Canon SX50 HS vs SX40 HS vs Nikon P510 Comparison

September 18, 2012

Canon SX50 HS, Nikon P510 and zoom on building

When I’ve read the Canon SX50 HS specs I just couldn’t believe my eye, a 24 – 1200 mm (35mm equivalent) 50x zoom lens, OMG, Canon did it again. When I thought that Nikon P510 touched the focal length limit for superzoom cameras, Canon comes and dare to challenge Nikon with an amazing 1200 mm focal length. It’s just amazing what can be achieved with today’s optic’s technologies.  The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS replaces what I think was the best Superzoom digital camera for 2011/2012, the Canon SX40 HS.  the SX40 HS was announced a year ago on September 15, 2011 and a year after Canon released its replacement, the SX50 HS.

I know that many of you are excited about this new camera, even more than any other camera that was announced in Photokina 2012. Even before digging deep into the camera’s features, the Canon SX50 HS is going to be a big hit in 2012/2013. Canon has already released two affordable superzoom, the Canon SX500 IS and SX160 IS, now it’s time to refresh the superzoom flagship. In this article I will compare the Canon SX50 HS vs Nikon P510 and compare it also against the SX40 HS. I know that many of you are already eager to buy this camera, mainly because of its amazing 50x optical zoom. This comparison article will give you everything you need to know about the SX50 HS, so let’s get started!

 

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS

So yes, all we have to say is OMG, Canon you did it! – It’s easy to get excited about the new SX50. The SX40 HS was in my opinion the best superzoom camera in 2012. Canon has made a smart decision staying with the 12.1 -megapixels sensor and the image quality of the SX40HS just beats the competition hands-down. The only other superzoom camera that was able to wow me with its image quality was the Panasonic FZ150 (24x zoom / 25-600mm). Canon did its homework and learned what people really want in a superzoom camera. The SX40 HS had and still has its competition and cameras like the Nikon P510, Sony HX200V and Fujifilm X-S1.

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS camera

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x zoom superzoom camera

The best selling point of this camera is its 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 50x optical zoom lens.  The lens is a bit slower (f/3.4-6.5 vs f/2.7-5.8) than the one on the SX40, but Canon had to do it to keep the camera small and the price affordable. I was also very happy so see Canon staying with a 12.1MP sensor, which proven to be an excellent choice when it comes to image quality and low-light performance. It’s a winning formula so why change it. Nikon has chosen to go with 16.0-megapixel sensor, and because the SX40 HS, SX50 HS and P510 all have a 1/2.3″ BSI-CMOS sensor, it’s proven that less pixels can help the camera perform better and lead to better image quality overall.

The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS features Canon’s latest Digic 5 image processor and now the SX50 HS can shoot up to a native ISO of 6400! and can be expandable up to ISO12800 plus ISO80, which is an amazing achievement. At the back you can find a 2.8-inch Full articulated 461K-dots LCD, which is larger and has twice the resolution of the previous model.

The Canon SX50 HS was also improved in focus speed. AF speed improved by 50% (0.38 sec. vs 0.19 sec.) compare to the SX40 and shootimg time lag reduce by 44% (from 0.45 sec . to 0.25 sec.). The SX50 HS can shoot at 2.2 fps in P mode and up to 13 fps in High-Speed Burst HQ with a maximum continuous capture of 10 frames.

Canon also improved the Dynamic IS feature for video shooting.  This reduce the camera shake that typically occurs while walking and filming at the same time.  The Intelligent IS has several modes including normal, Panning, Hybrid, Dynamic, Powered and Tripod – each one matches perfectly for various types of shooting situations, optimizing the image stabilization to perfectly match every situation. The result is sharp images every time.

Canon has also changed the design of the camera, which in my opinion looks much better than the SX40 HS. I personally didn’t like the design of the SX40 but I really like the external design of the new SX50 HS. Furthermore, the camera is even smaller then the SX40 HS.

All in all, the Sx50 HS will be selling like donuts in 2012/2013. This is certainly the superzoom camera to look at this year. The SX50 HS can also shoot Full HD videos in very high quality. We’ve already seen how good the SX40 HS videos are and we know that the SX50 HS will be at least as good as the SX40 HS.

