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Canon G9 X vs S120

The Canon PowerShot G9 X and the Canon PowerShot S120 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2015 and August 2013. Both the G9X and the S120 are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on an one-inch (G9X) and a 1/1.7-inch (S120) sensor. The G9X has a resolution of 20 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.

Headline Specifications
Canon G9 X
versus
Canon S120
Canon G9 X   Canon S120
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
28-84mm f/2.0-4.9 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7
20 MP – 1" sensor 12 MP – 1/1.7" sensor
1080/60p Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 125-12,800 ISO 80-12,800
No viewfinder, LCD framing No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0" LCD – 1040k dots 3.0" LCD – 922k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed touchscreen
6 shutter flaps per second 12.1 shutter flaps per second
220 shots per battery charge230 shots per battery charge
98 x 58 x 31 mm, 209 g 100 x 59 x 29 mm, 217 g
Canon G9 X:
Check Ebay offers
Canon S120:
Check Ebay offers

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G9 X 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon G9 X and the Canon S120 is provided 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.

The G9X can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the S120 is only available in black.

Size Canon G9 X vs Canon S120
Compare G9X versus S120 top
Comparison G9X 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 somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Canon G9 X. Moreover, the S120 is slightly heavier (4 percent) than the G9X. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G9X nor the S120 are weather-sealed.

Concerning battery life, the G9X gets 220 shots out of its NB-13L battery, while the S120 can take 230 images on a single charge of its NB-6LH power pack. The power pack in the G9X can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras 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 G9 X 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 209 g 220 n Oct 2015 529i
2.
 
Canon S120 100 mm 59 mm 29 mm 217 g 230 n Aug 2013 449i
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 206 g 235 n Jan 2017 529 i
4.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 106 mm 61 mm 42 mm 319 g 265 n Feb 2016 699i
5.
 
Canon M10 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 301 g 255 n Oct 2015 499i
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799i
7.
 
Canon G7 X 103 mm 60 mm 40 mm 304 g 210 n Sep 2014 699i
8.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
9.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499i
10.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
11.
 
Nikon 1 J4 100 mm 60 mm 29 mm 232 g 300 n Apr 2014 549i
12.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 n Jun 2014 899i
13.
 
Panasonic LF1 103 mm 62 mm 28 mm 192 g 250 n Apr 2013 499 i
14.
 
Sony RX100 V 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 299 g 220 n Oct 2016 999 i
15.
 
Sony RX100 IV 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 298 g 280 n Jun 2015 999i
16.
 
Sony RX100 III 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 290 g 320 n May 2014 799i
17.
 
Sony RX100 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 240 g 330 n Jun 2012 649i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 somewhat lower price (by 15 percent) than the G9X, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon G9 X features an one-inch sensor and the Canon S120 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the S120 is 63 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 4.5. The sensor in the G9X has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the S120 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon G9 X and Canon S120 sensor measures

With 20MP, the G9X offers a higher resolution than the S120 (12MP), but the G9X nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 2.41μm versus 1.89μm for the S120) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the G9X is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 1 month) than the S120, 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 G9 X implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the G9X for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 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 PowerShot G9 X has a native sensitivity range from ISO 125 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot S120 are ISO 80 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

G9X 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 review, the G9X has a notably higher overall DXO score than the S120 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.2 bits higher color depth, 0.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 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.

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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 G9 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563
2.
 
Canon S120 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.311.924656
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.912.552265
4.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.811.926062
5.
 
Canon M10 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
7.
 
Canon G7 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671
8.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
9.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
10.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
11.
 
Nikon 1 J4 1-inch 18.2 5232 34881080/60p20.810.742653
12.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
13.
 
Panasonic LF1 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.811.621152
14.
 
Sony RX100 V 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.458670
15.
 
Sony RX100 IV 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170
16.
 
Sony RX100 III 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567
17.
 
Sony RX100 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60p).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The G9X and the S120 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon G9 X and Canon S120 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon G9 Xnone n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 6.0/s Y Y
2.
 
Canon S120none n3.0 / 922 fixed Y 1/2000s 12.1/s Y Y
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark IInone n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 8.2/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon G7 X Mark IInone n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 8.0/s Y Y
5.
 
Canon M10none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.6/s Y n
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2/s Y Y
7.
 
Canon G7 Xnone n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 6.5/s Y Y
8.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2/s Y Y
9.
 
