Canon PowerShot S120 Gordon Laing, October 2013

Canon S120 vs Sony RX100 II Quality JPEG

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To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot S120 and the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings; RAW results will follow on my S120 RAW quality page.

The Canon S120 was set to 30mm equivalent and the Sony RX100 II adjusted until it matched the vertical field of view; since the Sony captures a slightly wider 3:2 shaped image there are thin vertical strips down the side of its test shot here which are effectively ignored in this comparison.

Both cameras were set to f4 in Aperture priority mode and all camera settings were left on the defaults. Stabilisation was however disabled for this tripod-mounted comparison.

  Canon PowerShot S120 results
1 Canon S120 Quality JPEG
2 Canon S120 Quality RAW
3 Canon S120 Noise JPEG
4 Canon S120 Noise RAW
5 Canon S120 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot S120. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode and f4 was selected as this produced the best result from the lens. With the sensitivity set to 80 ISO the S120 metered an exposure of 1/800. The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II also produced its best results at f4, where it metered 1/1600 with the sensitivity set to 160 ISO. The S120 JPEG file measured 5.27MB and, as usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles.

We're looking at two very different sensors here, and while both employ back-illuminated CMOS technology, they're different sizes and different resolutions. The Canon S120 employs a 1/1.7in type sensor measuring 7.4x5.6mm with 12 Megapixels, while the Sony RX100 II employs a 1in type sensor measuring 13.2x8.8mm with 20 Megapixels. As such the RX100 II sensor has 2.8 times the surface area of the S120's sensor, but also packs more pixels into it.

The higher resolution of the RX100 II is certainly delivering an image with more pixels and subsequently tighter crops, but the actual real-life detail resolved between the two models may be closer than you expect. The RX100 II is definitely resolving more detail in the distant railings on the first crop, the lettering on the second crop and the metal structure in the fourth crop, but to me it's remarkable how close the S120 gets to it considering the smaller sensor and lower resolution.

Bottom line? The RX100 II is capturing more detail, but the S120 comes closer than many might expect given their difference in sensor specifications. But is there more detail waiting to be unlocked? Both cameras can shoot in RAW and I shot this scene in their RAW+JPEG modes allowing a direct comparison. Find out how they compare in my Canon S120 RAW quality results, or skip straight to my Canon S120 noise results, or of course my verdict if you've seen enough.

Canon PowerShot S120 JPEG
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II JPEG
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 160 ISO

Canon PowerShot S120 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise
/ RAW Noise

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