 

Optical Zoom and Image Quality

magnifying glass on image, inspecting qualityIt’s a fact that lenses with less complex construction result in better image quality overall. So in general we want to have a lens with less zoom if we won’t better performance. The SX50 HS and the Nikon P510 have a very big optical zoom. This means that image quality won’t be on par with cameras that have much less the zoom power. Of course that shouldn’t bother you at all. Me make a compromise here, but in return we get a camera with a high degree of flexibility, a versatile camera that can help us get back home with amazing shots which won’t be possible with any other camera.

I know many enthusiasts DSLR photographers that just wish they had a 1200 mm lens in their camera bag.  Even if some of them could afford getting their hands on a very expensive >1000 mm lens, those lenses are heavy and bulky and the SX50 HS is far more portable then those type of lenses.

With a 24-1200 mm lens you can get very close to your subject without the need to physically be close to it.  With the SX50 HS in your hand it feels like you can shoot anything, nothing can escape the lens of this new superzoom baby.  I just can tell you how excited I am to see this camera and already eager to buy it and test it myself.

The thing is that when I’ve compare the Canon SX40 HS image quality to other superzooms, I’ve found the SX40 to be among the best superzoom on the market when it comes ti image quality. The high ISO image quality better than any other camera I’ve reviewed. The only camera that was able to directly compete against he SX40 HS was the Fujifilm X-S1 (24-624mm / 26x zoom), but the X-S1 has a much larger sensor (2/3-inch vs 1/2.3″ / 8.8×6.6mm vs 6.17×4.55mm).

So all in all, you should know that Canon SX40 and SX50 HS image quality is among the best you can find on superzoom cameras.  I was blown away with the image and video quality when I reviewed the SX40 HS. So you can rest assured that you won’t find yourself troubles with image quality with these type of cameras. The advantages just outweigh the disadvantages by a mile!

 

What 50x Zoom Looks Like? (demo)

50x is the longest zoom that you find on any superzoom camera to date, but how close you can really zoom in? – I’ve searched for a videos that will demonstrate the 50x zoom and luckily I’ve found one, but it’s not a sample video taken with the camera, but rather than a view via the LCD. I will update this section when more videos are available.

50X ZOOM!

 INCREDIBLE!

 

Canon SX50 HS vs SX40 HS vs Nikon P510

Without talking too much, let’s dive in to the comparison itself.  I’ve decided to compare the Canon SX50 HS vs the older model, SX40 HS, and also compare it vs the Nikon P510 – which in my opinion is the direct competitor to those two cameras.  I recommend going over the specs comparison table to see a good view of the differences between those three superzooms.  In the next section I will discuss the differences in more details.

Canon SX50 HSCanon SX40 HSNikon P510
AnnouncedSep 17, 2012Sep 15, 2011Feb 1, 2012
Sensor12.1MP
1/2.3-inch
BSI-CMOS
12.1MP
1/2.3-inch
BSI-CMOS
16.0MP
1/2.3-inch
BSI-CMOS
ISO80 - 6400 (Expandable up to 12800)100- 3200100 - 3200
Lens24 - 1200 mm F3.4-6.5 IS
50x optical zoom
24 - 840 mm F2.7-5.8 IS
35x optical zoom
24 - 1000mm F3-5.9 VR
41.7x optical zoom
AF Points999
Macro Focus Range0 cm (from front of lens in Macro)0 cm (from front of lens in Macro)1 cm (in macro close-up mode)
LCD2.8-inch
Full Articulated
461K-dots
2.7-inch
Full Articulated
230K-dots
3-inch
Titing
921K-dots
EVF202K-dots
EVF (0.20 type), 4:3 aspect ratio
202K-dots
EVF (0.20 type), 4:3 aspect ratio
201K-dots
Shutter Speed15 - 1/2000 sec15 -1/3200 sec4 - 1/2000 sec
Manual Exposure ControlYesYesYes
Built-in FlashYesYesYes
External FlashYes (hot-shoe)Yes (hot-shoe)No
Continuous ShootingApprox. 2.2 shots/sec., AF: Approx. 0.8 shots/sec., LV: Approx. 0.9 shots/sec., High-speed Burst HQ: Approx. 13 shots/sec., up to 10 shots. High-speed Burst HQ with AF: Approx. 4.1 shots/sec., up to 10 shotApprox. 2.4 shots/sec., AF: Approx. 0.8 shots/sec., LV: Approx. 0.9 shots/sec., High-speed Burst HQ: Approx. 10.3 shots/sec., up to 8 shotsUp to 5 shots at approx. 7 frames per second
Exposure Compensation±3 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)±2 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)±2 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)
Video1920 x 1080, 24 fps
1280 x 720, 30 fps
640 x 480, 30 fps

