Much like the its performance, the Canon S120's image quality is very strong. Indeed, it doesn't differ a great deal from the Canon G16, somewhat unsurprisingly considering they use a lot of the same imaging technology.
What this means is elements, such as the image noise control at higher ISO settings, is impressive. There's very little in terms of image noise up to ISO 800, although noise does become more evident between ISO 1600 and ISO 6400. Although the S120 does have a highest ISO setting of 12,800, image noise becomes such an issue at this setting that it's best avoided on the whole unless in cases of emergency.
The camera's resolution of 12.1MP may not be as high as some of the S120's competitors, but the slightly larger 1/1.7-inch sensor means the level of detail it captures is impressive, too.
The larger sensor also delivers a better level of performance dynamic range in comparison to some other advanced compacts, and the same has to be said about the camera's colour depth.
It's noticeable that the camera does produce somewhat oversaturated images in the standard settings, although the full range of 'My Colour' settings allow for this to be easily changed.
Also, the camera's multi-zone metering is pleasingly consistent, delivering even exposures in a host of different lighting conditions. The model's impressive native dynamic range can be further expanded through the addition of the camera's HDR mode and DR correction setting, which brings out further detail.
There’s no denying that the current price of the Canon S120 is towards the high-end of the spectrum. In terms of price, the real competitors are the Sony RX100 and the Fujifilm QX1, although both of these cameras are reasonably larger and certainly not as pocketable.
So despite this high price tag, if you’re looking for a truly pocketable compact camera that delivers some excellent image quality then the Canon S120 further cements the ‘S’ series as a leader in this particular field. Its outstanding design and diminutive size ensure this, though it's probably worth waiting for the price to come down a little.
If you can stomach the high price tag, or are happy to wait a while for the price to drop a bit, the S120 is one of the best small compacts money can buy.