Panasonic Lumix FZ70 vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS vs Nikon P520 vs Sony Cyber-shot HX300

July 20, 2013

Panasonic Lumix FZ70

In this comparison we are going to take a closer look and compare four excellent superzoom cameras. Our emphasize we’ll be on the Panasonic Lumix FZ70, which as of the time of writing, Panasonic’s latest 60x optical zoom superzoom camera. I am excited like you to have yet another impressive superzoom camera to choose from. If you currently don’t have a superzoom camera and you are having a tough time deciding which one to buy, the comparison was written for you. I will start with an introduction to the four corners and then we’ll continue with the comparison itself. This way you can get a good overview of each camera key features, and later on getting familiar with the cons and pros of each one.

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72

On July 18 2013, Panasonic introduced its latest  superzoom digital camera, the FZ70 . With this camera, Panasonic wants to give Canon a big fight. The DMC-FZ70 replaces the FZ60 and brings a vast improvements over its predecessor.

The first move obvious change is made to the camera design. The FZ70 features a 20-1200mm f/2.8-5.8 60x optical zoom lens (we’ll soon talk about the lens), that’s more than double the FZ60 zoom (25-600 mm | 24x optical zoom).  Due to this reason and , the FZ70 is made much larger in size.  So in fact, the FZ70 is not longer a compact superzoom camera as it was before.  Looks like an entry-level DSLR in fact. This should be a problem because you would carry the FZ70 like the FZ60 in a camera bag anyway.  1cm extra width, 1.6cm extra height and 26mm extra depth and added 113 grams to the camera weight won’t ruin your experience. On the other hand, you gain many great features that will enhance your experience with the camera.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 vs FZ60 size comparison

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 (right) vs FZ60 size comparison )via camerasize.com)

On the other hand, the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS has a 24-1200 mm (equiv.) 50x optical zoom and same 1/2.3 (6.17 x 4.55 mm) sensor and it is smaller than the FZ70 (see image below). The difference is not huge as you might think.

Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic Lumia FZ70 size comparison

Canon SX50 HS vs Panasonic Lumia FZ70 size comparison (via camerasize.com

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 / FZ72 is 8% (9.9 mm) wider and 20% (16.2 mm) taller than Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ60 / FZ62.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 / FZ72 is 29% (26.3 mm) thicker than Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ60 / FZ62.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 / FZ72 [606 g] weights 23% (113 grams) more than Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ60 / FZ62 [493 g] (*inc. Batteries and memory card).

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 / FZ72 is 6% (7.7 mm) wider and 11% (9.7 mm) taller than Canon PowerShot SX50 HS.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 / FZ72 is 12% (12.7 mm) thicker than Canon PowerShot SX50 HS.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 / FZ72 [606 g] weights 2% (11 grams) more than Canon PowerShot SX50 HS [595 g] (*inc. Batteries and memory card).

The Panasonic FZ70 is the largest camera in our comparison, even larger than the DSC-HX300.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ70 features a sensor slightly larger (1/233″ vs 1/2″ than the FZ60 which is a good thing considering its higher lens focal length. The FZ70 features a 20-1200mm f/2.8-5.9 (equiv.) LUMIX DC Vario lens, compromised of 14 elements in 12 groups and with 6 aspherical lenses and 9 apshetical surfaces, including 3ED lenses. You might also notice that the lens has a 20 mm focal length in its wide-angle.

This is the first superzoom camera to offer such an ultra-wide angle, one of the features that I personally most excited about, because this is something that can really help you be more creative and get more unique shots. The SX50HS, P520 and HX300 all have a 24mm wide-angle lens. It’s great to see that Panasonic made such an important upgrade to the lens optics.

What’s the Difference between 20mm and 24mm (equiv.)?

24 mm (35mm equivalent)

FOV Horizontal: 73.7°
FOV Vertical: 53.1°
FOV Diagonal: 84.1°

20 mm (35mm equivalent)

FOV Horizontal: 84°
FOV Vertical: 61.9°
FOV Diagonal: 94.5°

As you can see, there is quite a big difference between 20mm and 24mm.
TIP: You also might notice that the FZ70 have the same 1200 mm focal length at the tele-end. For those of you who aren’t familiar with how the optical zoom factor is calculated. The optical zoom is calculated by dividing the longest focal length to the shortest. So with the FZ70 you get the same equivalent field of view at the tele-end, but gain more at the wide-angle. The FZ70 has a 60x optical zoom lens. We achieve this number by dividing the FZ70′ 1200 mm by 20 mm and we get 60x optical zoom. With the SX50 HS, we divide 1200 by 24 and we get 50x optical zoom.

