Sony Cyber-shot HX50V review - Quality

Quality

Sony HX50V vs Canon SX280 HS vs Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 quality

 

To compare real-life performance when zoomed out I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot HX50V, the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS and the Panasonic Lumix ZS30 / TZ40 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses were all set to their maximum wide angle – equivalent of 24mm for the Sony HX50V and Panasonic TZ40 / SZ30 and 25mm for the Canon SX280 HS. The cameras were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode with the ISO senstivity set manually. Results at approximately 250mm, 500mm and, for the HX50V, 720mm are shown further down the page.

  Sony HX50V results
1 Sony HX50V Quality JPEG
2 Sony HX50V Noise
3 Sony HX50V Sample images

The image above was taken with the Sony Cyber-shot HX50V. The HX50V was mounted on a tripod and the stabilisation was not disabled as there’s no option to turn it off. Aperture priority mode was selected and I took a series of exposures to determine which aperture produced the best result from the lens. This turned out to be wide open at f3.5. This was also the case with the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS and the Panasonic Lumix ZS30 / TZ40.

With the aperture set to f3.5 and the sensitivity to 80 ISO the HX50V metered an exposure of 1/000 at f3.5. The Canon SX280 HS metered 1/1250 at f3.5 and the Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 at its 100 ISO base sensitivity metered 1/1300 at f3.3. The HX50 JPEG file measured 7.49Mb, the SX280 HS file was 5.61Mb and the ZS30 / TZ40 file was 6.57Mb. As usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles.

The 20 Megapixel Sony HX50V has produced a great set of crops from an image with good levels of detail and crisp edges. The lens isn’t quite good enough to resolve the detail in the tiny crosses at either end of the chapel roof in the first crop, but you can make out the windows and the door as well as the stonework in the perimeter wall. In the second crop the lighthouse is a distinct white column and you can make out the separate lamphouse at the top. There is a certain amount of noisiness in the sky, sea and distant cliffs, though and the window frames and chimneys in the middle ground are a little soft. The third crop from close to the edge of the frame is nice and sharp, there’s a little bit of chromatic aberration here with purple fringing around the window. Finally, the fourth crop from the edge of the frame once again shows a very good level of fine detail with crisp edges on the windowframes and balcony rails. It’s a great perfomance from the HX50Vs 30x zoom lens and if it weren’t for the slight noisiness of the sensor you’d probably see even a little more of that fine detail.

The crops from the 12 Megapixel Canon SX280 HS show a slighly larger area with smaller detail than those from the HX50V due to the lower resolution of its sensor. Depsite that it’s plain to see that the SX280 HS also does a very good job with the outdoor test scene, producing crops with a good level of detail and clean, crisp edges. The door and windows in the chapel are well resolved and you can see detail in the stonework.

In the second SX280 HS crop, the lighthouse is crisply resolved and you can make out the separate lamphouse. In the middle ground the roofs and window frames are sharp with a good level of detail and this crop has clearer, sharper detail, albeit smaller, than the HX50V one. Like the HX50V, the SX280 HS shows little if any sign of softening at the frame edge in the third crop, and back in the middle of the frame the fourth crop shows a good level of very crisply defined detail. Overall, depsite the smaller sized image detail it looks like the SX280 HS and HX50V are closely matched in terms of lens performance, but the 12 Megapixel sensor in the SX280 produces slightly superior results to the HX50V.

Moving on to the third row of crops from the Panasonic Lumix ZS30 / TZ40, there’s a marked difference in quality between these crops and those from the HX50V and SX280 HS. In the first crop you can make out the doors and windows in the chapel, but the detail is very granular. In the second crop the lighthouse is a little smudgy and in the foreground the window frames are indistinct and there’s nowhere near the same level of detail as in the HX50V and SX280 HS crops.

The third ZS30 / TZ40 crop from the edge of the frame suffers from the same clumpy granularity. There may also be a little fringing around the window but, compared with the noise, this is the least of the problems. The fourth crop from close to the centre of the frame is the best of them and shows the most detail. But compared with those from the Sony HX50V and Canon SX280 HS it’s very soft and lacking in the finer detail. While Sony has managed to produce a 20 Megapixel sensor capable of producing good results at its base sensitivity setting, Panasonic hasn’t been nearly so successful and it’s decision to up the Megapixel count to 18, from the 16 Megapixels of its predecessor looks, on these results to be a step too far.

Sony HX50V at 24mm equiv
 
Canon SX280 HS at 25mm equiv
 
Panasonic TZ40 / ZS30 at 24mm equiv
f3.5, 80 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f3.3, 100 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f3.3, 100 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f3.3, 100 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f3.5, 80 ISO
f3.3, 100 ISO

Sony HX50V vs Canon SX280 HS vs Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 quality at around 250mm equivalent

 
 

For this next test I zoomed all three cameras in to an equivalent focal length of around 250mm. This time I set the exposure mode to Program Auto and, in the event, each one selected the widest available aperture at that zoom setting, f6.3 on the HX50V, f5.6 on the SX280 HS and f5.7 on the ZS30 / TZ40. 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 HX50V showing the smallest area, followed by the 18 Megapixel Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 then the 12 Megapixel Canon SX280 HS. The first crop is from fairly close to the frame edge on the the left and here the HX50V quality looks pretty good and quite similar to the second crop from close to the centre. The third crop from close to the edge on the right of the frame looks considerably softer, though, though the final one, which is from the bottom edge is reasonably crisp. So some variability from the HX50 at 250mm, but generally a pretty good result overall.

