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Canon PowerShot S120

12.1-megapixel digital camera with 5X optical zoom and Wi-Fi®

3 Reviews | 1 question - 2 answers

Item # 280S120

This item is no longer available.

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Our take on the Canon PowerShot S120

At first glance, you might underestimate the Canon PowerShot S120. But don't be fooled. Its stark black exterior and streamlined design conceal a camera with a wide range of features that'll deliver striking images. The 5X optical zoom lens may look the same as what you'd find on less expensive cameras. But its f/1.8 wide-angle aperture rating places it head-and-shoulders above the typical point-and-shoot. With the lens's superb light-gathering ability, along with Canon's DIGIC 6 processor and the CMOS sensor, the S120 is built for wide-ranging lighting conditions. It brings out those details and colors that often get lost or washed out in dim lighting, so your indoor and evening pictures can look as stunning as those captured in bright sunlight.

Simple looks, sophisticated features

At first glance, you might underestimate the Canon PowerShot S120. But don't be fooled. Its stark black exterior and streamlined design conceal a camera with a wide range of features that'll deliver striking images. The 5X optical zoom lens may look the same as what you'd find on less expensive cameras. But its f/1.8 wide-angle aperture rating places it head-and-shoulders above the typical point-and-shoot. With the lens's superb light-gathering ability, along with Canon's DIGIC 6 processor and the CMOS sensor, the S120 is built for wide-ranging lighting conditions. It brings out those details and colors that often get lost or washed out in dim lighting, so your indoor and evening pictures can look as stunning as those captured in bright sunlight.

Manual control ring and touchscreen display

Look closely at the front of the PowerShot S120 to discover a feature not found on many point-and-shoots. There's a manual control ring around the lens which can be customized to adjust the focus, step-zoom, exposure, and other settings. Flip the camera around and you'll see what looks like a typical LCD display. But it's actually a high-resolution touchscreen, offering easy menu navigation as well as a clear view for lining up shots and reviewing photos. Dive into the camera's menu and discover other cool features like fast continuous shooting at up to 12.1 frames per second, creative filters like background defocus, and Hybrid Auto mode for creating a video highlight reel by stitching together short video clips recorded before still shots.

Wi-Fi on board for simple wireless sharing

There's no easier way to share fantastic photos than with the S120's built-in Wi-Fi. Canon's free CameraWindow app for Apple® and Android™ lets you transfer shots to your smartphone just about anywhere. Or connect to your home network to wirelessly back-up photos, print them, or post them on Facebook, YouTube™, and other sites right from the camera through Canon's Image Gateway.

Product Highlights:

  • 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor
  • 3" high-resolution touchscreen LCD monitor (922,000 dots)
  • 5X optical zoom (4X digital/20X total zoom)
  • records photos and video onto optional SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory cards
  • 35mm equivalent lens focal length: 24-120mm
Special Features:
  • built-in Wi-Fi for sending photos wirelessly to smartphones, tablets, PCs, and printers over a wireless network
  • Canon's free CameraWindow app for Apple and Android lets you:
    • send photos to your smartphone using the camera as a wireless access point
    • upload photos to Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites
    • use your smartphone's GPS capability to add location information to photos
  • high-definition movie mode (up to 1080/60p resolution)
  • fast f/1.8-5.7 lens for sharp images in low light
  • manual control ring lets you adjust focus, exposure, and step-zoom by hand
  • Smart Auto mode adjusts settings based on 58 preset scenes
  • optical image stabilization for blur-free photos
  • DIGIC 6 image processor allows high-sensitivity shooting in low light for highly detailed, low noise photos
  • selectable ISO settings, including a high sensitivity setting (ISO 12,800) for better low-light shooting
  • continuous shooting mode: 12.1 frames per second at full resolution (up to 6 shots)
  • creative filters include Background Defocus for blurring backgrounds to make subjects stand out more
  • Hybrid Auto mode records short videos prior to snapping still photos and combines them into a single video clip
  • improved high-speed autofocus
  • records photos in RAW and JPEG format
  • pop-up flash
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
Connections and Dimensions:
  • mini HDMI output for connecting the camera to a compatible HDTV (cable not included)
  • high-speed USB (Mini Type B) interface (cable not included)
  • 4"W x 2-7/16"H x 1-3/16"D
  • weight: 7.65 oz. (with battery and memory card)
Supplied Accessories:
  • rechargeable lithium ion battery (NB-6LH) and AC charger
  • wrist strap

The camera is simple to use. It takes high quality images. It has WiFi feature but you must download a clunky app.

