Canon PowerShot SX120 IS Review

October 19, 2009 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 black white

Great camera, light it has 10 MegaPixels.

6:19 pm - Monday, October 19, 2009

#2 andy

Currently one of the best point and shoot camera on a most reasonable price, other high end point and shoots are expensive

5:45 am - Tuesday, October 20, 2009

#3 cables

It is a good camera, as a powershot S1, S2, and S5 ex-user, I bought it because of its portability. I love the powershot S series ultra-zoom cameras, but now I want a smaller camera. But keep in mind, in this case, smaller the size, fewer the features. So this review is directed to S-series users that look for ultra-zoom portability.

6:25 am - Thursday, October 22, 2009

#4 Jon

Great photo quality. A lot of flexibility. The auto mode works well, however using the scene options or even the manual modes produce even crisper pictures. The zoom is fantastic and the automatic image stabilization allows taking pictures without flash in low light situations.

Keep the ISO at 400 or less, pictures begin to show grain above that level. Using the flash does produce some yellowing in some scene selections. Experiment that is the fun of the camera.

12:55 pm - Sunday, October 25, 2009

#5 MarK

Sample Movie not found. Fix it

11:58 pm - Monday, October 26, 2009

#6 Jasmine J

Overall a very good P/S. The only drawback is that you need a tripod for low light shots with extreme zoom. (e.g. Concert hall) The manual flash is excellent. It does not get in the way.

4:00 pm - Saturday, November 21, 2009

#7 Anand Charpe

the cmera quality is not so good specialy the macro mode. but it takes a long time to chrge the flash. there is a lot of yellow tone (that is quit noticable) in almost all photos. most of the time it is also suffering the colour shift. 590is was much more better regarding photo quality and that too in a half price. better avoid this if you are not interested in manual mode and AA batries(for what i have purchased this)

8:56 am - Tuesday, December 22, 2009

#8 Anand Charpe

There was a mistake in my previous comment due to cut & paste. The cmera quality is not so good except the macro mode. It takes a long time to chrge the flash. There is a lot of yellow tone (that is quit noticable) in almost all photos. Most of the time it is also suffering the colour shift. 590is was much more better regarding photo quality and that too in a half price. Better avoid this if you are not interested in manual mode and AA batries(for what i have purchased this)

can any body help me to fix the yellow tone/colour shift found in pictures.

9:00 am - Tuesday, December 22, 2009

#9 Peter Weston

Anand..I’ve looked at the sample images and they seem really neutral…are you sure you’re using the correct white balance setting. Also unless your monitor is calibrated you can’t trust the colours to be correct.

9:49 pm - Wednesday, December 23, 2009

#10 Anand Charpe

thanks peter.
the camera takes nice pictures if i manupulate setings (in P mode). What i was saying is that it should take nice pictures in Auto mode also as other brands are doing. even canon 590 is taking excelent pictures with bright and natural coloures and with a very good skin tones.

8:44 am - Thursday, December 24, 2009

#11 paul foulkes

We are not camera techies by any stretch of the imagination.  We have an early Pentax Optio with 3 pixels and are looking to upgrade.  I saw the SX 120 camera at Staples and with the large screen, I liked what I saw. Is this camera a good one for people that just want to take pictures and save them to My Pics folder?

10:47 pm - Thursday, January 14, 2010

#12 Anand Charpe

paul, the camera offers much more than what you expect. So, if you want that much only, you can also try A480 (in almost 1/3 price) or fuji film J120 or panasonic L85.

7:59 am - Saturday, January 16, 2010

#13 jarda

Link to sample movie doesn’t work. Please fix it.

10:36 am - Monday, February 8, 2010

#14 norman

is this camera suitable or at least meet the minimum quality for stock photos?just like shutterstock?

3:10 pm - Friday, March 5, 2010

#15 Terry

Can anyone tell me how to change the in-camera sharpening level as suggested in this review? I can’t seem to find anything in the camera menus or the disc that came with the camera regarding sharpening.

9:26 pm - Saturday, March 13, 2010

#16 Terry

Oops,found it!

10:04 pm - Saturday, March 13, 2010

#17 GeekStyle59

Where did you find the sharpening setting—I still can’t find it and I thought I’ve looked everywhere on all settings.

12:01 pm - Sunday, March 21, 2010

#18 Terry

The sharpening setting is in the “Custom Colour” of the on screen menu;the last one.

1:27 pm - Sunday, March 21, 2010

#19 GeekStyle59

Thanks so much!!!

2:37 pm - Sunday, March 21, 2010

#20 Nicolas

I have one question for SX120 IS owners, when you turn off camera, lens moves back like always, but sometimes it moves very slowly, like it is going to jam, although never jams and moves till the end. So is it normal for this camera, does this happen to you? Thank you.

