Sony Cyber-shot HX50V vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS – Superzoom Comparison

May 1, 2013

Zebras wildlife photo with two superzoom cameras

In this post I will compare the new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V versus the Canon SX50 HS. The Sony HX50V is aimed for those who are searching for a compact superzoom camera, and what a magnificent camera it is. The HX50 features a 30x optical zoom lens, 20.4MP Exmore R CMOS sensor and many new exciting features. The Canon SX50 HS is arguably the best superzoom camera on the market, and it’s well know for its very high image quality. The SX50 HS is bigger than the HX50V and that put it in an uncomfortable position, since most people will prefer carrying a compact camera. That’s the reason why I’ve decided to compare the two, I want to see how the Sony Cyber-shot HX50V can compete against my favorite superzoom camera, the Canon SX50 HS. I’m pretty sure that after you read this article, you will get a much better understanding of the differences between the two, and will be able to decide which one is better for you — Let’s begin!

Each section of this article will talk about various aspects of the camera and its features, so you can fully understand how the two cameras differ from each other.

Camera Size & Design

The size of the superzoom camera plays an important factor for many people.  The thing is that most superzoom cameras are pretty large in size and close to the size of an entry-level DSLR camera. The Nikon Coolpix P520 (42x zoom) is almost the same size as the SX50 HS, the Panasonic Lumix FZ60 (24x zoom) is a bit smaller than the SX50 HS, Olympus Stylus SZ-16 HS (24x) is much smaller than the FZ60. As you can see, in order to enjoy a compact superzoom camera, you need to trade-off some zoom (and other features, we’ll talk about that later on). You can buy the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS which is more compact than the Sony HX50V but has only 20x optical  zoom.

So for a 30x optical zoom, the Sony HX50V is pretty small and that’s the first thing that I like about that camera. You can check this compact camera comparison of all the cameras I’ve mentioned above, to clearly see how they differ in size.

Sony HX50V vs Sony SX50 HS size comparison

Sony HX50V vs Sony SX50 HS size comparison (via

Sony HSX50V vs Canon Sx50HS rear side

Sony HX50V vs Canon Sx50HS rear side - size comparison

When looking at the camera from behind, you start to see the differences between the two cameras. The first obvious differences is the viewfinder of course. The Canon SX50 HS has a 202K-dots electronic viewfinder. I personally prefer shooting with a viewfinder, but that depends on the quality of the viewfinder. The SX50 HS viewfinder is not of a high quality, and looking into it resembles a person looking through a key hole.  I personally don’t mind shooting without a viewfinder in this case, and have no problem giving up the viewfinder in order to enjoy a smaller camera. The EVF takes a lot of space at the top of the camera, without it, Canon could have created a much smaller camera, at least at the top part. So what should be an advantage, turns out to be not so important.  I don’t completely cancel its effectiveness, for example, when shooting in bright daylight or when you want to stabilize the camera against your face when shooting  with the longer zoom, you mind find it pretty useful.

If you really want a viewfinder, you can purchase an electronic OLED viewfinder as an optional accessory, but it’s an expensive accessory so keep that in mind. The HX50V uses the same multi-interface shoe, so it’s compatible with the same accessories as the Sony RX-1.

The  Sony Cybershot is a pocket superzoom camera, but you need a big pocket to be able to put it inside. It won’t get into a pocket of a tight jeans. If you can’t put it in your pocket, the size difference is no longer that crucial — In any event, you’ll need to carry it in a small camera bag or with a strap around your neck.  The other difference is the camera’s weight, with the HX50V being heavier (595 g vs 292 g) than the SX50 HS, so that makes the HX50V more comfortable to carry around.

At the back of the camera we notice another difference, the LCD.

Canon SX50 HS: 2.8″ / 461K-dots / Fully articulated
Sony Cyber-shot  HX50V: 3″ / 921K-dots / Fixed

The Canon has an articulated screen, this allows you to take photos from various angles (ie. above your head, below your knees) that otherwise you’ll have to aim and pray that you get it right.  This even more crucial when shooting videos. The issue here is that the SX50 HS has a relatively small screen (2.8 inces) and low resolution (461K-dots). For a 2.8-inch screen, the resolution is OK,, However,  having a larger screen with higher resolution gives you a few advantages:

  • Larger view if the scene, easier to compose and see what you are shooting
  • Better viewing experience when browsing images, checking focus and sharpness or viewing recorded videos
  • More info can fit into the display, readability is improved (sharper text, larger fonts)
So you need to ask yourself if you really need that articulating screen and the EVF, if so, the SX50 HS is the way to go, otherwise, the Sony HX50V is still in the picture.