EZ-E, Altoona, PA

What's in the Box:

  • Digital camera (black)
  • NB-6LH Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (3.7V 1060mAh 4.0Wh)
  • CB2LY Battery charger (4.2V 0.7A)
  • Wrist strap
  • Getting Started booklet (Eng/Span)
  • Warranty card
  • Shooting in Manual mode sheet
  • Online Product Registration sheet
  • Canon Image Gateway promo sheet
  • Wireless printer promo sheet

Canon PowerShot S120 Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(3 Reviews)

Perfect small camera

EZ-E from Altoona, PA on 3/19/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The camera is simple to use. It takes high quality images. It has WiFi feature but you must download a clunky app.

Pros: Images, quick and simple use, quality, small size

Cons: App for WiFi feature(but it does work)

Outstanding Camera

raja008 from Phoenix, AZ on 5/2/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Outstanding camera, very sharp pictures. I've been using canon for over 13 years. I like the manual flash release button, that way you're not slowed down when the camera detects low light and you are intentionally wanting to take the photo without the flash. The camera takes very good low light photos. Also extremely fast recycle for the next shot. This is one of the best cameras I've used.

Pros: Fast photo ready recycle. Extremely sharp pictures.

Cons: None that I can think of.

Nothing Special, I expected a lot more

Mark from New York City on 11/17/2013

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This camera takes killer Video. Anti-shake device works as if you had this camera on Glide-Cam mount. Awesome. But photos Im not really impressed with. It takes very good pics in dark places where you dont need flash BUT when you put the flash on it takes too long to for the flash to load power to the lamp. You also have to pop the flash up manually everytime (my wife hated that) and when you take pictures in wide angle (24mm focus) edges of pictures long elongated (if you have a face on the edge of your photo - it looks stretched out - I really didnt like that). I took pictures with at wide angle with different cameras and I have never seen this happening on any photos. Battery life is not so great. It is really weird. I return the camera within 60 days.

Pros: Great full HD videos, a whole lot of options like DSLRs, compact,

Cons: Colors that so great, flash loading time is too long, poping flash everytime, bad pictures in 24mm focus/angle, battery doesnt last long


Hands-on research

Features and Specs

LCD Screen Size 3"
Adjustable-angle LCD No
Wi-Fi Built-in
Touchscreen Yes
Waterproof No
GPS-enabled Smartphone
Lens 35mm Equivalent 24-120mm
Optical Zoom 5x
Digital Zoom 4x
Filter Diameter N/A
Manual Focusing Yes
Manual Exposure Yes
Built-in Flash Yes
HDMI Output Mini
Internal Memory None
Memory Media SD/SDHC/SDXC
Sensor Size 1/1.7" CMOS
Megapixels 12.1
Image Stabilization Optical
Highest Resolution 4000 x 3000
4K Video No
Video Resolution 1920 x 1080
Width (inches) 4
Height (inches) 2-7/16
Depth (inches) 1-3/16
Weight With Battery (ounces) 7.65
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year

Product Research

Recording Features
Playback Editing and Print Functions
Battery Information
Inputs and Outputs Notes

Recording Features

LCD Touchscreen Monitor: The Canon PowerShot S120 has a 3.0" TFT LCD touchscreen monitor, featuring 922,000 dots with approximately 100% picture coverage. The touchscreen recognizes touch and swipe actions to move through menus and recorded images, and pinch actions to move from single image display to thumbnail image (index) display. The Touch Shutter function lets you control the shutter release by touching the screen.

Image Sensor: The camera is equipped with a 1/1.7" CMOS image sensor with 12.8-million total pixels, and 12.1-million effective pixels. Along with the new DIGIC 6 Image Processor, the S120 gives you clear photos with accurate colors and less noise.

Smart Shutter: Smart Shutter technology automatically takes a picture a short time after the camera detects a specific change in the scene. There are three Smart Shutter functions: Face Self-Timer, Smile Self-Timer, and Wink Self-Timer.

Optics and Stabilization: The S120 has a 5x optical zoom lens with a 5.2-26mm focal length (35mm equivalent is 24-120mm). The built-in lens shift-type Image Stabilizer (Intelligent IS) helps control camera shake to give you clear images when you're zoomed way in. Image Stabilization can be set to Dynamic IS for strong camera shake, Powered IS for panning, or Hybrid IS for macro shots.

Zoom: In addition to the 5x optical zoom, the camera features a 4x digital zoom. When used in combination, the total zoom is approximately 20x.