Super Slow Motion Movie
640 x 480, 120fps
320 x 240, 240fps
Miniature Effect (HD, L) 6fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps
iFrame Movie (HD)

+stereo sound
1920 x 1080, 24 fps
1280 x 720, 30 fps
640 x 480, 30 fps

Super Slow Motion Movie
640 x 480, 120fps
320 x 240, 240fps
Miniature Effect (HD, L) 6fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps
iFrame Movie (HD)

+stereo sound
1920 x 1080 (15, 30fps), 1280 x 720p (60, 30 fps), 640 x 480 (120, 30fps)

iFrame® 540: 960x540 / 30fps

+stereo sound
Battery Life (CIPA)approx. 315 shotsapprox. 380 shotsapprox. 240 shots
Dimensions122.5 x 87.3 x 105.5 mm122.9 x 92.4 x 107.7 mm119.8 x 82.9 x 102.2 mm
Weight (inc. memory card and battery)595 g600 g555 g
GPSOptionalNoBuit-in
RawYesNoNo

 

If you went over the specs comparison table, you can see that the SX50 HS is much improved model over the SX40 HS. Here’s a summary of the differences between the three superzooms:

 

CAnon SX50 HS vs SX40 HS size comparison

CAnon SX50 HS and SX40 HS size comparison (via camerasize.com)

 

Canon SX50 HS vs SX40 – what’s changed?

  • The SX50 HS has a much broader ISO range, which means more flexibility when shooting in low light
  • Bigger zoom, the biggest zoom on any superzoom camera to date! – but lens is a bit slower
  • LCD is bigger and have higher resolution, but still not as high as today’s standards (should be 920K-dots, Canon wake up!)
  • Decrease in maximum shutter speed from 1/3200 sec to 1/2000 sec
  • High-speed burst was increased from 10.3 fps to 13 fps
  • More flexible exposure compensation
  • Decrease in battery life from 380 to  315 shots
  • New seek and locks function, designed to locate and lock on a subject at the telephoto end
  • Improved AF system
  • Improved design and handling of the camera, looks much better
  • Smaller than the SX40 HS
  • Improved grip, ideal for ultrazoom shooting

 

We can clearly see that the SX50 HS is all-around better camera than the SX40 HS in terms of design, performance and features. Canon continue with the same successful formula but improved the camera to match the demand of people who used the SX40 HS, and also designed the camera to perfectly fit ultrazoom shooting. Canon also improved the Smart Auto function, with 58 scenes compared to 32 on the SX40 HS.

 

Canon SX50 HS vs Nikon P510 – Differences

  • The Nikon P510 has higher resolution sensor, but as I mentioned before, this came at the cost of high ISO performance
  • Canon SX50 HS has much broader ISO range, including ISO80 up to ISO 128000 (extended)
  • 50x vs 41.7x zoom – The SX50 HS has a bigger zoom, but the difference isn’t huge as you might think. Still, it’s the longest zoom that you can get right now!
  • SX50 HS can shoot at closer range in macro mode (0cm vs 1cm)
  • Nikon P510 has a better LCD when it comes to size and resolution, but the SX50 HS is full articulated, the P510 is tilted one
  • The SX50 HS has hot-shoe connector for connecting an external flash
  • SX50 HS has faster burst
  • SX50 HS can shoot at 24fps cinematic framerate for those who prefer that and can also shoot slow-motion videos, the P510 does not
  • SX50 HS has much better battery life
  • P510 is a bit smaller in size and it’s also weights 40 g less
  • Nikon P510 has a built-in GPS, the SX50 HS does not
  • The Canon SX50 can shoot Raw! – the P510 cannot

 

If you care about image quality and want to have the longest zoom on the planet, the Canon SX50 HS is THE camera for you. I just couldn’t ask for more.. ok.. maybe a better LCD, faster shutter speed and GPS – but that’s it. Dpreview has already reviewed the P510 and found the P510 as a good all-around performer, but this camera lacks Raw and noise levels are above the competition. The Canon sX50 HS has a relatively slow lens, but its high ISO performance and excellent image stabilization should give you an option to shoot in low light. In fact, the SX50 HS wasn’t design to be a low light performer, you have the Canon PowerShot G15 for that with its f/1.8-2.8 lens, but of course it’s not a superzoom camera.