The lens also incorporates Panasonic’s Power O.I.S. Image stabilization mechanisms to reduce the occurrence of image blur due to hand-shake vibrations when shooting handheld. Even more than that, the angular width compensation is 200% wider than the FZ60 and previous model at the focal-length tele-end. You can expect superior image stabilization performance, especially when shooting at 1200 mm where it’s needed the most. Added to that is an ‘Active mode’ which compensates for camera shake when recording videos while walking  in a wide-angle field of view.

At the heart of the FZ70 lies a newly developed 16.1-megapixle High Sensitivity MOS sensor and Venus engine image processor.  Some people were disappointed to hear that the FZ70 features a 1/2.3″ size sensor, hoping for a larger one. However, if Panasonic had used a larger sensor, this would make the camera much bigger, and with larger glass elements, you’ll pay a much higher price for such a camera.  I think that this is the best Panasonic could have done in order to offer excellent optics, huge zoom, ultra wide-angle lens, improve IS and all that for a consumer-level price point.

On the other hand, I can understand the high expectations, as more large-sensor compacts are introduced to the market and at times where mobile phone cameras are taking the place of the compact digital camera. Those  constraints still exist and have nothing do to with the market, rather than optical restrictions that we are living with since the day of the first lens was introduced. If it wasn’t like that, we would have seen superzoom lenses on mobile phones. We might see technology takes us forward on that matter, but this might take time. Even when those technologies are available, the mostly be utilized in smartphones rather than on conventional consumer-level digital cameras that their market share shrinks every month. This is also why superzoom cameras are the most popular digital cameras, due to their big zoom, something that no smartphone can offer — at least not yet.

At the back of the camera you’ll find a 0.2-inch Electronic Viewfinder with 202K-dot resolution and 100% field of view.  Panasonic also increased the display frame rate from 30 fps to 60 fps and reduced the image lag.  That’s still a crappy resolution, but the EVF will be very useful at times when the rear-LCD doesn’t  provide good visibility and improved over the FZ60 screen refresh rate to allow better reaction time to capture fast moving subjects.

The Panasonic FZ70 (FZ72) is also a very responsive camera. It featured 9 fps burst speed shooting at full resolution with mechanical shutter and 5 fps with continuous AF. It employs 0.9 sec fast start-up time and uses Light Speed AF for fast and accurate auto focus.

9 fps continuous shooting at full resolution with a mechanical shutter, 5 fps with continuous AF (AF tracking).

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 records full HD video at 60i or 30p. Panasonic also equipped the camera with Wind shield zoom microphone and Dolby Digital that reduces wind noise by 70% compared to the DMC-FZ60 (FZ62). This will give you much better audio quality for your videos. I personally find the wind noise on the FZ60 very irritating,  kinds of grabs more attention than the video itself.  A better sound quality can make a big difference, especially when shooting outdoors, what most people do with a superzoom camera.

The FZ70 offers full manual control over exposure, has many creative filters, built-in HDR, advanced Auto modes and compatible with many optional accessories, including tele conversion lens, close-up lens, external flashes, filters and more. You can view all the FZ70 compatible accessories on this page.

As you can see, the Lumia DMC-FZ70 is vastly improved over its predecessor, but I know that you want to know how it compared to other popular superzoom cameras. In the next section we’ll inspect the specs of the Sony HX300, Canon SX50 and Nikon P520 and see whether or not the FZ70 comes on top of the other model, or whether you should purchase one of the other cameras instead.

FZ70 vs SX50 HS vs HX300 vs P520

Before jumping to compare the specs of all four superzoom cameras, I want to talk about the camera design differences.

FZ70 vs SX50 HS vs HX300 vs P520 camera comparison

FZ70 vs SX50 HS vs HX300 vs P520 camera comparison (click to view on camerasize.com)

I personally like the FZ70 camera design. Kind of reminds me of a DSLR camera. The FZ70 is the largest camera in the group, but not the heaviest (HX300 weights 650 g, FZ70 weights 606 g). All cameras have a large grip that helps steady the camera when shooting handheld to minimize camera shake. When viewing the cameras from the top, you can clearly see that the FZ70 has the most roust built-in microphone that take respectable space at the top of the camera.

All four cameras have a P/A/S/M wheel dial at the top and offer various buttons and controls for fast access for popular used functions.  Because the FZ70 is larger, there is also more room for your thumb at the back and you. I think that both the FZ70 / FZ72 and the Sony DSC-HX300 will provide improved ergonomics due to the larger physical size of the camera. People with larger hands will find the FZ70 and HX300 more comfortable to hold. Furthermore, all cameras except the SX50 HS have a rotating dial at the back of the camera that makes it easier to change settings without doing it through the menus.