Sensor & Lens

The image sensor and lens are the two crucial elements that have a direct influence on how good the the image quality will be.  Let’s admit it, we prefer a bigger zoom, but in many cases a bigger zoom lens not always provides us with the image quality that we are after. This is where the two cameras have quite a big difference, and this section is probably the most important one and will have more implications on your decision.

Let’s take a look at the specs:

Canon SX50 HS: 12.1MP 1/2.3″ (6.17×4.55 mm) BSI-CMOS sensor / 24-1200 mm (50x) f3.4-6.5 IS Canon lens /  ISO 80 – 6400
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V:  20.4MP 1/2.3″ (6.17×4.55mm) BSI-CMOS Exmor R® sensor / 24-720 mm (30x) f3.5-6.3 Active SteadyShot Sony G lens / ISO 80-3200 (6400, 8000, 10000, 128000 in boost mode)

Both cameras have the same sensor size, but the Sony HX50 has much higher resolution, and therefore higher pixel density. Canon has deliberately decided to stay with a lower resolution. With a lower resolution for a given same sensor size, pixels are larger and can resolve more data — this should lead to higher sensitivity, better low-light performance and also less noise in higher ISO sensitivity levels.  you should understand that more pixels isn’t always a good thing.  For many people 12MP is more than enough, and they prefer to have better low light performance and improved image quality than having higher resolution image with more details. On the other hand, some photographers shoot mainly in low ISO, and they prefer having higher resolution image that gives them more cropping freedom when editing their images using photo editing software.

30x Zoom vs 50x Zoom

The Canon SX50 HS has probably the most impressive lens among all the other superzoom cameras on the market. It’s main rival is the Fujifilm FinePix SL1000, which also equipped with a 24-12000 mm (50x) telephoto zoom lens. 50x optical zoom is very impressive, it’s scary how close you can get to your subject without even moving an inch. This is the main selling point of the Canon Sx50 HS, and many people don’t mind giving up a lot of features only to enjoy this incredible 50x zoom.

Both lenses over the same 24mm wide angle,  which is very useful for taking images of group of people, landscape and interiors. The main different is in the telephoto end, with the Canon reaching 1200mm (35mm equivalent) and the Sony HX50 reaching ‘only’ to 720mm. There is quite big different between the two cameras. The Canon will get you much closer to your subject. For many people 720 mm is more than enough, but sometimes you feel that you just wish you had a bit more zoom so you can get zoom more closer on your subject.

I’ve searched for an online focal length comparison tool that does that, but most of those tool don’t reach even close to 1200mm. Luckily I’ve found an article on that has some image sample that demonstrate the difference between various focal lengths. Take a look at the 800 mm (pretty close to 720mm) and compare it to the 1200 mm image – do you notice the difference?

So 1200mm will you get “closer” to your subject. The difference is not huge, but as I said, it gives you that extra reach that you might need from time to time.

Take a look at the next video, which demonstrates the enormous zoom of the Canon SX50 HS

Impressive, isn’t it? – this was 50x optical zoom

I think it’s important that you won’t buy the Canon SX50 HS only because it has a bigger optical zoom. The difference is not huge, and there are many other factors that come into play here, other than the zoom itself. Both cameras will get you very closer to your subject — both offer an amazing zoom reach that will satisfy all your photographic exploration needs.

The Sony Cyber-shot HX50 also has a feature called “60x Clear Image Digital Zoom”. That helps the camera achieve better digital zoom, by utilizing a different method. Instead of cropping and enlarging the image (causes a reduction in image quality), the Sony compares patterns found in neighbor pixels to create new pixels that match the selected patterns. This zoom boosting feature will result in a closer image without lowering the pixel count of the final image.

Here’s a video that explains this technology


Both lenses incorporate an optical image stabilization mechanism to combat motion blue, the Sony uses SteadyShot, the Canon utilizes its Intelligent IS image stabilization mechanism. Both are optical image stabilization and are very effective in reducing blur in images, especially when shooting with larger focal lengths and when recording videos. The Canon uses Intelligent IS, which automatically chooses from six different image stabilization types to match the shooting conditions, including the famous and very effective Hybrid IS, which is very useful when shooting in macro mode (correcting shift blurring).  Sony also incorporated an Active 3-way stabilization that is very effective for stabilizing the image when shooting videos, especially when zoomed in closer.

Image stabilization is also very helpful when shooting in low light and with slow shutter speed. This will help you get sharp images when shooting in available light and using slow shutter speeds.

Also worth mentioning that the Sony uses a G Lens, which signifies Sony’s “premium” lenses that delivers exceptional image quality, with great clarity, contrast and details.

