Gadgetslab: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS DIGITAL CAMERA

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SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Sensor: 11mm 12.1MP CMOS sensor
  • Zoom and optics: SOx optical zoom;
  • 1OOx digital zoom
  • Physical Dimensions:122.S x 87.3 x
  • 10S.Smm
  • Weight:SS1g
  • Estimated battery life: Approx.31S shots when using LCD,approx.33S shots when using EVF
  • Memory used/internal capacity:SD

WHAT’S HOT:

  • Unparalleled zoom capacity in its category
  • Good photo quality
  • RAW format recording
  • Zoom Framing Assist Seek and Lock buttons

BOTTOMLINE:

Matched with superb image quality, its impressively powerful SOx optical zoom and 1OOx Zoom Plus make the Canon PowerShot SXSO HS stand out in its category.

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In Photokina 2012,Canon claimed that the SOx optical zoom of the PowerShot SXSO HS matches that of a 24-1200mm lens, topping the zoom range of its 2011 release,the PowerShot SX40 HS.That SOx optical zoom capacity, said Canon,can even be expanded using the camera’s 1OOx Zoom Plus. I happily volunteered to take the camera for a spin to see if I can put that claim to the test.

One thing I loved about the PowerShot SX50 HS-and one advantage it has over DSLRs with long lenses-is that it is surprisingly lightweight. There was hardly any struggle carrying the camera around anywhere I went, whether it was in my backpack or out in the open. In fact, if you take a look at the spec sheet, you’ll see that it weighs only a little over half a kilogram. Although it may look like a DSLR to the layman, owing to its pronounced handgrip, electronic viewfinder (EVF), external flash hotshoe and mode dial, the camera is less bulky and more compact than your average DSLR. The PowerShot SX50 HS looks no larger than its eldest brother, the PowerShot SX30 IS.

 

Laid out on its body are all your standard camera buttons such as the shutter release button, playback button, menu button, display controls. There are, however, new buttons that might need introduction, such as the Zoom Framing Assist Seek and Lock buttons on the side of the protruding lens and the assignable shortcut button in the far upper left on the camera’s rear. I had no problems with the button layout or the grip. Once I was even  able to operate the camera using only one hand.

 

Aside from having an electronic viewfinder, the camera also has a titlable 2.8-inch LCD screen, which made it easier for me to monitor my shots even when taken at odd angles. A minor issue, though, is that when you move your eye towards the viewfinder, the camera doesn’t automatically redirect the display from the LCD to the EVF, unlike in DSLRs and a number of points-and­ shoot models. To port the display from LCD to the EVF and vice versa, you’d have to press the display button.

Armed with a 12.1-megapixel sensor, the PowerShot SX50 HS is able to capture photos with minimal noise. The ISO range is pretty wide at 80-6400, but the aperture range isn’t quite satisfying with only f/3.4 at the widest point and f/6.5 at the telephoto end. It’s also important to note that the PowerShot SX50 HS wields a DIGIC 5 image processor­ the same chip found in Canon’s high­ end DSLRs.

Remember I said I’d attempt to put the camera’s zoom to the test? Well, the PowerShot SX50 HS is a surprising heavy-hitter. What defeats all of its flaws is its impressive zoom capacity. Here are some sample situations that will hopefully illustrate the power of the camera’s zoom range: At ground

level, I was able to get an amazing close-up shot of the moon. I was also able to single-out an ornament from a giant Christmas tree in the UST Grandstand. Scan the QR code at the end of this review, and you’ll see more incredible photos that showcase the zooming power of the PowerShot SX50 HS.

 

One of the challenges of shooting photos while zoomed in is keeping the camera steady enough to get a clear and focused shot. My first suggestion would be to use a tripod, but if you prefer handheld shooting, this camera packs some nifty features that can help. When you hit the Zoom Framing Assist Seek button (on the side of the lens) while you are zoomed in on a desired subject, the camera temporarily zooms out to full wide to let you know where you are. You will see a white box indicating where you were when you were zoomed in. This may not be practical for moving subjects, but the other button on the lens-called the Zoom Framing Assist Lock button-tracks a subject and automatically locks onto it by keeping it in the center of the frame until you’re ready to fire the shot. The photos I produced had minimal noise. Though white balance is a bit off at times, I have no complaints as to photo quality.

Sometimes, though, my photos may have appeared in-focus on the LCD screen, but turned out to be out-of­ focus when viewed on my computer. This could be due to the low resolution of the LCD screen, which makes it hard to discern whether or not the elements onscreen are in-focus.

One important little nugget that  Canon threw in as an improvement to the SX40 HS is the ability to shoot in RAW format. This makes the PowerShot SX50 HS more attractive to presumes as they are given the freedom to manually process their images.

Aside from being a powerful stills shooter, the camera can also function as a video recorder that can shoot videos in 1080p Full HD at 24 frames per second (fps). I had no complaints as to video and audio quality, just that the AF hunt is a bit slow when zoomed in-the same complaint I have in taking stills. It also has a slow-motion video feature that can take video clips at 240 or 120 fps and a Movie Digest mode that combines snippets of each video you take into one movie.

With all these features and abilities, the camera retails at PHP 25,998. It costs just as much as an entry-level DSLR with an 18-135mm kit lens, but I’d definitely consider putting my money on this little trooper because it is compact, lightweight and easier to manage. The quality of telephoto images taken by DSLRs with long lenses remains unmatched, but the PowerShot SX50 HS reigns supreme in its own turf as it gives you the power to zoom in from any distance without compromising quality.

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First Published in Gadgets Magazine February 2013

Words by Racine Castro