Digital Tele-Converter: The focal length of the lens can be increased by an equivalent of 1.5x or 2.0x through the use of the Digital Tele-Converter. The equivalent focal lengths of the lens (35mm equivalent) are 36-180mm when using the 1.5x digital tele-converter, and 48-120mm with the 2.0x tele-converter. The digital zoom and digital tele-converter cannot be used simultaneously.

Recording Media: The camera records still images or moving images with stereo audio on SD Memory Cards, SDHC Memory Cards, and SDXC Memory Cards. The camera has no built-in memory, and no memory card is included with the camera.

Built-in Wi-Fi: Built-in Wi-Fi allows you to wirelessly transfer your images to social network sites (through the Canon iMage Gateway), to a PC or upload virtually anywhere on your iOS or Android device (using Canon CameraWindow app), share images between Wi-Fi-enabled PowerShot cameras, and even print your images on an Wi-Fi-compatible printer.

Note: The camera is compatible with iOS Ver.6.0/6.1, and Android devices version 2.3/4.0/4.1/4.2. Wireless LAN specification: IEEE802.11b/g/n.

GPS via Mobile: You can record GPS+ data on your smartphone, using the free Canon CameraWindow downloadable app, and wirelessly (via Wi-Fi) add the location data to the images in your camera. The app allows you to record location data, such as latitude, longitude, altitude, and shooting time onto your pictures.

Image Formats: Still images are recorded in JPEG and RAW formats. A RAW image is raw data recorded with nearly no deterioration in image quality resulting from image processing inside the camera. You can use the supplied software to adjust the image in any way you like with minimal loss in image quality. Movies are recorded in MOV format (Image data: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio data: Linear PCM (stereo)).

Still Image Resolution/Compression: The S120 can record still images in 4 different sizes (Large, Medium 1, Medium 2, and Small) and 5 aspect ratios (4:3, 16:9, 3:2, 1:1, and 4:5). For each resolution, you can set the compression to Super Fine or Fine. You can choose from the following resolutions:

  16:9 3:2 4:3 1:1 4:5
Large + RAW 4000 x 2248 4000 x 2664 4000 x 3000 2992 x 2992 2400 x 3000
Medium 1 2816 x 1584 2816 x 1880 2816 x 2112 2112 x 2112 1696 x 2112
Medium 2 1920 x 1080 1600 x 1064 1600 x 1200 1200 x 1200 960 x 1200
Small 640 x 360 640 x 424 640 x 480 480 x 480 384 x 480

Movies: Movies can be shot in High Definition at 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps and 30 fps, and 1280 x 720 at 30 fps with stereo audio. Standard definition movies can be recorded at 640 x 480 pixels, with a frame rate of 30 frames per second and stereo audio. Recording will automatically stop when either the clip file size reaches 4 GB or the recording time reaches approximately 30 minutes for HD, and 1 hour for SD. SD Speed Class 6 or higher memory cards are recommended.

Super Slow Motion: You can shoot movies is Standard movie mode or Super Slow Motion mode. Super Slow Motion lets you shoot fast-moving subjects for playback later in slow motion. No sound is recorded in Super Slow Motion mode. There are two options for Super Slow Motion:

Frame Rate Image Quality Playback Time
(for a 30 sec clip)
240 fps QVGA (320 x 240) Approx. 4 min.
120 fps VGA (640 x 480) Approx. 2 min

Continuous Shooting Mode: You can use the continuous shooting mode to shoot successive frames while the shutter button is fully pressed. In Normal mode, you can shoot continuously at approximately 12.1 images per second for the first 5 shots and 9.4 images per second from the 6th shot. In the AF Continuous mode (in P mode), you can record at a rate of approximately 5.5 shots per second. In LV Continuous (in P mode), you can shoot approximately 5.6 shots per second.

Focusing Range: The camera features the following focus ranges (from the end of the lens):

  • Auto: 1.2" to infinity (W), 11.8" to infinity (T)
  • Normal: 2" to infinity (W), 11.8" to infinity (T)
  • Macro: 1.2" to 1.6' (W), 11.8" to 1.6' (T)
  • Manual Focus: 1.2" - infinity (W), 11.8" to infinity (T)
  • Underwater Macro: 1.2"-1.6' (W)
  • Underwater Quick: 4.9'-66' (W-T)

Shooting Modes: Using the mode dial on the top, you can switch between the following shooting modes:

