Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Vs. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ200 Vs. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V
Bridge cameras, or Super-zooms as they are called, are very popular among amateur photographers for their versatility.
These cameras bridge the gap between compact cameras and interchangeable lens systems. But why are they so popular? Without any doubt, it is the zoom range of their lenses. Most of these come with 20 to 50x zoom ranges starting from wide-angle up to super telephoto, covering everything that a person is likely to shoot. Matching this range on an interchangeable lens camera, such as a D-SLR, would be a very expensive affair. Even if you have the budget, it would be very cumbersome to carry those huge lenses around. This time, we are pitching three popular bridge cameras against each other in a head-to-head comparison to see which one would be more sensible to buy. The cameras featured here are Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ200, and Sony Cyber-shot DSC HX200V.There are few other cameras competing in the same space, but unfortunately, we were unable to get our hands on them in time for the review.
Bridge cameras are very sophisticated, and so, comparing them head-to-head is no mean task. These are feature-filled and there is no way to judge which of these would be important to a particular group of people. However, this comparison will give you a fair idea as to what features each camera is good at. Please note that all focal lengths are expressed in 35mm- equivalent, unless specified.
Design and Build Quality
All the three cameras are well-built with rugged engineering plastic outer body. We could not see any major difference in the construction of the cameras. All the three feature metal tripod receptacles. All the three cameras have single-barrel lens construction. The only major difference we could find was the LCD. Both the Canon SX50 and the Panasonic FZ200 have fully articulated LCDs that can be folded inward to protect the screen when not in use, but the Sony HX200V’s LCD has only tilt motion and cannot be folded. So in the case of Sony, the LCD is exposed all the time, which is not a very good idea.
Manufacturers have their own way of making a feature look completely new by calling it by a name different from their competitors. For example, one camera might specify 50 different scene modes,
while another one might specify only 15. But in reality, you may be able to achieve the same result by combining 5 of the basic modes. So in a comparison like this, it is very important that we take into account only the ‘key’ features, ignoring the trivial ones. Both the Canon SX50 HS and the Panasonic FZ200 are 12.2 megapixel models while the Sony HX200V is 18.2 megapixels. This is definitely an advantage for the Sony as it allows you to make larger prints. SX50 provides a whopping 50x optical zoom (24-1200mm equivalent), which is unmatched in this category. The HX200V offers 30x optical zoom (29-870mm) while the FZ200 offers the lowest, 20x optical zoom (25-600mm). But when it comes to the utility of the zoom range, we think the Sony should have started from a wider range, around 24mm. The Sony offers the maximum sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 12,800, followed by the Canon with ISO 80 to 6400 and then the Panasonic with ISO 100 to 3200. The Panasonic FZ200 offers an aperture range of f/2.8-8 throughout the zoom range; the maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout the zoom range is rare and difficult to achieve at this price point. The Sony offers f/2.8 to 8 at the wide-angle end and f/5.6 to 8 at the telephoto end, while the Canon offers f/3.4 to 8 and f/6.5 to 8 at the wide- angle and telephoto ends respectively. In the Shutter Speed range also, the Panasonic offers one stop more than the Sony, which in turn offers two stops more than the Canon. Though the Sony HX200V appears to offer more shooting modes because of the fact that it accommodates more of these on the mode dial, the other two cameras offer most of these shooting modes through the Scene mode. The Sony and Panasonic have 3-inch LCD screens while the Canon has a 2.8-inch display. This will not make a huge difference in the user experience. Both the SX50 and the FZ200 have fully articulated LCDs while the HX200’s display is capable only of tilt motion. Here clearly, the Sony is at a disadvantage. Panasonic has the highest screen resolution of 1,312,000 dots followed by Sony with 921,600 dots and Canon with 461,000 dots. Both the Canon and Panasonic have the advantage of having accessory shoes (hot-shoe) for triggering an external flash or a studio strobe, but the Sony does not have this advantage. Both the SX50 and the FZ200 can record images in Raw format, whereas the HX200 does not offer any uncompressed format. Both the Sony HX100 and the Panasonic FZ200 have more powerful built-in- flashes, which is certainly advantageous for these two cameras in comparison with the Canon SX50 HS.
