Canon S120 vs Olympus XZ-2
The Canon PowerShot S120 and the Olympus XZ-2 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2013 and September 2012. Both the S120 and the XZ-2 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 11.8 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 Olympus XZ-2? 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 Olympus XZ-2 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 size 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 Olympus XZ-2 is notably larger (24 percent) than the Canon S120. Moreover, the XZ-2 is substantially heavier (59 percent) than the S120. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the S120 nor the XZ-2 are weather-sealed.
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||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599||ebay.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||529||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||116 mm||74 mm||66 mm||553 g||240||n||Feb 2014||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon G12||112 mm||76 mm||48 mm||401 g||370||n||Sep 2010||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus Stylus 1||116 mm||87 mm||57 mm||402 g||410||n||Oct 2013||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus XZ-1||111 mm||65 mm||42 mm||275 g||320||n||Jan 2011||499||ebay.com|
|15.||Panasonic LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Pentax MX-1||122 mm||61 mm||51 mm||391 g||290||n||Jan 2013||499||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The S120 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the XZ-2, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a 1/1.7-inch sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 4.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the smaller-sensor digicams that favor affordability and compact design. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the S120 offers a slightly higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 11.8 MP of the XZ-2. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the S120 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.89μm versus 1.91μm for the XZ-2). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the S120 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the XZ-2, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The Canon PowerShot S120 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus XZ-2 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
In terms of underlying technology, the S120 is build around a BSI-CMOS sensor, while the XZ-2 uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
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 S120 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the XZ-2 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 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.
|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|
|11.||Olympus Stylus 1||1/1.7||11.8||3968||2976||1080/30p||20.7||11.6||179||51|
|12.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|13.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
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 S120 provides a higher frame rate than the XZ-2. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The S120 and the XZ-2 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. That said, the XZ-2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon S120 and Olympus XZ-2 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon S120||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||Y||1/2000s||12.1/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Olympus XZ-2||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||8.2/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G9 X||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G16||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0 / 922||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon G15||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.1/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon SX50||202||n||3.0 / 461||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.2/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon G12||optical||n||2.8 / 461||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.1/s||Y||Y|
|11.||Olympus Stylus 1||1440||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||7.0/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|13.||Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|14.||Olympus XZ-1||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||n||1/2000s||2.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Panasonic LF1||200||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Panasonic LX7||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Pentax MX-1||none||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/8000s||1.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The Canon S120 and the Olympus XZ-2 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 S120 and the XZ-2 have zoom lenses built in. The S120 has a 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 optic and the XZ-2 offers a 28-112mm f/1.8-2.5 (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 Olympus. Both cameras offer the same maximum aperture.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the S120 and the XZ-2 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 XZ-2 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 Olympus XZ-2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon S120||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|2.||Olympus XZ-2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|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||-|
|6.||Canon G16||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon G15||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon SX50||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon G12||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus Stylus 1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus XZ-1||Y||mono / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Panasonic LF1||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Panasonic LX7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Pentax MX-1||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the S120 offers wifi support, while the XZ-2 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the S120 and the XZ-2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Canon and Olympus. Further information on the features and operation of the S120 and XZ-2 can be found, respectively, in the Canon S120 Manual (free pdf) or the online Olympus XZ-2 Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon S120 better than the Olympus XZ-2 or vice versa? 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 (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12.1 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- 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 compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 113x65mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 129g or 37 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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 11 months after the XZ-2).
Advantages of the Olympus XZ-2:
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (340 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 count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S120 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 5 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 Olympus XZ-2 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 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 XZ-2 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.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
|1.||Canon S120||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||449||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus XZ-2||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||4/5||..||4/5||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||529||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon G9 X||3.5/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||529||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark II||3/5||+||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon G15||4/5||+||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon G12||4/5||+||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus Stylus 1||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||699||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus XZ-1||4/5||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||499||ebay.com|
|15.||Panasonic LF1||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic LX7||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Pentax MX-1||3/5||..||..||74/100||4/5||4/5||Jan 2013||499||ebay.com|
|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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
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- Olympus XZ-2 vs Panasonic ZS80
- Olympus XZ-2 vs Pentax K-70
Specifications: Canon S120 vs Olympus XZ-2
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||Olympus XZ-2|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||24-120mm f/1.8-5.7||28-112mm f/1.8-2.5|
|Launch Date||August 2013||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 449||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon S120||Olympus XZ-2|
|Sensor Format||1/1.7" Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||7.6 x 5.7 mm||7.6 x 5.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||43.32 mm2||43.32 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||9.5 mm||9.5 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||11.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||3968 x 2976 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.89 μm||1.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||27.70 MP/cm2||27.26 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||Digic 6||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||49|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.3||20.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.9||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||246||216|
|Screen Specs||Canon S120||Olympus XZ-2|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon S120||Olympus XZ-2|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||12.1 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon S120||Olympus XZ-2|
|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||Olympus XZ-2|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||230 shots per charge||340 shots per charge|
100 x 59 x 29 mm
(3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
113 x 65 x 48 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.9 in)
|Camera Weight||217 g (7.7 oz)||346 g (12.2 oz)|
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