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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 1,600 photos are usable as long as you can overlook some color change from increased noise levels.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET
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The camera is capable of taking some sharp shots, which is atypical of megazoom cameras.

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There's magenta and purple fringing, noticeable mostly in shots with extreme contrast. However, this is pretty typical of megazoom cameras.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Joshua Goldman/CNET
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Characteristic of megazooms, the lens has some barrel distortion--a surprising amount, given the relatively narrow-angle lens

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This is a demo of the SX120's 10x optical zoom power. On the left is the lens at its widest position; the right is at its longest. The image stabilization does an excellent job of keeping the effects of hand shake under control.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Joshua Goldman/CNET
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Most newer cameras have some feature to help with backlit subjects or contrast extremes. Canon's i-Contrast does a respectable job bringing out the building detail without lightening the entire scene too much (left). It can be set to Auto while you're shooting or applied after the fact to different degrees. (I recommend the latter.)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Joshua Goldman/CNET
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Colors produced by the SX120 are bright, vivid, and generally excellent.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Joshua Goldman/CNET
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