Canon PowerShot SX120 IS review: Canon PowerShot SX120 IS

If there was a reason to pick the SX120 over a competitor it would be for photo quality, but it doesn't win by much. Noise starts to show at ISO 400, but up until that point photos are relatively clean and sharp, with very good detail. At ISO 800 photos have a mottled look, but loss of detail is still fairly minimal. Even ISO 1600 photos are usable as long as you can overlook some color change from increased noise levels. Characteristic of megazooms, the lens has some barrel distortion--a surprising amount, given the relatively narrow-angle lens. There's magenta and purple fringing, noticeable mostly in shots with extreme contrast and also pretty typical of megazoom cameras. Colors produced by the SX120 are bright, vivid, and generally excellent, and exposure is consistently good, though not without clipped highlights.

The Canon PowerShot SX120 IS is a serviceable pocket megazoom camera. Its feature set, design, and performance are lagging behind models like Sony's H20, Panasonic's ZS1, and Kodak's Z915. And while Canon still tops them in photo quality, the difference is getting smaller and smaller and less significant if your prints aren't larger than 8x10 inches or just for viewing on a computer screen, TV, or digital photo frame.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Kodak EasyShare Z915
1.7 
1.1 
0.6 
0.4 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20
2.8 
2.1 
0.7 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
2.3 
2.1 
0.7 
0.5 
Canon PowerShot SX120 IS
2.5 
2.6 
0.7 
0.6 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1
2.3 
2.5 
1.1 
0.9 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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Canon PowerShot SX120 IS

Part Number: 3634B001 Released: Aug. 19, 2009
MSRP: $349.99 Low Price: $249.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Aug. 19, 2009
  • Optical Zoom 10 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 10.0 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical
  • Lens 36 - 360mm F/2.8
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.5"