Canon PowerShot SX50 HS review - Quality

Quality

Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic FZ200

 

To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Panasonic Lumix FZ200, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The SX50 HS was zoomed in slightly to produce an equivalent field of view to the FZ200 at its 25mm maximum wide angle.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Canon PowerShot SX50 HS results
1 Canon SX50 Quality JPEG
2 Canon SX50 Quality RAW
3 Canon SX50 Noise JPEG
4 Canon SX50 Noise RAW
5 Canon SX50 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity to 80 ISO. The camera metered an exposure of 1/400. The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 metered an exposure of 1/640 at f4 at its base 100 ISO sensitivity.

The test scene on the day that I took these shots was particularly demanding with bright sunshine presenting a very wide brightness range. The PowerShot SX50 HS has made a reasonably good job of the exposure, but nonetheless there’s a good deal of highlight clipping in the image, particularly the white walls of the buildings which are reflecting the bright sunlight. The histogram reaches both ends of the chart, so had the SX50 HS chosen a faster shutter speed it would have clipped the shadows rather than the highlights.

Moving on to the crops, the Canon SX50 HS lens and sensor deliver very good quality overall. The level of detail is good and remains reasonably consistent across the frame. At the wide angle setting at least, the SX50’s 50x zoom performs very well. The detail in the chapel and the grassy foreground in he first crop is a tiny bit soft, but you can still make out the smaller details in the chapel quite well.

In the second crop the lighthouse is a clear and distinct white rectangle and, despite the atmospheric haze you can also make out some detail in the cliffs. Again, the detail in the windows and roofs in the foreground of this clip is a tiny bit soft, but the edges are distinct.

In the third crop from close to the edge of the frame the softness increases marginally, but the edge detail is still distinct and there’s only the slightest hint of chromatic aberration. Finally the fourth crop from close to the middle of the frame has lost some highlight detail, but generally the level of sharpness here is consistent with the other crops.

Compared with the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 there’s very difference in the quality of these crops. Certainly crops one and two are very close with a similar level of detail. At the edge of the frame, shown in the third crop the 25x zoom lens of the Lumix FZ200 dosn’t do as good a job at maintaining consistent image quality as the PowerShot SX50. The detail here looks a little smeared and distorted and there’s also a significant amount of colour fringing in the Lumix FZ200 crop. Back at the centre of things in the final crop, again, there very little in it, they’ve even blown the highlights by a similar degree. So, on quality at least, there’s little to choose between these two models.

To compare results with the lens zoomed in I repeated this test, this time with both lenses zoomed in to a little under 400mm. I used the scale on the SX500’s lens to estimate the focal length zoming it as close as I could to 400mm equivalent which, as it turned out, was 65.4mm or 365mm equivalent. I zoomed the Lumix FZ200 to match the framing at a focal length of 65.8mm – 366mm equivalent. Both cameras were set to f5.6 in aperture priority mode at their base ISO sensitivity setting. You can see these results if you scroll beyond the first table of results below; as always, the 100 percent crops are taken from the areas indicated in red.

These crops don’t reveal any lens shortcoming that weren’t apparent at the wide angle setting. The quality of both lenses at this focal length is good and also very consistent. Crops two and four from close to the frame edge look as sharp as one and three from near the middle. They do however, exaggerate the difference between the two sensors with the clumpier, grainier appearance of the Lumix FZ200 now much more apparent.

Check out my Canon SX50 HS RAW quality results on the next page or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Canon SX50 HS Noise results.

 
 
 

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
 
Panasonic Lumix FZ200
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO

Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic FZ200 quality at 365mm equivalent

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
 
Panasonic Lumix FZ200
4.3-215mm at 65.4mm (365mm equiv) f5.6, 80 ISO
25-600mm at 65.8mm (366mm equiv) f5.6, 100 ISO
4.3-215mm at 65.4mm (365mm equiv) f5.6, 80 ISO
25-600mm at 65.8mm (366mm equiv) f5.6, 100 ISO
4.3-215mm at 65.4mm (365mm equiv) f5.6, 80 ISO
25-600mm at 65.8mm (366mm equiv) f5.6, 100 ISO
4.3-215mm at 65.4mm (365mm equiv) f5.6, 80 ISO
25-600mm at 65.8mm (366mm equiv) f5.6, 100 ISO


Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic FZ200 RAW quality

 

To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Panasonic Lumix FZ200, within a few moments of each other using their best quality settings.

