Canon Powershot SX120 IS Review

Mid Zoom Digital Cameras

Canon Powershot SX120 IS Ease of Use 8
Features 8
Movie Mode 8
Build Quality8
Colours 9
Photo Quality 9
Style 8
Lowlight 9
Macro 9
Value for Money 9
10 Megapixels
10x Zoom
3 inch LCD Screen
110.6 x 70.4 x 44.7mm


The Canon Powershot SX120 IS is a 10 megapixel digital camera with a 10x optical zoom lens. It has a fairly compact body size. The Powershot SX120 IS includes manual exposure controls, a 3 inch LCD screen and image stabilisation.

The manual exposure controls are likely to appeal to the more serious photographer, but there is also a fully automatic mode for anyone who is looking for a point and shoot digital camera offering some extra lens power.

Why Buy The Canon Powershot SX120 IS

As with other Canon digital cameras the Powershot SX120 IS offers a bit more than many of its rivals. In this case it is a set of manual exposure controls. Picture quality is also hard to beat.

Main Features

LCD Screen:

3 inches
110.6 x 70.4 x 44.7mm

HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Memory Cards:


Image Quality - See Sample Images Below

Outdoor Scenic Shots in Good Light

I like the overall look of this photo. Sun glare has been handled well with just a small amount of detail lost from the boat on the right. The shot has a crisp look to it and there is plenty of detail showing in the trees.

In terms of the sharpness of the picture this is about as good as it can get from a compact digital camera when zoom is not in use. The clarity produced by the Powershot SX120 IS is some way above standard.

If you blow the photo up to full resolution you will notice a small amount of purple fringing creeping in. Looking at this picture no other brand is able to match on a consistent basis the sharpness levels that Canon cameras manage.

This is final confirmation of the way the Powershot SX120 IS manages to focus on more distant subjects. Not many digital cameras manage to bring out this level of detail right across the shot.


Just the right amount of pink appears in the skin tones. The colours look natural and I like the way the shot looks.

One of the plus points with this picture is that there is very little light bouncing back off the face and into the lens. This reduces the amount of shine showing on the face. This is another good effort.

This is one of the brightest attempts I have seen at an indoor portrait without flash. The camera does very well to inject this level of light into the picture. Noise levels are controlled well, without being perfect. As long as you can find decent light you should be able to take some pleasant window lit portraits.

Macro, Colours and Noise

This is another example where you would be hard pressed to come up with better quality from a compact digital camera. The camera is able to focus from 1cm away from the subject and is a good choice if you would like to try your hand at some close up photography.

The key point about the colours for me is how well balanced they are. When vivid colour is required the Powershot SX120 IS is able to deliver it. At the same time, when a little subtlety is called for the camera is able to produce that too.

The Powershot SX120 IS handles noise a little better than most cameras I test. This can be seen from the indoor portrait test. Even so you need to be realistic with any expectations if you plan to increase the ISO setting.


Picture quality is impressive from a compact digital camera. I encountered very few problems and I would be happy to take this camera around with me waiting for the next photo opportunity.

See sample images link arrow


This is a fairly typical digital camera offering some extra zoom. There is a raised grip area on the right hand side and the flash pops up on the top. It is available in black.

Shutter Lag Times

Shutter Lag Rating Slow

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

0.43 seconds
12.67 seconds
2.33 seconds
25.5 seconds
3.95 seconds

Shutter Lag Table link arrow

Ease of Use

Ease of Use - Par With some advanced features built into the camera you do not get the same ease of use as a basic point and shoot camera. There is an automatic mode you can use when you first buy the camera.

Points I Like

Photo quality - compact body - features

Where it Could Improve

Shutter delay with flash


If picture quality is the main buying point for you then you are likely to be very impressed with the Canon Powershot SX120 IS. Add in the manual exposure controls and it is hard to find a better camera of its type.

Product Shots

Front View

Front View

Back View

Back View

Top View

Top View

Sample Menus

menu 1 setup

menu 2 functions

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Rating 86/100

For a camera that is small enough to take anywhere the Nikon Coolpix S9300 has a lot of features packed into it. If you are planning to take a holiday GPS tracking will tell you where you were when a picture was taken. The length of the zoom lens also gives you plenty of scope when it comes to picture opportunities. Although there is plenty of completion in this category the picture quality on offer here combined with the features makes this camera very attractive indeed. Recommended.

Read Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Review

Canon Powershot SX260 HS Rating 86/100

The Canon Powershot SX260 HS is one of the very best digital cameras in this category. In fact if you are happy to miss out on features such as 3D photography and 360 degree panoramas it is very hard to beat. It has a great set of features packed into its relatively compact body size and picture quality helps to make it stand out from the competition. Although it is one of the more expensive cameras in this field it still offers good value for money.

Read Review: Canon Powershot SX260 HS Review

Panasonic DMC SZ1 Rating 84/100

If you are looking for a simple, pocket camera that gives you some extra zoom and takes high quality snapshots the Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ1 is a very good choice. Compared to other cameras with similar features available at around the same price this camera has the edge when it comes to picture quality. It takes sharp, colourful photos and offers excellent value for money. Recommended.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC SZ1 Review

Related Pages

Canon Powershot SX120 IS Review Canon Powershot SX120 IS Specification Canon Powershot SX120 IS Sample Images Canon Powershot SX120 IS Features Canon Digital Cameras

Review Date

October 2009

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