The Canon SX280 HS starts out with a result that looks marginally sharper than the HX50V and, though the detail is smaller, in the second crop I’d say there’s more to see here too. The third crop from close to the frame edge on the right is a crisp and sharp as those from the centre, and much better than the HX50V’s and likewise the fourth frame from the bottom edge has detail that’s just a sharp as anywhere else in the frame, a great result from the SX280 HS.

As with the wide angle crops, at first glance the Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 crops look a little disappointing. The first one looks both grainy and soft with little of the fine detail visible in the other two. Possibly because there’s not so much detail in the subject, the second crop from the ZS30 / TZ40 looks a little better, but the third and fourth crops are very smudgy indeed. Both of these crops are in the front third of the scene, but I doubt this is insufficient depth of field; it certainly wasn’t a problem on the Canon or Sony models. So still not much joy here for the ZS30 / TZ40.

Sony HX50V at 250mm equiv
 
Canon SX280 HS at 250mm equiv
 
Panasonic TZ40 / ZS30 at 250mm equiv
f6.3, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.7, 100 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.7, 100 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.7, 100 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.7, 100 ISO

Sony HX50V vs Canon SX280 HS vs Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 quality at around 500mm equivalent

 
 

For this next test I zoomed all three cameras in to an equivalent focal length of around 500mm. The ZS30 / TZ40 has a maximum zoom of 480mm and the Canon SX280 HS tops out at 500mm, but the HX50 can go on to a maximum zoom of 720mm. Scroll down to see crops from the HX50V at its maximum 720mm focal length.

Once again, I set the exposure mode to Program Auto and each model selected the widest available aperture at that zoom setting, f6.3 on the HX50V, f6.8 on the SX280 HS and f6.4 on the TZ40 / SZ30. As usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles. At this focal length, it’s quite hard to exactly match the field of view, (particularly as the Canon SX280 HS has no scale on its zoom bar) but the results are reasonably close – 488mm equivalent on the HX50, 500mm on the SX280 HS and 480mm on the TZ40 / SZ30.

At 500mm the HX50 is still a long way short of its maximum 720mm focal length and these crops look even better than the 250mm ones. The detail is sharp and at this focal length there’s greater consistency across the frame. The first crop and the last, both from close to the frame edge are almost as detailed as the ones from the centre and there’s less of a quality difference than at 250mm.

500mm is the maximum focal length for the SX280 HS and the strain is beginning to show just a little bit. All four crops are a little softer than those at 250mm and the first and last crops are a little blurry. Not only are these results not on a par with the SX280 HS at 250mm, they’re not quite a good as those from the Sony HX50V.

At it’s maximum 480mm focal length, the lens on the Panasonic TZ40 / SZ30 puts in it’s best performance. In this set of crops there’s much more consistency across the frame, the crops taken from close to the edge are softer, but not to the same degree as at the wider zoom settings. There’s also less of a margin at this focal length between the Canon SX280 HS and the ZS30 / TZ40, but the latter still earns last place in the quality ratings, though that’s more to do with the sensor than the lens.

Sony HX50V 488mm equiv
 
Canon SX280 HS 500mm equiv
 
Panasonic TZ40 / ZS30 480mm equiv
f6.3, 80 ISO
f6.8, 100 ISO
f6.4, 100 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f6.8, 100 ISO
f6.4, 100 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f6.8, 100 ISO
f6.4, 100 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f6.8, 100 ISO
f6.4, 100 ISO

Sony HX50V quality at 720mm equivalent

 
 

For this final test I zoomed the HX50V to its maximum 720mm focal length and left the exposure mode on Program Auto where it chose an exposure of 1/640 at f6.3 As before, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles on the left.

At is maximum zoom range with an equivalent focal length of 720mm the HX50V turns in a pretty impressive performance. There’s not quite the same edge sharpness and level of detail as at the wider zoom settings, and the crops from the frame edge, particuarly the second one from close to the left edge look sketchy. There’s also what looks to be a hint of a colour fringe around the bottom of the drainpipe in the last crop, but overall, I’d say most people will be more than happy with the quality of these results given that they’re achieved at a focal length well beyond what either of the other two models can manage.

Sony HX50V
f6.3, 80 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO
f6.3, 80 ISO

Now check out how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Sony HX50V Noise results.