Unfortunately, as big as the FZ70 compares to the other model, is doesn’t employ an articulating rear display. The HX300 features a tiltable display, and both the Nikon P520 and Canon SX50 HS feature a fully articulated display. Considering  how video-oriented the FZ70 / FZ72 is (i.e. Wind shield mic, Active zoom, ability to change aperture and shutter speed when shooting videos), this is quite disappointing that Panasonic didn’t add this important feature and I have no idea what not, after all, the competitors do have this feature.

Let’s take a look at a side by side specs comparison. I’ve added some side notes to help you better understand the differences between those four cameras.

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Panasonic Lumix FZ70 Cons and Pros

  • Biggest zoom range in the comparison (60x optical zoom)
  • 20mm wide angle lens, widest in the group
  • Fast f/2.8 aperture in the widest angle, relatively fast at the tele-end
  •  LUMIX DC VARIO lens optics
  • Advanced lens assembly for optimal image quality and minimum distortions (especially useful when shooting in wide angle focal lengths)
  • Can shoot Raw (the HX300 and P520 lack this feature)
  • Hot-shoe, can attach an external flash
  • Wide range of compatible accessories
  • Best audio quality in the group, having a Dolby Digital built-in stereo mic with wind shield (can be turned off)
  • 3D stills
  • Panorama image
  • Full HD videos in AVCHD and MP4 format
  • Great creative Panorama function
  • Creative video mode, allows you to adjust the aperture and shutter speed in video mode
  • iA (Intelligent Auto) / iA Plus ode = great for beginners
  • Built-in HDR
  • AF/AF-Macro/MF dedicated button
  • Function button
  • AF/AE lock button
  • Best Battery life in the group (400 shots CIPA)
  • Relatively large pixels compared to the other cameras, but smaller than the SX50HS
  • 23 AF point, less than the P520, but still better than the SX50 and HX300, improved subject tracking performance
  • 9 frames per second burst, but up to 3 images and less than the HX300 that also has a larger buffer
  • ISO 3200, less than the SX50 HS that has native ISO6400)
  • Largest camera in the comparison
  • Fixed LCD, all the other cameras have an articulating display
  • Relatively low resolution LCD, P520 and HX300 have 921K-dot resolution
  • Maximum 3 images in continuous shooting mode
  • No built-in GPS (P520 has GPS)

 

The Panasonic offers a wide range of advanced features. Although for a 2013 super zoom camera I would have liked to see WiFi, GPS, articulating LCD with higher resolution and larger buffer, the pros outweigh the cons. If you don’t mind the size and weight of the camera, you will find the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 to be and excellent travel camera that it can compete well against the other models that we’ve seen here.

Most people will certainly buy this camera for its class-leading optical zoom. Of course you should keep in mind that the FZ70 has the same equivalent focal length at the tele-end as the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Soy Cyber-shot HX300. This means that you get the same magnification (better to say field of view) as those other two cameras when zooming all in. However, one of the biggest strengths of the FZ70 is its 20mm wide-angle lens.  I just can’t tell you how useful it is to have such this wide-angle with you. All I can tell you is that you will be more creative with your camera — and it’s especially useful for a  travel camera. You will find it super useful when shooting indoors when traveling abroad, taking interior photos of churches, museums, concert halls, etc. It would become much easier to get photos of buildings and capture breathtaking landscape images.

The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS is still a very good alternative, but mostly for its superb image quality. The Canon SX50 HS brings impressive image quality for a superzoom camera. Canon did a very smart (some say risky) move to go with a relatively low resolution, while the competitors are introducing superzoom cameras with much higher resolution. I think that many people begin to understand that a higher resolution sensor, especially in point-and-shoot cameras is not such a good idea. The SX50 high ISO sample images prove that point.  I personally could just wish that Panasonic will learn this lesson and reduce the sensor resolution in the next model.  On the other hand, I am happy that Panasonic didn’t opt for a higher resolution, and went for a resolution something comfort in the middle.

The SX50 HS is smaller than the FZ70 by quite a large margin I have to say. However this comes at the price of a small rear LCD display, a 2.8-inch, which is the smallest in our comparison. The SX50 HS offers an incredible zoom range, but lacks the 20mm of the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72. On the other hand, the SX50 HS IS is one of the most effective image stabilization mechanisms I’ve tested on superzoom cameras.  This becomes more obvious when you start shooting at 1200 mm where every tiny movement can have a negative effect on the final image.

Check out this sample image via Flickr, nice Bokeh there..