  • Smart Auto:The camera will automatically select the best settings for the scene.
  • Hybrid Auto: Hybrid Auto mode makes a short movie of the day by recording 2-4 second clips of scenes before each still image is recorded. These clips are later combined into a digest movie.
  • Program (P): The camera sets both the aperture value and shutter speed.
  • Aperture Priority (Av): You can set the aperture to a value at which you want to shoot, and the camera sets the appropriate shutter speed for the aperture you set. Aperture values can be set between F1.8 to F8.0 at wide angle and F5.7 to F8.0 at telephoto.
  • Shutter Priority (Tv): You can set the shutter speed to a value at which you want to shoot, and the camera sets the appropriate aperture value for the shutter speed you set. Shutter speeds can be set between 250 and 1/4000 seconds.
  • Manual (M): You can manually set the shutter speed and aperture.
  • Control Ring (C): You can register numerous functions to the control ring surrounding the camera's lens.
  • Creative Filters: You can add various effects to images when shooting, such as Super Vivid, Poster Effect, High Dynamic Range, Nostalgic, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Background Defocus, Monochrome, and Soft Focus.
  • Scene: Select from the following, according to the scene or effects desired: Portrait, Smart Shutter, Star, Handheld Night Scene, Underwater (optional waterproof case required), Snow, and Fireworks.
  • Movies: Record movies in High Definition or Standard Definition in Standard Mode and Super Slow Motion Movie modes.

Metering Modes: You can select from the following metering modes:

  • Evaluative Light Metering: used for standard conditions. The area within the frame is divided into several zones and light is measured based on subject position, brightness, direct light and backlighting.
  • Center-Weighted Averaging: averages the exposure from the entire image, but places more weight on the subject at the center
  • Spot: meters the area within the spot AE point at the center of the LCD monitor.

Exposure Compensation: If you are shooting against a bright background or strong backlight, you may need to correct the exposure so that the subject doesn't come out too dark. You can set the adjustments from -3 to +3 in 1/3-step increments.

Locking the Exposure Setting (AE Lock): You can set the exposure and focus separately. This is effective when the contrast is too strong between the subject and background, or when a subject is backlit. Flash Exposure Lock (FE Lock), just as with the AE lock, lets you lock the exposure for shooting with the flash.

White Balance: You can choose from the following white balance settings: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Flash, Underwater, and Custom.

Flash Modes: The PowerShot S120 has a built-in pop-up flash. You can select Auto (flash fires in low light), Slow-synchro, On (flash always fires), or Off (flash doesn't fire). The built-in flash has a range of 1.6' to 23' in Wide Angle and 1.6' to 7.5' in Telephoto. In the menu, you can turn on the Red-Eye Reduction lamp for the flash, and apply Red-Eye Correction to the images that have been taken. As with Exposure Compensation, you can adjust the Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 2 stops in 1/3-stop increments when using the flash.

ISO Speed: The ISO speed can be set Automatically (ISO Auto), or manually between ISO 80 and ISO 12800 in 1/3 EF steps (23 steps). Lowering the ISO speed results in sharper images but there's a greater chance of subject or image blurring in certain shooting conditions. Raising the ISO speed results in a faster shutter speed, reducing blurred images. The images, however, will appear more coarse.

My Colors: You can choose the look and feel of the photos you take by using My Colors to add the following effects to the image you are currently recording or have already recorded: Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, B/W, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, and Custom Color.

Display Overlay: You can customize the display with the following overlays:

  • Shooting Info: A wide range of information on the shooting conditions and settings will display on the LCD monitor.
  • Grid Lines: Displays gridlines dividing the monitor into 9 areas, allowing you to check the subject's horizontal and vertical alignment.
  • Electronic Level: An electronic level is displayed on the screen as a guideline to determine if the camera is level.
  • Histogram: A graphic display that shows the distribution of brightness in an image horizontally (P, Tv, Av, M modes).

Self-Timer: The S120 utilizes a 10-second, 2-second, and a custom self-timer to allow the photographer to be included in the shot, or to avoid camera shake when using a tripod. The custom self-timer allows you to set the time delay to 1-15, 20, 25, or 30 seconds for up to 10 shots.

Playback, Editing and Print Functions

Index Display: This feature allows you to view 6, 12, 36, or 100 images at once on the LCD monitor so that you can search for an image quickly. Movies cannot be played in the index playback mode. You can view the index display by rotating the zoom lever toward wide angle while the camera is in playback mode.

Filtered Playback: When there are many images on the memory card, you can filter and display them by a specified filter. You can also protect or delete all images at once while filtered. Available filters include: Favorites, Shot Date, People, Type (Still/Movie), and Name.

