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HolidayBuyer's Guide

All about the zoom

A 1200mm lens for the masses

Vari-angle LCD

From the hip

Flash hot shoe

Shooting modes

Zoom Framing Assist

Just in time for the holidays

After Nikon's 42x zoom P510 arrived earlier this year and the announcement of Olympus' 40x zoom Stylus 820UZ iHS in August, I thought maybe we'd reached a limit. Canon's PowerShot SX50 HS blows right by, though, with a 50x 24-1200mm lens.
Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
Really, it's the only 1200mm lens that's affordable for nonprofessionals. Just to put this point-and-shoot lens into perspective, Canon's longest dSLR EF lens is 800mm and costs $14,000. There is also the near-mythical 1200mm f5.6L EF USM AF lens, which camera retailer B&H once listed for $120,000. And this is a zoom lens, too, so you're getting focal lengths from 24mm out to 1200mm. Of course, the photo quality simply won't be as good as an SLR's with a high-quality lens on it, but you pick your battles.
Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
For the SX50 HS, Canon bumped up the screen size from 2.7 inches to 2.8 inches and doubled the resolution to 460K dots, which makes it slightly more competitive with others.
Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
If you shoot a lot from the hip (or overhead), the vari-angle LCD comes in very handy.
Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
Though it has a built-in flash, the camera's hot shoe is compatible with a few Canon Speedlite flashes.
Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
No real surprises with the SX50's shooting modes, but you do get semimanual and manual options as well as two custom spots. Canon finally added 12-bit raw capture to this series, giving you some more flexibility with post-processing.
Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
To help keep subjects framed when zoomed in, there's a Zoom Framing Assist that pulls the lens back so you can find your subject and then zooms back in. Along with that, Canon added a button to lock optical image stabilization onto the center of the frame.
Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS lands in October priced at $479.99.
Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
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