Our Verdict
The Canon PowerShot SX offers a robust 50x zoom in a lightweight, DSLR-like body, but don’t expect many frills.

For
Powerful 50x zoom with little distortion
Seamless wireless sharing options
All-day battery life.
Against
Plastic body feels cheap
Relatively small maximum aperture limits low-light shooting
No touchscreen, fixed LCD.
Who it’s for: Bird watchers or journalists who have to get near their subjects without scaring them; Sports fans and parents who have to zoom in on subjects in large stadiums or theaters.

Your smartphone camera usually takes great photos, but only as wide shots. If you wish to go set for a close-up, the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS, using its 50X contact lens, is a compelling option. With a lightweight, DSLR-like body, the SX530 HS ($430 list price) is a helpful companion for your travels, nature hikes and family vacations. In addition, it has manual controls for the more complex photographer, and Wi-Fi and NFC capacities for easier image sharing.

Image Quality: Much better than smartphones, especially during the night
At 16 megapixels, the PowerShot SX530 HS matches the resolution of cameras on flagship smartphones just like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the LG G4. Those smartphones even offer wider apertures – f/1.9 and f/1.8, respectively – when compared to Canon’s mere f/3.4 maximum, this means it could let less light in than those phone cameras can. Apertures certainly are a challenge for high-zoom cameras: The $250 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS45 offers a 20x optical zoom and an f/3.3 maximum aperture, basically the identical to the Canon’s.

MORE: Best Cameras your money can buy

In optimal light, the SX530 HS took pictures which were slightly much better than those snapped by leading smartphones. My snapshots of colorful springtime blossoms showed accurate colors; yellow, orange and purple petals were plainly delineated.

ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, Aperture Priority mode, pattern metering | Cherlynn Low
Similar pictures taken (albeit on a different day) with the Galaxy S6 and the LG G4 using each phone’s auto mode weren’t as defined, with the petals looking muddy when you zoomed in on them. However in other aspects, such as for example color, the smartphones’ photographs were almost on par with the $300 Canon’s.

Credt: Cherlynn Low
A close-up shot of 1 of the flowers was richly detailed, and the subtle striations and grains of dirt on the petal were tack sharp. The purple petals and green grass around it were accurately rendered. I was hoping to create a shallow depth of field (blurred background) for a far more pleasant-looking picture, however the camera’s limited aperture and small sensor never let this.

ISO 100, f/3.4, 1/60 sec, Aperture Priority mode, pattern metering | Cherlynn Low
The SX530 HS captured skin tones well, accurately rendering the ruddy complexion of my colleague standing prior to the colorful reflection of Manhattan buildings in a store window. Individual strands of undesired facial hair were tack sharp aswell.

Low Light/Night Results: Attractive
In low light, the SX530 HS was with the capacity of capturing rich detail and vivid colors, such as for example windows on buildings, and blue sky and red neon lights, in my own nighttime shot of the Manhattan cityscape.

ISO 1600, f/3.4, 1/8 sec, Aperture Priority mode, pattern metering | Cherlynn Low
Using Aperture Priority mode, I set the aperture to f/3.4 – the widest it might go. The camera put ISO at 1600 and shutter speed at 1/8 second, which led to a bright, sharp and clear image. I steadied the camera by leaning it on the railing to support the slow shutter speed.

When I set the SX530 to Auto, the camera picked ISO 4000, f/3.4 and a shutter speed of 1/20 second to reduce motion blur, resulting in a slightly darker photography that was covered with noise (colored specks).

ISO 4000, f/3.4, 1/20 sec, Auto mode, pattern metering | Cherlynn Low
I don’t recommend going beyond ISO 1600 if you need in order to avoid graininess in your shots. (None was obvious when the images were viewed at up to about twenty five percent of full size.) The amount of noise reduction isn’t adjustable, as it has been more-sophisticated cameras such as for example DSLRs.

My close-up of chocolate boxes in a dark showcase was detailed enough showing the wood patterns on the shelf, and the blue text on labels looked true.

ISO 1600, f/3.4, 1/5 sec, Aperture Priority mode, pattern metering | Cherlynn Low
The SX530’s built-in flash didn’t overpower the picture, keeping my co-worker’s complexion and purple shirt accurate rather than overexposing elements of his face. Details, such as for example items on shelves in the backdrop, became clear aswell. One small nitpick: There isn’t any button to help make the flash pop up; you will need to lift it manually.

Credt: Cherlynn Low
In every of the conditions I shot, the SX530’s auto white balance proved adept at determining the proper color cast to use.

Zoom Performance: Close up and steady
I had lots of fun pretending I was Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper” (with less deadly intentions), because of the SX530’s powerful 50x (24 – 1200mm) zoom. Poised at the corner of the rooftop of our 12-story workplace, I narrowed in on unsuspecting passersby waiting to cross intersections a block away.

Pictures I shot at that distance were clear, and text such as for example “3-hour metered parking” on an indicator were tack sharp. At maximum zoom, though, I had to battle to stay still to get images which were not blurry. It had been understandably more challenging than by using a camera with a smaller zoom, including the 20x Panasonic Lumix ZS45.

(Image credit: Cherlynn Low)
With the camera’s Intelligent IS (image stabilization) technology, my shaky hands didn’t block the way of snapping sharp pictures with out a tripod. Canon packed a Framing Assist Lock feature in reducing camera shake on the telephoto end. You possess down the low button privately of the lens to activate the feature, and depress the shutter button to get started on concentrating on your subject. The camera will certainly reduce motion to avoid slight drifting and help to keep your subject in the heart of the frame. Although this did cause clearer pictures, it didn’t always work, and I still shot some blurry pictures with the feature on.

With the 50x optical zoom, I could get near passersby, but with the excess 50x digital zoom (in-camera cropping), I acquired within their faces – literally. From the same vantage point, I surreptitiously snapped several shots of folks walking next door. With the digital zoom, I got close enough to plainly see a man going for a sideways glance at a female next to him. Digital zoom reduced the resulting image’s quality to about 3.7MB, instead of the approximate 5.5MB without digital zoom, so there could be degradation in the image quality. Still, the pictures proved sharp enough for posting online.