Canon S120 vs Panasonic GF6
The Canon PowerShot S120 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2013 and April 2013. The S120 is a fixed lens compact, while the GF6 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (S120) and a Four Thirds (GF6) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon S120 and the Panasonic GF6. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The GF6 can be obtained in four different colors (black, brown, red, white), 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 Panasonic GF6 is notably larger (22 percent) than the Canon S120. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the S120 nor the GF6 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 GF6 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 GF6 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
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.||Panasonic GF6||111 mm||65 mm||38 mm||323 g||340||n||Apr 2013||499|
|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 P7800||119 mm||78 mm||50 mm||399 g||350||n||Sep 2013||549|
|11.||Panasonic GF7||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||266 g||230||n||Jan 2015||499|
|12.||Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|13.||Panasonic LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499|
|14.||Panasonic GF5||108 mm||67 mm||37 mm||267 g||360||n||Apr 2012||499|
|15.||Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499|
|16.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599|
|17.||Panasonic G1||124 mm||84 mm||45 mm||360 g||410||n||Sep 2008||599|
|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 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 S120 was launched at a lower price than the GF6, despite having a lens built in. 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.
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. 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon S120 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Panasonic GF6 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF6 is 423 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.5 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
With 15.8MP, the GF6 offers a higher resolution than the S120 (12MP), but the GF6 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.77μm versus 1.89μm for the S120) due to its larger sensor. However, the S120 is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 months) than the GF6, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic GF6 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GF6 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.2 inches or 58.3 x 43.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.7 x 35 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.3 x 11.5 inches or 38.9 x 29.2 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 are ISO 160 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 160-25600.
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. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. 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.||Panasonic GF6||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||20.7||10.6||622||54|
|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.||Panasonic GF7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|14.||Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|16.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|17.||Panasonic G1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||none||21.1||10.3||463||53|
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 GF6. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Panasonic is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The S120 and the GF6 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon S120 and Panasonic GF6 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|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|
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 GF6 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 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 GF6 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF6 was replaced by the Panasonic GF7, 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 Panasonic websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon S120 better than the Panasonic GF6 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot S120:
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12.1 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the GF6 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 111x65mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the GF6).
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 4 months after the GF6).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.8 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 15%.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (340 versus 230) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2013).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (10 points each). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon S120 and the Panasonic GF6 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the S120 or the GF6 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], 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.||Panasonic GF6||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|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 P7800||3/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||549|
|11.||Panasonic GF7||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||499|
|12.||Panasonic G6||4/5||+ +||..||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|13.||Panasonic LF1||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|14.||Panasonic GF5||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499|
|15.||Panasonic LX7||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499|
|16.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|17.||Panasonic G1||..||+ +||70/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2008||599|
|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? 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.
Specifications: Canon S120 vs Panasonic GF6
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||Panasonic GF6|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-120mm f/1.8-5.7||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2013||April 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 449||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon S120||Panasonic GF6|
|Sensor Format||1/1.7" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||7.6 x 5.7 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||43.32 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||9.5 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||15.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||4592 x 3448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.89 μm||3.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||27.70 MP/cm2||7.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 12,800 ISO||160 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||160 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||Digic 6||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||54|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.3||20.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.9||10.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||246||622|
|Screen Specs||Canon S120||Panasonic GF6|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon S120||Panasonic GF6|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||12.1 shutter flaps/s||4.2 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||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon S120||Panasonic GF6|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon S120||Panasonic GF6|
|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)
111 x 65 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||217 g (7.7 oz)||323 g (11.4 oz)|
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