Canon S120 Review

 
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Canon S120 Performance


Timing and Performance

Generally very good performance for its class, though RAW burst mode is slow.

Startup/Shutdown/Play to Record/Buffer Clearing

Power on
to first shot

~1.5 seconds

Time it takes for LCD to turn on and lens to deploy and capture a picture.

Play to Record,
first shot

~1.3 seconds

Time until first shot is captured.

Buffer clearing time

5 seconds
after 30 LSF JPEGs*
2 seconds
after 30 RAW files*
3 seconds
after 30 RAW+JPEG files*

Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't retract their lenses and shut down until the buffer is cleared.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s UHS-I SDHC memory card. Slower cards may produce correspondingly slower clearing times.

The Canon PowerShot S120 took about 1.5 seconds to power on and take a shot in our tests. That's pretty good for its class. Switching from Play to Record mode and taking a shot took 1.7 seconds. Buffer clearing was quite fast with a fast UHS-I card.

 

Shutter Response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus Wide

0.173 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at wide angle position.

Full Autofocus Tele

0.304 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at telephoto position.

Full Autofocus
Flash enabled

0.710 second

Time to capture while forcing flash to fire, zoom lens at wide angle position.

Manual Focus

0.262 second

For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.095 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Full autofocus shutter lag was very fast at wide angle, at only 0.17 second. (That's faster than most DSLRs!) At full telephoto, full autofocus shutter lag was noticeably slower at 0.30 second, but that's still quite good for a compact. Enabling the flash increases that to 0.71 second, though. Manual focus had a 0.26 second lag, pretty quick. Prefocused shutter lag was 0.095 second, which while fast, is slower than most compacts.

 

Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large Super Fine JPEG

0.94 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 2 seconds to clear.*

Single Shot mode
RAW

1.18 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 2 seconds to clear.*

Single Shot mode
RAW + LSF JPEG

1.31 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 3 seconds to clear.*

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large Super Fine JPEG

0.09 second (11.76 frames per second);
5 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 5 shots, then slows to an average of 0.11 second or 9.20 fps for 15 shots before slowing further to about 3.6 fps.

Continuous mode
RAW

0.53 second (1.87 frames per second);
30+ frames total;
2 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer of 30 shots with no signs of slowing.

Continuous mode
RAW + LSF JPEG

0.72 second (1.40 frames per second);
30+ frames total;
3 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer of 30 shots with no signs of slowing.

Flash recycling

6.2 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s UHS-I SDHC memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity also affects cycle times and burst mode performance, with higher ISOs generally increasing cycle times and reducing burst performance.

Single-shot cycle times were good, at 0.94 second for Large/Super Fine JPEGs, 1.18 seconds for RAW and 1.31 seconds for RAW+LSF JPEG files.

Continuous mode captured 5 Large/Super Fine JPEGs at a blistering 11.8 fps before decreasing to a very fast 9.20 fps. But with RAW files continuous mode slowed down dramatically. With just RAW files, the frame rate was 1.9 fps and with RAW+LSF JPEGs, the frame rate reduced further to 1.4 fps.

Buffer depths were very good. Bursts of LSF JPEGs slowed after 5 frames, however at the post-buffer-full rate of 9.2 fps the S120 managed 15 frames before slowing down further to about 3.6 fps with no apparent limit. (And that's with a difficult to compress target -- typical scenes should offer deeper buffers.) When shooting RAW or RAW+LSF JPEG files, buffer depths were over 30 frames, but keep in mind the much slower frame rates. Buffer clearing was fast with our 95MB/s UHS-I SDHC card, ranging from just under 2 seconds after a burst of 30 RAW files to 5 seconds after a burst of 30 LSF JPEGs.

The Canon S120's flash recycled in about 6.2 seconds after a full-power discharge, which is pretty slow. Flash range however was very good for its class.

 

Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

11,455 KBytes/sec*

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Canon PowerShot S120's download speeds were quite fast. Note that we used fast 95MB/s UHS-I SDHC card, so slower cards may result in slower download speeds.

Bottom line, the Canon S120's timing performance is much improved over the S110's and generally pretty good for its class, though continuous mode with RAW files is quite sluggish.


Battery Life

Fairly short battery life.

Operating Mode
Number of Shots
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery,
(CIPA standard, LCD Monitor)
230

The Canon S120's battery life has a CIPA rating of 230 shots per charge which is improved over the S110's 200 shots, but still below average. But there's an ECO mode which increases battery life to 300 shots by dimming the LCD when not in use.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))


 



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