Canon S120

Canon PowerShot S120 front
  • 12MP - 1/1.7" Sensor
  • 3" Fixed Screen
  • ISO 80 - 12800
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • 1920 x 1080 video
  • 24-120mm (F1.8-5.7) lens
  • 217g - 100 x 59 x 29mm
  • Launched November 2013
  • Succeeded the Canon S110
  • Read full specs
  • Alternatives
  • Size Comparison
  • FAQ

Canon S120 summary

Canon S120 is Canon's Small Sensor Compact digital camera first introduced on November of 2013. It uses a 12 MegaPixel, BSI-CMOS 1/1.7" size sensor with a max resolution of 4000 x 3000.

Canon released this model to update the earlier Canon S110 (Read Full Comparison)

The S120 is scored #11 out of 261 in Small Sensor Compact cameras and overall #525 out of 1465 for digital cameras in our database. You should check out our Smart camera filter to get camera rankings based on your personalized factors.

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Below is a diagram of various factors used in the rating system.

Canon S120 history

The Canon S120 comes with a history of related digital cameras. Down below, you can discover all previous and brand new models alongside main features.

ModelVisualizeLensResolutionSensor SizeReleased
Canon-PowerShot-S200 front thumbnailCanon S200
S120 vs S200
Canon-PowerShot-S120 front thumbnailCanon S12024-120mm
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Canon-PowerShot-S110 front thumbnailCanon S110
S120 vs S110
Canon-PowerShot-S100 front thumbnailCanon S100
S120 vs S100
Canon-PowerShot-S95 front thumbnailCanon S95
S120 vs S95
Canon-PowerShot-S90 front thumbnailCanon S90
S120 vs S90
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Canon S120 Pros and Cons

Here is a collection of advantages and disadvantages of the Canon S120 based on features that are usually considered useful in a digital camera.

boasts focus via touch
built-in flash
features face detection focus
features tracking autofocus
focusing manually
good max aperture (f1.8)
good minimum ISO (80)
good zoom range (24-120mm 5.0 x zoom)
has image stabilization (Optical)
high resolution screen (922 thousand dot)
includes HDMI support
pretty good screen size (3")
reasonably wide (24mm)
supports RAW formats
video resolution high (1920 x 1080 pixels)
cannot use external flash
does not have selfie friendly screen
fixed lens (fixed lens mount)
lack of phase detect auto focus
megapixel count low (12MP)
missing external microphone jack
missing headphone jack
more heavy than average (217g)
no articulating screen
sluggish at full zoom (f5.7)
tiny sensor size (1/1.7")
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Canon S120 Sensor features

The Canon S120 is powered by the Digic 6 processor chip. The sensor specification on the Canon S120 is 7.44mm x 5.58mm (1/1.7"). The 42 mm² sensor is able to capture 4000 x 3000 pixels with aspect ratios of 1:1, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9. The camera includes Image Stabilization (Optical). Optical stabilization is more effective than digital stabilization since the latter may produce cropping.

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The BSI-CMOS sensor boasts 12MP and supports a standard ISO range of 80 to 12800. RAW photos are supported so you have more room to maneuver in post.

The image below illustrates the S120's sensor size when compared to other popular sizes. The S120 sensor comes with a crop factor of 4.8 and is highlighted in green.

Canon PowerShot S120 sensor size Shutterstock and United Nations Host AI Image Challenge

To get a sense of different aspect ratios, you should refer to the graphic below.

Camera sensor aspect ratios

Canon S120 dimensions

Canon S120 weighs 0.48 lb (217 grams / 7.65 ounces) and features exterior measurements of 100mm x 59mm x 29mm (3.9" x 2.3" x 1.1"). The weight of typical Small Sensor Compact camera is 174 grams and the Canon S120 is more heavy compared to various competitors.

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Below is a photo of the Canon S120 with a softdrink so you can have a feel for its size.

Canon PowerShot S120 dimensions scale

The top view here will provide the button arrangement on the S120.

Canon PowerShot S120 topview buttons dials

Canon S120 Lens features

The S120 comes with a built-in lens giving a focal range of 24-120mm giving it a 5.0 x zoom which isn't significant nevertheless it could be handy in some circumstances.

