In this article we are going to have a blast. I will be comparing five superzoom digital cameras. The Fujifilm FinePix S1, Fujifilm FinePix S9400W (relevant for the S9200 also, as it’s the same camera but without the built-in Wi-Fi) and Samsung SMART Camera WB2200F, all were new superzoom that were announced on CES 2014. The Panasonic Lumix FZ70 (FZ72) and Canon PowerShot SX50 HS are relatively older models. The FZ70 was announced on July 18th 2013 and the SX50 HS was announced on September 17, 2012. Still, the FZ70 and SX50 HS are among the most popular ultra-zoom cameras on the market right now. This is an early preview, but you certainly can get get a good overview of what each camera is all about and learn more about the differences between those six cameras.
No doubt that with the introduction of new modern and updates superzooms models, buying the Canon SX50 HS for example, which is my personal favorite pick, is not longer the only option. We need to be updated with what the newer superzooms offer and understand their advantages and disadvantages versus the newly announced cameras. I have the honor to do all the hard work for you
I am, like you, interested to see whether the Canon SX50 HS (50x 24-1200mm optical zoom lens) can still own its crown against the the competition. Before CES 2014, I would have recommended to get the SX50 HS mainly for its excellent optical zoom range and sheer image quality and high ISO performance. The SX50 HS might still be an excellent camera compared to the newer models, and I am here to find that out, so please stick with me to this long ride and hopefully we’ll get an answer for that at the end of this comparison.
Camera Size & Design
We’ll start with one of the most important things that people are looking at when buying a camera and that’s its design. Let’s admit it, a camera can have tons of great features, but if it’s too heavy and bulky to actually carry around, some of you might not buy it. Furthermore, some people do want a camera that have lots of buttons which gives them fast access to commonly used camera settings, which speeds up the camera operation. Others prefer the least amount of buttons, and those are usually beginners and amateurs who prefer a beginner’s camera. Some people want a weather-sealed camera for shooting outdoors or even waterproof one to shoo underwater.
The thing is that the camera design have a direct impact on our decision. So let’s see how the five cameras compared to each other in this regard.
Let’s take a look at the specs first:
- Canon SX50 —122.5 x 87.3 x 105.5mm, Polycarbonate, 2.8″,461K-dot Vari-angle (not touchscreen) LCD, 202K-dots EVF, pop-up flash, hot-shoe, 595g / 21.0 oz
- Fujifilm S1 — 133.1×90.9×110.3mm, Polycarbonate, 3″ 920K-dot Vari-angle (not touchscreen), 920K-dot EVF, pop-up flash, hot-shoe, water-resistant and dust resistant (70 sealing protectors), 680g / 24.0 oz
- Samsung WB2200F — 119×121.8×35.5(98.7)mm, Polycarbonate, 3″ 460K-dot Fixed (not touchscreen), EVF (no mention of the resolution), pop-up flash, no hot-shoe, ~680g / 23.9 oz
- Fujifilm S900W / S9200 — 122.6×86.9×116.2mm, Polycarbonate, 3″ 460K-dot Fixed (not touchscreen), 201K-dot EVF, pop-up flash, no hot-shoe, 670g / 23.6 oz
- Panasonic FZ70 / FZ72 — 130.2×97.0×118.2mm, Polycarbonate, 3″ 460K-dot Fixed (not touchscreen), 202K-dot EVF, pop-up flash, hot-shoe, 606g / 21 oz
The first you notice is how big the WB2200F is compared to the other cameras. This premium superzoom camera features a dual-grip for vertical shooting (with secondary zoom and shutter release buttons) and give the camera a professional appearance as well. Although as of the time of writing Samsung mentioned 520 shots battery life for its 1410 mAh BP-1410 battery (“Long life battery” as mentioned in the press release). In these type of cameras the battery resides inside the grip, so larger grips gives more room for more a more powerful battery. This should put the WB2200F on top of the others in that regard.
As you can see from the image above (from camerasize..com), the others cameras are much more compact in comparison. If you are searching for a relatively compact camera, you probably can forget about the WB2200F — but maybe its features will convince you to think twice before making that decision.