2:34 pm - Friday, April 9, 2010

#21 Terry

I have not noticed this.

11:41 pm - Friday, April 9, 2010

#22 Nicolaos

Ok it was my mistake, this happens only when I turn off camera while zoomed in… I guess camera takes some time to zoom out.

7:03 pm - Saturday, April 10, 2010

#23 Soney

This camera is definitely worth it’s price. It has everything you need, 10x optical zoom with Image Stabilization, 10 MPix CCD sensor and many functions from it’s predecessor Canon PowerShot SX110IS. I have own both cameras. I tested both too and I’m badly suprised that Powershot SX120IS doesn’t stand the picture quality which the earliest version of it does. I don’t like DIGIC4 processor, which seems to be over-automated in AUTO mode. It does everything for you and I don’t like this everything because it doesn’t do it well in low light situations where a lot of noise appears on the picture. In previous version (SX110IS), you had older DIGIC3 processor but you were able to change ISO level in AUTO between two modes LOW and HIGH which allows you adjust noise level in low light situations. You don’t always wan’t to take some picture at ISO800 where there’s still enough light to do it at ISO200. The only one effect you will have at ISO800 is lost of quality. Unfortunately, DIGIC4 loves to set up high ISO values and mess with your pictures. The noise reduction function doesn’t stand this problem and the noise is still well visible in pictures when fully magnified. The next thing about Digic4 is that it appears it knows how to focus better than the owner which makes some blurry areas in the final effect. I don’t like in Powershot SX120IS the fact it doesn’t have anymore Superfine picture quality. I have checked on both cameras the file size in FINE and SUPERfine mode in SX110Is and the file size of picture taken is approximately 2,5MB JPEG for SX120IS and 4,5MB JPEG for SX110IS - the pictures were taken at the same ISO level, light and landscape conditions. This high level of compression must do something with quality and yes it does. In SX120IS we can see lack of some warm colors. For example RED doesn’t look like RED , it’s closer to PINK. I don’t like it.

In my opinion: SX110IS is better camera with older DIGIC3 processor and 9MPix CCD which allows you to set up Macro,ISO and Focus in AUTO mode. SX120IS doesn’t allow you to do that. It’s sad and it makes this camera useless in Auto mode… Superfine mode is available only in SX110IS and it appears to offer better quality of compression - bigger file means more details in the picture. SX120IS offers only Fine level of Pictures which means smaller file and less details even you have 10MPix in it. DIGIC3 offers more manual control insted of DIGIC4 which means better quality of pictures in many situations.

Canon Powershot SX110IS looks a little better in quality and control if we compare it to PowerShot SX120IS which is a big suprise. The newer version of camera should be better than the older one. Why SX120IS is a little worse that it’s predecessor, I don’t know.

12:34 pm - Tuesday, April 13, 2010

#24 karan

seems to be nice camera ,Terry still i couldnt find the custom colour.In which mode this appear??

11:39 am - Sunday, April 25, 2010

#25 Terry

With the camera in any mode except the two Autos,push the func/set button and the custom colour will be the second one down.

11:57 am - Sunday, April 25, 2010

#26 Don

Ok so it uses up alkaline batteries fast—who but a half wit would use them? Use rechargeable ones. You should have run a time test with some decent ones. It makes battery life sound so so negative. Me, I love AA use. I use Duracell 2650 mAh and they last absolutely ages, are very cheap to buy with some sellers on amazon, who also offer free postage.

        To be honest I cannot understand you even mentioning them in the review as they are so outdated for use in cameras. The Americans would have eaten up arrows in Iraq, those days are over too.

6:08 pm - Wednesday, May 5, 2010

#27 Don

You state in review that competitors are more expensive but do offer more bang for the buck. I take it that in English means That you get better value for money!  Like what? The Panasonic does not offer ap. priority nor shutter priority, nor can you do custom colours to any degree, you cannot alter the in-camera sharpening at all. This camera is packed with features that you neglect to make a deal over. You have more control over this camera than any other compact.

1:14 am - Thursday, May 20, 2010

#28 kayen


I want to know did this camera have a manual macro focus?

Thank you!

8:25 pm - Saturday, May 22, 2010

#29 Guilherme

Hello, I’m in doubt between PoerShot Canon SX120 IS and the Fujifilm FinePix S1600. What should I acquire from the two?

10:09 pm - Tuesday, May 25, 2010

#30 sudha

I just got a Sony H55. I find it much better than my Canon SX120.

