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Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS / PowerShot SD940 IS ELPH Ken McMahon, January 2010

Canon IXUS 120 IS / PowerShot SD940 IS ELPH verdict

The Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS / PowerShot SD940 IS Digital ELPH is a 12.1 Megapixel compact with a stabilised 4x optical zoom lens, and a 2.7in LCD screen. Just 20mm thin, it's Canon's slimmest IXUS / ELPH to date with a wide-angle lens.

Like most recent Canon compacts, the IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS has automatic scene recognition to improve exposure metering of difficult subjects and face detection for improved focussing, exposure and white balance of shots including people.

It's a capable video camera, with 720p HD recording as well as standard definition modes and an HDMI port for connection and playback on a suitably equipped TV.

Though a mid-priced compact, the IXUS 120 IS lacks fully manual operation and isn't really targetted at photo enthusiasts. It lacks any kind of manual control other than the ability to change the ISO sensitivity, white balance and a few other settings in Program mode. This is a camera clearly aimed at those for whom good looks and ease of use are top of the list.

But don't be put off by the lifestyle gadget label. The IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS is a very capable camera in a very compact package and it produces images of exceptional quality.


Compared to Canon Digital IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS Digital ELPH


The Canon IXUS 200 IS /SD 980 IS produces photos that are, in terms of size and quality near identical to those of the IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS. But these are two very different cameras in almost every other respect.

First, the IXUS 200 IS /SD 980 IS is bigger and not as pretty as the IXUS 120 IS /SD 940 IS. That's the downside, the rest is all positive.

The IXUS 200 IS /SD 980 IS has a 5x optical zoom, which although it doesn't outreach the IXUS 120 IS /SD 940 IS much at the telephoto end of its range, offers unusually wide 24mm equivalent coverage.

But the thing that most clearly sets these two cameras apart is the IXUS 200 IS / SD 980 IS's touch-activated wide screen. For HD movie shooting and playback, this can't be beaten and for 4:3 photo capture it provides space either side of the image view for touch activated icons, providing a totally different user experience.

If you like the idea of the touch-screen and wider lens, the IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS is well-worth considering. See our Canon IXUS 200 IS / SD980 IS review for more details.


Compared to Nikon COOLPIX S570


If you're looking for a camera that offers 12 Megapixel images of a comparable quality to the IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS for a lower price tag, then the Nikon COOLPIX S570 could be the answer.

The COOLPIX S570 gives nothing away in terms of image quality, with its 12 Megapixel photos being every bit as sharp, detailed and distortion-free as those of the IXUS 120 IS / SD 940 IS, while matching the more expensive (albeit smaller, and better looking) Canon compact on high ISO noise performance.

In addition, it has a 5x optical zoom, ranging from 5-25mm (28-140mm equivalent), which will get you significantly closer to the action. But there's a catch. The best video quality on the COOLPIX is standard definition 640 x 480. Not only does it lack the Canon's HD movie mode, but it also misses out on the slick menus and user-friendliness of the IXUS 120 IS /SD 940 IS.

That said, you're getting great great-quality images at a relatively low price-point, and that's why the COOLPIX S570 has become one of the best-selling compacts at the time of writing. If you're after a bargain and can live without HD video, it's well worth a look. Watch out for our upcoming full review of this model for further details.


Compared to Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS / PowerShot SD780 IS


If you're after a slim and attractive Canon compact with classy-looks, 12 Megapixels and HD video, you should also consider the similarly-styled and very popular IXUS 100 IS / SD780 IS.

This shaves a further 1.6mm from the thickness of the IXUS 120 IS / SD940 IS to become Canon's slimmest compact at the time of writing, albeit one with a shorter 3x optical zoom range (which lacks the true wide-angle) and a slightly smaller 2.5in screen.

But in the IXUS 100 IS / SD780 IS's favour is the inclusion of an optical viewfinder to save power and extend battery life - not to mention a lower price tag.

If you can live without wide-angle coverage, like the idea of having an optical viewfinder, and ultimately desire the slimmest Canon compact, then it's the model for you. You'll also be in good company as the IXUS 100 IS / SD780 IS is one of Canon's best-selling models right now.

Check out our Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS / PowerShot SD780 IS review for more details.

Canon IXUS 120 IS / SD 940 IS verdict

The Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS / PowerShot SD940 IS is a very stylish, very capable, yet extremely easy to use slim compact that produces outstanding quality photos. Canon's slimmest-ever IXUS / ELPH with wide-angle coverage has a maximum resolution of 12.1 Megapixels, an optically stabilised 4x zoom, a bright 2.7in screen, can shoot 720p HD video, and output both it and stills through an HDMI port.

The menu system has been redesigned to accommodate scene modes within the Program setting eliminating the need for a complicated mode dial and simplifying the physical camera controls. Hints and tips aid navigation through the menu system and features like auto scene recognition and face detection help to ensure that novices have the best chance of getting a good shot.

This very classy compact manages to combine A-list features with ease of use in one of the most compact bodies yet produced. If you can live without manual control and zooming while filming, it easily comes Recommended.

Good points
Slim and stylish design.
720p HD video and HDMI port.
Excellent image quality.
Redesigned menu with hints.

Bad points
No optical zoom when filming video.
Slow continuous shooting.
Poor battery life.
Playback category data not written to file.


(relative to 2010 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:


18 / 20
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17 / 20


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