There is also a big difference in how much the lens extended from the camera when you zoom all the way up to the maximum zoom.  The Sony HX50 has a retractable lens, so when you are not shooting, the lens retracts into the camera body, helping maintain the camera’s smaller size factor. On the Canon, there is a pretty larger bulge at the front which the lens sit when it retracts back. With both cameras with lens retracted, the Canon SX50 HS is 175% (67.3mm) thicker than the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V, and that’s a big difference. That makes the Canon impossible to carry inside pocket, and even you will definitely need a camera bag to carry it around.

camera size volume with lens extended, illustration

Canon SX50 HS and Sony HX50V showing the difference with and without the lens extended (for illustration purpose only)

Having said that, some photographers prefer having a larger camera body when buying  a superzoom camera, because it helps them better stabilize the camera which result in sharper photos — especially when shooting at higher focal lengths.


High ISO Image Quality

magnifying glass on image, inspecting qualityNot all photographers care about the high ISO performance. Many people prefer shooting at the the lowest ISO possible to minimize the occurrence of noise in the image. However, it you find yourself shooting indoors and/or at night, you find that the higher ISO is your best friend. Some cameras have better high ISO performance then others, and it depends on the sensor and image processor.  Luckily I came across some HX50 sample images on I can tell you that I wasn’t satisfied with the high ISO performance.

Even at ISO 200 noise is visible when looking at 100% scale images. Things get worse from ISO 400 and up. I recommend shooting at at ISO 400 and below to get a high quality image. Just note that noise is almost not noticeable when you reduce the size of the image, only when looking at the image at full scale you really notice the difference.

Is the Canon SX50 HS better? – Yes, much better. This is most probably due to its bigger pixels. Canon done wise choosing to stay with 12MP and you can see the results for yourself. There are many High ISO images taken with the Canon SX50 HS, and each time I view those images I get amazed all over again. With the Canon SX50 HS you will be good shooting up to ISO 1600, from that point on things start being more noisy at ISO3200, and much more noisy at ISO6400. The Canon has roughly +2EV stops advantage of the Sony HX50V.

The SX50 HS high ISO performance, as well its overall image quality is VERY IMPRESSIVE.  Pixel peepers will certainly prefer the Canon offering over the Sony’s. Still, the Sony HX50V does take decent photos, but not as the same league as the SX50 HS. I also want to add that I preferred the dot noise pattern of the SX50 HS up to ISO ISO1600, on the HX50 you get color paint like noise pattern, which is harder to remove using noise removal software.

To keep things simple: if you are image quality fanatic and guru in pixel peeping and you just can’t stand noise in images, the Canon SX50 HS is probably your only option.


Specs Comparison

As I told you earlier, both cameras have plenty of zoom and the difference isn’t huge. Some of you might already fell in love with the HX50 due to its compact size and big zoom. However, there are plenty other features that are important for photographers. In this section will be able to clearly see the differences. You might find out that there are some features on the Canon SX50 HS that you really like and they aren’t available on the Sony HX50 and vice versa.

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This comparison table helps to see the differences more clearly. You can see that each camera has its own cons and pros. For video shooting it’s a mixed bag. The Canon SX50 HS takes gorgeous videos, has 24p, super slow motion, miniature effect and articulating LCD. The Sony HX50V video quality is also very impressive, you can shoot in 1080p60 (progressive frames) and get the Active SteadyShot to help better stabilize the video. The Canon does seems to be the better camera for video shooting, but it really depends on your personal preference.

Sony Cyber-shot HX50V Full HD sample video

Canon SX50 HS Full HD  sample video (+ super slow motion)

So which one do you like better?



Choosing between the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and Sony Cyber-shot HX50V might not be that hard after all. There are big differences between the two cameras and that will make it easier for you to make a decision. I would go with the Canon SX50 HS if I want to biggest zoom on the market, prefer a larger camera body, need that high ISO performance, need RAW, prefer shooting videos in 24p, prefer shooting through a viewfinder, love the articulating display, take advantage of the 0cm macro and want to experiment with slow motion videos.

Go with the Sony Cyber-shot HX50V if you want a compact superzoom camera, one that you can also put in a large pocket, 30x zoom is enough for your needs, you love the Wi-Fi, 3D stills and GPS features, 1080p60 appeals to you better than 24p, you don’t intend to shoot RAW, you’ll take advantage of the 10 fps burst and you will probably use the Sweep Panorama option.

Each camera has its own unique features. I personally love the smaller size factor of the Sony and not mind leaving with its shortcomings. On the other hand, the image quality of the SX50 HS is really impressive, and having the option to get usable images at ISO1600 really appeals to me, decision..decision.. Each one and one of you will need to make its own decision and pick up the camera that better fits his or her needs. Now that you understand the differences between the two cameras, I’m pretty sure that you will be able to make a smarter buying decision.


If you enjoy reading this article, please don’t forget to share it. Thanks for reading and see you on the next article.

Buy the Sony Cyber-shot HX50V:  B&H Photo, Adorama
Buy the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS: B&H Photo, Adorama


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