Nikon P510 ultra-zoom camera

Nikon P510 ultra-zoom camera with 42x optical zoom lens

We can see that each generation of superzoom cameras gives birth to better and more advanced cameras. The Raw option will appeal to those who love to edit their photos in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 and will certainly help you squeeze our more details from the scene. The SX50 HS can also shoow Raw in various aspect ratio settings.

Of course the main selling point of this camera is it’s mind blowing optical zoom. I mean come on.. a 1200 mm focal length and also not at the expense of the 24mm wide-angle? – Canon really exceeds my expectations here.  Sometimes we might wish that these kind of cameras have a bit larger sensor, maybe a 2/3-inch, but of course this will lead to a larger and more expensive camera. The Sx50 HS is the perfect balance between price and performance and it should be that way.

The SX50 HS, as well as the Nikon P510, both can cover a wide range of shooting styles and both are among the best travel cameras we have to date. The framing assist Seek and Lock function on the SX50 will certainly makes tracking subjects much easier when using the tele end.

What I like about the Canon SX50 HS and also on the Fujifilm X-S1 is the JPEG output. You don’t need to be an expert to get some amazing shots. Photos looks colorful, saturated exactly at the right degree. The exposure works incredibly well  which is very important for those type of cameras, because you mainly shoot with them outdoors. The green and blues just look amazing. I also love the fact that even at high ISO, Canon was able to maintain high contrast and and colors look almost the same as they were shot in low ISO.  This Canon SX50 HS sample image will give you a good understanding on what I’m talking about.

One thing I still want to see improved is the electronic viewfinder. Both the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and Nikon P510 has a very small viewfinder. If you want to enjoy a relatively good EVF, you should try the Fujifilm X-S1.  Is it a deal-breaker, not at all, but there is still room for improvement and we’ll probably see this on the next model.

 

Conclusion

Many camera reviewers will agree that the Canon SX40 HS was among the best superzooms for the past following year. The tough competition in this category yielded some excellent cameras like the Nikon P510, Fujifilm X-S1, Sony HX200V, Olympus SP-820 UZ and Panasonnic FZ150. The Canon SX50 HS 50x optical zoom will WOW you for sure. With this such a big zoom you can shoot just about everything, nothing can come in your way. The Nikon P510 optical zoom is a bit less than the SX50 HS, but the difference is not big as I’ve mentioned. I think that you should pick one of these cameras not on the zoom factor alone. With this in mind, we can see that the SX50 HS is still the best camera of the two. The Raw option will appeal to photo editing enthusiasts and the higher ISO certainly opens up more low light shooting possibilities.

The P510 brings with it a GPS, more video frame rate options, higher resolution LCD and image sensor and a bit smaller body. Having said that, the P510 made its way to this point with pride and it’s still going to sell well on Q4 2012, but it’s time to move on forward, and the Canon SX50 HS represents just that. It’s not a big leap, but it’s an all-around excellent performer. I just can’t tell how much you are going to enjoy this 50x zoom, this is just mind blowing experience fora  photographer.

I also know that the camera selection out there is huge, but if you are looking for a camera for general photography or a very versatile travel camera, look no further.  I didn’t mention the price, but the SX50 HS currently costs around $85 more than the P510. For some it might be a bit too expensive, and you might consider getting the SX40 HS which costs around $150 less than the SX50HS. The SX40 HS is still, regarding the SX50 HS release, one of the best superzoom digital cameras on the market today. The only two superzooms that can compete against it is the Fujifilm X-S1 (26x zoom) and Panasonic Lumix Fz150 (24x zoom), but both does not have the reach of the competition.

So I leave it up to you now. For me it was an easy decision, I am getting the SX50 HS, even though there are some features that still left to be desired, but I’m OK with it. Just give me to hold and shoot with that ultra mega super zoom and I am a happy guy :)

 

Buy the Canon SX50 HS from B&H Photo Store

Buy the Nikon P510 (Black) from B&H Photo Store 

Buy the Nikon P510 (Red) from B&H Photo Store

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sam December 22, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I have been researching cameras for a few months now and your article was VERY helpful. I was debating between the sx500, the sx40 adn the sx50. I definately know more about cameras and know which one I want. Thank You for your insight!

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