All the three cameras are similar in size, though the Panasonic FZ200 appears slightly larger than the rest. The Sony Cybershot HX200V provides the best grip amongst the three. It is really deep and lined with rough rubber so that the camera sits firmly in your hand. Next comes the Panasonic FZ200, which too has a rubber lined grip, but it is not as deep as the Cybershot. After ruling for almost seven years, the Powershot’s familiar ergonomic design is crying for improvement. Compared to the two others, the grip of the SX50 HS is small and does not have a rubber lining, making it slippery. You will realise this if you hold either the HX200 or the FZ200 and then suddenly pick up the SX50. The Sony LCD displayed rich colours, while the Canon introduced a slight yellow cast. The Panasonic was somewhat pale. But the Panasonic FZ200 produced the least pixel jitter followed by the Sony HX200 and the Canon SX50. Both the Canon and the Panasonic have quick menu buttons to enable setting up the camera fast, while the Sony does not feature any such button. Also, the Canon SX50 and Panasonic FZ200’s built-in flash does not pop-up on its own. The Panasonic has a dedicated button, whereas the Canon’s This is a very good feature because it is very easy to disable flash if it is left on accidentally. The Sony HX200V’s flash has to be enabled or disabled from the menu, which is tedious when on the field.
All the three cameras focussed fast, and the speeds were so close that we could not determine which one is best in this. The Canon SX50 produced flare, but we did not observe any chromatic aberration. Both the Panasonic and the Sony produced prominent flare and chromatic aberration. The Panasonic FX200 produced darkening of corners at the extreme corners, but overall, the illumination remained even. The Canon SX50 produced a soft gradation from centre to the periphery, but the darkening was not very disturbing. The Sony HX200 produced heavy darkening throughout the image. Please note that darkening of corners and flare tests were conducted at the wide-angle end with the lens wide-open.In the test for sharpness, we considered the widest focal length and the common maximum focal length of 600mm. Images from the Canon SX50 was found to be the sharpest, while Panasonic and Sony followed in the same order. We also found that all the three cameras produced the best results close to the widest aperture. In the case of distortion, the Sony emerged champion. We did not observe any perceptible distortion in the HX200 throughout the zoom range. The Canon SX50 produced slight barrel distortion up to 80mm, while the Panasonic produced slight barrel distortion up to 100mm.
In the White Balance front, the Canon SX50 HS was accurate under daylight (both on auto and pre-set mode), while Auto White Balance (AWB) under cloudy lighting was acceptable. Panasonic FZ200 produced desirable results in AWB under cloudy and acceptable under daylight. The Sony HX200V produced excellent result in AWB under cloudy lighting, while all other settings produced distinct cast. Please note, however, that these can be corrected easily using Photoshop. Noise was compared side-by-side for each ISO sensitivity. The Canon SX50 produced noise-free images up to ISO 3200 and the Panasonic FZ200 produced noise-free images up to ISO 1600, while the Sony HX200 produced noise even at ISO 200, which was rather surprising since we thought Sony ‘s BSI CMOS sensors were excellent in handling noise.
Value for Money
The Sony HX200V is least priced with an MRP of Rs.24,990, while the Canon SX50 HS retails at an MRP of Rs.29,995. The Panasonic FZ200 is the most expensive with an MRP of Rs.34,990. But the value for money is determined by taking the price in relation to the overall points. So at the price point, Sony HX200 is ahead of Panasonic FZ200, but the superior performance of Canon SX50 HS still keeps it in the number one position in value for money.
Choosing a bridge camera is very tricky since there is an exhaustive list of parameters to compare. For some, the megapixels are more important than the zoom range, while some others require better wide-angle capabilities. Yet some others crave for a supertelephoto range. While it is not possible to satisfy everyone with a single review, we have done our part in bringing out a fair comparison between the three cameras. While the Canon SX50 HS emerged the best performer, the Sony offers a very competitive price. The Panasonic, on the other hand, comes with the lure of a fast f/2.8 aperture throughout. However, in overall comparison, the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS edges past others with the highest overall performance. The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 comes second and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC HX200V third.
||Canon Powershot SX50HS
||Panasonic Lumix FZ200
||Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V|
|Value For Money||**********||**********||**********|