Canon S120 vs Leica Q2
The Canon PowerShot S120 and the Leica Q2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2013 and March 2019. Both the S120 and the Q2 are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on a 1/1.7-inch (S120) and a full frame (Q2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 46.7 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 PowerShot S120 and the Leica Q2? 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 S120 and the Leica Q2 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth 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 Leica Q2 is considerably larger (76 percent) than the Canon S120. Moreover, the Q2 is substantially heavier (231 percent) than the S120. It is noteworthy in this context that the Q2 is splash and dust-proof, while the S120 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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.
|1.||Canon S120||100 mm||59 mm||29 mm||217 g||230||n||Aug 2013||449|
|2.||Leica Q2||130 mm||80 mm||92 mm||718 g||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||206 g||235||n||Jan 2017||529|
|4.||Canon G9 X||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||209 g||220||n||Oct 2015||529|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||116 mm||74 mm||66 mm||553 g||240||n||Feb 2014||799|
|6.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|7.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799|
|8.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499|
|9.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429|
|10.||Leica M10-R||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jul 2020||8,295|
|11.||Leica M10-P||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995|
|12.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|13.||Leica M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195|
|14.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|15.||Nikon P7800||119 mm||78 mm||50 mm||399 g||350||n||Sep 2013||549|
|16.||Panasonic LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499|
|17.||Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 markedly lower price (by 91 percent) than the Q2, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 Leica Q2 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the Q2 is 1909 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.5 and 1.0. The sensor in the S120 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the Q2 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 46.7MP, the Q2 offers a higher resolution than the S120 (12MP), but the Q2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.30μm versus 1.89μm for the S120) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the Q2 is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 6 months) than the S120, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the Q2 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Leica Q2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the Q2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41.8 x 27.9 inches or 106.3 x 70.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 33.5 x 22.3 inches or 85 x 56.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.9 x 18.6 inches or 70.8 x 47.3 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 S120 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica Q2 are ISO 50 to ISO 50000 (no boost).
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 Q2 offers substantially better image quality than the S120 (overall score 40 points higher). The advantage is based on 5.1 bits higher color depth, 1.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 3.3 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.
| DXO |
|2.||Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.9||12.5||522||65|
|4.||Canon G9 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.5||12.3||495||63|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58|
|7.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
|10.||Leica M10-R||Full Frame||40.9||7864||5200||none||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|13.||Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the Q2 provides a better video resolution than the S120. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the Q2 has an electronic viewfinder (3680k 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon S120 and Leica Q2 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||8.2||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G9 X||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||6.0||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0||922||Swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y|
|13.||Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|14.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The S120 has one, while the Q2 does not. While the built-in flash of the S120 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the Q2 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Canon S120 and the Leica Q2 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.
The S120 is equipped with a zoom lens, while the Q2 comes with a built-in prime. The S120 has a 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 optic and the Q2 offers a 28mm f/1.7 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Canon provides a wider angle of view at the short end, as well as more tele-photo reach at the long end than the Leica. The Q2 offers the faster maximum aperture.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the S120 and the Q2 write their files to SDXC cards. The Q2 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the S120 can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 Leica Q2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G9 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the Q2 has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The S120 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
The Q2 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the S120 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the S120 from Canon. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Leica websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon S120 or the Leica Q2 – 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 moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
- More compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 130x80mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 501g or 70 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (91 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2013).
Advantages of the Leica Q2:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (46.7 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 101%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (40 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (5.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (3.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 12.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/1.7 vs f/1.8).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (370 versus 230) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 6 months of technical progress since the S120 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Q2 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 7 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon S120 and the Leica Q2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the S120 and the Q2 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.
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], 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 S120||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||449|
|2.||Leica Q2||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2019||4,995|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||4/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||529|
|4.||Canon G9 X||3.5/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||529|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||3/5||+||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799|
|6.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|7.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799|
|8.||Canon G15||4/5||+||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|9.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429|
|10.||Leica M10-R||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||Jul 2020||8,295|
|11.||Leica M10-P||..||..||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995|
|12.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|13.||Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195|
|14.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|15.||Nikon P7800||3/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||549|
|16.||Panasonic LF1||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|17.||Panasonic LX7||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 your choice using the following search menu. 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 S120 vs Leica Q2
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 S120||Leica Q2|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||24-120mm f/1.8-5.7||28mm f/1.7|
|Launch Date||August 2013||March 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 449||USD 4,995|
|Sensor Specs||Canon S120||Leica Q2|
|Sensor Format||1/1.7" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||7.6 x 5.7 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||43.32 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||9.5 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||46.7 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||8368 x 5584 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.89 μm||4.30 μm|
|Pixel Density||27.70 MP/cm2||5.41 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 12,800 ISO||50 - 50,000 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||96|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.3||26.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.9||13.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||246||2491|
|Screen Specs||Canon S120||Leica Q2|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3680k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon S120||Leica Q2|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||12.1 shutter flaps/s||20 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/40000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon S120||Leica Q2|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||no USB|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon S120||Leica Q2|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||230 shots per charge||370 shots per charge|
100 x 59 x 29 mm
(3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
130 x 80 x 92 mm
(5.1 x 3.1 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||217 g (7.7 oz)||718 g (25.3 oz)|
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