Playback Displays: You can choose from the following types of displays: No Information, Simple Information Display, Detailed Information Display, and RGB Histogram/GPS Information Display.

Red-Eye Correction: You can correct red eyes in already recorded images. However, red eyes may not be automatically detected in some images such as faces near the screen edge, faces that appear extremely small, larger dark or bright in relation to the overall image and faces turned to the side or at a diagonal and faces with a portion hidden which prevents the Red-Eye Correction from working. You can choose to overwrite the file with the corrected image, or store the image as a new file, retaining the original image.

PictBridge: Using the supplied USB cable, you can connect this camera directly to a PictBridge-compatible printer of any brand, including Canon SELPHY compact photo printers and PIXMA inkjet photo printers. In this way, you can make prints directly from the camera without having to connect to a computer.

Battery Information

Power Requirements: The Canon PowerShot S120 powered by the NB-6LH Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. The camera includes the CB-2LY battery charger, which can charge the NB-6LH battery in approximately 2 hours. For long periods of continuous use, or when connected to a computer, it is recommended that the camera be connected to the optional ACK-DC40 AC adapter kit. A fully-charged battery will last for approximately 230 shots, or 300 shots with ECO mode on. For movie recording, 30 minutes of movie shooting time, 1 hour of continuous shooting, and 4 hours of playback time.

Date/Time Battery: The camera uses a built-in backup battery for maintaining the date and time data for about three weeks after the battery pack has been removed. By inserting a charged battery or connecting an AC adapter kit, the date/time battery can be charged in approximately 4 hours, even if the camera is not turned on.

Power Saving Functions: The camera is equipped with the following power saving functions:

  • Auto Power Down for Shooting Mode: The screen will turn off approximately 1 minute after the camera is last operated. You can "wake" the camera at this point by pressing the shutter button halfway to turn on the screen and continue shooting. After about 2 more minutes, if no buttons are pressed, the lens will retract and the power will turn off.
  • Auto Power Down for Playback Mode and Connection to a Printer: The camera power down approximately 5 minutes after the last control is accessed on the camera.
Note: The Power Saving Function will not activate during a Slide Show, or while the camera is connected to a computer, or to another device via Wi-Fi.

Inputs and Outputs Notes

HDMI Output: The PowerShot S120 is equipped with a mini-HDMI (Type C) for connecting the camera to your HDTV. An optional mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable, such as the Canon HTC-100, is required.

A/V Output/Digital Terminal: The camera has a Mini-B Version 2.0 USB terminal to allow you to connect the camera to a compatible computer or compatible Canon printer via a USB cable (not supplied). This USB 2.0 Hi-Speed-compatible terminal allows you to rapidly download images to your computer or printer. Through the same USB jack, you can connect the camera to a TV or video monitor with stereo RCA audio and composite video input jacks using the optional AVC-DC400ST Stereo AV Cable. You can set the video output to NTSC or PAL.

Note: No USB cable is included with the camera. A USB cable with a Mini-B connector (such as 119USBHS15 or 119USBHSM3) is required.


Downloadable Software: The PowerShot S120 does not include software in the box. The following recommended software is downloadable from the Canon website:

  • Canon Utilities:
    • ImageBrowser: manage images transferred to a computer (view, edit, and print)
    • CameraWindow: transfer images to and from camera, organize images on the camera, and upload movies on the camera to web services
    • Digital Photo Professional: convert RAW images to JPEG and TIFF images
  • User Guides: Camera User Guide, Software Guide

Compatible Operating Systems:

  • Windows 8 (wired or Wi-Fi)
  • Windows 7 (SP1) (wired or Wi-Fi)
  • Windows Vista (SP2) (wired only)
  • Windows XP (SP3) (wired only)
  • Mac OS X v10.6, 10.7, 10.8 (wired)
  • Mac OS X v10.6.8, 10.7, 10.8.2 or later (Wi-Fi)

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Q & A

Customer Q&A

1 question already asked

I replaced this camera with the Sony RX100. Almost the same form factor and a little heavier, the CMOS sensor is much bigger and the Carl Zeiss lens is sharper at wide angle and fully zoomed settings. It is superior in low light situations. [ WESLEY  Dec 12, 2013 ]
For recommendations on a specific camera you may want to reach out to an Advisor for a quick online chat or phone call. They'll be able to go through the specs and find one that will fit your budget and needs. [ Jeff  Dec 09, 2013 ]  Staff