Canon SX50 HS or Panasonic FZ200 – The Compromises

October 8, 2012

If you’ve read my Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic FZ200 comparison, you know that it’s hard to pick up a clear winner. It seems that when it comes ti high ISO performance and zoom, the Canon sX50 HS hands down, but when it comes to overall advanced features, the FZ200 wins. The question still remains, which one should you buy?

I know that there are many image quality fanatics out there that will be sold by the image quality of the SX50 HS alone. I can understand that, I am an image quality freak myself. It doesn’t mean that I don’t understand that there are things that are much more important, but I paid a lot for my camera and I want to know that I am getting the best tool or my needs. I always hate having noise in my images. I remember my first Olympus camera, it had noise at ISO 200 which I just couldn’t stand. I couldn’t stand watching the beautiful blue sky and see noise. That’s why I’ve upgraded to a DSLR due to its big sensor and much better high ISO performance, it was the Canon EOS 400D , an amazing camera, and what an enjoyment it was.

Since then technology has changed and advanced by quite a lot. I think you get about +2EV (maybe even more) advantage of what you’ve got with small sensors digital cameras 10 years ago. Now you also have the option to buy mirrorless cameras that have sensor larger than the ones found on consumer level P&S cameras. Still, when it comes to superzoom cameras, you won’t find any camera with a 1-inch sensor. High ISO image quality is surely useful for many type of shots, especially in low light, but now anyone will take advantage of it.

So if I would have bought the Panasonic Lumix FZ200, I would probably won’t dare to shoot above ISO400 with it, I would probably prefer staying in the ISO100-200 range to get the best image quality possible with this camera. The good thing is that you can get those extra exposure by using the fast f/2.8 aperture.  So with the SX50HS you can elevate the ISO with confidence, but with the FZ200 you can achieve the same exposure by using faster aperture.  Of course in general you would probably be better to shoot at lower ISO anyway, because even at ISO400 with the SX50 HS, you still get some degree of noise, not much, but it’s there.  This noise can easily be removed/reduces by using NeatImage, my favorite noise reduction software, which does an amazing job cleaning up your photos. I just wished NeatImage could have been embedded inside the FZ200 or SX50 HS, this would have been great!

Having said that, many of you probably won’t even consider doing that, so it really comes to personal preference. the thing is that the FZ200 is really tempting because of its higher focus points, high-res EVF, faster shutter speed, 1080p60 (progressive) video recording, excellent battery life and a wide range of cool features. It’s an amazing camera that falls short because of its high ISO performance. Is it a deal-breaker? – It might be for some. Look at the Canon SX50 HS, it has an amazing zoom, world’s biggest optical zoom lens on the planet it features high ratings in the High ISO department, but it lacks some of the advanced features you find on the FZ200.

The thing is that at the end of the day you want your images to look great, and you buy a superzoom to enjoy this big zoom, so it seems that the SX50 HS might be the best camera for most people. On the other hand, let’s not forget the shooting experience. I bet that shooting with the FZ200 Viewfinder is much better experience than shooting with the SX50 HS crappy EVF.  The F2.8 lens will help you get those shots with better Bokeh and shoot in low light without bumping up the ISO.

In my opinion the 50x zoom and high ISO performance are more important for my needs. The FZ200 image quality is outstanding, as long as you don’t stretch the ISO too much. I would probably make a compromise and give some of the great features of the FZ200 in favor of the big zoom and high ISO performance of the SX50 HS. Of course that’s my personal opinion. Some of you might not need that extra zoom that you get with the SX50 HS, 600mm is mor ethan enough for most people, unless you are a bird shooter and need that extra reach. But on the other hand, its nice to have that big zoom, you can shoot things that even pros with all of their gear can shoot (that prime zooms are very expensive and super bulky compare to the compact lens on the SX50 HS.

I think that you need to know that you are making a compromise here. The only big downsize of the FZ200 is the high ISO performance, other than that it’s an incredible superzoom camera. If you don’t see yourself shooting at high ISO, you love shooting via the EVF (not LCD), don’t worry about it and get the FZ200. If you after better high ISO and hate noise and want to enjoy the biggest zoom on the planet, the SX50 HS is probably the best camera for you.

I’m pretty sure that the FZ250 will be a better camera than the FZ200, but it’s time to get a camera so you need to make a choice now. Furthermore, you can also look at the FZ150 too, you aren’t obligated to buy either the SX50 HS or the FZ200, you can get an older model too, for eve a lower price. Think about that.

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  • Mickey

    I love your straight forward approach to your analysis of the cameras.
    I also owned the SX40HS but have sold it and I am waiting for my new SX50HS and looking forward to the experience.

    Thanks for your articles, love them.