Naughty Squirrel taken with a Canon SX50 HS RAW to JPEG IMG_5708

The SX50 HS like the FZ70 can shoot in Raw image format, is very responsive and has decent AF performance.  I recommend the SX50 HS to everyone, but mostly those who are very sensitive to noise in images (include me in). Video quality is also excellent.  Check out the incredible zoom int the video below:

The Sony Cyber-shot HX300 is an impressive super zoom camera, at least when it comes to features. However, the HX300 was criticized for its poor sensor performance in high ISO. That’s what happen when you squeeze 21MP on such a tiny sensor, and I think that Sony did a mistake going with such a highe resolution. Some people might buy this camera for its higher resolution, but the image quality opinions will surface up some way or another, and you can see this in many online reviews.

In high ISO performance the HX300 isn’t the king of the hill, but at low ISO its image quality is excellent (check out those photos on flickr). Sony HX300 produces beautiful sharp and vivid images.

Check out this gorgeous photos taken by Aisse Gaertner (via Flickr)

Cerro tronador

If  you love the stills image quality, you’ll happy to hear that the HX300 performs amazingly well in video too.. check out the next video.

Excellent job maintaining optimal exposure, color reproduction is excellent and the sound is pretty good too! — I really like the lens performance, great optics.  The HX300 is the only one among the four that can shoot 1080p60 (60 progressive frames).

What I love about this camera is it’s chunky hand grip that fits perfectly in the hand, it features Sony’s very useful Sweep Panorama and 360-degree panorama function.  It got the most ipressive burst in the group and incredible display (Although tilting rather than fully articulated).

So the HX300 main strength is its image quality in low-ISO, excellent video quality, high-res rear display,  great optics and useful image stabilization for both stills and videos and 1080p60 video recording function.

The Nikon P520 is also an impressive camera, and like all the other cameras it has its strengths weaknesses.  First of all, it offers the least impressive zoom range, but still a very respectable zoom range whatsoever. It’s high ISO performance is decent  and it deals with noise pretty well up to ISO 800, from there it’s  a quick downfall. The Nikon optics result ina very sharp image as well as very little purple firnging.

The Nikon P520 features the largest LCD in the group (3.2-inch) with the highest resolution (along side the HX300). The vary-angle LCD becomes very useful when shooting video and can help out when shooting stills when the camera is above your head and or below your waistline.  The P520 is the only one with built-in GPS receiver. It automatically geotag your images, embedding geo-location data inside the image metadata. Useful when you want to search, sort or share images based on the location in which they were shot.

Caballo

The P520 is the least impressive when it comes to video recording, and lacks the framerate options that the other cameras have. It also has the least powerful battery life among the other cameras, which I think it’s pretty important for a travel camera.

Check out this Nikon Coolpix P520 saple video (by levydream YouTube user)

What a great shot.. and the opportunity to be at that position with a superzoom camera.

 

Conclusion

The Panasonic Lumix FZ70 is and advanced super zoom camera. It offers a vast range of features, excellent  LUMIX DC VARIO lens optics, class-leading optical zoom, 20mm wide-angle lens, RAW, wind shield mic, EVF and very good battery life. It’s not the most portable camera in the group, but I as I said earlier, the pros outweigh the cons. Some of you might find its large size even useful for stabilizing the camera and you love it even more if you large hands.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 lacks an articulating display, but it offers shooting Full HD videos on both AVCHD and MP$ format and has a wind shield mic to improve audio quality when shooting outdoors. It has a creative mode which allows you to adjsut the shutter speed and aperture when shooting video and Actiev Mode image stabilization to minimize the effect of camera shake when shooting and moving at the same time.

The FZ70 offers a very wide range of creative effects and filters for both stills and videos, including the creative Panoramic effects like Retro, High Key, Dynamic Monochrome, Impressive Art and others.  Photographers also have the option to choose from various optional accessories, including polatizer filter, ND filters,tele conversion lens and others.

The FZ70 holds well against the other cameras that we compared here, and a great travel camera that will satisfy both beginners and enthusiasts alike.

The Panasonic Lumia will be released on September 7, 2013 for a price of $399.99.  In comparison, the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, as for the time of writing, costs $369.00,  the Sony DSC-HX300 costs $498.00.  Nikon Coolpix P520 costs $396.00.  The HX300 is of course the most expensive camera, costs $100 more than the Panasonic.  You’ll decide whether or not it’s worth the extra money that you pay for it.  Some of you might find the Canon SX50 HS to be more than adequate  for all your needs.

To be continued: I will update this comparison when new high ISO smaple images surface up. Image quality is an important parameter to consider, but I have a good feeling that the FZ70 won’t disappoint.

 



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