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Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS - Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


Canon's compact cameras usually have great overall performance, and the IXUS 120 IS is a lot quicker to operate than most of its immediate rivals. It starts up in approximately 1.3 seconds, which is very fast, and shuts down again in just less than two seconds. In single-shot mode at maximum image quality it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately 2.1 seconds, which is certainly above average, while in continuous shooting mode it can maintain one frame a second, which is quite fast for a 12MP ultra-compact.

As usual Canon's autofocus system is excellent, locking on quickly and accurately in virtually any lighting conditions. Even the usually annoying AiAF multi-zone focusing system seems to be more predictable than usual. The camera has a good bright AF assist lamp with a range of at least a couple of metres, just what you need for low-light snapshots on a night out. The flash is also surprisingly bright for its size, living up to its claimed four metre maximum range.

It's unusual for image quality to be a weak point for a Canon camera, but this is the case for the IXUS 120 IS. It's not that the image quality is particularly bad, more that the rest of the camera is so good. There are a couple of minor issues though. The lens does produce quite noticeable barrel distortion at wide angle, and there is some chromatic aberration at the far corners of the frame. Edge-to-edge sharpness is very good though.

Image noise control is superb, with usable images at 800 ISO, and even at the pixel-binned maximum of 1600 ISO there is little visible noise, although some detail is lost. Exposure and white balance remain consistent in all shooting conditions. The overall level of recorded detail is extremely high, but as usual with 12MP compacts there is a slight hint of over-processing. Dynamic range is also somewhat limited, with a tendency to preserve shadow detail at the cost of burned-out highlights, even when using the i-Contrast feature.


There's no question that the Canon IXUS 120 IS is a lovely little camera. It is extremely well made, looks great, is easy to use and performs well in all lighting conditions, and it takes a decent picture. The only real downside is its extremely high price. If it drops by £70 it can have an extra point.


January 17, 2010, 9:59 pm

Any comment on why the body of the tested camera is all scratched and marked? If I paid £260 for a status symbol camera, I'd be pretty annoyed if it very quickly looked all and scratched and scruffy through kust normal use..


January 18, 2010, 1:00 am

The value score seems a bit mean... how many other cameras of that size + price can take pictures that good? The performance ISO performance for example seems to match that of some DSLRs.


January 19, 2010, 4:15 pm

Looks great. But where has your forum gone? Why is it broken still? Is anyone actually fixing it?

Cliff Smith

January 21, 2010, 5:34 pm

Noodles - The cameras was marked like that when I recieved it, presumably by a previous reviewer who is less careful when handling loaned cameras. The body is aluminiunm and can be scratched by contact with harder materials, but it's not especially prone to damage.

Williamn - May I direct your attention to the Panasonic FS62, and also to the Nikon S640 review which I'll be adding later today. Both have optical image stabilisation and good image quality and cost a lot less than the IXUS 120.

John - No idea, and to be honest I hadn't even noticed that it was broken. Does anyone have an answer for this one? Do we really need a forum anymore when we have this comments section?


February 8, 2010, 8:23 pm

I bought one of these, but it soon went wrong. On inspection there was apparently moisture getting into the works. Jessops said Canon advised this was the customer problem. Apparently it is not, and I quote, 'weatherproof' - it's says so in the manual.

Also, they advised and again I quote 'not to take it to a hot country' as that might cause atmostpheric moiture. They wanted me to pay £150.00 to fix it. No more Canon products for me... If you want a camera that will work reliably in a hot country, or indeed where there is weather, I would choose another one.


February 27, 2010, 6:35 am

Got it for £166 and also bought the IXUS blue coloured camera purse bag with it for £10.5, looks really elegant with the two together, got it for a birthday present for my wife and she really likes it.

I guess I got lucky as they brought the price down because the IXUS 130 is coming out.

Planning to get the Lumix-GF1 for myself, and crossing my fingers that the price will somehow come down too.

Ashutosh Ranjan

May 12, 2010, 5:52 pm

I have bought this canon camera. and have all features that a user required. the <a href="http://www.clickindia.com/e... digital cameras</a> are really affordable and stylish in design. anyone one can gift this to his loved ones.

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