Canon S120 vs Pentax K-5
The Canon PowerShot S120 and the Pentax K-5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2013 and September 2010. The S120 is a fixed lens compact, while the K-5 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (S120) and an APS-C (K-5) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 16.1 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 Pentax K-5? 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 Pentax K-5 is provided 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 measures 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 Pentax K-5 is considerably larger (115 percent) than the Canon S120. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-5 is splash and dust-proof, while the S120 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the S120 has a lens built in, whereas the K-5 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon S120||100 mm||59 mm||29 mm||217 g||230||n||Aug 2013||449|
|2.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|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 LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499|
|12.||Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-50||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||Jun 2013||599|
|15.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|16.||Pentax K-30||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||May 2012||849|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|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 K-5, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 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 Pentax K-5 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the K-5 is 765 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.5 and 1.5. The sensor in the S120 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the K-5 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 16.1MP, the K-5 offers a higher resolution than the S120 (12MP), but the K-5 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.81μm versus 1.89μm for the S120) due to its larger sensor. However, the S120 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 11 months) than the K-5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax K-5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 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 Pentax K-5 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-51200.
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 K-5 offers substantially better image quality than the S120 (overall score 26 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.4 bits higher color depth, 2.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the S120 provides a higher frame rate than the K-5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/25p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the K-5 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon S120, the Pentax K-5, and comparable 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|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The S120 has a touchscreen, while the K-5 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The Canon S120 and the Pentax K-5 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the S120 and the K-5 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 K-5 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 Pentax K-5 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.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the S120 offers wifi support, while the K-5 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-5 (unlike the S120) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the S120 and the K-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The K-5 was replaced by the Pentax K-5 II, 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 Pentax websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon S120 and the Pentax K-5? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot S120:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/25p).
- 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 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the K-5 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 131x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the K-5).
- 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 at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the K-5 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16.1 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 18%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (26 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.2 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s 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 (740 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.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2010).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-5 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 10 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 Pentax K-5 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 K-5 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|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 LF1||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|12.||Panasonic LX7||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-50||5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||599|
|15.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|16.||Pentax K-30||4/5||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||849|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Canon S120 vs Pentax K-5
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||Pentax K-5|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||24-120mm f/1.8-5.7||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2013||September 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 449||USD 1,099|
|Sensor Specs||Canon S120||Pentax K-5|
|Sensor Format||1/1.7" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||7.6 x 5.7 mm||23.7 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||43.32 mm2||372.09 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||9.5 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||4928 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.89 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||27.70 MP/cm2||4.32 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/25p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||Digic 6||PRIME II|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||82|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.3||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.9||14.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||246||1162|
|Screen Specs||Canon S120||Pentax K-5|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon S120||Pentax K-5|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||12.1 shutter flaps/s||7 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|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon S120||Pentax K-5|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon S120||Pentax K-5|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||230 shots per charge||740 shots per charge|
100 x 59 x 29 mm
(3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
131 x 97 x 73 mm
(5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||217 g (7.7 oz)||760 g (26.8 oz)|
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