11:04 am - Tuesday, June 1, 2010

#31 karan

Hi, sudha,
In what way the sony is better??

1:33 pm - Thursday, June 3, 2010

#32 Fred

which one has more quality or is better to take:Nikon coolpix l110 or this canon SX120?
guide me plz.

11:57 pm - Thursday, June 3, 2010

#33 Sudha

Hey Karan,
The shots are crisp and realistic. Lots of automatic settings too. Even an Amateur can fire brilliant shots. You must try the Sweep Panaroma too in the Sony. Then why not try Sony????

8:51 am - Sunday, June 13, 2010

#34 Cecil Tweet

I see it’s “main rivals” are all in the region of 70% more expensive. So they are offering “more bang for more bucks”, as should be the case.
This sugests to me that this camera is performing quite a bit over it’s price point. And as such seems an excellent bargain.

4:41 pm - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

#35 Cecil Tweet

Sorry, I know, two “g"s in suggests.

4:43 pm - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

#36 LIZA

My bother in law has a coolpix camera and he can easily crop a picture and save it. He takes the picture, crops it , then saves it. 

I own a Canon PowerShot SX 120 is…. can I crop pictures with this camera?

3:08 am - Saturday, July 31, 2010

#37 Don

You make me wonder if you have done a review, or listened to someone else. Or I have a very special model. Mine will zoom in video mode, mine also has sound, you state it has none in video,, course it does, what do you think the mike is for on the front? It will not play sound in playback, presumably adding a speaker would have increased cost too much. It will of course play sound when downloaded. You loose credibility when you make basic mistakes such as you have. The zoom function is very good as very little noise is picked up, try it, then do a proper review please, cheers.

12:46 pm - Thursday, August 19, 2010

#38 Tejinder

Hello everybody,

Hi, I am Tejinder Singh from Mumbai. I have never ever owned a camera before, but now I am planning to get one soon. My budget is around 13 K’s and the ones which i have set my eyes “ON” are Canon SX120IS,Fuji FinePix S1500 & Nikon CoolPix L110, Which one would you suggest ?? Also, if there are some other ones, please let me know.

Best Regards

Tejinder Singh

8:46 am - Friday, August 20, 2010

#39 Theone

I have a Canon Powershot SX120IS…ive read the manual but still do not know what the “CR1220” is that is displayed on the side of the camera. I know its a battery but for what? How do I know when this battery needs replaced? Keep running into corners on what this means?

9:50 pm - Friday, September 10, 2010

#40 Terry

It’s the battery for the date/time functions.

12:07 am - Saturday, September 11, 2010

#41 Frodo

To say this camera “handled chromatic aberrations well with just some limited purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations” is kind of funny considering the provided sample images… There’s hardly any picture that does not show heavy fringes on the edges! Picture quality is far from great.

6:06 pm - Friday, September 24, 2010

#42 shamik

which camera is better canon sx 120 / sony H55/ nikon coolpix s8000?
how’s the quality of video in cannon sx 120?

4:45 pm - Thursday, September 30, 2010

#43 Alisha

Canon always making great quality cameras. If any drawback with any version, it always improve or replace that. Canon PowerShot SX120 is a 1/2.5in CCD sensor with 10 mega pixels. JPEG images can shoot with two levels of compression is normal and fine. Its flash quality and picture quality is good and another its shutter speed 1/2500 sec range.

12:31 pm - Friday, October 1, 2010

#44 prashant

i just purchased canon sx120, and it is awesome ...all the good features in low price and the image quality is good while zooming also,and about looks its nice
overall its gud one.

9:37 pm - Sunday, November 14, 2010

#45 Odee

Canon SX120IS is a GREAT camera, or at least my SX120 is. i dunno what issues others are encountering, but mine is just fine. picture quality is very good. Zooming in and out is kinda slow, but i can wait. For its price, i can’t complain much. you always have the choice to get BETTER CAMERAS at HIGHER PRICES. sx120 is already a marvelous gadget.

For snapshooters, if you don’t have any plans of learning the M, Av and Tv mode, go for a smaller and lighter camera. SX120 is packed with features but don’t buy it if you’re not going to use them.

I’m an amateur photographer and this is an ideal compact partner for my DSLR.

8:08 am - Saturday, January 1, 2011

#46 Chris

I just picked up one at future shop for a sweet price of $149.99 (boxing week sale).  I was either going to use it as a sidekick for a better DSLR that I plan to get and a replacement to my A80, or give it to my daughter.

But I must say I’m blown away with the macro on this camera and the pictures are great.  The camera is a little on the big side for a pocket camera but the price was right.  Can’t go wrong here, now if you’re nitpicking on image quality there’s more expensive models to choose from like the Canon Rebel XT which is quite good and much better than the Panason DMC FZ30.  However if you are looking for a backup camera the SX120-IS is probably one of your best choices.