We can also see that the SX50 HS that the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS has the smallest screen but do have a fully-articulated display. The Fujifilm S1 has the highest resolution fully articulated display, the highest resolution electronic viewfinder and above that, it is the first superzoom cameras (above 50x optical zoom as of November 2013) to feature a water-resistant and dust resistant construction. This certainly gives the S1 a big advantage over the other cameras, because you can shoot with it in the rain or in dusty environments without worrying that your camera get damaged. The operation temperatures are 0°C – +40°C (+32°F – +104°F), so it will also withstand cold temperatures, but not the camera to shoot in Antarctica – but neither the other cameras (aka not freezeproof).
It’s great to see that innovation and progress meets Samsung and Fujifilm this year. Fujifilm is strong in the superzoom business for a long time now, and Samsung was certainly out of the radar. It’s great to see that Samsung came with a unique camera design, which will give the company more attention now – it certainly got mine.
I am disappointed that non of the cameras feature a touchscreen display and the rear LCD resolution is still relatively low for the other cameras except the S1. We are in 2014, I was expecting 921K-dot resolution by default. Most companies use a lower-res display to maintain a lower price tag and make it more appealing to its targeted market.
In terms of dials and controls, the FZ70 / FZ72 and WB2200F are the most sophisticated ones, whether the other camera offer more simplistic design.
Before we continue further, let’s take a look at the pricing for all cameras:
- Canon SX50 HS: $379.00
- Fujifilm S9400W: $349.00 / S9200: $329.00
- Panasonic FZ70: $349.00
- Fujifilm S1: $499.00
- Samsung WB2200F (N/A as of the time of writing)
* prices via Amazon.com as of 1/8/2014 – visit amazon.com for updated prices.
As of the time of writing the WB2200F wasn’t revealed yet, but I expect it to be around or higher than the Fujifilm S1 price. The S1 and apparently the WB2200F are the most expensive ones. The Fujifilm S1 does get its premium price tag for its weather-sealing, 5-axis image stabilization and 920K-dots EVF and LCD. I personally love the S1 design, not the conventional rounded design, but an angular design which make it very unique in its own way. At least for now, the S1 seems to worth the extra price, but we just got started, and the picture might change when we view all the other features of these cameras. Personally, I am very excited to finally see a weather-sealed ultrazoom camera.
In this section the Fujifilm FinePix S1 looks like the most impressive one with its high-res EVF and vari-angle LCD, weather-sealing, unique stylish design and relatively small size. Furthermore, it offers a hot-shoe connector to attach an external flash. Don’t confuse the newly announced Fujifilm FinePix S1 with the FinePix S1 Pro, which is a SLR camera that was announced by Fuji in January 2000 and i’s no longer in production, neither all of Fuji’s DSLR cameras (Fuji focus on its mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras now).
Last think that I want to add and I will mention it again later on in the video section, is that the FZ70 / FZ72 is the one one to feature built-in stereo microphone with wind shield which helps to suppress retention of air and helps minimize wind noise (ca be seen in the image above).
Sensor & Performance
I think that more amateur photographers learned to understand that the more megapixel won’t always give you better image quality. In fact, in many cases this is exactly the opposite, especially when shooting in low light. The Canon SX50 HS has proven many consumers that it’s worth shooting with a 12MP camera instead of 16MP or more, only to enjoy a better image quality.
This is the reason why Canon stayed with 12MP from its SX40 HS and didn’t use higher resolution, while many other companies were settles for 16MP and higher resolution. Some say that 16MP offers the best of both worlds — image quality and details. However, the difference between 16MP and 12MP is very small, and I think that most people will appreciate having better IQ than slightly more resolution. Having said that, sensor’s technology improves in time and this helps improve the IQ for a given same sensor resolution.
The problem with all ultrazooms cameras is that they utilize very smaller sensor in order to being able to use smaller lenses. This helps to keep both the camera size smaller and its price lower. The lens aperture and focal length also has a lot to do with it, but I will talk about it later in the lens section.