At it's widest 24mm, it offers an aperture of f1.8 which will be awesome in low light circumstances and getting good bokeh. It would also enable you to go with a much lower ISO to produce more clean photos. On the long end, 120mm comes with f5.7 making it fairly sluggish and you will have to go with slower shutter speeds.

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Canon S120 Connectivity

The S120 has the following connectivity:

  • USB Yes
  • Wireless Yes
  • HDMI Yes
  • GPS Yes

Digital cameras which have NFC and / or Bluetooth connectivity can easily be used wirelessly via smartphones. You can easily send files and in some cases change settings without the hassle of connecting physically with the camera.

Certain apps also stream a Liveview and hit the shutter if you are not close to the camera. If the camera includes a HDMI out, it could be hooked up to an external display. A lot of cameras will allow you to charge the battery pack with the USB port.

OM System OM-1 Set to Enhance Autofocus

Canon S120 Video features

The max video resolution on the Canon S120 is 1920 x 1080 and it can save in MPEG-4 and H.264 file format. 1080p resolution provides a good balance in video quality and file size but 1080p will not leave you with much room to downsample. The body does not have a mic and / or headphone jack so you have zero control over your sound. It is probably best to get an alternative camera in case you need good sound in your videos.

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Canon S120 Weather Sealing

Canon S120 does not have environment proofing so wet conditions could ruin the camera.

Canon S120 Screen and Viewfinder

The Canon S120 houses a 3 inch fixed display with a resolution of 922 thousand dots.

Moreover the display is touch friendly so you will be able to adjust focus point and change settings with your fingers.

Canon PowerShot S120 screen and viewfinder European Users Can Now Disconnect Accounts to Comply with EU Regulations

The View Finder details regarding Canon S120 are the following:

  • ViewFinder None

Viewfinders can be rather helpful in bright outdoor situations which can easily make the camera screen washed out and very difficult to view.

Canon S120 Shutter features

Canon S120 continuous shooting speed is 12.0 fps. The maximum shutter speed is 1/2000 sec.

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Canon S120 Flash and Hot shoe features

Canon S120 includes just built-in flash with missing external flash support.

Canon S120 Autofocusing features

Canon S120 includes only Contrast Based Autofocus and doesn't have Phase Detect Autofocus. Phase Detection autofocusing is a lot more quicker & accurate compared to Contrast Based autofocusing. The camera boasts Face detection which makes it handy for portrait photography.

The AF system boasts 9 focus points to choose from. Canon S120 has touch to focus. You can use your fingers to switch where you focus. It also comes with Tracking Autofocus for moving objects. Canon S120 comes with manual focusing when needed in low light occasions or you want more exact focusing control.

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Canon S120 Battery life

The battery pack (NB-6LH) in the Canon S120 is designed to last for 230 images as per the CIPA specifications making it similar to its rivals. The usual Small Sensor Compact camera battery life is 241. Fujifilm X30 has got the maximum (470) battery life in this kind of cameras.

Following is a collection of Small Sensor Compact cameras which have the highest battery life:

Canon S120 for various categories of photography

The following diagram indicates a summary of the Canon S120 for various categories of photography. To find out more, visit the specific paragraph below.

Canon S120 Portrait photography advice

The Canon S120 gets a score of 42 which is really bad, and means the camera is not very good to use for portraits. Taking portrait images favors greatly towards sensor dimensions, RAW support together with the capability to utilize off-camera lighting.

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you can focus manually
features face detection autofocus
supports RAW files
cannot use external flash
low MP (12 megapixels)
very small sensor (1/1.7")

Canon S120 Street photography information

With a nice rating of 65, the Canon S120 is a fine fit to buy for street photography. A decent street photography camera offers a perfect balance of picture quality plus portability.

Shutterstock and United Nations Host AI Image Challenge
image stabilization (Optical)
exports RAW formats
comes with touch focus
no articulating screen
tiny sensor size (1/1.7")
heavier than competition (217 grams)

Canon S120 Sports photography details

A really bad sports photography rating of 39 indicates the Canon S120 is not very good for taking photos of sports. A camera really should have good autofocus plus continuous shooting for sports photography.

