Canon has thrown accepted camera design out of the window for its new wi-fi enabled Canon Powershot N compact, aimed at the smartphone and Instagram generation. Here's our first impressions
Canon has brought fresh thinking to compact camera design with the introduction of the Canon Powershot N. The unusual, almost square shape of the camera, plus the absence of any conventional shutter or zoom buttons is only part of the story – it also offers some unique features on the inside.
Starting with the body design, the Canon Powershot N is designed for ‘any way up’ operation, with only a flip-up touchscreen on the back and two rings around the lens that are used to zoom and take a picture, from whichever angle the camera is being held at.
The capacitive type touch screen is a 2.8 inch PureColor II G with 461,000 dot resolution, from which most of the Canon Powershot N’s controls must be accessed. The only external buttons on the sides are for power, playback and one-touch wi-fi access.
Canon’s feature set has taken more than a little inspiration from the popularity of apps such as Instagram. The Canon Powershot N has two operational modes, normal and Creative Shot, which is the default. In this mode the camera takes creative effects modes to levels not seen before on a camera. After taking a photo, which can be bracketed for focus or exposure, it then present the users with five randomly chosen variations using the extensive selection of on-board effects, like a lucky dip. In addition to the filters the camera also applies creative crops or even change the point of focus from the original, which is also saved to the card. Alternatively, single effects can be manually selected by the user.
Compact cameras are increasingly having to offer features you can’t get on a smartphone these days, and the Powershot N offers an 8x optical zoom covering the range from 28mm – 224mm (equivalent) with lens-shift image stabilisation that offers 3.5 stops of stability. At the core of the camera is a 12.1MP 1/2.3 type back illuminated CMOS sensor, which is much bigger than you’d find on the average phone, promising greatly superior image quality.
The Canon Powershot N offers full HD 1080p video at 24fps,or 720p at 30fps, as well as super slow-mo at 640×480 pixels.
The Canon Powershot N makes sharing easy with the incorporation of one-touch wi-fi connectivity that lets users post images online direct from the camera when in a wi-fi hotspot, or transferred instantly to a smartphone or tablet using the dedicated app. With the app, GPS data can also be added to the images from the phone.
First impressions of the Canon Powershot N are generally positive. It’s very small (just 78.6 x 60.2 x 29.3 mm when the screen and lens are closed) and light, and easy to use one-handed, as intended. The design encourages shooting from unusual angles, and the ring-based zoom and shutter system is simple and intuitive to operate.
Available in a choice of black or white the Canon Powershot N will be available in April, at £269.