Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic FZ150 Comparison

September 25, 2012

Canon and Panasonic superzoom cameras

In this article I will be comparing the new Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic FZ150, both are among the most recommended superzoom digital cameras for 2012. The FZ150 already has a replacement, the FZ200. I was asked to compare the older FZ150 vs SX50HS so in this post I will do just that.

I can really understand why so many people are interested in buying a superzoom camera. It’s a type of camera that allows you to be versatile and shoot almost anything that you can think about. The SX50 HS and the FZ150 are very capable travel cameras. These type of cameras open up your mind to shoot different type of shots that you haven’ thought possible before shooting with a superzoom camera. If I had to choose one superzoom, I would probably went with either the Canon SX50 HS or the Fujifilm FZ150, and that’s the reason why I’ve decided to compare the two, to help you better decide which one is the right camera for you.

Let’s start with a short introduction of both the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 and we’ll continue our comparison afterwards.


Panasonic Lumix FZ150 (24x Zoom / 25-600mm)

The Panasonic FZ150 got its high reputation because of its excellent video capabilities and impressively sharp image. Panasonic is into the superzoom business for a long time now, and they’ve built some great superzooms over the years. The FZ150 represents a new generation of superzoom cameras, one that is focused on image quality and takes advantage of Panasonic’s latest technologies in this field.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 superzoom camera

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 superzoom camera

The FZ150 features a 24x optical zoom (25 – 600 mm) with Power O.I.S.  image stabilization. Using the intelligent resolution technology and extra optical zoom (using part of the sensor) can give you a 46.9x zoom, but at the cost of lower resolution (3-megapixel resolution or less), but the native optical zoom is 24x.

The FZ150 features a 12.10megapixel MOS Sensor with  3.9dB to 4.7dB S/N ratio improvement over the previous model, the FZ100. THanks to the mechanical shutter, the FZ150 can shoot at 12 fps bursts at full resolution and 5.5 fps with AF tracking. You an even shooter at 60 fps but at the cost of reduced resolution (3.5MP).

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 is capable of recording gorgeous 1080p60 28Mbps or 1080p30 20Mbps Full HD videos with stereo sound. The camera has already proven to be among the best in its category when it comes to video image quality. The POWER O.I.S. image stabilization with ACtive Mode will help you shoot steadier videos with less blur while walking and shooting at the same time.

This is just a partial list of the FZ150 features. This camera is really is really a great achievement and probably one of the strongest alternative to the Canon SX50 HS, even with its relatively smaller optical zoom range.


Canon SX50 HS (50x Zoom / 24-1200mm)

The Canon SX50 HS is the latest superzoom flagship, replacing the very popular SX40 HS camera.  Canon want to keep its lead in the ‘superzooms’ category and it can certainly do that also in 2012/2013 with this new model. One of the biggest selling point of this camera is its amazing 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 IS 50x optical zoom lens. Yes, you are reading this correctly, its 50x mind blowing super long zoom!

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS camera

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 50x zoom superzoom camera

This zoom makes the Canon SX50 HS the longest zoom camera in the world, grabbing the crown from the Nikon P510 (24-1000mm / 41.7x).  The SX50 HS improved many things over the SX40 and I will soon talk about those changes. The SX40 HS was known for its very high image and video quality, and considering the IQ of the P510, I find myself recommending people to get the SX40 over the Nikon P510. I just wasn’t too satisfied with the image quality, while the SX40 HS IQ was really top notch considering the fact that both have the same sensor size.

The SX50 HS utilizes a 12.1MP 1/2.3-inch BSI-CMOS sensor, and we can see that didn’t opt to increase the megapixels  and with the Digic 5 image processor, we can see that Canon emphasizes, again, on image quality. This is a great thing, because finally we can see that Canon is out of the megapixel’s war and addressing the limitations of superzooms cameras and wanting to make the SX50 HS the best SZ on the market.

The design of the camera changed quit a bit, and it now looks more curvy with a more appealing design. Canon has designed the SX50 with better ergonomics to make the camera easier to hold and steady and that should lead to less blurry photographs.

However, it’s not all about IQ, CAnon was improved the focus speed dramatically. Canon repots 50% improvement in AF speed in comparison to the SX40 and 44% reduction in shooting time lag. The SX50 HS can shoot at 2.2 fps burst in P mode and up to 13 fps in High-Speed burst HQ.

Canon designed the SX50 HS to be an all-around winner. A great successor to one of the most popular superzooms, the SX40 HS. On paper, it looks that the Panasonic FZ150 is going to have quite a tough time competing against this new beast.


Should You Just Buy the Camera With the Biggest Zoom?

For some of you the decision might be simple, for others it won’t. It’s really depends on what you are after when buying a superzoom camera. There are several things that are related to the optical zoom that I want you to pay attention to before you make your final decision.

It’s very tempting to purchase a superzoom camera with the biggest zoom. Some people might buy the SX50 HS over the FZ150 just because it has a much bigger zoom range, and that’s true to other cameras that the SX50 HS competes against. The thing is that the higher the zoom, the more complex the lens construction is and that can lead to inferior optical performance.  For example, some of you already know that prime lenses (lenses with a fixed focal length, no zoom) perform much better than zoom lenses. That’s why professional prefer using primes for critical work.

So it is usually a compromise between zoom range and image quality. With today’s latest technologies, this barrier has been considerably reduced.  We can see that by the performance of new interchangeable zoom lenses as well in superzoom P&S camera lenses. So just a longer zoom lens might have some degree of negative impact on IQ. Of course I will be talking about image quality later on in this comparison.