Canon G15optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1/s Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX50202 n3.0 / 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2/s Y Y
11.
 
Nikon 1 J4none n3.0 / 1037 Fixed Y 1/4000s 60.0/s Y n
12.
 
Panasonic FZ10002359 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0/s Y Y
13.
 
Panasonic LF1200 n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Sony RX100 V2359 n3.0 / 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 24.0/s Y Y
15.
 
Sony RX100 IV2359 n3.0 / 1228 tilting n 1/2000s 16.0/s Y Y
16.
 
Sony RX100 III1440 n3.0 / 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
17.
 
Sony RX100none n3.0 / 1229 fixed n 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The Canon G9 X and the Canon S120 both have 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 G9X and the S120 have zoom lenses built in. The G9X has a 28-84mm f/2.0-4.9 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, as well as more tele-photo reach at the long end than the G9X. The S120 offers the faster maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the G9X and the S120 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

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 G9 X 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon G9 X-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
2.
 
Canon S120-stereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon M10-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon G7 X-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
9.
 
Canon G15Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon SX50Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Nikon 1 J4-stereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
12.
 
Panasonic FZ1000Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0YY-
13.
 
Panasonic LF1-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
14.
 
Sony RX100 V-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
15.
 
Sony RX100 IV-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
16.
 
Sony RX100 III-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
17.
 
Sony RX100-stereo / mono--micro2.0---

Both the G9X and the S120 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The G9X was replaced by the Canon G9 X 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.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Canon G9 X better than the Canon S120 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot G9 X:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (20 vs 12MP) with a 32% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1 stops ISO advantage).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the S120 launch.


Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot S120:

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12.1 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/1.8 vs f/2.0).
  • Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (15 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2013).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the G9X comes out slightly ahead of the S120 (7 : 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

G9X 07:06 S120

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon G9 X 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the G9X and the S120 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon G9 X3.5/5+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529i
2.
 
Canon S120..+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 449i
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II4/5..4/575/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 529 i
4.
 
Canon G7 X Mark II4.5/5+ +..81/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 699i
5.
 
Canon M10..........4/5 Oct 2015 499i
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
7.
 
Canon G7 X4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699i
8.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
9.
 
Canon G154/5+..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
10.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
11.
 
Nikon 1 J43/5......4.5/54/5 Apr 2014 549i
12.
 
Panasonic FZ10004/5+ +..82/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899i
13.
 
Panasonic LF13/5+....4/54.5/5 Apr 2013 499 i
14.
 
Sony RX100 V4.5/5+ +..83/1004/54.5/5 Oct 2016 999 i
15.
 
Sony RX100 IV4.5/5+ +..85/1004/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999i
16.
 
Sony RX100 III5/5+ +..82/1004.5/55/5 May 2014 799i
17.
 
Sony RX1005/5+ +..78/1004/55/5 Jun 2012 649i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon G9 X:
Check Ebay offers
Canon S120:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon G9 X 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 G9 X Canon S120
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 28-84mm f/2.0-4.9 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7
    Launch Date October 2015 August 2013
    Launch Price USD 529 USD 449
    Sensor Specs Canon G9 X Canon S120
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format 1" Sensor 1/1.7" Sensor
    Sensor Size 13.2 x 8.8 mm 7.6 x 5.7 mm
    Sensor Area 116.16 mm2 43.32 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 15.9 mm 9.5 mm
    Crop Factor 2.7x 4.5x
    Sensor Resolution 20 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5472 x 3648 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 2.41 μm 1.89 μm
    Pixel Density 17.18 MP/cm2 27.70 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 125 - 12,800 ISO 80 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 6 Digic 6
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.5 21.3
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.3 11.9
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 495 246
    Screen Specs Canon G9 X Canon S120
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder no viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon G9 X Canon S120
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/2000s 1/2000s
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s 12.1 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Canon G9 X Canon S120
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Body Specs Canon G9 X Canon S120
    Battery Type NB-13L NB-6LH
    Battery Life (CIPA)220 shots per charge230 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging no USB charging
    Body Dimensions 98 x 58 x 31 mm
    (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 in)
    100 x 59 x 29 mm
    (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
    Camera Weight 209 g (7.4 oz) 217 g (7.7 oz)
    Canon G9 X:
    Check Ebay offers
    Canon S120:
    Check Ebay offers

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