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Canon G15 vs S120

The Canon PowerShot G15 and the Canon PowerShot S120 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and August 2013. Both the G15 and the S120 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/1.7-inch sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon G15 versus Canon S120
Canon G15 Canon S120
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7
12 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor 12 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor
1080/24p Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 80-12,800 ISO 80-12,800
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 922k dots 3.0 LCD, 922k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
2.1 shutter flaps per second 12.1 shutter flaps per second
350 shots per battery charge230 shots per battery charge
107 x 76 x 40 mm, 352 g 100 x 59 x 29 mm, 217 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G15 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon G15 and the Canon S120. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon G15 vs Canon S120
Compare G15 versus S120 top
Comparison G15 or S120 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon S120 is notably smaller (27 percent) than the Canon G15. Moreover, the S120 is substantially lighter (38 percent) than the G15. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G15 nor the S120 are weather-sealed.

Concerning battery life, the G15 gets 350 shots out of its NB-10L battery, while the S120 can take 230 images on a single charge of its NB-6LH power pack.

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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499 i
2.
 
Canon S120 100 mm 59 mm 29 mm 217 g 230 n Aug 2013 449 i
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799 i
4.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549 i
5.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
6.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429 i
7.
 
Canon G12 112 mm 76 mm 48 mm 401 g 370 n Sep 2010 499 i
8.
 
Fujifilm X20 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 353 g 270 n Jan 2013 599 i
9.
 
Fujifilm X10 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 350 g 270 n Sep 2011 599 i
10.
 
Nikon P7800 119 mm 78 mm 50 mm 399 g 350 n Sep 2013 549 i
11.
 
Panasonic LF1 103 mm 62 mm 28 mm 192 g 250 n Apr 2013 499 i
12.
 
Panasonic LX7 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Jul 2012 499 i
13.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499 i
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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The S120 was somewhat cheaper (by 10 percent) than the G15 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

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Sensor comparison

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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a 1/1.7-inch sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 4.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the smaller-sensor digicams that favor affordability and compact design. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon G15 and Canon S120 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 12 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the G15 and the S120 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the S120 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the G15, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Canon PowerShot G15 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 12800. The Canon PowerShot S120 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

G15 versus S120 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the S120 has a markedly higher DXO score than the G15 (overall score 10 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 0.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.5165 46
2.
 
Canon S120 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.311.9246 56
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.8581 58
4.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.8127 39
5.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.7230 54
6.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.2179 47
7.
 
Canon G12 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/24p20.411.2161 47
8.
 
Fujifilm X20 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p...... ..
9.
 
Fujifilm X10 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.511.3245 50
10.
 
Nikon P7800 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/30p21.211.7200 54
11.
 
Panasonic LF1 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.811.6211 52
12.
 
Panasonic LX7 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p20.711.7147 50
13.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.9132 40

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the S120 provides a faster frame rate than the G15. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the G15 is limited to 1080/24p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the G15 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon G15 and Canon S120 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon G15optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1 Y Y
2.
 
Canon S120none n 3.0 922 fixed Y 1/2000s 12.1 Y Y
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX60922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
5.
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX50202 n 3.0 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
7.
 
Canon G12optical n 2.8 461 swivel n 1/4000s 1.1 Y Y
8.
 
Fujifilm X20optical n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y
9.
 
Fujifilm X10optical n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0 Y Y
10.
 
Nikon P7800921 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
11.
 
Panasonic LF1200 n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0 Y Y
12.
 
Panasonic LX7optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
13.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The S120 has a touchscreen, while the G15 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

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.

Both the G15 and the S120 have zoom lenses built in. The G15 has a 28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 optic and the S120 offers a 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the S120 provides a wider angle of view at the short end than the G15, but less tele-photo reach at the long end. Both cameras offer the same maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the G15 and the S120 write their files to SDXC cards. The S120 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the G15 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

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Connectivity comparison

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 PowerShot G15 and Canon PowerShot S120 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon G15Ystereomono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Canon S120-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Canon SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon G12Ystereomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Fujifilm X20Ystereomono--micro2.0---
9.
 
Fujifilm X10Ystereomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Nikon P7800YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
11.
 
Panasonic LF1-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
12.
 
Panasonic LX7Ystereomono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo---mini2.0---

It is notable that the G15 has a hotshoe, while the S120 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Both the G15 and the S120 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The G15 was replaced by the Canon G16, 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.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon G15 and the Canon S120? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Canon PowerShot G15:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (350 versus 230) on a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2012).


Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot S120:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/24p).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12.1 vs 2.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
  • More compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 107x76mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 135g or 38 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S120 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 6 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

G15 06:13 S120

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon G15 and the Canon S120 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera listing 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 G15 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon G154/5+76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499 i
2.
 
Canon S120..+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 449 i
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799 i
4.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549 i
5.
 
Canon G164/5+..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
6.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429 i
7.
 
Canon G124/5+73/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 499 i
8.
 
Fujifilm X204/5+ +77/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2013 599 i
9.
 
Fujifilm X10....76/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2011 599 i
10.
 
Nikon P78003/5....4/54.5/5 Sep 2013 549 i
11.
 
Panasonic LF13/5+..4/54.5/5 Apr 2013 499 i
12.
 
Panasonic LX73/5+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2012 499 i
13.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499 i
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon G15:
Check Ebay offers
Canon S120:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon G15 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 Specifications
    Camera Model Canon G15 Canon S120
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7
    Launch Date September 2012 August 2013
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 449
    Sensor Specs Canon G15 Canon S120
    Sensor Technology CMOS BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/1.7" Sensor 1/1.7" Sensor
    Sensor Size 7.6 x 5.7 mm 7.6 x 5.7 mm
    Sensor Area 43.32 mm2 43.32 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 9.5 mm 9.5 mm
    Crop Factor 4.6x 4.5x
    Sensor Resolution 12 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.89 μm 1.89 μm
    Pixel Density 27.70 MP/cm2 27.70 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 12,800 ISO 80 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 5 Digic 6
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 46 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 19.9 21.3
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.5 11.9
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 165 246
    Screen Specs Canon G15 Canon S120
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 80%
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon G15 Canon S120
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/2000s
    Continuous Shooting 2.1 shutter flaps/s 12.1 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Canon G15 Canon S120
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Body Specs Canon G15 Canon S120
    Battery Type NB-10L NB-6LH
    Battery Life (CIPA)350 shots per charge230 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 107 x 76 x 40 mm
    (4.2 x 3.0 x 1.6 in)
    100 x 59 x 29 mm
    (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
    Camera Weight 352 g (12.4 oz) 217 g (7.7 oz)

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