Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Comparison

April 22, 2013

sea and road landscape view

In this post I will compare the Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR vs FinePix SL1000 vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, two very impressive superzoom digital camera. If I personally had to choose a new superzoom camera, those two would have been my top pick. Of course you are going to buy just one camera, so in this review I will help you decide which one fits your shooting style best — Let’s begin!

I’ll start with a short Introduction to each camera and continue to to talk about the differences between the HS50EXR and SX50 HS in more details.

FujiFilm FinePix HS50EXR

The HS50EXR was announced on January 7, 2013. It belongs to the FinePix S Series of high-zoom bridge camera, which also includes models like the HS30EXR, HS25EXR, SL1000, S8500, etc.  The camera is built and look like a DSLR camera, and in fact it’s even bigger than the Nikon D3200 DSLR camera. The camera comes with a 16M EXR CMOS II 1/2-inch sensor which utilizes a unique color filter array and with Fujifilm EXR Processor II you are sued to delivered gorgeous photos every time.

How big is 1/2″ sensor you ask? – that’s ~6.4×4.8 mm, it’s a bit bigger than the 1/2.3″ (6.17×4.55 mm) that you can find in most superzoom digital cameras on the market. The SX50 HS utilizes a 1/2.3″ size sensor.

sensor size comparison

HS50EXR 1/2-inch sensor vs the SX50HS 1/2.3-inch sensor - size comparison

The sensor utilizes phase-detection AF sensors (on-cip) that result in, what Fujifilm claimes (For November 2012, based on CIPA standard and research done by Fujifilm itself), the world’s fastest Autofocus of 0.05sec.

The use of a Hybrid AF (both phase detection and contrast detection) will help you capture the action has it happens and not miss it.  If you know superzoom cameras, they tend to be very slow to focus and that’s quite annoying. You feel that you always need to wait for the camera, but no more. Expect very fast and accurate autofocus with the HS50 EXR.  I will talk about the sensor in more details later on.

The HS50EXR can shoot at 11 fps in continuous mode in full resolution but up to 5 frames maximum. If you are confused here, that means that the speed of capture is 11 fps, but the camera can only handle 5 frames for each burst. Fujifilm also reports very fast camera startup time of 0.5 seconds and 0.5 seconds of shooting interval (the time it take to shoot the second image after you pressed the shutter button to capture the first image).

The most interesting part of this camera is of course the lens. The HS50EXR features a 42x Fujinon Optical zoom lens (41.7x to be exact), an impressive 24 – 1000 mm f/2.8-5.6 lens (35mm equivalent) with image stabilization that gives you both a wide angle and a BIG ZOOM to get closer to your subject without moving an inch.  If I had to get this focal length wit ha full frame DSLR, I would probably have gone with a Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM lens + 2x extender and still I wouldn’t get the wide angle. This lens of course is much bigger than the HS50eXR – how big exactly, take a look at the image below (without extender).

Superzoom camera vs full frame DSLR with superzoom lens

Superzoom digital camera vs full frame DSLR with superzoom lens - Size Comparison

My point is that you don’t have the option with interchangeable lenses to get that same focal length, you will need at least two lenses. If you do decide to enjoy the 1000 mm magnification, you will need either to buy a very expensive (and I mean, very expensive) telephoto prime lens or get a 500 mm telephoto zoom lens and use a 2x extender to multiply the focal length of the lens – that’s for a full frame DSLR. You might get a way with a smaller setup by using APS-C dSLR.

Another advantage of this amazing lens is that you can use it for videos too! – the Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR can record Full HD 1080p videos at 60 frame per second with stereo sound.. IT also supports high-speed movie recording  of 480fps (320×112 pixels), 160 fps (320×240 pixels) and 80fos (640x480pixels). So you sacrifice resolution in order to get slow motion video, the faster the frame rate the lower the resolution.

At the back of the camera you’ll find a 3-inch high-resolution 920K-dot vari-angle LCD (Great!) and a 0.26-inch 920K-dot Electronic Viewfinder. So the back LCD is of a very high quality and the EVF is also pretty good, not the best but there are many superzoom cameras with much less resolution. The viewfinder certainly helps to get more connected to your subject and it’s easier to compose your photos in a bright daylight.

The Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR comes with plenty of features and offer full manual control over the exposure. The camera has a very nice grip with non-slip surfaces and it really feels that you are holding an advanced photographic equipment in your hand. If you are not an advanced photographer, don’t worry. Fujifilm is known for its top-notch auto modes, including the EXR auto mode that let your capture gorgeous images in every type of scene by taking advantage of the unique EXR CMOS II sensor capabilities, including pixel grouping, that allows several pixels to act as a single pixel for the final image.

The sensor has three options:

  • High resolution – takes advantage of all the pixels on the sensor for optimal resolution and maximize detail capture
  • Wide Dynamic Range – captures two images simultaneously and produce a high dynamic range images that reveals more details in shadow areas and highlight parts of the image when combining the two (no more washout images). The “Dual Exposure Control” technology is used. With this mode the camera capture two images with a single shutter click, one is a high-sensitivity image, the other of low sensitivity.
  • High Sensitivity and Low Noise – when shooting in low light and you want to get a well-exposed scene with minimum amount of noise. In this mode two diagonally close same-colored pixels are read as a single pixel

 

If you want a more detailed information about those technologies, I recommend visiting the EXR technology page on fujifilmusa.com.

Other features worth mentioning:

  • Lens has manual zoom ring and manual focus ring
  • Can Shoot RAW (RAF format)  and RAW + JPEG
  • Stereo microphone for recording or video
  • Continuous AF in video recording
  • AF illumination lamp
  • Ø2.5mm External Mic input
  • Popup flash (Wide : Approx. 30cm – 8.0m / 1ft. – 26.2ft., Telephoto : Approx. 2.5m – 4.0m / 8.2ft. – 13.1ft.) + Hot-shoe to connect an external flash
  • HDMI mini-connector
  • Li-ion battery NP-W126 – 500 shots battery life (CIPA)
  • Comes with a battery charger, USB cable, lens hood, lens cap and lens cap cord, CD-ROM, owner’s manual and the battery of course
  • Face detection
  • Tons of in-camera editing functions, scene modes and filters including: motion panorama 360, electronic level, histogram display, framing guideline, silent mode and much more
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC cards
  • Tripod socket
  • Command dial (change settings like aperture) and shooting mode dial
  • Sensor to detect whether you eyes is off the EVF and shuts down the LCD to save power and prolong the battery life

Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR is a Very impressive and fully-features ultra zoom digital camera!

 

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS camera

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS superzoom camera

Probably the first choice by many photographers. The Canon SX50 HS replaces the SX40 HS, and what a camera it was. I personally have the SX40 HS and even with its cons (ie. small LCD, tiny viewfinder), the SX50 HS speaks “image quality”, and for many photographers that counts more than advanced functionality.  I can understand why so many people are interested to compare the Fuji against this Canon, although the Fujiflm HS50EXR looks amazing on paper, many people are attracted to the Sx50 HS because all the great things they’ve heard about its image quality.

The Sx50 HS has a 12.1 megapixel High-Sensitivity sensor and Digic 5 image processor. Canon knows how to make very high-quality sensors, nobody can take that away from it. The whole camera is built around it, and even when you first look at the camera’s external design it looks much less impressive than the HS50EXR. Some might see this as an advantage, after all, it’s much more compact camera and weights much less (more details in the next section).

As small as it is, and that’s the magic, the Sx50 HS features a 24-1200 mm (35mm equivalent) f/3.4-6.5 image stabilized (lens-shift) 50x optical zoom lens. It also features 4x digital zoom, but if you don’t know, digital zoom is not an optical zoom. What it does is crop and enlarge the image which produces low quality image. I recommend not using digital zoom at all to preserve the image quality. If you do want to do so, you can do that in almost any image editing software.

I really like the new design of the camera, Canon make it look less bulkier with a shorter viewfinder’s head that take less space at the top. Canon also made the grip larger and with a different shape to improve ergonomics.

At the back of the camera you can find a 2,8-inch 461K-dots vari-angle LCD. Yes, it’s a low-res and relatively small size compare to the competition. From what I’ve heard, Canon had to use a smaller LCD in order to keep the size of the camera small. If that’s the reason I forgive Canon for doing so :), but the thing is that its Electronic Viewfinder is not a bargain either with its 202K-dots.  Furthermore, the back LCD is used for shooting videos, browsing through photos, checking focus, etc — so for some people this might be a big miss. As a person who shot quite a lot with the SX40 HS, I can tell you that I really wanted a larger and high-res screen, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me, not at all. The image quality was far better than the competition, so I made a compromise, and I don’t regret it for a second. You can have all the best features in the world, but if the image quality is low you won’t enjoy your photos, and that what counts most (at least for me).