Also take close attention to the maximum aperture f-number and the maximum wide-angle FOV.  For example, the Canon SX50 HS has a 24-1200 f3.4-6.5 IS lens, and the SX40 HS has a 24-840 f2.7-5.8 lens. Both cameras have a 24mm wide-angle lens, which is good, this will give you a great angle to shoot buildings, group shots, landscapes, etc. A less wide angle like 28mm or 30mm won’t give you the option to shoot photos with the same wide-angle field of view, which might limit you for taking some shots.

As you can see, the SX50 HS has a f3.4-6.5 maximum aperture range compare to f2.7-5.8 of the SX40 HS. That means that the SX50 has a slower lens. When shooting at 24mm and considering the fact that both have the same sensor size, the SX40 HS has a half-stop advantage over the SX50HS which means more light can enter through the lens and reach the sensor. That leads to better low light performance in general.

Having said that, with better S/N ratio performance and improved high ISO performance, this difference might not be big at all.  Photographers usually prefer shooting with faster lenses so they can continue shooting in low ISO and prevent noise when they have no other option but to shoot at higher ISO sensitivity settings.

I personally would prefer a camera that have a wider angle and wouldn’t mind giving some of the tele to enjoy a wider-angle lens.    When shooting at a higher zoom, depth of field gets very small, it’s hard to stabilize the image even with image stabilization motor, and it’s not easy to obtain a precise focus. When shooting at 600mm or less you might find it easier to focus on your subject.


Canon PowerShot SX50 HS vs Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150

Let’s continue our comparison, and the first thing I want you to look at is a side by side comparison table. I’ve also added some side notes in the table so don’t forget to read this too.

Panasonic FZ150 vs Canon SX50 HS

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Let me summarize the Canon SX50 HS Advantages over the Panasonic DMC-FZ150:

  1. Newer model, there more than 1 years difference between the two
  2. Has a broader ISO range, which might give the camera an advantage when shooting in low light (I will talk about high ISO IQ in the next section)
  3. Has a much bigger zoom. In this case this is a significant difference
  4. Can shoot macro at a closer range
  5. Can shoot videos at 24p (cinematic frame rate) and also super-slow motion videos at two different resolution and frame-rates
  6. Optional GPS
  7. Intelligent image stabilization with 6 automatic modes (FZ150 has On/Off/Active for videos)
  8. Faster shutter interval of 0.25 sec compare to 0.3 sec o f the FZ150 (not including the time for AF)


Panasonic FZ150 Advantages over the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS:

  1. Smaller in size and weights less
  2. Fast f/2.8 aperture at 25mm
  3. 23 AF points that might result in more accurate AF tracking performance when shooting fast moving subjects moving across the frame
  4. Larger LCD (3″ vs 2.8″)
  5. Offers more frame-rate options in video mode, including 60p (progressive) in Full HD
  6. Better battery life
  7. Can shoot 3D images (MPO)
  8. More scene modes and creative control options
  9. Utilizing the excellent Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens  (2 aspherical lenses 3 aspherical surfaces, 3 RD lenses and 1 Nano Surface Coating)


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 already has a replacement, the DMC-FZ200.  Even so, the FZ150 is still a favorite camera among many people and already been reviewed and given very high score.  The FZ200 is a solid upgrade from the FZ-150, mainly because of its full-range F2.8 aperture. Many things have been improved, including the shutter speed, (much improved!) EVF, low-light performance, video frame-rates options and much more. The FZ150 will get cheaper of course, but the FZ200 still looks like a much more attractive package that certainly worth consideration.


Image Quality (Partial Comparison)

Comparing the IQ of the FZ150 vs SX40 HS – In terms of image quality, the Canon SX50 HS and the SX40 HS outperform the FZ150 at higher ISO. In lower ISO (under ISO 800) we can see that the Panasonic takes a less aggressive approach for reducing noise, and that means that you get a bit more details with the FZ-150. I also like the micro-contrast better on the FZ150 compare to the Canon. I really understand why so many reviewers game this camera such a high score, lower ISO JPEGs look amazing!

At the time of writing this article I haven’t encounter any side by side high ISO comparison on either dpreview or imaging resource. So the IQ section is still open to changes. All in all, the FZ150 performs incredibly well in low ISO, but start suffering from quite a lot of noise above ISO 400.  Of course that was improved on the FZ200.  Considering the fact that the SX50 HS image quality was improved over the SX40 HS, I can recommend that those who care about high ISO performance should certainly take a look at the SX50 HS.

I personally think that one of the reasons for such a high performance of the FZ-150 in low ISO is the Leica lens.  This incredible lens can certainly make a difference, not huge, but still a visual difference that those with the eye for details and IQ will certainly notice the difference.

I will update this section when new SX50 high ISO sample images are available.



I must admit that the Canon SX50 HS really attracted me due to its amazing 50x optical zoom. This by itself might convince many people to choose the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS over the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150.  We can’t deny the high performance of the FZ150 in lower ISO. The FZ150 JPEG quality is second to none. This amazing Leica lens really makes a difference.

I think that when looking at the overall package, the Canon PowerShot SX50HS is the better camera of the two.  To be fair to Panasonic, I would write another comparison which compares the SX50 HS vs FZ200. However, if you are debating between the two cameras, I recommend going over the specs table and try to in point some features that you like on the FZ150 and you don’t get to have on the SX50 HS and vice versa.

It’s maybe a bit early to give any stable opinion bout the SX50 HS image quality, but after looking at some SX50 HS sample images on website, I’m very convinced that the SX50 HS won’t disappoint. The ISO320 images look very good with amazing details and low noise, so I am expecting that the SX50 HS will be a stiller when it comes to IQ performance.

I think that the FZ150 time has past, and those who are considering getting a Panasonic Superzoom should look at the FZ200 instead. If the lens of the FZ200 is as good as Panasonic claims, we are probably looking at a next best-seller superzoom.

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