Canon S120 vs Nikon B500
The Canon PowerShot S120 and the Nikon Coolpix B500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2013 and January 2016. Both the S120 and the B500 are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on a 1/1.7-inch (S120) and a 1/2.3-inch (B500) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 15.9 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 Nikon Coolpix B500? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon S120 and the Nikon B500 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The B500 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the S120 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon B500 is considerably larger (51 percent) than the Canon S120. Moreover, the B500 is substantially heavier (149 percent) than the S120. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the S120 nor the B500 are weather-sealed.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.||Nikon B500||114 mm||78 mm||95 mm||541 g||600||n||Jan 2016||299|
|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.||Nikon B600||122 mm||82 mm||99 mm||500 g||280||n||Jan 2019||349|
|11.||Nikon P900||140 mm||103 mm||137 mm||899 g||360||n||Mar 2015||599|
|12.||Nikon L840||113 mm||78 mm||96 mm||538 g||590||n||Feb 2015||299|
|13.||Nikon P7800||119 mm||78 mm||50 mm||399 g||350||n||Sep 2013||549|
|14.||Panasonic FZ80||130 mm||94 mm||119 mm||616 g||330||n||Jan 2017||399|
|15.||Panasonic LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499|
|16.||Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499|
|17.||Sony HX80||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||390||n||Mar 2016||349|
|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 B500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 33 percent) than the S120, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
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 S120 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Nikon B500 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the B500 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.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with BSI-CMOS (Backside Illuminated Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the B500 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the S120. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.33μm versus 1.89μm for the S120). However, it should be noted that the B500 is much more recent (by 2 years and 5 months) than the S120, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the B500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon B500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the B500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 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 Nikon Coolpix B500 are ISO 80 to ISO 6400 (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. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|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|
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, but the S120 provides a higher frame rate than the B500. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The S120 and the B500 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon S120 and Nikon B500 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|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The S120 has a touchscreen, while the B500 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 S120 and the B500 have zoom lenses built in. The S120 has a 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 optic and the B500 offers a 22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Nikon provides a wider angle of view at the short end, as well as more tele-photo reach at the long end than the Canon. The S120 offers the faster maximum aperture.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the S120 and the B500 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 B500 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 Nikon Coolpix B500 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||-||-||-|
Both the S120 and the B500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The B500 was replaced by the Nikon B600, 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 and Nikon websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon S120 and the Nikon B500? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot S120:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12.1 vs 7.4 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/3.0).
- More compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 114x78mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 324g or 60 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2013).
Advantages of the Nikon Coolpix B500:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 15%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- 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.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (600 versus 230) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (33 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 5 months of technical progress since the S120 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S120 emerges as the winner of the contest (14 : 11 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 Nikon B500 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the S120 or the B500 perform in practice. 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.
This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.||Nikon B500||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2016||299|
|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.||Nikon B600||..||+||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||349|
|11.||Nikon P900||..||..||77/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2015||599|
|12.||Nikon L840||..||+ +||..||3.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||299|
|13.||Nikon P7800||3/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||549|
|14.||Panasonic FZ80||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||399|
|15.||Panasonic LF1||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|16.||Panasonic LX7||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499|
|17.||Sony HX80||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2016||349|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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 use the search menu 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.
Specifications: Canon S120 vs Nikon B500
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||Nikon B500|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||24-120mm f/1.8-5.7||22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5|
|Launch Date||August 2013||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 449||USD 299|
|Sensor Specs||Canon S120||Nikon B500|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.89 μm||1.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||27.70 MP/cm2||56.73 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 12,800 ISO||80 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.3||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.9||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||246||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon S120||Nikon B500|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon S120||Nikon B500|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||12.1 shutter flaps/s||7.4 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|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||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon S120||Nikon B500|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon S120||Nikon B500|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||230 shots per charge||600 shots per charge|
100 x 59 x 29 mm
(3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
114 x 78 x 95 mm
(4.5 x 3.1 x 3.7 in)
|Camera Weight||217 g (7.7 oz)||541 g (19.1 oz)|
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