Canon improved the SX50 HS and now result in 50% improvement in focus speed (0.38 sec vs 0.19 sec), and the shooting lag was also reduced from 0.45 sec. to 0.25 sec, twice faster than the Fuji’s. The Canon enjoys some very useful technologies like the Framing Assist Seek and Framing Assist lock, which is very useful for ultra-zoom cameras where it’s sometimes hard to maintain a constant lock on your subject when zooming all in.

Here’s a very nice video that demonstrated the zoom framing assist capability:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ms2nqqs7fM

The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS can capture Full HD 1080p videos at 24 fps (only) and 720p at 30 fps (29.97).

I think that you got a good overview of the two cameras and its features. However, we are here to compare the two cameras on versus the other, so let’s just straight in to the comparison itself. You will further understand the differences and this is, what I hope, will help you make your final decision and pick up the cameras that is best for you.

 

Fuji HS50EXR vs Canon Sx50HS

In the next comparison table you will be able to see exactly how the two cameras compare. I am also adding side notes that will explain a bit more about the differences where appropriate. We’ll start with an image that shows the difference in size and design of the two camera (courtesy of camerasize.com), and than continue to the comparison table itself.

Canon Sx50 HS vs Fujifilm HS50EXR cameras size comparison

Canon Sx50 HS vs Fujifilm HS50EXR camera size comparison (via camerasize.com)

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You can see that the two cameras have very different specs overall.  We’ll touch the image quality in the next section, but here’s a short summary:

FujiFilm HS50EXR Advantages:

  • Larger sensor
  • Higher resolution (might come as a disadvantage, see image quality section next)
  • Higher Max ISO (but in reduced resolution)
  • Unique sensor design which allows the camera to use the pixels in three different ways (HDR, Max details and Low-light)
  • Faster wide-angle lens and closer macro
  • Larger screen with much higher resolution
  • Faster shutter speed
  • Faster burst (with continuous AF)
  • Much better electronic viewfinder
  • Hybrid AF & Phase detection AF for videos
  • Much better battery life
  • More intuitive and easier way to capture panorama images
  • Dedicated buttons for exposure compensation and burst shots (can be customized to act as zoom +/- buttons)
  • Manual zoom that the SX50 HS lacks and manual focus rings, which are much easier to use on the Fuji (DSLR-like feel)
  • Faster reported AF speed

No doubt, the HS50EXR does have more impressive features overall, don’t you think?

Canon SX50 HS Advantages

  • Less resolution (might be an advantage, see image quality section next)
  • Higher native ISO
  • Longer zoom range
  • Impressive Image stabilization mechanism using Intelligent IS, also very effective (tested on the SX40 HS)
  • Faster burst in max resolution (only in High-speed burst HQ with first image focus lock)
  • 24p video recording, higher frame rate slow motion videos at 480p
  • Slower shutter lag
  • Much more compact body
  • Weights less
  • Cheaper (~$50-$90 less, last check on 4/22/2013 on Amazon)
  • Blazing fast operation

 

By now you understand the key differences between the SX50 HS and HS50EXR.  The Canon SX50 HS costs roughly between $50- $90 less than the Fuji.   The Fujifilm certainly has a better value overall, but we can’t deny the size advantage of the Canon. You can’t put either cameras in your pocket, that’s for sure, but some people will love the smaller size factor of the Canon, despite some of its disadvantages that we’ve mentioned here in this review.  If you don’t care about the size, you might find the Fuji more comfortable to hold, especially if you have large hands.

The Canon SX50 HS was the best ultra-zoom camera when it was first launched and had very few competition. Since then many new models were introduced to the market and the SX50 HS is not the only option out there.  The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS does have a bit longer zoom reach but the difference is not that big as you might think. The most important thing is that the camera can shoot high quality image at the tele-end. It doesn’t worth anything if you have a very long zoom but the image quality at 1000 – 1200 mm is low and the image looks soft and fuzzy.

That leads us to talk about the image quality and high ISO performance. It seems that what can save the SX50 HS from being beaten by the HS50 EXR is providing better image quality – so let’s take a look..