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image stabilization (Optical)
offers tracking autofocus
sensor resolution low (12MP)
sensor is small (1/1.7")
lack of phase detect auto focus

Travel photography with Canon S120

Size is very important in picking a camera for travel. All round, the Canon S120 gets a nice 67 for a travelling camera which makes it a good pick to purchase for your holidays.

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supports touch to focus
flash built-in
rather wide (24mm)
great max aperture (f1.8)
more heavy than competition (217 grams)
megapixel count low (12 megapixels)
screen is not selfie friendly

Landscape photography with Canon S120

For anyone who is planning to buy a camera for landscape photographs, the most important aspect will be image quality. The Canon S120 and it's decent rating of 57 for a landscape camera is somewhat adequate compared to its competition.

OM System OM-1 Set to Enhance Autofocus
focusing manually
decently wide (24mm)
very good max aperture (f1.8)
screen size is good (3 inch)
has image stabilization (Optical)
exports RAW formats
lens is fixed (fixed lens mount)
megapixel count low (12 megapixels)
very small sensor size (1/1.7")

Canon S120 Vlogging highlights

A camera for vlogging really should come with a articulating display screen, microphone port and ideally IBIS. Considering all things, the Canon S120 is not very good as a vlog camera as it comes to a really bad score of 35.

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relatively wide (24mm)
good maximum aperture (f1.8)
touchscreen enabled
has image stabilization (Optical)
has face detection autofocus
video res high (1920 x 1080 resolution)
does not contain selfie friendly display
lack of external mic jack
heavier than competition in class (217 grams)

Canon S120 Alternatives

If you are interested in replacements to the S120, here is a collection of the top ranked cameras that fall under the category of Small Sensor Compact.

The chart listed below offers you a summary of the S120 versus it's top scored rivals shown previously.

Here are a handful of other cameras you may look into as alternatives. To check out a extensive comparison, click the "compare" link.

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General Information
Model type
Canon PowerShot S120
Small Sensor Compact
Body design
Sensor Information
Sensor type
Digic 6
Sensor size
Sensor measurements
7.44 x 5.58mm
Sensor area
Sensor resolution
Anti alias filter
Aspect ratio
1:1, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9
Highest Possible resolution
4000 x 3000
RAW pictures
Maximum native ISO
Min native ISO
Manual focusing
AF touch
Continuous AF
AF single
AF tracking
Selective AF
Center weighted AF
AF multi area
AF live view
Face detection focusing
Contract detection focusing
Phase detection focusing
Total focus points
Lens mount type
fixed lens
Lens zoom range
24-120mm (5.0x)
Max aperture
Macro focusing range
Focal length multiplier
Range of screen
Fixed Type
Screen sizing
Resolution of screen
922 thousand dot
Selfie friendly
Touch operation
Screen tech
TFT PureColor II G Touch screen LCD
Viewfinder Information
DXO scores
DXO Overall rating
DXO Color Depth rating
DXO Dynamic range rating
DXO Low light rating
Min shutter speed
15 seconds
Max shutter speed
1/2000 seconds
Continuous shutter speed
Shutter priority
Aperture priority
Manually set exposure
Exposure compensation
Custom WB
Image stabilization
Integrated flash
Flash distance
7.00 m
Flash modes
Auto, on, slow synchro, off
Hot shoe
White balance bracketing
Multisegment exposure
Average exposure
Spot exposure
Partial exposure
AF area exposure
Center weighted exposure
Video features
Supported video resolutions
1920 x 1080 (60 or 30 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
Maximum video resolution
Video format
MPEG-4, H.264
Microphone input
Headphone input
USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Environmental seal
Water proofing
Dust proofing
Shock proofing
Crush proofing
Freeze proofing
217 gr (0.48 lbs)
Physical dimensions
100 x 59 x 29mm (3.9" x 2.3" x 1.1")
Battery life
230 photographs
Battery format
Battery Pack
Battery ID
Self timer
Yes (2 or 10 sec, Custom)
Time lapse shooting
Storage media
Storage slots
Launch price