my DSLR. I suppose that is something that I will just have to get used to. I do have concerns that this will make precise focusing rather difficult.
  • I am not a huge fan of the zoom wheel, particularly after having been able to zoom using the lens on my DSLR. I have not read too many complaints about this, however. I suppose this is something that I will learn to work with? Framing assist with certainly help, at least.
  • Poor camera performance. I do realize that I will not be shooting in a poorly lit Best Buy once I get the camera, but it still was a bit disheartening. Again, I realize that the conditions I will use it in will be far better (and the pictures I have seen as examples are amazing), but still.

For the first two, are these things that I will learn to work around? Using the LCD screen will be different, but perhaps that is something I need to get used to for this camera. Maybe the same thing goes for the second as well. At least I know that this camera can capture excellent images – as long as the photographer knows what he is doing!

As a user of SLR's and DSLR's for over 35 years I know what you mean about the EVF. Here is how I deal with it. If I'm using the SX50 on a tripod (not very often), I use the LCD. When hand holding I use the EVF. What I've learned is that if I use just the optical lens with all digital turned off, there is a magnified window that displays in the center of the viewfinder when the shutter button is half pressed for focusing. This  tells me right away if the camera has focused to my satisfaction.

"At least I know that this camera can capture excellent images – as long as the photographer knows what he is doing!"

The bottom line is the image that is produced. If it pleases you than you will find work arounds.

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(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 3,073
Re: Your Florida wildlife gallery...

I'm glad that you went and tried the SX50 out before buying!  Now you know the good and the bad and you can choose if you can live with the bad.  I've shot SLRs and DSLRs all my life and I've found ways to get good photos with the SX50.  One thing is for sure you will never get that kind of reach with your DSLR without braking the bank and your back :0)

Murry

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