A few years ago, Canon gave the world one of the best superzoom cameras ever assembled. The PowerShot SX50 HS continues to be an excellent camera, making our best-of list a few years in a row, as recently as 2013. Balancing 50x optical zoom and image quality is a tall order, and we've seen some competing superzooms all but fall flat on their faces in comparison.
For 2015, Canon is bringing 50x zoom downmarket just a tad, introducing the new SX530 HS (MSRP $429.99). The problem? Sibling rivalry. Even though this new model is lower on the totem pole, it'll go on sale at exactly the same MSRP as the SX50.
Design & Usability
Rebel-style grip, not much else.
These days, it takes a lot to get us to sit up and notice a camera. Between all the tilting screens, high-res EVFs, and other modern niceties you can get, it's difficult for a lot of the low-end models to stand out. Canon's kept it simple with the SX530 HS, going without an EVF or any kind of tilt screen, and we think that's a mistake. Since this PowerShot is coming out at the same price as the much better equipped SX50, there's nothing that makes it stand out from a design standpoint.
We'll give the SX530 this much: It has a great little grip. Covered in sticky rubber, this deep grip keeps the SX530 in your right hand without having to hold on for dear life. The easily accessible shutter button is surrounded by a zoom control that feels about right for the price, especially considering zoom is this camera's raison d'être.
The SX530 HS gives users just enough control so that they can dip their toes into the photographic possibilities on tap. A big, easy-to-turn control dial on the top sits just aft of the shutter button, and it's great for EV comp control or using one of the camera's priority modes.
Opposite the SX530's grip is the new NFC touch target. "NFC!" is Canon's rallying cry this year, and the company has added the wireless technology to much of its PowerShot lineup. A dedicated button on the back of the camera activates WiFi and makes image transfers to a phone pretty straightforward. The rest of the controls along the rear of the camera are all pretty standard for a PowerShot—you'll find a round d-pad which has flash, macro, display, and ISO shortcuts on it.
NFC and WiFi make this stand out.
In 2014, we saw many of Canon's competitors add WiFi to their cameras. Some even sported NFC, which is a special wireless standard that lets certain phone users (mostly Android and Windows) pair their devices with a quick tap. It's a nice little feature, and Canon is betting big on it helping its PowerShots stand out. Canon's implementation also ties into the company's new Connect Station image storage system. Using nothing but NFC, users can transfer their photos to Connect Station CS100 and enjoy them on a big-screen TV.
The SX530 also has some improvements in the video department. Even though it has a lower-rated processor in Canon's nomenclature (only marked as a Digic 4+), it can shoot in full-HD at 30 frames per second. The SX50 was limited to 1080/24p, which isn't quite as desirable for regular people capturing family events and special occasions.
Behind all those lens elements, the SX530 has a slightly different sensor. Strangely enough, the SX530 has a 16-megapixel sensor, whereas the SX50 packs a 12-megapixel sensor. Until we get the camera into our labs, we won't be sure if the dueling sensors change performance in any meaningful way, but it's a spec difference that deserves to be pointed out.
Promising, but at a worrisome price.
When we were introduced to the PowerShot SX530 HS, we were impressed that Canon had brought the SX50's vaunted 50x zoom into a low-end camera. Imagine our disappointment when we started to look at how the two 50x cameras compare, expecially when it comes down to how much you're paying. With the more flexible, time-tested SX50 dipping down to an extremely reasonable $350 on Amazon and other retailers' sites right now, it's hard to give the SX530 a second look.
Granted, the SX50 lacks WiFi and NFC, which might mean something to some shoppers. But, we'd rather have the flexible, articulated screen that the SX50 sports and pocket the difference in price. Then again, Canon might have an even better high-end superzoom in the works that'll replace the SX50. We'll reserve our full judgement for when we can really put the SX530 through its paces in our labs and out in the field.