Image Quality & High ISO Performance

The image quality is probably the most important aspect of ultra zoom cameras. The SX40 HS was a big success due to very high ISO performance and great IQ overall. Ultra zoom cameras are well known for their relatively lower optical performance due to the lens complexity. You just can’t get a very sharp image at all focal lengths and aperture settings.  Many people care about the lens’ performance at the long tele end. After all, they are buying an ultra-zoom camera and they want it to perform great when zooming in closer to the subject.

Here’s my observation’s conclusion:

  • Canon Sx50 HS result in a sharper image at lower ISO settings where you have the cleanest image
  • Up to ISO 400 both perform incredibly well with relatively low amount of noise
  • Game changes at ISO 800, SX50 HS looks really good (I’m impressed), the Fuji has much more noise. This is the end of the large-sensor better image quality speculation. We need to remember that the Canon has much less pixels, and pixel density / pixel size what counts. Canon deliberately decided to stay with a relatively lower resolution, it focused on image quality and the ISO results shows that
  • ISO 1600 still usable on the Canon, but much noisier on the Fuji. I would probably stick to ISO 800 as the maximum sensitivity when I shoot with the Fuji.
  • ISO 3200+ looks too noisy and you probably use it only when there is no other option and only if you intend to share it on the web in smaller image size
  • Fujifilm HS50EXR does have visible artifacts even at the lowest ISO settings, not evident at all on the SX50HS
  • Fujifilm produces images with gorgeous vivid colors (JPEG)
  • The HS50EXR at 1000 mm is on the soft side, the Canon appears sharper
  • HS50EXR panorama looks great
  • Purple fringing is evident on the SX50 HS
  • SX50HS l image quality is just superb, brilliant detailed image!
The Canon SX50 HS has around 1.5EV advantage over the Fujifilm in my observation. If you are really picky when it comes to high ISO image quality, the Canon SX50 HS is the better choice of the two. Image quality wise, the SX50 HS is the better camera. Just note that I was examining the images at 100% scale, at lower scale this would be less evident to the viewer.

Check out the two 100% crops of the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS here, and the Fujifilm HS50EXR here (source: CNET)

So as you can see, Canon lacks many of the Fujifilm’s features, but when it comes to image quality, it has the upper hand. This is one of the reasons so many people grab a Canon ultra-zoom camera, the image quality is better than the competition. It doesn’t make the other cameras look bad, image quality is still very good, but not on par with the Canon SX50 HS  – Excellent work Canon!

Sample images (via Flickr):

Canon SX50 HS sample images
surreyvaisakhi13_75001

Male Wood Duck

IMG_2692a

 

FujiFilm HS50EXR sample images

DSCF0383

cherry exr

yellowrump1

 

Sample videos (via YouTube by Jerry Frost)

Fujifilm HS50EXR test video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEm_Ki9mNnU

Canon SX50 test video

 

Conclusion

Wow, this was a lot to swallow, wasn’t it? — the good news is that both cameras are excellent, each one with its own way. The Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR is very impressive when it comes to its overall features. Some photographers might find it a good reason to get the fuji instead of the Canon. For some, the viewfinder, LCD, faster lens and battery life might convince them to get the HS50EXR, and I can understand why. The Motion Panorama is also a very nice feature to have. On the other hand, we can’t deny the impressive IQ of the Canon. The Canon is much more compact but lacks some of the advanced features of the Fuji. If you don’t mind not having a high-res electronic viewfinder, not mind the LCD being small and with low resolution, and don’t mind all the other cons that I’ve mentioned, grab the SX50HS, you will LOVE and enjoy this camera. Image quality is very impressive and for many of us, that’s what matter.

For travelers, the SX50HS might be the better choice because of its more compact size. If you want my opinion, I would probably have gotten the SX50HS. I already have a DSLR camera. I don’t mind not having all those features that the Fuji has, I just want to go to a trip, carrying a relatively small superzoom camera and grab a shot from now and than. I do care about image quality and I really don’t like seeing noise in images. In this case the SX50HS is the perfect camera for me. You might think otherwise and make another decision based on your specific shooting habits.

I hope that you  find this comparison article useful and I hope it made it easier for you to make a decision. If you did find it useful, please share it with your friends.

Buy the Canon PowerShot Sx50 HS from B&H Photo Video

Buy the Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXr from B&H Photo Video

Have your own opinion, please comment below and share it with us. Thanks guys.



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