Canon 5D vs S120
The Canon EOS 5D and the Canon PowerShot S120 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2005 and August 2013. The 5D is a DSLR, while the S120 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (5D) and a 1/1.7-inch (S120) sensor. The 5D has a resolution of 12.7 megapixels, whereas the S120 provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D and the Canon PowerShot S120? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 5D and the Canon S120 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon S120 is considerably smaller (66 percent) than the Canon 5D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 5D is splash and dust resistant, while the S120 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the S120 has a lens built in, whereas the 5D is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the 5D and their specifications in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|2.||Canon S120||100 mm||59 mm||29 mm||217 g||230||n||Aug 2013||449|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||116 mm||74 mm||66 mm||553 g||240||n||Feb 2014||799|
|7.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|9.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|10.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499|
|11.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429|
|12.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|13.||Canon 1D Mark II N||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1565 g||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999|
|14.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|15.||Canon 1Ds||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1265 g||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999|
|16.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|17.||Panasonic LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The S120 was launched at a lower price than the 5D, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D features a full frame sensor and the Canon S120 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the S120 is 95 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 4.5. The sensor in the 5D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the S120 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 12.7MP, the 5D offers a slightly higher resolution than the S120 (12MP), but the 5D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.25μm versus 1.89μm for the S120) due to its larger sensor. However, the S120 is a much more recent model (by 8 years) than the 5D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 5D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 5D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.8 x 14.6 inches or 55.5 x 37 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.5 x 11.6 inches or 44.4 x 29.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.6 x 9.7 inches or 37 x 24.7 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon S120 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 5D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot S120 are ISO 80 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the 5D provides substantially higher image quality than the S120, with an overall score that is 15 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV of lower dynamic range, and 2.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|4.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|9.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|12.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|13.||Canon 1D Mark II N||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|14.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|15.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|16.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The S120 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 5D does not. The highest resolution format that the S120 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the 5D has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the S120 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D, the Canon S120, and comparable cameras.
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|12.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|13.||Canon 1D Mark II N||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.5||n||n|
|14.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the 5D, but is missing on the S120 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The Canon S120 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 5D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the S120 uses SDXC cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 5D and Canon PowerShot S120 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Canon 1D Mark II N||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|14.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the 5D has a hotshoe, while the S120 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 5D (unlike the S120) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 5D and the S120 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark II, while the S120 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 5D better than the Canon S120 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.7 vs 12MP) with a 5% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 230) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2005).
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot S120:
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12.1 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the 5D requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 152x113mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the 5D).
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 8 years of technical progress since the 5D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S120 emerges as the winner of the match-up (15 : 13 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 5D and the Canon S120 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 5D or the S120 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|2.||Canon S120||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||449|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon G1 X Mark II||3/5||+||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799|
|7.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|9.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|10.||Canon G15||4/5||+||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|11.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429|
|12.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|13.||Canon 1D Mark II N||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2005||3,999|
|14.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|15.||Canon 1Ds||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999|
|16.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|17.||Panasonic LF1||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon 5D vs Canon S120
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 5D||Canon S120|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||24-120mm f/1.8-5.7|
|Launch Date||August 2005||August 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 3,299||USD 449|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 5D||Canon S120|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||7.6 x 5.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||43.32 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||9.5 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.7 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4368 x 2912 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.25 μm||1.89 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.47 MP/cm2||27.70 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||80 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 2||Digic 6|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||71||56|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.9||21.3|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.1||11.9|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1368||246|
|Screen Specs||Canon 5D||Canon S120|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 5D||Canon S120|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||12.1 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 5D||Canon S120|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 5D||Canon S120|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||230 shots per charge|
152 x 113 x 75 mm
(6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0 in)
100 x 59 x 29 mm
(3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
|Camera Weight||895 g (31.6 oz)||217 g (7.7 oz)|
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