The SX50 HS was zoomed in slightly to produce an equivalent field of view to the FZ200 at its 25mm maximum wide angle.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Canon PowerShot SX50 HS results
1 Canon SX50 Quality JPEG
2 Canon SX50 Quality RAW
3 Canon SX50 Noise JPEG
4 Canon SX50 Noise RAW
5 Canon SX50 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity to 80 ISO. The camera metered an exposure of 1/400. The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 metered an exposure of 1/640 at f4 at its base 100 ISO sensitivity.

I processed both files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. To further reduce any distracting visual differences between the crops I also set custom white balance to 6000K and tint to 0. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes.

These crops from the RAW files processed in the same way make for interesting viewing. As with the JPEGs, the results from the two cameras are very close, but this time the RAW processing has unveiled a significant difference. The crops from the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 look to be noisier than those from the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. You can see this straight away in the area of ocean on the left side of the first crop and it’s even more obvious in the second. In fact, you don’t have to look particularly hard to see the noisier textures in all of the crops. While you wouldn’t normally process RAW files with this degree of sharpening and no noise reduction what this does show is that the SX50 HS RAW sensor data may be a bit more robust than that from the Lumix FZ200. In other words it’s likely to offer more scope for tweaking and revealing improved detail.

Of course RAW processing isn’t just about squeezing better detail from images and you’d also have no problem rescuing the blown highlights form this RAW file. You might also want to do something about the chromatic aberration apparent in both lenses, but to a slightly greater extent in the FZ200.

In view of the noise differences at the base ISO settings, it’ll be interesting to see how these two models compare starting with a JPEG comparison in my Canon SX50 HS Noise results.

 
 
 

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
 
Panasonic Lumix FZ200
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO


Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic FZ200 Noise RAW

 
  Canon PowerShot SX50 HS results
1 Canon SX50 HS Quality JPEG
2 Canon SX50 HS Quality RAW
3 Canon SX50 HS Noise JPEG
4 Canon SX50 HS Noise RAW
5 Canon SX50 HS Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Panasonic Lumix FZ200, within a few moments of each other using their best quality settings and at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

Because the zoom on the PowerShot SX50 lacks fine nudge control and zooming in by the smaller amount led to a larger difference, I left both cameras on their wide angle setting – 24mm (equiv) on the SX50 HS and 25mm (equiv) on the FZ200.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity to 80 ISO. The SX50 HS metered an exposure of 1 second at f4, with exposure compensation set to +1EV to produce a sufficiently bright image with a histogram in the middle of the chart. The Lumix FZ200 metered an exposure of 1.6 seconds at f4 at 100 ISO.

I processed both sets of files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. To further reduce any distracting visual differences between the crops I also set custom white balance to 4500K and tint to 0. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes – as such the visible noise levels at higher ISOs will be much greater than you’re used to seeing in many of my comparisons, but again it’s an approach that’s designed to show the actual detail that’s being recorded before you start work on processing and cleaning it up if desired.

There are no big surprises here and these Raw crops pretty much confirm what we saw in the JPEG noise results. Cast your eye down the two columns and you’ll notice a marginal difference with the Lumix FZ200 showing slightly higher levels of noise throughout the sensitivity range. It’s not enough to make a massive difference, but at the lower ISO sensitivities, once the files are processed to JPEG, it does mean the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS has a slight edge with cleaner detail. As you progress up the sensitivity range the noise in both sensors quickly becomes very apparent, and by 800 ISO and beyond, though the Canon SX50 HS still enjoys a slight advantage, noise levels are so high that, once processing has been applied there’s little if anything between them.

For most people, this won’t make much difference one way or the other. But if you’re after the best quality you can squeeze from these RAW files, the Canon SX50’s sensor provides a little more for you to work with.

Now head over to my Canon SX50 HS sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions, or head straight for my Verdict.

