Canon S120 review

Pocket sized premium compact is packed with exciting features

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Canon has a lot more competition in the premium compact department than it previously had, so it seems to be pulling out all the stops to make its latest updates appealing to consumers.

We've been long time fans of the S range, and it seems like the improvements to the specifications have made it even better and a more worthy competitor to the very good Sony RX100 II.

Although it doesn't quite match the Sony in terms of image quality, it is smaller and available at a cheaper price point. It also has a touchscreen, so if you're a particular fan of those, it's also worth considering.

Image quality is excellent, especially in terms of low light performance thanks to that new Digic 6 processor. We're also particularly impressed by the fast continuous shooting speeds, which is very useful for shooting fast moving action.

The S120 perhaps represents a more complete package than its sibling camera the G16. It pairs the same sensor in a smaller body which is pocket friendly, while including enticing features such as Wi-Fi and a touchscreen. That said, if you're a traditionalist who prefers more buttons and dials to make changes, then the S120 may be just a little too sleek for you.

While it's good to see Canon keeping Wi-Fi on the S120, it's a shame that there's been no additional functions added since the S120, such as the ability to shoot remotely from a smartphone or tablet. That's something that's offered by other manufacturers, so it's a bit of a disappointment not to have it here. That said, the ability to share directly from the camera (admittedly once you've already set up a Canon Image Gateway account on a computer separately), is handy and quick if you're connected to a Wi-Fi network. The free Canon CW app is also useful for quickly grabbing shots from your camera if you need to share while you're out and about.

We liked

A nifty little performer, there's lots to like about the Canon S120, not least the excellent image quality. It's not quite on a par with the Sony RX100 II but it's not too far behind, which considering its smaller sensor is pretty impressive. It seems the Digic 6 processor is the key to high image quality here.

We disliked

It's about time Canon improved its digital filter offering, giving more choice and the ability to shoot with them while using raw format and keep full manual control. While it's nice to have a dedicated mode for filters, we can't help but feel like they could be more integrated into the camera for a better approach.

Final verdict

The premium compact camera market is a pretty crowded one now, but the S120 remains as one of the most solid performers you can buy. It's a good option for those who want top notch image quality along with something that fits snugly into a pocket. If you're not too bothered about lots of buttons and dials, this will also appeal to you.

If however, you'd prefer something a little chunkier, with a viewfinder, then have a look at the Powershot G16 if you want to stay firmly in the Canon camp. You may also want to consider the Panasonic LF1 and of course there's the oft referenced Sony RX100 II, if you have a larger budget to play with.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Wireless LANYes
Effective Camera Resolution12.1 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product FamilyPowerShot
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC UHS-I), Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC UHS-I)
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom5x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameCanon
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode, Live View, Orientation Sensor, Time Lapse Function, Smile Detection, Wink Detection, Face Detection
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4 AVC, MP4, MPEG-2, H.264
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)217 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE, RoHS, REACH, ErP
Image Sensor Size1/1.7" (7.60 mm x 5.70 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4000 x 3000
Display Screen TypeLCD
Country of OriginJapan
Height59 mm
Width100.2 mm
Depth29 mm
Focal Length5.20 mm to 26 mm
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
External FlashNo
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerCanon, Inc
Product ModelS120
Product NamePowerShot S120 Compact Camera
Product LinePowerShot
Exposure Control
  • Program AE
  • Shutter Priority AE
  • Aperture Priority AE
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part Number8407B012AA
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing InformationCanon PowerShot S120
Fast, connected, expert performance in your pocket

With a bright f/1.8 lens, HS system, fast continuous shooting up to 9.4fps*, refined ergonomics and Wi-Fi the PowerShot S120 puts superior performance in the pocket of serious photographers.

Package Contents
  • PowerShot S120 Compact Camera
  • Wrist Strap - WS-D11
  • Battery Pack NB-6LH
  • Battery Charger CB-2LYE
  • AC Cable
  • User Manual Kit
Limited Warranty1 Year