All the cameras except the WB2200F are using a 1/2.3″ sensor which is 6.17×4.55 mm in size. The Samsung WB2200F according to this press information PDF is using a 1/2.33″ sensor. The 1/2.33″ sensor is slightly smaller (6.15×4.6 mm vs 6.16×4.62mm) than the 1/2.3″ one, but nothing significant. There is a trend of using larger sensor in zoom cameras, but those cameras have much less zoom range than the cameras we review here. For example, the Sony RX10 24-200 mm f/2.8 (8.3x optical zoom) camera is using a 1″ (13.2×8.8 mm) sensor with 20MP. This sensor is almost double the size of the 1/2.3″ sensor, but the camera has a much less zoom range. Its main advantage is actually its very faster F2.8 constant aperture. Some people prefer this type of lens over any superzoom camera, because it better fits their shooting style, provide better low-light shooting capabilities and better image quality overall.
Of course there are difference sensor sizes in between with various sensor sizes and different optical zoom lenses. I personally was expecting a camera like the Samsung WB2200F which have a professional look to have a larger sensor, but obviously it isn’t the case.
All cameras except the the Canon have ~16MP resolution, whether the Canon SX50 has 12MP. Let’s take a look at the specs..
- Canon SX50 HS: 12.1MP 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor | ISO 80 – 6400
- Fujifilm S9400W / S9200: 16.2MP 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor (the S8600 for example uses CCD sensor) | ISO 100-12800
- Panasonic FZ70: 16.1MP 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor | ISO 80-6400
- Fujifilm S1: 16.4MP 1/2.33″ BSI CMOS sensor | ISO 100-12800
- Samsung WB2200F: 16.3MP 1/2.33″ BSI CMOS sensor } 100-6400 (with boost)
All the five camera s use back-illuminated sensors, which is the best and latest sensor technology for small sensors, used also in mobile phone and tablet cameras. Having said that, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II comes with a 1.0 inch backside illuminated sensor. This technology helps improve the light gathering capabilities of the sensor compare to front-illuminated where the wires that transfer the electrical charge from the pixels are in front, which take valuable space and prevent the sensor to fully utilize its light gathering capabilities.
As of the time of writing,the S1, WB2200F and S9400W are yet to be tested, but we know that the SX50 HS did perform better than the FZ70 in high ISO, and this is due to the SX50 HS larger pixels. The SX50 HS has 1.54 micron pixels, the FZ70 has 1.33 micron pixels. For a full comparison, visit my Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic FZ70 comparison review.
Let’s take a look at other performance verticals shall we..
- Canon SX50 HS: 2.2 fps burst (13 fps in High-Speed burst HQ) | 15-1/2000 sec shutter speed | 9 AF points | 315 shots battery life
- Fujifilm S9400W / S9200: 10 fps (max. 10 frames), up to 120 fps in reduces resolution | 8-1/1700 sec shutter speed | 300 shots (AA Alkaline batteries) / 500 shots battery life (Ni-MH rechargeable) / 700 shots Lithium)
- Panasonic FZ70: 9 fps (max. 3 images) | 60 – 1/2000 sec | 23 AF points | 400 shots battery life
- Fujifilm S1: 10 fps (max. 9 frames) | 30 – 1/2000 sec shutter speed | 350 shots battery life
- Samsung WB2200F: N/A | 520 shots battery life
Considering the battery life information provided by Samsung in the press information PDF in German (Quote: “1.410-mAh-Akku bietet. Dessen Kapazität genügt im Schnitt für 520 Fotos und garantiert somit ausdauernde Fotosessions. “), they battery life is indeed very good, but close to the S9400W battery life with No-MH batteries, and the S9400W is obviously much small in size. I am not pretty sure whether I would have bought the Samsung WB2200F for its extended battery life as there is always the option to carry extra AA batteries or a second battery with you. The longer battery life is certainly not a reason to get a much bulkier camera, aside from the advantage that you get having this battery grip. I am not a battery expert,but there are rechargeable lithium AA batteries which can provide the S9400W 700 shots (According to the specs), and you can but them in ebay for $6 without the charger.
I think that it’s time that one camera manufacturer will release a camera with a rotating sensor which will make it much easier for taking portrait shots. Why do we need to rotate the camera and hold it in an uncomfortable way just in order to rotate the sensor (if you give this idea to Samsung please drop me a dollar).
Regarding video recording.
