No Doubt Whatsoever — This Is the Smallest, Most Powerful Photography Combo Possible:

Short post, big message! Seriously, the little Canon S120 is an absolute stunner. And with “little” I mean: it’s in your jeans pocket and you don’t even notice! For the size it’s quite heavy. Blame it on the outstanding build quality. The lens ring lets me keep my favorite 28mm focal length, but what’s really amazing is the intuitive menu and super smooth, responsive operation.

Canon S120 with DxOMark Optics Pro 9 "B&W -- For Him" preset applied.
Canon S120 with DxOMark Optics Pro 9 “B&W — For Him” preset applied.

This camera is everywhere with me these days. It’s actually the first camera I’m exclusively shooting RAW with. Why? Makes the little stunner even more powerful. Rest assured some fine samples will follow, but to make this super nice camera even nicer I got myself DxOMark Optics Pro 9.

Why? Well once you’ve seen how this software handles noise you’re immediately sold. Meaning even the S120’s ISO 6,400 is absolutely usable whereas without Optics Pro I wouldn’t cross the ISO 1,600 barrier…

Optics Pro 9 offers specific modules for a wide range of cameras and lenses. Once you load a JPEG or RAW image in the browser you’re advised to download the module(s). As simple as that? And the rendition is really top-notch. And you’ll love the automatic lens distortion correction, just to name one of the many built-in goodies.

Right, am an absolutely happy these days. Just don’t use the Canon’s Wi-Fi, it sucks the battery dead within no time. And even though the video capabilities are no less outstanding than still images, you’d need a second if not third backup battery.

But just shooting RAW, with totally intuitive controls and high quality output, this ultra portable combo is a serious contender to much pricier, seemingly more serious gear… Even the built-in flash looks natural, and I usually try to avoid flash at all cost.

Talking small cameras, yes I looked at the Sony RX100 Mark II and the Lumix LF1. Forget the Pana’s pseudo viewfinder. Yes, the Sony’s a right up where it should be. It’s just… the Canon’s so much easier and faster to use with only negligible loss of image quality.

And it’s hard to beat the accuracy and genuineness of the Canon’s colors. Right, having a blast plus field day these days…

Absolutely no doubt whatsoever: this S120 combined with Optics Pro is the smallest, most powerful photography combo possible.

+++ You can get the Canon S120 from Amazon, B&H Photo and Adorama.

  • Andy Umbo

    As a long time user of Canon point-and-shoots, I have to say unless this camera has a way to set “sharpness”, I’d take a pass. All the Canons like this I’ve used have been notorious for looking “soft” in jpeg. It’s well know that Canon “games” their “noise” on a lot of their point-and-shoots by turning down the sharpness. I’ve tested against Nikon point-and-shoots with no sharpness settings as well, and the Nikons looks sharper and superior. Hate having to work on the Canon images in post to sharpen them up, and then save as .tiff, as it’s mostly just for record keeping and snap-shots.

  • The camera takes some practice I must agree. Not surprisingly, with this size of sensor, a smaller aperture doesn’t render that much wider depth of field and sharper detail.

    Still experimenting here, but it’s the first camera I exclusively shoot RAW with — except for the modes that only allow JPEG.

    Pre-final verdict?

    You don’t buy this camera for its sharpness, as you say there’s a tendency to certain softness. You get this camera for good colors, intuitive ease of use with all the manual controls — and because it’s always there with you.

  • Ray

    After 3 Canon p&s cameras, I came to the same conclusion. When I use a camera for the market and use this is aimed at, raw hardly matters and editing in a rather uncommon post app misses the mark big time. Too bad as I have a high regard for the Canon’s build quality and ease of use.

    I moved to Sony. If the S120 wants to survive, it needs to deliver good to very good OOC files. Thanks for the review as its another Canon p&s I’ll take a pass on.

  • Have to regretfully confess that the little Canon had to be returned for a faulty battery (suddenly asking to be recharged even though it was just charged), for very little juice in this battery (has to be recharged after a hundred shots…) and for some modes that produce overly soft results. Pity, really, but I can’t stomach a possible second letdown.