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Canon S120 vs T3

The Canon PowerShot S120 and the Canon EOS Rebel T3 (labelled Canon 1100D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2013 and February 2011. The S120 is a fixed lens compact, while the T3 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (S120) and an APS-C (T3) sensor. The S120 has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the T3 provides 12.2 MP.

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 T3
Canon S120   Canon T3
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 Canon EF mount lenses
12 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60p Video 720/30p Video
ISO 80-12,800 ISO 100-6,400
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 922k dots 2.7 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
12.1 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
230 shots per battery charge700 shots per battery charge
100 x 59 x 29 mm, 217 g 130 x 100 x 78 mm, 495 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot S120 and the Canon EOS Rebel T3? 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 S120 and the Canon T3. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon S120 vs Canon T3
Compare S120 versus T3 top
Comparison S120 or T3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon T3 is considerably larger (120 percent) than the Canon S120. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the S120 nor the T3 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the S120 has a lens built in, whereas the T3 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 T3 and their specifications in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the S120 gets 230 shots out of its NB-6LH battery, while the T3 can take 700 images on a single charge of its LP-E10 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 449i
2.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
3.
 
Canon T100 129 mm 102 mm 77 mm 436 g 500 n Feb 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 206 g 235 n Jan 2017 529 i
5.
 
Canon G9 X 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 209 g 220 n Oct 2015 529i
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799i
7.
 
Canon T5 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
8.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
9.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
10.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499i
11.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
12.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
13.
 
Canon XS 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449i
14.
 
Nikon P7800 119 mm 78 mm 50 mm 399 g 350 n Sep 2013 549i
15.
 
Panasonic LF1 103 mm 62 mm 28 mm 192 g 250 n Apr 2013 499 i
16.
 
Panasonic LX7 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Jul 2012 499i
Notes: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon S120 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Canon T3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the T3 is 651 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.5 and 1.6. The sensor in the S120 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the T3 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon S120 and Canon T3 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the T3 offers a higher resolution than the S120 (12MP), but the T3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.15μm versus 1.89μm for the S120) due to its larger sensor. However, the S120 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 6 months) than the T3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The Canon PowerShot S120 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS Rebel T3 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

S120 versus T3 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 T3 has a markedly higher DXO score than the S120 (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.6 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 T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
3.
 
Canon T100 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.469563
4.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.912.552265
5.
 
Canon G9 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
7.
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
8.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
9.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
10.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
11.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
12.
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
13.
 
Canon XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.478364
14.
 
Nikon P7800 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/30p21.211.720054
15.
 
Panasonic LF1 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.811.621152
16.
 
Panasonic LX7 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p20.711.714750
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. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the S120 provides a higher video resolution than the T3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the T3 is limited to 720/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the T3 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon S120 and Canon T3 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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon S120none n3.0 / 922 fixed Y 1/2000s 12.1 Y Y
2.
 
Canon T3optical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon T100optical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon G9 X Mark IInone n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 8.2 Y Y
5.
 
Canon G9 Xnone n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 6.0 Y Y
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
7.
 
Canon T5optical n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
8.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
9.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
10.
 
Canon G15optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1 Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX50202 n3.0 / 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
12.
 
Canon T4ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
13.
 
Canon XSoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon P7800921 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
15.
 
Panasonic LF1200 n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0 Y Y
16.
 
Panasonic LX7optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The S120 has a touchscreen, while the T3 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.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the S120 and the T3 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 T3 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 EOS Rebel T3 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 T3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon T100Ymono / mono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
5.
 
Canon G9 X-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon T5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
9.
 
Canon G1 XYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon G15Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Canon SX50Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Canon T4iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
13.
 
Canon XSY- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon P7800Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic LF1-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
16.
 
Panasonic LX7Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the S120 offers wifi support, while the T3 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the S120 and the T3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The T3 was replaced by the Canon T5, 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 is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon S120 or the Canon T3 – 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.


Advantages of the Canon PowerShot S120:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/30p).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k 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 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 a built-in lens, while the T3 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 130x100mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the T3).
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • 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: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the T3 launch.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel T3:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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 flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (700 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 around for much longer (launched in February 2011).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the S120 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 8 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.

S120 14:08 T3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon S120 and the Canon T3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best DSLR 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 S120 or the T3 perform in practice. 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 449i
2.
 
Canon T3..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
3.
 
Canon T100..o3/5..3.5/53.5/5 Feb 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II4/5..4/575/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 529 i
5.
 
Canon G9 X3.5/5+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529i
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
7.
 
Canon T53/5+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
8.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
9.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+..76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
10.
 
Canon G154/5+..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
11.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
12.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
13.
 
Canon XS..82/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
14.
 
Nikon P78003/5......4/54.5/5 Sep 2013 549i
15.
 
Panasonic LF13/5+....4/54.5/5 Apr 2013 499 i
16.
 
Panasonic LX73/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2012 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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.

Canon S120:
Check Ebay offers
Canon T3:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Canon S120 vs Canon T3

    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 T3
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2013 February 2011
    Launch Price USD 449 USD 449
    Sensor Specs Canon S120 Canon T3
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/1.7" Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 7.6 x 5.7 mm 22.0 x 14.7 mm
    Sensor Area 43.32 mm2 323.4 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 9.5 mm 26.5 mm
    Crop Factor 4.5x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 12 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 pixels 4272 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.89 μm 5.15 μm
    Pixel Density 27.70 MP/cm2 3.76 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor Digic 6 DIGIC 4
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 56 62
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.3 21.9
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.9 11.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 246 755
    Screen Specs Canon S120 Canon T3
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon S120 Canon T3
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peakingno Peaking Feature
    Continuous Shooting 12.1 shutter flaps/s 3 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 T3
    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 T3
    Battery Type NB-6LH LP-E10
    Battery Life (CIPA)230 shots per charge700 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 100 x 59 x 29 mm
    (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
    130 x 100 x 78 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 217 g (7.7 oz) 495 g (17.5 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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