1:47 am - Sunday, January 2, 2011

#47 Maggi

Hi - I’ve just bought the SX120 IS in the Jan sales for £100 and am just getting around all the functions, and am very inexperienced having just ditched my “manual” camera.  Could anyone please tell me if this model as a time delay facility please as I’m finding everything on the camera quite difficult to get my head round. If anyone replies I’m really grateful. Thanks very much.

7:49 pm - Tuesday, January 4, 2011

#48 Karunakaran

HI Maggi,
this is quite good camera.
please go through the user manual in the cd, along wth with camera. and each pointplease chek with it. it will be very useful.
i was also like you.This is a very very good camera.Very good quality images. colours ar too slr. the macro facility is tood good.
Have a nice experience with it.

5:22 pm - Wednesday, January 5, 2011

#49 prashant

can ny 1 tell me how to take picture of fast moving things????
like water dripping, moving vehicle n all dat….
please i’ll b thankfull 2 him/her
n please tell me ny intrstng thing abt dis camera….

7:22 pm - Wednesday, January 5, 2011

#50 Odee

@ Prashant

well what do you like to achieve with fast-moving things? do you want them to stop in motion or do you want to have that blur effect?

you can creatively do both by setting it in M or Tv if you already know the concept about aperture-shutterspeed relations. :)

12:55 am - Thursday, January 6, 2011

#51 prashant

yes i do want to have blur effect…
n please do tell me about the relation between aperture and shutterspeed because m new in this world of photography….
i’ll b thankful 2 u odee.

8:11 am - Thursday, January 6, 2011

#52 samuel

how r u

4:07 pm - Friday, July 15, 2011

#53 Suman

I’m new to photography and am keen on learning bout it. I wanted to click some portraits pictures with this camera with blurry background with seetings of f2.8 shutterspeed of 1/400 (ISSO settings varied from 400-1600) but i just can’t get the blurry effect.
Also I would like to know about the importance of Focu… likwe as in Spot, Center weighted average and evaluative..And how i could use them to get good pictures ..

10:12 am - Friday, September 2, 2011

#54 Alex

This message is in response to Soney concerning the quality of the SX110IS to the SX120IS (or any other recent Canon P&S recently made.) The SX110IS is EVEN better than the Sony RX100 for $648! The camera takes VERY SHARP photos and doesn’t use smearing noise reduction like the DIGIC4/5 of the newest Canon’s (S100/SX40/SX130, etc….) Heck, my A570 from 2007 (Again, DIGIC 3) takes better photos than the S100/SX40/SX130. What a shame; Canon made really great camera’s, but they seem to only care ever since then to win the race to the bottom with quality and sharpness ever since the SX110IS (even on ebay and amazon, the SX110IS holds it’s value really well.) Thanks to the samples on this site, just compare the IQ of the SX110IS to the SX120IS or any other camera in a P&S category for sharpness and noise, and the SX110IS will clearly be the winner. Mr. Joe Adachi, WAKE UP and LISTEN to your customers while you still have the remaining naive few.

2:21 pm - Wednesday, September 5, 2012

#55 Stephen BACH

We have a POWERSHOT 120SX IS. It takes marvelous photos, but it eats rechargable batteries in no time (10 minutes). We use VARTA 2700 MaH. After the message “changer les piles” we have noticed that the batteries are very warm. The dealer says it’s norman. I wonder?

11:57 am - Monday, July 1, 2013

#56 Sammy

@Stephen Bach, I had the same problem with the Canon SX100, but it’s gone away when I started using Sanyo Eneloops which I highly recommend.

7:01 pm - Monday, July 1, 2013

#57 Perl

The battery life is very short.  Why

12:25 am - Friday, March 7, 2014

#58 Reetam

I was delighted with this camera when i first purchased almost 6 years back. The zoom and the picture quality was good. But the rapidly deteriorating picture quality is problemsome. The contrast of the photos have been greatly blurred now. Surprised to see that even new mobiles with 5/8 mp cameras with lesser zoom are delivering far superior pictures than this one.
Planning to change the camera / brand now.

1:55 pm - Sunday, July 6, 2014

#59 stephanie

On the Canon powershot SX120 IS, can you record videos? I am looking at purchasing this edition

6:54 am - Friday, February 5, 2016

Entry Tags

3 inch LCD, beginner, canon, super-zoom, prosumer, 10 megapixel, 10x zoom, powershot, sx120is, sx120 is, Canon PowerShot SX120 IS Review

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