For the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, the lens basically tells its whole story: a 50x zoom that goes from 24mm to 1,200mm.
That's an extraordinary range that is quite capable of pulling into frame something miles away and snapping a shot. Or capturing wildlife from afar. Or helping your neighbors find their car keys inside their house from inside your house. OK, that last one's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. And while you'll want to use a tripod for the sharpest results, Canon's optical image stabilization is excellent, allowing you to use the zoom with the camera held only in your hands.
Outside of the lens, though, its features and performance are just a little better than its predecessor, the SX40 HS, and slightly behind competing models. The extra zoom doesn't immediately make it a better camera, just one that gives you more focal-length choices. Plus, the lens' somewhat small maximum apertures and higher ISO photo quality don't make it a great choice for hand-held indoor or low-light pictures, especially of fast-moving kids and pets or sports.
Also, for those who like a lot of direct control over settings and like to change those settings frequently, the SX50's control design isn't the best; it's closer to a point-and-shoot than a digital SLR despite appearances.
Depending on how and for what you plan to use the camera, however, the above might seem like nitpicking and for many won't override the fact that the SX50 HS is a very good camera with an extremely long lens.
Photo quality from the SX50 HS is generally the same as it was from the SX40 HS, which is to say very-good-to-excellent for its class. Of course, a lot has to do with expectations. This is still a small-sensor camera, so you will not get digital-SLR-quality photos and noise and artifacts will probably stop you from using photos at 100 percent size even at its lowest ISO settings (macro photos being an exception). Overall, considering the reach of this camera's lens, most will be pretty pleased with its results up to ISO 400 at larger sizes onscreen and in prints.