By Kayla Sargent and Alisun Dellimore

The Canon SX50, Nikon P520, and Sony HX300 are high end DSLR’s that boast large optical zoom lenses. We decided to run them against each other in an epic “zoom off” at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn. Read our thoughts on each camera below, and look at the photos and video we took to decide which zoom is the best for you!

First off, The Canon SX50!


The Canon Sx50 was really fun to use. The auto focus was fast and accurate, even when extended to its full 50x zoom.  A major pitfall for many cameras is that their auto focus ceases to work as the camera zooms in closer. As you can see from the photos of the peacock, not only is the Sx50 focused, but also keeps a lot of definition and detail. It’s  ISO of up to 6,400 probably helps out with the focusing, as well as taking great quality photos in low light. The video is 1080 full HD, and though we were standing in the back of the room we could capture details on the baboon’s hands and fur. At the end of the video we put in a sample of the photos taken using the burst shooting mode (13 fps). Overall, big thumbs up for the SX50!

Next up, The Nikon P520!


The Nikon P520 was sleek and light and its 3.2 inch high resolution LCD screen which flips out and rotates made it really easy to take pictures and see exactly what we were capturing. It had a harder time focusing, especially in low light due to its ISO of 3,200, but with a lot of natural light, like the photos of the kissing prairie dogs or video (1080HD) of the otter, it performed wonderfully, albeit a little slowly. Though we were not impressed by the P520 overall, we still got some beautiful photos and video, and given more time and instruction to play around with the settings, we think the ease of shooting could be brought up to match its ergonomic design.

And last but not least, the Sony HX300!


The HX300 was also very easy and fun to use.  With a maximum ISO of 12,800 and aperture that goes to f/2.8, it can focus easily in dim situations. The HX300 has a comparable zoom capability to the Sx50. As you look at the photos and video of the baboons and sea lions, you can see that it keeps focus and definition even when maxed out at 50x. It can snap up to 10 fps in burst shooting mode, but it needs about thirty seconds to process them.  So, if you push the button too early you could end up watching the bulk of the action as the camera processes the mistimed photos you just took.  The HX300 also has the ability to take a 30 second exposure, and it has in-camera HDR capability, both of which open a lot of doors for creativity. Overall we were really impressed by the quality of the HX300 and would definitely take it on another zoo (or actual wildlife) adventure.


1. We did not use a tripod for any of the photos or videos in this post. A tripod would surely increase the quality and focus of each of these cameras. However, not wanting to get in the way of zoo patrons and hordes of excited school groups, we left our sticks at the office.

2. All cameras are on auto settings unless otherwise noted.

3. We used only the optical zoom on the cameras, no digital zoom. Optical zoom is when the lens physically extends to get a closer picture, while digital zoom is simply cropping and enlarging a portion of the photo in order to get closer, and decreases the overall quality of the picture.


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