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Sony Cyber-shot HX300 Ken McMahon, June 2013
 
 

Sony HX300 vs Canon SX50 HS Quality

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To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot HX300 and the Canon Powershot SX50HS, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

Both of these cameras have the same 24-1200mm zoom range, so for the initial test I set them to their 24mm wide angle setting. Further down the page you can see results at 600mm and 1200mm.

For this test the HX300 was set to Aperture priority mode; all other camera settings were left on the defaults.

  Sony Cyber-shot HX300 results
1 Sony HX300 Quality
2 Sony HX300 Noise
3 Sony HX300 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Sony Cyber-shot HX300. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode and f4 was selected as this produced the best result from the lens. With the sensitivity set to 80 ISO the HX300 metered an exposure of 1/1000. The HX300 was mounted on a tripod, image stabilisation can't be disabled on the HX300, but was turned off on the SX50 HS. As usual for this test, the cameras were otherwise left on the default settings. The Canon SX50 HS also produced its best results at f4, where it metered 1/800th with the sensitivity also set to 80 ISO.

At the 24mm equivalent wide angle setting the Sony HX300 produces a very clean looking set of crops. The first thing to note is that the exposure is pretty much spot on, with a histogram in the middle of the chart and detail in both the shadows and highlights. As for the crops themselves, the first one shows a good level of detail in the chapel, but there's an overall graininess that looks to be obscuring some of the finer details. The same is true of the lighthouse crop, there's visible texture in the sea and sky areas and the detail in the middle and foreground is less clear because of it.

The third crop from the edge of the frame has a slightly different quality, but its reasonably consistent with the crops from elsewhere in the frame, at this focal length, the lens does a good job with little evidence of distortion or chromatic aberration, though these may have been dealt with digitally.

The final crop from the centre of the frame shows the crispest, finest detail but, as with the others, there's a fine grainy texture that takes the edge off it. The balcony dividers are cleanly resolved and the window frames edges are reasonably sharp, but you can't see too much of the individual roof tiles or brickwork in the buildings.

There's quite a substantial difference in sensor resolution between the Sony HX300 and the Canon SX50 HS. Here we're comparing 20 Megapixel images from the HX300 with 12 Megapixel ones from the SX50 HS, so crops from the Canon SX50 HS show a larger area with smaller image detail. Generally, I think the SX50 HS crops show more detail than those from the HX300. It's smaller, and that makes the comparison more of a challenge, but the second crop confirms that there's a little more detail being picked up bt the SX50 HS's 12 Megapixel sensor. The lighthouse is sharper and more detailed and there's more detail in the roofs and windows of the buildings in the foreground of this crop.

The third crop from the edge of the frame doesn't suffer from the slighlty blocky pixellated look as the Sony HX300 crop and in the final crop from close to the middle of the frame, there's more detail everywhere and the result is a cleaner punchier image from the SX50 HS.

The difference isn't huge though, with the 12 Megapixel sensor of the Canon SX50 HS able to resolve marginally more detail than the 20 Megapixel Sony HX300. But though more Megapixels means slighlty lower quality, it also means bigger prints and if that's important to you, the Sony HX300 delivers with only a small compromise in image quality. Now either scroll down to see how they compare at 600mm and 1200mm, or head over to my Sony HX300 noise results.


Sony Cyber-shot HX300
 
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO




Sony HX300 vs Canon SX50 HS quality at around 600mm equivalent

 
 

For this next test I zoomed both cameras in to an equivalent focal length of around 600mm. With the exposure mode left in Aperture priority, each camera was set to the widest available aperture which was f5.6 in both cases. As usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles.

As before, the area and size of the detail in these crops varies because of the different sensor resolutions with the 20 Megapixel Sony HX300 showing a smaller area with larger image detail. As with the wide angle crops, noise textures in the Sony HX300 crops are getting in the way of some of the finer image detail, though the quality is different at 600mm and looks more pixellated than grainy. These crops are very consistent though, with crops three and four, from close to the frame edge, looking very similar in quality terms to crops one and two from closer to the middle. So, even if the sensor isn't delivering as much definition as it might, the lens is doing a good job at this 'mid-range' 600mm focal length.

By comparison, the crops from the Canon SX50 HS look a little soft, particularly the first one. In overall quality terms I prefer the look of the Canon crops to the Sony ones but, at 600mm it no longer looks like there's more detail in the SX50 HS crops than in the HX300V ones. While the Canon crops don't have the off-putting pixellated look of the Sony HX300's the softness of the lens at this focal length means they've lost some of the extra detail the SX50 HS produced at the wide angle lens setting. Now scroll down to see how they compare at 1200mm, or head over to my Sony HX300 noise results.

Sony Cyber-shot HX300
 
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
f5.6, 80 ISO
f5.6, 80 ISO
f5.6, 80 ISO
f5.6, 80 ISO
f5.6, 80 ISO
f5.6, 80 ISO
f5.6, 80 ISO
f5.6, 80 ISO


Sony HX300 vs Canon SX50 HS quality at 1200mm equivalent

 
 

For this final test I zoomed both cameras in to their maximum 1200mm equivalent focal length. Again, the exposure was left in Aperture priority mode and set to the widest available aperture - f6.3 on the HX300 and f6.5 on the SX50 HS. As usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles.

Once again the larger detail in the Sony HX300 crops is somewhat marred by the grainy pixellation which at the maximum telephoto range of the lens now looks much more intrusive. As well as obscuring image detail, it has the effect of blurring edges, particularly noticeable in the first and third crops of the bin.

But whereas the Sony HX300's performance has worsened at 1200mm, the Canon SX50 HS has improved. There's still a slight softness to the SX50 HS crops, but even more so than at the wide angle end of the focal range, there's visibly more detail in the Canon crops.

I think it's fair to say that, overall, the Canon SX50 HS produces better quality images than the Sony HX300, largely due to the superior performance of its 12 Megapixel sensor. The SX50 HS's advantage is biggest at the extremes of the focal range, but particularly at the 1200mm maximum telephoto focal range. Generally, the difference isn't that great, so if you're an all round photographer looking for a big zoom to use when the occassion arises, it's probably not worth worrying about. But if you're after the best possible image quality at long focal lengths for sports and wildlife shooting, the Canon SX50 HS has a clear edge here.

Now see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Sony HX300 Noise results.

Sony Cyber-shot HX300
 
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
f6.3, 80 ISO
f6.5, 80 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f6.5, 80 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f6.5, 80 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f6.5, 80 ISO


Sony Cyber-shot HX300
results : Quality / Noise


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