"Outstanding budget "serious" camera for the enthusiast"5.0 starson by pierre53
Pros: Manual, aperture and shutter priority operation in addition to typical point & shoot modes. Traditional top dial for modes reminiscent of my old 35 mm SLR's. Neither too big or too small. Shape not as sexy as some compacts, but more practical.
Cons: If I had the choice, HDTV format would be better than standard for video. Widest angle limited to about 35 mm lens on a 35 mm camera. Would prefer a hot shoe instead of a pop-up flash. Only LCD, no optical viewfinder.
Summary: If you're an old 35 mm film hobbyist like me, you can shoot this camera the way you like, and the way you're used to.
First, it's a very comfortable & familiar camera to use. Unlike the little, shirt-pocket sized compacts, it's closer to having the heft and shape of a small SLR camera. My fingers fall right into the proper places when using it. I hate shirt pocket-sized cameras, but I love this one.
Secondly, you can use it like a manually-operated camera, or a semi-automatic camera (both shutter priority and aperture priority). If you can't afford a DSLR, or you can but you want something easier to carry around with you, this is the closest you can get to a small camera that operates like a familiar DSLR, or even an old Pentax, Nikon or Canon film SLR. Me, I like to know what the camera is doing, and even when I used it automatically, I prefer the traditional "Program" mode, centre-weigthed metering, and centre-focus. The camera also has canned point & shoot "scene" modes, but unlike most compacts, it doesn't limit you to those, and unlike many other compacts which do have some manual controls, the SX120 doesn't have any limitations, like restricting you to only a few shutter speeds or apertures. You have the full range available. Even in auto modes, you're not limited to maximum shutter speeds like 4 seconds or whatever. Instead, it's pretty much like any film SLR you ever used.
Some reviewers think having a flash that you have to pop-up when you want it is a disadvantage, for I love this feature. Most of my shooting doesn't involve flash anyway, and when it does, I just pop it up. Moreover, when it's up, it's not located where you can easily obstruct the flash with a finger, unlike many compact point & shoots. Again, it just reminds me of a traditional SLR.
I like to be able to use a tripod, and the shoe on this camera is located more traditionally, near the middle. It's not relegated to the far end of the underside. Seems to be polycarbonate. I would have preferred a metal tripod mount, but I can live with it. When you do mount this camera on a tripod, you don't get the impression that the tripod head is larger than the camera... another advantage of the larger body. It sits on the tripod just like a normal camera does.
I shoot pictures. I don't do image analysis. For the former, the SX120 provides as good an image quality as anything else in this class. You will not be disappointed if you use the camera properly with the optimal settings for whatever kind of photographs you are making.
All in all, this is no point & shoot compact. It's more like a compact DSLR but without interchangeable lenses. So, while you can hand the SX120 over to a child or to your grandmother to take a snapshot, this is definitely an enthusiast's camera. Now, I'm talking about a photography enthusiast, not necessarily a techno-geek who is more interested in specs and the latest whizz-bang features. It's just a real, stand up camera, and I can't imagine anyone going wrong with it.
Thank you so much Canon for realizing that not every amateur photographer can afford or is willing to spend hundreds of dollars for some real camera control.