- Canon SX50 HS: 1080p24 stereo sound
- Fujifilm S9400W / S9200: 1080i60 stereo sound + Wind filter
- Panasonic FZ70: 1080i60 (60p in 720 resolution only) Dolby Digital stereo sound + wind shield
- Fujifilm S1: 1080p60 (60p in 720 resolution too) stereo sound + wind filter
- Samsung WB2200F: 1080p30 stereo sound
Let’s admit it, most of us buying a superzoom camera for its optical zoom. Although some people might prefer less zoom (eg. 24-500mm) and much larger sensor, the reason most people buy one of these cameras is for being able to shoot far away subjects and being able to shoot with only one camera without the need to change lenses. This is the preferred choice for travelers who going to carry one camera, don’t want to mess around with interchangeable lenses, and want a camera that will give them the best versatility. They have no problem living with compromises like image quality and extra size, as long as they can come home with great pictures that they wouldn’t have been able to shoot with any other camera.
Before we start discussing the differences, let’s take a look at the camera lens’ specs first.
- Canon SX50 HS: Canon 24-1200 mm F3.4-6.5 50x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization (lens shift)
13 elements in 10 groups
Minimum focus distance: 0cm
Features: motorized drive
- Fujifilm S9400W / S9200: Fujinon 24mm-1200 mm F2.9-6.5 50x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization (lens-shift)
17 elements in 12 groups
3 Aspherical lenses
2 Extra low dispersion elements
Minimum focus distance: 1 cm
Other features: zoom lever, widefocus ring (manual focus)
- Panasonic FZ70: Lumix DC Vario 20mm-1200 mm F2.8-5.9 Multistage Iris diaphragm lens 60x optical zoom with optical image stabilization
14 elements in 12 groups
6 Asphetical lenses
9 Aspherical surfaces
3 ED lenses
Mininum focus distance: 1cm
- Fujifilm S1: Fujinon 24mm-1200 mm F2.8-5.6 50x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization (lens-shift)
13 elements in 11 groups
2 Asphetical lenses
4 Extra low dispersion elements
Minimum focus distance: 1m
Other features: zoom lever, wide focus ring (manual focus), zoom lever + instant zoom-out button
- Samsung WB2200F: Samsung 20mm-1200mm F2.8-5.9 60x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization (lens-shift)
** 5-axis image stabilization for videos: 2-axis optical image stabilization (Pitch, Yaw) + 3-axis electronic image stabilization (Roll, Vertical and Horizontal shift). Not to be confused with the purely optical 5-axis IS of the Olympus E-M1 and E-M5 Micro Four Thirds cameras.
i-Function (iFn) button on the lens, offering easier and quicker access for changing camera settings
* focal length is 35mm equivalent
As you can see from the lens specs above, the newly announced Samsung WB2200F have the same focal length (inc. the same 20mm wide angle) and same aperture speed as the Panasonic Lumix FZ70. I didn’t find information regarding the WB2200F lens construction, so I can’t compare the two. Nevertheless, the Canon and Fujifilm superzooms have a 50x optical zoom.
The optical zoom number is the division of the longest focal length and the shortest focal length of the lens (e.g. 1200 / 20 = 60x optical zoom). The longest equivalent focal length signifies the largest magnification and in fact, all the six cameras offer the same magnification at the tele-end of 1200mm focal length. The main difference is that both the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 and Samsung WB2200F offer 20mm wide-angle field of view, which also boosts the lens optical zoom from 50x to 60x (1200 / 24 = 50x, 1200 / 20 = 60x).
So what is the difference between 20mm and 24mm you ask?
With a 20mm wide-angle as with the FZ70 and WB2200F cameras, you will be able to capture more of the surrounding both vertically and horizontally. The field of view is larger as you can see from the illustration above. This is the preferable choice for indoor shots, architectural shooting and landscape shooting, group shots, etc. So having 20mm is better than 24mm at the lower-end.
The Fujifilm S1 has the fastest aperture at the tele-end, around 1 stop faster than the Canon PowerShot SX50HS and Fujifilm S9400W / S9200. The FZ70 seems to have the most advanced lens in terms of optical design. The differences are not huge and it will boil down to the image quality performance at the end of the day. I do find the Fuji lenses to provide better ergonomics for manual focusing or/and when shooting with your one hand below the lens. The zoom lever is very useful as well and provide easier access to control the zoom with your left hand.
