Canon SX50 vs Panasonic GF1
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2012 and September 2009. The SX50 is a fixed lens compact, while the GF1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX50) and a Four Thirds (GF1) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12 megapixels.
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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon SX50 and the Panasonic GF1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF1 is notably smaller (21 percent) than the Canon SX50. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX50 nor the GF1 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX50 has a lens built in, whereas the GF1 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 GF1 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.||Panasonic GF1||119 mm||71 mm||36 mm||385 g||380||n||Sep 2009||749|
|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.||Panasonic FZ150||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||528 g||410||n||Aug 2011||499|
|13.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|14.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|15.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic GH1||124 mm||90 mm||45 mm||385 g||300||n||Mar 2009||899|
|17.||Panasonic G1||124 mm||84 mm||45 mm||360 g||410||n||Sep 2008||599|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The SX50 was launched at a lower price than the GF1, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 Panasonic GF1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF1 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.
Even though the GF1 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 12 megapixels. This implies that the GF1 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 4.33μm versus 1.53μm for the SX50), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the SX50 is much more recent (by 3 years) than the GF1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the GF1 has a markedly higher DXO score than the SX50 (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|2.||Panasonic GF1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||513||54|
|6.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
|13.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|14.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|15.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|16.||Panasonic GH1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||21.6||11.6||772||64|
|17.||Panasonic G1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||none||21.1||10.3||463||53|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the SX50 provides a higher video resolution than the GF1. It can shoot video footage at 1080/24p, while the Panasonic is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the SX50 has an electronic viewfinder (202k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GF1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX50, the Panasonic GF1, and comparable cameras.
|6.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0||922||Swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y|
The SX50 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the GF1 uses SDHC 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|6.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the SX50 and the GF1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF1 was replaced by the Panasonic DMC-GF2, 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 Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon SX50 better than the Panasonic GF1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS:
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/24p vs 720/30p).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- 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 GF1 requires a separate lens.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the GF1 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- More compact: Is smaller (119x71mm vs 123x87mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (380 versus 315) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2009).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SX50 comes out slightly ahead of the GF1 (9 : 8 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 Panasonic GF1 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SX50 or the GF1. 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 why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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.||Panasonic GF1||..||85/100||69/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||749|
|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.||Panasonic FZ150||3/5||+ +||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||499|
|13.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|14.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|15.||Panasonic G2||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic GH1||..||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||899|
|17.||Panasonic G1||..||+ +||70/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2008||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu 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.
Specifications: Canon SX50 vs Panasonic GF1
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||Panasonic GF1|
|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||September 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 429||USD 749|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX50||Panasonic GF1|
|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||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.53 μm||4.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||42.74 MP/cm2||5.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/24p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5||Venus HD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||47||54|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.3||21.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.2||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||179||513|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX50||Panasonic GF1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||202k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX50||Panasonic GF1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2.2 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX50||Panasonic GF1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon SX50||Panasonic GF1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||315 shots per charge||380 shots per charge|
123 x 87 x 106 mm
(4.8 x 3.4 x 4.2 in)
119 x 71 x 36 mm
(4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||595 g (21.0 oz)||385 g (13.6 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.