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Canon PowerShot S120 Review

Cameras like the Canon Power Shot S120 are small and portable, and they have 12.1 megapixels and a 1/1.7-inch sensor size, making them excellent for taking snapshots “a high-sensitivity CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 6 image processor combine to produce high-quality still images and full HD 1080p video, with particularly good low-light performance and sensitivity ranging from ISO 80 to 12800 With the aid of the Canon HS SYSTEM, which combines the sensor and processor, it is possible to improve the image quality of photographs taken in low light by decreasing noise and increasing overall clarity.

Additionally, the processor provides a variety of speed-related advantages throughout the camera, including a maximum, sustained full-resolution continuous shooting rate of 9.4 frames per second for more than 600 shots and a High-Speed AF system that ensures sharpness under a variety of shooting conditions.

Using the built-in Canon 5x optical zoom lens, you can capture images with a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 24-120mm, which covers wide-angle to telephoto viewpoint ranges. Working in low-light circumstances is made easier with a maximum aperture of f/1.8-5.7. Shallow depth of field and selective focus photography methods are also made easier with this aperture.

Canon PowerShot S120

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The presence of Intelligent IS image stabilization, which automatically selects one of six different separate modes to assist minimize the appearance of camera wobble according to the shooting settings, is very beneficial while working in low-light conditions.

A big 3.0-inch display is required for live view monitoring, picture inspection, and menu navigation “Integrated into the design of the S120 is a 922k-dot touchscreen LCD monitor, which allows for intuitive navigation while still providing crystal-clear viewing. While using the touchscreen interface, you may make use of Touch AF as well as other touch-specific camera features, which are particularly useful while capturing video.

The touchscreen’s efficiency also facilitates the usage of the camera’s built-in wireless capabilities, which allow images captured by the camera to be instantaneously shared with mobile devices. Photos and videos may be transmitted to the smartphone using the free Canon CameraWindow app, which is available for Android and iOS devices. Photos and videos can then be shared directly online through the CANON iMAGE GATEWAY.

12.1-megapixel high-sensitivity CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 6 image processor were used in this camera.

When used together, the 12.1-megapixel, 1-1.7-inch CMOS sensor, and DIGIC 6 image processor generate high-resolution still images and full-HD video recording with outstanding low-light sensitivity and video quality. The combination of these two technologies results in the Canon HS SYSTEM, which has a maximum sensitivity of ISO 12800 with little noise and greater clarity, allowing for exceptionally remarkable picture creation in low-light circumstances.

As a result, the processor helps to improve overall performance throughout the camera, including High Speed AF and Manual Focus Peaking, as well as a top full-resolution continuous shooting rate of 12.1 frames per second for the first six images and a sustained shooting rate of 9.4 frames per second for more than 600 consecutive images, and 1080p video recording at 60 frames per second.

Canon Optical Zoom Lens with a 5x magnification

Built-in Canon 5x optical zoom lens gives a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 24-120mm, allowing you to capture images from wide-angle to telephoto viewpoints to fit a variety of shooting scenarios. Canon 5x optical zoom lens Working in low-light circumstances is made easier with a maximum aperture of f/1.8-5.7, which also allows for the production of selective focus and shallow depth of field images to be captured.

The incorporation of Intelligent IS image stabilization significantly improves the lens’s overall performance by allowing it to minimize the appearance of camera wobble by automatically selecting from six distinct optimum stabilization settings depending on the unique shooting circumstances. When working with the close-up subject matter, the Normal setting is ideal; the Panning setting detects when panning shots are being taken and does not compensate for lateral shake; the Macro (Hybrid) setting specifically corrects for shift-type shake that is common when working with the close-up subject matter, and the Dynamic mode is highly effective when working with video and wide-angle settings and helps to minimize common shake that occurs while walking or moving with the camera.

Full-HD video recording is available.

Full HD 1080p video recording is available at a frame rate of up to 60 frames per second, allowing for excellent quality, smooth representation of subjects, and the ability to record stereo sound. It is simple and straightforward to adjust the focus point, zoom, and replay while still in the camera using the touch AF control (Auto Focus).

Using the inbuilt HDMI connector, 60 fps movies may also be played back directly on an HDTV, and they are stored in the Internet-friendly MP4 format for faster online sharing and editing. In order to improve noise reduction and overall clarity when recording at 30 frames per second, the DIGIC 6 processor and Fine Movie Detail Processing work together.

Image Quality

The Superfine JPEG option at 12 megapixels was used to capture each of the sample photographs included in this study. This setting results in an image that is around 5 megabytes in size on average.

The Canon PowerShot S120 is capable of producing photographs of exceptionally high quality. At ISO 80–800, the photographs were captured without any noise; however, at ISO 1600, there was considerable noise and a minor loss of color saturation.

Even while ISO 3200 has more noticeable noise and a loss of color, it is still completely useable, and even ISO 6400 doesn’t suffer too severely. However, it is best to avoid using ISO 12800 because it has the highest possible speed.

Although there was a minor decrease in sharpness and an increase in noise at ISO 1600-12800 in comparison to the matching JPEGs, the RAW files were quite clean from an ISO range of 80 to 800.

The Canon PowerShot S120 handled chromatic aberrations competently, with very modest purple fringing effects seen in high-contrast conditions and typically at the frame’s borders. These effects appeared only when the contrast was quite high. At the 24mm wide-angle setting, the lens has a certain degree of barrel distortion, in addition to a general blurring of detail toward the corners of the frame.

Although there is significant vignetting at 24 millimeters, the built-in flash performed admirably inside, preventing red-eye and providing enough exposure overall. The night snapshot turned out wonderfully, and the maximum shutter speed of 15 seconds was more than adequate for the majority of the shots taken after dark.

