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Canon S120 vs SX50

The Canon PowerShot S120 and the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2013 and September 2012. Both the S120 and the SX50 are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on a 1/1.7-inch (S120) and a 1/2.3-inch (SX50) 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 S120
versus
Canon SX50
Canon S120   Canon SX50
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5
12 MP – 1/1.7" sensor 12 MP – 1/2.3" sensor
1080/60p Video 1080/24p Video
ISO 80-12,800 ISO 80-6,400
No viewfinder, LCD framing Electronic viewfinder (202k dots)
3.0" LCD – 922k dots 3.0" LCD – 461k dots
Fixed touchscreen Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
12.1 shutter flaps per second 2.2 shutter flaps per second
230 shots per battery charge315 shots per battery charge
100 x 59 x 29 mm, 217 g 123 x 87 x 106 mm, 595 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot S120 and the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS? 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 S120 and the Canon SX50 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon S120 vs Canon SX50
Compare S120 versus SX50 top
Comparison S120 or SX50 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon SX50 is considerably larger (81 percent) than the Canon S120. Moreover, the SX50 is substantially heavier (174 percent) than the S120. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the S120 nor the SX50 are weather-sealed.

Concerning battery life, the S120 gets 230 shots out of its NB-6LH battery, while the SX50 can take 315 images on a single charge of its NB-10L power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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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 S120 100 mm 59 mm 29 mm 217 g 230 n Aug 2013 449ebay.com
2.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429ebay.com
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 206 g 235 n Jan 2017 529 amazon.com
4.
 
Canon G9 X 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 209 g 220 n Oct 2015 529ebay.com
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799ebay.com
6.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549ebay.com
7.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549ebay.com
8.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799ebay.com
9.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499ebay.com
10.
 
Canon SX40 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 600 g 380 n Sep 2011 429ebay.com
11.
 
Canon G12 112 mm 76 mm 48 mm 401 g 370 n Sep 2010 499ebay.com
12.
 
Panasonic LF1 103 mm 62 mm 28 mm 192 g 250 n Apr 2013 499ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic LX7 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Jul 2012 499ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499ebay.com
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 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 SX50 was somewhat cheaper (by 4 percent) than the S120 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.

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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 S120 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Canon SX50 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the SX50 is 35 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.5 and 5.6. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon S120 and Canon SX50 sensor measures

Even though the S120 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 12 megapixels. This implies that the S120 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 1.89μm versus 1.53μm for the SX50), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the S120 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the SX50, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Canon PowerShot S120 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS are ISO 80 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with BSI-CMOS (Backside Illuminated Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

S120 versus SX50 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 S120 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the SX50 (overall score 9 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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 S120 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.311.924656
2.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.912.552265
4.
 
Canon G9 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
6.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
7.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
8.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
9.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
10.
 
Canon SX40 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.610.940941
11.
 
Canon G12 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/24p20.411.216147
12.
 
Panasonic LF1 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.811.621152
13.
 
Panasonic LX7 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p20.711.714750
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the S120 provides a higher frame rate than the SX50. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the SX50 is limited to 1080/24p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the SX50 has an electronic viewfinder (202k dots), which can be very helpful 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 S120, the Canon SX50, and comparable 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 S120none n3.0 / 922 fixed Y 1/2000s 12.1/s Y Y
2.
 
Canon SX50202 n3.0 / 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2/s Y Y
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark IInone n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 8.2/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon G9 Xnone n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 6.0/s Y Y
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX60922 n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4/s Y Y
7.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2/s Y Y
8.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/4000s 1.9/s Y Y
9.
 
Canon G15optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1/s Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX40202 n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/3200s 10.3/s Y Y
11.
 
Canon G12optical n2.8 / 461 swivel n 1/4000s 1.1/s Y Y
12.
 
Panasonic LF1200 n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0/s Y Y
13.
 
Panasonic LX7optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The S120 has a touchscreen, while the SX50 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The SX50 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the S120 does not have a selfie-screen.

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 S120 and the SX50 have zoom lenses built in. The S120 has a 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 optic and the SX50 offers a 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the S120 and SX50 provide the same view at the wide-angle end, but the SX50 has more tele-photo reach at the long end. The S120 offers the faster maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the S120 and the SX50 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 SX50 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

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 S120 and Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 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 S120-stereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
2.
 
Canon SX50Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon G9 X-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX60Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
8.
 
Canon G1 XYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon G15Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon SX40Ystereo / mono--YES2.0---
11.
 
Canon G12Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic LF1-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
13.
 
Panasonic LX7Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo / ---mini2.0---

It is notable that the S120 offers wifi support, while the SX50 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the S120 and the SX50 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The SX50 was replaced by the Canon SX60, 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon S120 or the Canon SX50 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot S120:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/24p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 461k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12.1 vs 2.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/1.8 vs f/3.4).
  • More compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 123x87mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 378g or 64 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • 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: Is somewhat more recent (announced 11 months after the SX50).


Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS:

  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (315 versus 230) out of 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).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S120 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 7 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 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.

S120 14:07 SX50

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon S120 and the Canon SX50 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best Superzoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the S120 and the SX50 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 S120..+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 449ebay.com
2.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429ebay.com
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II4/5..4/575/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 529 amazon.com
4.
 
Canon G9 X3.5/5+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529ebay.com
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799ebay.com
6.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549ebay.com
7.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549ebay.com
8.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+..76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799ebay.com
9.
 
Canon G154/5+..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499ebay.com
10.
 
Canon SX40..+....4.5/54/5 Sep 2011 429ebay.com
11.
 
Canon G124/5+..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 499ebay.com
12.
 
Panasonic LF13/5+....4/54.5/5 Apr 2013 499ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic LX73/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2012 499ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +..76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

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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 use the search menu 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 S120 vs Canon SX50

    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 S120 Canon SX50
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5
    Launch Date August 2013 September 2012
    Launch Price USD 449 USD 429
    Sensor Specs Canon S120 Canon SX50
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/1.7" Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 7.6 x 5.7 mm 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 43.32 mm2 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 9.5 mm 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 4.5x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 12 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.89 μm 1.53 μm
    Pixel Density 27.70 MP/cm2 42.74 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 1080/24p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 12,800 ISO 80 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor Digic 6 DIGIC 5
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 56 47
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.3 20.3
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.9 11.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 246 179
    Screen Specs Canon S120 Canon SX50
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Resolution 202k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 461k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon S120 Canon SX50
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peakingno Peaking Feature
    Continuous Shooting 12.1 shutter flaps/s 2.2 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    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 no
    Connectivity Specs Canon S120 Canon SX50
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon S120 Canon SX50
    Battery Type NB-6LH NB-10L
    Battery Life (CIPA)230 shots per charge315 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 100 x 59 x 29 mm
    (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
    123 x 87 x 106 mm
    (4.8 x 3.4 x 4.2 in)
    Camera Weight 217 g (7.7 oz) 595 g (21.0 oz)
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