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS (RAW)
 
Panasonic Lumix FZ200 (RAW)
80 ISO
80 ISO Not available
     
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     


Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic FZ200 Noise JPEG

 
  Canon PowerShot SX50 HS results
1 Canon SX50 HS Quality JPEG
2 Canon SX50 HS Quality RAW
3 Canon SX50 HS Noise JPEG
4 Canon SX50 HS Noise RAW
5 Canon SX50 HS Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Panasonic Lumix FZ200, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings and at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

Because the zoom on the PowerShot SX50 lacks fine nudge control and zooming in by the smalles amount led to a larger difference, I left both cameras on their wide angle setting – 24mm (equiv) on the SX50 HS and 25mm (equiv) on the FZ200.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity to 80 ISO. The SX50 HS metered an exposure of 1 second at f4, with exposure compensation set to +1EV to produce a sufficiently bright image with a histogram in the middle of the chart. The Lumix FZ200 metered an exposure of 1.6 seconds at f4 at 100 ISO.

I should note that the shutter speed limit in Aperture priority mode on the SX50 HS is 1 second and that the 100 ISO exposure was also 1 second, falling to 0.6s at 200 ISO so, had it been able to, the SX50 HS would most likely have set 1.2s for the 80 ISO exposure. One way around this limitation is to set manual exposure mode which allows you to select shutter speeds up to 15 seconds. But there’s a catch. Even in Manual, you can only select exposures longer than a second at the base 80 ISO setting. It’s a small thing, but if you do a lot of night shooting and long exposure photography it’s worth knowing about.

So what about the crops? The 80 ISO crop from the SX50 is a little dark and it’s also a little noisy, you can spot a slight, but definite texture in the walls and the text in the memorial panel looks a little scuffy too. This noise wasn’t visible, at least not to the same degree in my outdoor test crops and I wonder if long exposure noise is the reason for the shutter speed limit above 80 ISO on the SX50 HS. At 100 ISO the noise is stil there, only now it’s fractionally clumpier.

At 200 ISO it gets clumpier still; there are patches of blotchy pixels in the wall and the text, though still readable is beginning to lose its definition. At 400 ISO the text is barely legible – you can just make out the larger word Carpenter, but the game is now up for finer detail. Not good for large prints and pixel peeping, but for anything smaller 400 ISO is still good for everyday shooting.

By 800 ISO though, the noise has the upper hand, the fine detail is all gone, medium sized detail is close behind and there are no longer any clean edges. 800 ISO is also the point at which the SX50’s colour saturation drops noticeably, so while you don’t notice the detail loss at smaller sizes, images look harsh and a little washed out. From 1600 ISO upwards there’s not much detail to find and full sized prints won’t impress anyone, but it still works for viewing at less than full screen size as does 3200 ISO. 6400 ISO is a brave move on a compact sensor, but little more than a marketing ploy. But if your subject is of personal value or newsworthy who knows, it might come in handy.

A more useful tool is the SX50’s Handheld NightScene mode which produces a low-noise composite from a fast three-shot burst. Handheld Nighscene automatically sets the exposure and ISO sensitivity and the final crop shows it at 1600 ISO. A fair bit of detail is lost in the process along with the noise but it is nonetheless an improvement on the single-shot 1600 ISO crop.

Compared with the crops from the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 once again, there’s not much to separate these two 12 Megapixel sensors. Though in its favour the FZ200 made a better job of the exposure, producing slightly warmer results. At 100 ISO I’d say the FZ200 crop looks slightly clumpier and the text isn’t quite so readable. At 200 ISO the Canon SX50 HS crop also looks to be slightly cleaner. From 400 ISO up, the noise looks a little different, but has much the same effect. I think it’s fair to say that at the lower ISO settings the SX50 HS has a small noise advantage, but from 400 ISO upwards there’s very little, if anything, in it.

To find out how much of a role processing plays in keeping noise at bay in these crops take a look at my Canon SX50 HS RAW noise results page to see just how much noise is present behind the scenes. Or head over to my Canon SX50 HS sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
 
Panasonic Lumix FZ200
80 ISO
80 ISO Not available
     
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
Handheld NightScene 1600 ISO


Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Buy Gordon a coffee to support cameralabs!

Like my reviews? Buy me a coffee!

Follow Gordon Laing

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2020 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Website design by Coolgrey