Canon SX120 IS Gallery

Most of my work is on film (here's why), but here's a gallery of images I've made with the Canon SX120 IS.  This camera has a small (1/2.3") sensor, so it's not for high-ISO work, but what it is good for is daylight or flash photography.   It's a portable, compact, fun little camera that also happens to be nicely designed. 

Pocket digicams like the SX120 are not known for their great dynamic range, but then again, almost any digital camera can blow out highlights.  Mainly, you just have to pick scenes carefully.   That's the tradeoff we get for the convenience of digital, I guess. 

The SX120 is still a worthy camera in 2014.  They can be had used on the 'bay for under a hundred bucks.  Or, you can pick up one of the successors to this camera:  the SX150 (14 MP;  12x zoom);  the SX160 (16 MP;  16x zoom);  or the SX170 (16 MP;  16x zoom) brand-new.  The SX170 can zoom while shooting video, and it has a slightly nicer-looking chassis than the SX160. 

Tall Tree

August, 2011
ISO 100
f/8 @ 1/250th
Colors are as-taken, no adjustment

First posted on-line June 3, 2014

I almost never display digital photos as-is, but once in a while you can find a scene that really works well and doesn't require any kind of adjustment.  Actually, there are a couple minor things I would change here, but right now it looks pretty OK to me.  The Canon color palette is probably the best starting point in the digital camera world (just my opinion). 

Thunderheads at the Big K

September 3, 2011
ISO 100
f/3.2 @ 1/250th

Saturation adjustments (etc)

First posted on-line June 3, 2014

When I look through some of the images taken with the Canon SX120, I'm occasionally surprised that such a tiny-sensor camera could have produced such nice pictures.  Sure, if you look at the pictures up close there will be stuff like hazy detail, JPG artifacts, and all that, but most people will not notice that sort of thing.  You could actually make some pretty good-sized enlargements and I really doubt anyone will know what kind of camera you used.  Ten megapixels is plenty for the average casual photographer.   If I'd brought a Canon SX120 on this trip, it would have been great.  The only thing Canon really should have done on this camera (but didn't) was to equip it with a viewfinder.  It is LCD-only, which means that in bright sunlight you might not be able to see the screen.

Autumn Foliage

Oct. 18, 2011
ISO 100
f/5.6 @ 1/40th sec.
Colors are as-taken, no adjustment

Click here for full-size version

First posted on-line June 3, 2014

The image stabilization works really well.  It gives probably three full stops of stabilization.  A lot of newbies don't realize that image stabilization has its limits, though.  Point-and-shoots simply do not have the specs to handle indoor photography of people and pets, unless you use the flash.  If your primary goal is photographing your kids in ambient light, you shouldn't even be looking at a point and shoot.  Get a DSLR such as the Canon Rebel T3 and be done with it.  (Read my review of the T3 here;  photo gallery here.)  Another great choice for a beginner is the Nikon D3200 or D3300.

By the way, I haven't bothered to find where the exact sharpest setting is for the SX120's lens.  What I do know is that diffraction limiting is already starting to happen by around f/4, due to the small sensor.  Use the SX120 at the widest aperture possible, generally.  I like to use Aperture-Priority mode on this camera most of the time. 

November Sunset

Nov. 20, 2012
ISO 80
f/5 @ 1/160th sec.

This picture was almost straight-from-camera.  The only adjustments were to increase the saturation and the brightness / contrast.  In other words, no fancy post-processing.   This is stuff you could do with just about any software.

Know what would have been easier?  Just set the My Colors mode on the camera to Vivid, and it probably would have looked about like this from the start.

Either way, the Powershot SX120 is good enough to yield some pretty nice pictures... even without tons and tons of work after-the-fact.

A Late Afternoon in December

Dec. 11, 2012
ISO 80
f/3.5 @ 1/125th sec.
Saturation as-is, with minor channel mixer adjustments.

Compare with this photo from a DSLR!

First posted on-line June 3, 2014

Over the years I've used a lot of cameras (which I'll try to find the time to review, eventually).  In digital, I've used everything from pocket digicams to full-frame DSLR's.  The only thing I haven't yet tried, due to the expense, is medium format digital.  And yet, after all this time, the Canon SX120 is still one of my favorite cameras to tote along almost anywhere for daylight photos.  Sure, it's not the camera for low-light situations, but for what it is, the SX120 is pretty good.   Here's what I like most about it:  Canon included manual modes, exposure compensation, and even manual focus.  The physical control set may be a little thin compared to what you get on a DSLR;  but compared to a smartphone, I'll choose the Canon SX120.  Most smartphones are either stuck at one focal length, or else they use digital zoom (cropping).   And their controls are virtual, rather than real physical buttons and dials.

If I wanted to buy new, today I would get a Canon SX170, SX160, or SX150.  Get yours through these links and it helps keep my site on-line.  By the way, make sure you get Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries for it.  (Don't forget to buy a charger... this one is the best I've tried.)   Digital cameras were not designed for alkalines, because they run down too fast.  (Alkalines work great in film cameras, because they don't have as many electronic functions.)

Please help me keep this website going by using the links to purchase any of your gear... cameras, batteries, chargers, tablet PC's, or just about anything else.

Thanks for reading!

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