The difference between 60x and 50x optical zoom as you saw is only about the wide-angle. All in all, we still need to wait for lab test reviews to see which one performs better optically. Also worth mentioning that the SX50 HS has an Intelligent IS feature, Framing Assist and Framing lock features. The Intelligent IS automatically choose between 6 different IS settings (Normal, Panning, Hybrid, Dynamic, Powered, Tripod) depends on how the camera is used. The frame assist function really help to stay focused on far away subjects when zooming back to reframe your shot.
Which camera support RAW shooting?
- Canon SX50 HS: YEs (Multi aspect RAW shooting)
- Fujifilm S9400W / S9200: No
- Panasonic FZ70: Yes
- Fujifilm S1: Yes
- Samsung WB2200F: N/A as of the time of writing
Other unique features for each camera:
- Canon SX50 HS: MOvie Digest, Smart Auto with 58 scenes, 0.19 sec AF time, 0.25 sec shooting time lag, up to 12 faces Face-detection
- Fujifilm S9400W / S9200: Advanced filters for stills and movies, built-in WiFi (S9400W only), 100x intelligent digital zoom
- Panasonic FZ70: Creative Panorama, 3D images (MPO), creative control mode, scene modes, in-camera retouching, PHOTOfunSTUDIO 0.2AE software included, intelligent Auto mode, 15 different filters, in-camera HDR
- Fujifilm S1: “one touch” wirelsss transfer & remote control with the built-in WiFi (button at the back), Advanced filters for stills and videos, interval shooting, motion Panorama 360, scence modes, HDR, zoom bracketing, red-eye removal, up to 10 faces face-detection, micro thumbnail view in playback, easy web uploading to YouTube and Facebook using the MyFinePix Studio bundled software
- Samsung WB2200F: NFC + WiFi, Tap & Go, Photo Beam (sends photos straight to your smartphone), AutoShare, Mobile Link, Remote Viewfinder, SMART Mode 3, Panorama capture, Mobile Link SNS & Cloud
This early preview gives you a good understanding of what each camera is all about. I personally find the new cameras to offers some features that we are yet to see before. I fiund the the Fujifilm FunePix S1 to be the most interesting one due to its weather sealing, which makes it unique among all the other superzooms on the market. It’s great to see that Samsung focus on different aspect of the camera, and I am sure that the other companies will release their weather-sealed superzooms in the future too. I also love the S1 design and fast aperture at the tele-end, best LCD and EVF among the other cameras in this comparison, and also 1080p60 video recording. It does miss the 20mm, but overall it seems like a great camera to compete against some other 2012/2013 superzooms.
The Samsung WB2200F is still a mixed bag for me, and I am not sure how many people will be convinced by it design and its added functionality. You do get Wi-Fi + NFC and lots of built-in features that take advantages of the wireless functionality. The camera enjoy 20mm ultra wide angle, i-Function and full manual mode, but it’s relatively large and heavy. I didn’t yet find anything that will convince to buy this camera over the others, but some information is still missing and I am eager to see this premium superzoom image quality in lab tests.
The competition in the superzoom business is really tough, and the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 still holds on very well against the 2014 models. After all, it was announced on July 2013, so it’s not an older camera after all. The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS on the other hand is quite behind in terms of features, but I have a feeling that it will still hang on pretty well in the image quality department. I am not sure that its enough to convince consumers to get this camera over the competition, and it’s certainly time for Canon to release its Canon SX60 HS, the replacement for this camera.
This is in fact on reason that I personally still hold on, waiting to see how the new SX50 HS replacement will be like – should be awesome (as long as Canon won’t increase the MP and maybe come up with an even better sensor — I’m praying for a larger one..lol).
If you want to hear my pick, I personally would pick the Fujifilm FinePix S1, that’s my personal favorite among the six cameras. However, I am eager to get my hands on the WB2200F to get a better feel how this camera feels in the hands and learn more about its features.
Which camera you prefer? — share your opinion in the comment section below.
More Reviews and Articles
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- Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Comparison
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- Canon SX50 HS or Panasonic FZ200 – The Compromises
- Panasonic Lumix FZ70 vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS vs Nikon P520 vs Sony Cyber-shot HX300
- Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic FZ150 Comparison
- Sony RX10 vs Olympus Stylus 1,Canon SX50 HS, Fujifilm SL1000, Nikon P520 – Comparison
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