Canon SX50 vs Olympus E-M5
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and February 2012. The SX50 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-M5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX50) and a Four Thirds (E-M5) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Olympus OM-D E-M5? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon SX50 and the Olympus E-M5. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-M5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the SX50 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M5 is somewhat larger (1 percent) than the Canon SX50. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-M5 is splash and dust-proof, while the SX50 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX50 has a lens built in, whereas the E-M5 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-M5 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|3.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|4.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|5.||Canon S120||100 mm||59 mm||29 mm||217 g||230||n||Aug 2013||449|
|6.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799|
|7.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499|
|8.||Canon SX40||123 mm||92 mm||108 mm||600 g||380||n||Sep 2011||429|
|9.||Canon SX30||123 mm||92 mm||108 mm||601 g||370||n||Sep 2010||429|
|10.||Canon SX20||123 mm||88 mm||87 mm||600 g||..||n||Aug 2009||399|
|11.||Canon SX10||123 mm||88 mm||87 mm||600 g||..||n||Sep 2008||399|
|12.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|13.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|14.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|15.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|16.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|17.||Panasonic FZ150||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||528 g||410||n||Aug 2011||499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SX50 was launched at a lower price than the E-M5, despite having a lens built in. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX50 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Olympus E-M5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M5 is 704 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
With 15.9MP, the E-M5 offers a higher resolution than the SX50 (12MP), but the E-M5 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 1.53μm for the SX50) due to its larger sensor. However, the SX50 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the E-M5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-M5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-M5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX50 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-M5 offers substantially better image quality than the SX50 (overall score 24 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.5 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|2.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|6.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
|12.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|13.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|14.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|15.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|16.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the E-M5 provides a faster frame rate than the SX50. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the E-M5 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the SX50 (1440k vs 202k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX50, the Olympus E-M5, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon SX50||202||n||3.0 / 461||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.2||Y||Y|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||1440||n||3.0 / 610||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||n||Y|
|3.||Canon SX60||922||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/2000s||6.4||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G16||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon S120||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||Y||1/2000s||12.1||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon G15||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.1||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon SX40||202||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/3200s||10.3||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon SX30||202||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/3200s||0.6||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon SX20||202||n||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/3200s||0.7||Y||Y|
|11.||Canon SX10||202||n||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/3200s||0.7||Y||Y|
|12.||Olympus PEN-F||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|13.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-M1||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Panasonic GX7||2760||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/8000s||5.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Panasonic FZ150||202||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX50 has one, while the E-M5 does not. While the built-in flash of the SX50 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The SX50 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the E-M5 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX50 and the E-M5 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-M5 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the SX50 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and Olympus OM-D E-M5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon SX50||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon SX60||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon G16||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|5.||Canon S120||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon G15||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon SX40||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||YES||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon SX30||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||YES||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon SX20||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||YES||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon SX10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Olympus PEN-F||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-M1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic GX7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Panasonic FZ150||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the SX50 and the E-M5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-M5 was replaced by the Olympus E-M5 II, while the SX50 was followed by the Canon SX60. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX50 or the Olympus E-M5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS:
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-M5 requires a separate lens.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 7 months after the E-M5).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 15%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (24 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.2 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/24p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (1440k vs 202k dots).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (610k vs 461k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 2.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (360 versus 315) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2012).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M5 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 6 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX50 and the Olympus E-M5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX50 and the E-M5 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|3.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|4.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|5.||Canon S120||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||449|
|6.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799|
|7.||Canon G15||4/5||+||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|8.||Canon SX40||..||+||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2011||429|
|9.||Canon SX30||3/5||+ +||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Sep 2010||429|
|10.||Canon SX20||..||+ +||..||73/100||..||4/5||Aug 2009||399|
|11.||Canon SX10||..||+ +||..||..||..||4/5||Sep 2008||399|
|12.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|13.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||4.5/5||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|14.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|15.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|16.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||..||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|17.||Panasonic FZ150||3/5||+ +||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon G3 X vs Canon SX50
- Canon SX50 vs Nikon 1 V2
- Canon SX50 vs Olympus E-PL8
- Canon SX50 vs Panasonic FZ2500
- Canon SX50 vs Panasonic LF1
- Canon SX50 vs Sony NEX-3N
- Fujifilm X100T vs Olympus E-M5
- Leica M9 vs Olympus E-M5
- Leica T vs Olympus E-M5
- Olympus E-M5 vs Panasonic GF1
- Olympus E-M5 vs Panasonic TZ200
- Olympus E-M5 vs Sony HX350
Specifications: Canon SX50 vs Olympus E-M5
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon SX50||Olympus E-M5|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||February 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 429||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX50||Olympus E-M5|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.53 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||42.74 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/24p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||47||71|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.3||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.2||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||179||826|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX50||Olympus E-M5|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||202k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||610k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX50||Olympus E-M5|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2.2 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX50||Olympus E-M5|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon SX50||Olympus E-M5|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||315 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
123 x 87 x 106 mm
(4.8 x 3.4 x 4.2 in)
122 x 89 x 43 mm
(4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||595 g (21.0 oz)||425 g (15.0 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.