Canon IXUS 120 IS Review

Ultra Compact

Canon IXUS 120 IS Ease of Use 8
Features 8
Movie Mode 9
Build Quality9
Colours 8
Photo Quality 9
Style 9
Lowlight 9
Macro 9
Value for Money 8
12 Megapixels
4x Zoom
2.7 inch LCD Screen
89.5 x 54.9 x 20mm


The Canon IXUS 120 IS is one of the smaller pocket digital cameras. You should have no problem slipping it into most pockets. It has 12 megapixels and a wide angle, 4x optical zoom lens. Canon has included image stabilisation and also High Definition movies with the IXUS 120 IS.

Aside from these features the functions and controls are inline with most point and shoot cameras. Build quality feels good and the camera sports a simple yet stylish design.

Main Features

LCD Screen:

2.7 inches
89.5 x 54.9 x 20mm

HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Memory Cards:

Lithium-ion Rechargeable

Why Buy the Canon IXUS 120 IS

This camera has a touch of class about it. It feels good in the hand and takes good quality snapshots.

Image Quality - See Sample Images Below

Outdoor Scenic Shots in Good Light

The IXUS 120 IS ticks most of the right boxes in this test shot. It copes with the glare of the sun well. This leads to high levels of detail showing on the boats and the colours remaining true. There is a sharp look to the photo and the shot remains in focus as you move out towards the edges.

There is plenty of colour in this photo, but the shot retains a fairly natural look. The sharpness of the photo is above average when taking into account the lens is fully zoomed out.

This is a very good effort for such a small digital camera. Sharpness is good once again. The colours are well balanced with a bit on punch to them.

Looking at all my outdoor scenes I like the amount of brightness the IXUS 120 IS is able to inject into the shots. When taking into account the small size of the lens I am very happy with how crisp my test shots look. There is very little fall off in sharpness as you move away towards the edge of the photo.

There are no problems with this photo. There is enough pep in the colours the camera has produced and sharpness is impressive once again.


There are no problems with this photo. There is enough pep in the colours the camera has produced and sharpness is impressive once again.

As with other Canon digital cameras the IXUS 120 IS manages to produce just the right amount of light. The light has managed to brighten the darker areas, such as the hair. This helps to show extra detail. The light is also subtle enough to ensure there is still plenty of colour in the skin tones. This also means that there is very little shine showing on the face due to flash light reflecting back off the face and into the lens.

There is a small amount of noise that just takes the edge of the photo, but the IXUS 120 IS does a better job than most cameras. So if you find yourself in a reasonably well lit place where flash is not permitted you should be able to produce an acceptable photograph.

Macro, Colours and Noise

You will be hard pressed to find a pocket digital camera that can take a close up shot that is much better than this one. The model I tested was a black one. It has a matt finish and this helps when photographing shiny subjects as the camera is less likely to appear as a reflection in the photo.

I found the colours to be vivid, but not overpowering. They are well balanced and work well for scenes with a high level of contrast.

Noise levels are reasonable. Unless you are taking photos outdoors in good light or you are using flash small amount of noise is always likely to find its way into a shot.


Based on my tests the IXUS 120 IS is one of the best small cameras for picture quality. It can handle most photo opportunities.

See sample images link arrow


At exactly 20mm wide there are not many smaller digital cameras than the IXUS 120 IS. Personally I like the simple design. The camera is available in four colours, silver, black, blue and brown.

Shutter Lag Times

Shutter Lag Rating Par

Single Shot
Five Shots
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash
Turn on Time

0.34 seconds
15.3 seconds
1.14 seconds
18.03 seconds
1.15 seconds

Shutter Lag Table link arrow

Ease of Use

Ease of Use - Par Good. I found the menu screens very easy to read. Camera functions such as White Balance and ISO levels have been placed in their own separate menu area.

Points I Like

Picture quality, style, build quality, HD movies, turn on time

Where it Could Improve

Shutter delay with flash

Product Shots

Front View

Front View

Back View

Back View

Top View

Top View

Sample Menus

menu 1 setup

menu 2 menu 3

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Sony DSC TX55 Rating 85/100

If the touch screen was perfect then the Sony Cybershot DSC TX55 would be a truly outstanding digital camera. As it is picture quality is hard to beat for such a small camera. Style and design is very impressive and the features on offer give you more or less everything you are likely to want in a point and shoot pocket camera and a bit more on top. It can be very hard to find the perfect touch screen so if touch control is important to you then this camera is well worth a place on your short list.

Read Review: Sony DSC TX55 Review

Panasonic DMC FX90 Rating 79/100

Panasonic offers some excellent digital cameras and can normally be replied upon to produce crystal clear photos. As with previous reviews of cameras in the FX part of the range the Panasonic Lumix DMC FX90 just does not match up to those usual high standards. Focusing is softer than it should be and you are likely to see the results of this even with relatively small sized prints.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC FX90 Review

Panasonic DMC FX70 Rating 79/100

The Panasonic Lumix DMC FX70 does not quite match up to the picture quality I am used to seeing from Panasonic digital cameras. It does have a lot of other plus points, but if you are looking for true clarity in your photos there are better pocket cameras around.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC FX70 Review

Related Pages

Canon IXUS 120 IS Review Canon IXUS 120 IS Specification Canon IXUS 120 IS Sample Images Canon IXUS 120 IS Features Canon IXUS 120 IS vs Panasonic Lumix DMC FX60 Canon Digital Cameras

Review Date

October 2009

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