 


Sony HX50V
results : Sony HX50V Quality / Sony HX50V Noise

Sony HX50V vs Canon SX280 HS vs Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 Noise

 
  Sony HX50V results
1 Sony HX50V Quality JPEG
2 Sony HX50V Noise
3 Sony HX50V Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions , I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot HX50V, the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS and the Panasonic Lumix ZS30 / TZ40 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The lenses were all set to their maximum wide angle – an equivalent of 24mm on the Sony HX50V and Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 and 25mm on the Canon SX280 HS. The cameras were all set to Program exposure mode with the ISO senstivity set manually.

The above shot was taken with the Sony Cyber-shot HX50V in Program auto exposure mode. The HX50V was mounted on a tripod for this test, image stabilsation can’t be disabled on the HX50V and, in the absence of any indication that it’s automatically turned off when the camera is tripod-mounted I assume it’s active. In Program Auto mode the HX50V metered an exposure of 1/4 at f3.5 at the base 80 ISO sensitivity setting. For the Canon SX280 HS the exposure was 1/4 at f3.5 and the Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 metered 1/4 at f3.3.

Before I examine the crops in detail let’s remind ourselves what we’re looking at here. All three of these compact models are fitted with a sensor that’s the same 1/2.3 inch physical size, but the Sony HX50V has the highest resolution with 20.4 Megapixels followed by the Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 with 18.1 Megapixels and finally the Canon SX280 HS at 12.1 Megapixels. So with the highest pixel density you might expect the Sony HX50V to have the worst noise performance of the three, and the Canon SX280 HS the best, with the Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 somewhere in the middle. So lets take a look.

Because it has the highest resolution sensor, the crops from the Sony HX50V show the smallest area with the biggest detail. At the base 80 ISO sensitivity there’s some noticeable noise in the HX50V crop with visible texture in the plain coloured wall, the darker memorial panel, the model boat and the flowers, in other words everywhere. The 80 ISO crop from the Canon SX280 HS next to it has a similar amount of noisy texture, though it’s slightly less intrusive and clumpy-looking, at least in part due to the smaller detail.

The Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 has no 80 ISO setting, so the first chance we get to compare all three is at 100 ISO. The Sony HX50V and Canon SX280 HS 100 ISO crops look similar to the 80 ISO ones, though the noise has increased marginally on both. Likewise, the crop from the 18 Megapixel Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 is visibly textured and, like the other two, the noise is bad enough to affect detail everywhere, particularly in the text panel. Don’t forget though that you’ll really only notice noise at this level if you’re looking closely at 100 percent sizes. At smaller magnification results from all three look nice and clean with high levels of detail, so this is only really an issue if you’re making big prints or cropping quite a lot.

At 200 ISO the Sony HX50V crop is already suffering quite badly. There’s a coarse granularity that’s obscuring the detail and some smearing too. Note how some of the letters in the text panel have blurred and blended with the background. The edges are also beginning to crumble a little in this HX50V 200 ISO crop. By comparison, both the SX280 HS and ZS30 / TZ40 crops are holding up well. They too are noisier than the 100 ISO crops, the Canon SX280 HS crop looks a little softer but there’s plenty of fine detail and the text is still legible. The same goes for the ZS30 / TZ40 crop, it’s a little softer and less contrasty than the 100 ISO one, but stil looks good and has plenty of detail.

By 400 ISO the Sony HX50V crop is now looking very bitty indeed. The text panel is mostly a smudgy blur and the edges, particularly the left side of the memorial panel are look very messy. At 400 ISO there’s a further slight softening of the Canon SX280 HS crop, but the detail is still holding up well. The same can be said of the Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 crop, though I’d say the Canon has moved out in front with less noise and more detail than the 18 Megapixel ZS30 / TZ40.

Interestingly, at 800 ISO it all evens up a little, with crops from all three models exhibiting a similar level of noise. The Canon SX280 HS is still out in front and the Sony HX50V trails the pack, but the difference is much less obvious than at 400 ISO. It’s a similar story at 1600 ISO, though by now the crops from all three models are as much noise as image data, but the Canon SX280 HS maintains its edge with a higher level of detail, cleaner edges and less intrusive graininess. Beyond 1600 ISO nothing looks very pretty. Note that the 6400 and 12800 settings on the HX50V are stacking modes – the camera takes several shots in quick succession, then produces a composite. Though they may be better than a single shot result from this sensor, there’s still not an awful lot of detail to be seen amidst the noise,

Overall, these results are pretty much what you’d expect. In practice, there’s not much to choose between these three models at their base senstivity settings, but above that, in the lower range up to 400 ISO the 12 Megapixel Canon SX280 HS and Panasonic ZS30 / TZ40 produce better results with less noise. At the higher sensitivity settings above 400 ISO though, it even out with little practical difference between models.

Now head over to my Sony HX50V sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Sony HX50V
 
Canon SX280 HS
 
Panasonic TZ40 / ZS30

80 ISO

80 ISO
80 ISO Not available

100 ISO

100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO Not available
12800 ISO Not available
Hand-held Twilight 200 ISO
Hand Held Night Scene 1000 ISO
Handheld Night Shot 400 ISO


Sony HX50V
results : Sony HX50V Quality / Sony HX50V Noise

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