When the camera is held by hand in low-light settings or when the telephoto end of the zoom range is being utilized, the image stabilization technology performs exceptionally well. The macro performance is rather strong, allowing you to focus on the topic from a distance as near as three centimeters.

The pictures came out of the Canon PowerShot S120 with the default sharpening setting. For the best results, you should perform additional sharpening in an application such as Adobe Photoshop; alternatively, you can change the setting in the camera itself. The images were a little soft when they were first taken with the camera.

Wireless connectivity

Integrated WiFi enables for direct, wireless transfer of photographs and videos to mobile devices and personal computers for immediate online sharing on social networking sites and cloud-based storage services. It is possible to speed up this procedure by using a simple workflow, and the free Canon CameraWindow software, which is available for iOS and Android smartphones, makes it possible to transfer control efficiently while also allowing for the addition of GPS tagging to captured photographs.

An improved Wi-Fi configuration also makes it easier to connect to wireless hot spots because the WEP Key is no longer required and wireless settings can be simply adjusted using a web browser. Additionally, Automatic Switching through the Image Sync function allows photographs to be immediately synced with any identified and linked PC within a chosen network, or images may be temporarily transmitted to the CANON iMAGE GATEWAY for subsequent transfer.

Battery Capacity

Battery life isn’t all that great.

Operating ModeNumber of Shots
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery,
(CIPA standard, LCD Monitor)

The CIPA rating for the Canon S120’s battery life is 230 shots per charge, which is an improvement over the S110’s rating of just 200 shots but is still below the industry standard. However, there is an ECO option that allows for the battery life to be increased to 300 photos by reducing the brightness of the LCD while it is not in use.

According to the CIPA battery life and/or manufacturer standard test circumstances, the number of photos that can be taken with the camera is listed in the table that can be found above. These shots can be taken with the rechargeable battery completely charged.

Canon PowerShot S120 Specs

Body typeCompact
Max resolution4000 x 3000
Other resolutions4000 x 3000, 4000 x 2248, 4000 x 2664, 2992 x 2992, 2816 x 2112, 2816 x 1880, 2816 x 1584, 2112 x 2112, 1920 x 1080, 1600 x 1200, 1600 x 1064, 1200 x 1200, 640 x 480, 640 x 424, 640 x 360, 480 x 480
Image ratio w:h1:1, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels12 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors13 megapixels
Sensor size1/1.7″ (7.44 x 5.58 mm)
Sensor typeBSI-CMOS
ProcessorDigic 6
ISOAuto, 80 – 12800
White balance presets7
Custom white balanceYes (2)
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsSuperfine, Fine
Focal length (equiv.)24–120 mm
Optical zoom
Maximum apertureF1.8–5.7
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Macro focus range3 cm (1.18″)
Number of focus points9
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots922,000
Touch screenYes
Screen typeTFT PureColor II G Touch screen LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/2000 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject / scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes
Flash range7.00 m
External flashNo
Flash modesAuto, on, slow synchro, off
Continuous drive12.1 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (60 or 30 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Videography notesMiniature Effect (720p, 480p) 6fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps; Super Slow Motion Movie (480p, 240p): 120, 240 fps; Star time-lapse movie (1080p): 15 fps
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
Storage includedNone
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini)
Wireless notesWireless LAN (IEEE802.11 b/g/n)
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-6LH rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)230
Weight (inc. batteries)217 g (0.48 lb / 7.65 oz)
Dimensions100 x 59 x 29 mm (3.94 x 2.32 x 1.14″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes (Star time-lapse movie)
GPS notesvia mobile (linked to compatible smartphone)


The Canon PowerShot S120 is a very minor upgrade of the S110 camera that was released the year before, mostly focusing on enhancing the camera’s speed and adding a few additional features and shooting modes to the camera’s already extensive arsenal.

While we like the quicker auto-focus and burst shooting speeds, and the slightly faster maximum aperture of f/1.8 helps in low-light settings, altogether, there is not much to entice owners of the S110 to switch to this new model. However, we do enjoy the faster burst shooting rates.

This updated model still does not have a practical handgrip, the battery life is still very alarming, GPS can only be accessed by linking it with a smartphone, and the price is still through the roof.

Image quality also remains excellent, which is a relief, with a perfectly usable ISO range of 80-1600 and a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture. However, this fast aperture is only available when the lens is set to the 24mm wide-angle setting, which makes the S120 very well-suited to hand-held photography in low light.

It is also possible to capture the blurred backgrounds and sharp subjects that are difficult for most compacts to accomplish, and the 5x zoom offers a longer reach than some competitors. However, this longer reach comes at the expense of a somewhat inevitable increase in the maximum aperture, which rises to a rather slow f/5.7 at 120mm. The frosting on the image cake is the ability to record full 1080p video at 60 frames per second with continuous auto-focusing, stereo sound, and full use of zoom.

The price of the S120 has been set at an eye-popping £449.00 / $449.99, which is an increase of £20 in the UK. This places it on a price par with the category-leading Sony Cyber-shot RX100, which has since been surpassed by the RX100 Mark II, although at a price point that is much higher.

We believe that the RX100, with its significantly bigger sensor, produces even better results than the S120, which is why we have selected it as our top pick in the “pocketable small camera for enthusiasts” segment of the market. This is despite the fact that Sony has made certain enhancements.

However, the new Canon PowerShot S120 continues to be one of the most compact premium compacts available, and it is also a superb camera; hence, it is still well worth considering in comparison to its primary competitors.

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Wi-Fi
  • Sharp lens
  • Continuous shooting at 10 frames per second
  • 1080p60 video
  • Unprocessed support
  • Compact
  • Large image sensor
Need Improvements
  • As you zoom in, the aperture gets smaller.
  • Limited zoom range
  • Expensive
  • There is no option for a hot shoe or EVF.

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