PetaPixel

Hands-On With the Portable and Flexible Canon PowerShot N

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Canon’s attention grabber at this year’s CES 2013 is a new compact camera designed to fight against the encroachment of smartphones: the PowerShot N.

The little guy is unlike most point-and-shoots you’ll find on the market. It’s extremely small, square, and simple. The design may seem gimmicky at first, but pick it up in your hands and your opinion might change.

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It seems like a camera that required a good deal of thought to design. Some might even call it “Apple-esque.” The thing even resembles an oversized iPod Nano (the square kind).

The uber-compact body looks and feels nice in the hand, and can easily be carried around in your pocket without causing too much of a bulge. It’s light, and won’t weigh you or your bag down if you carry it around everywhere you go.

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It’s a camera that’s just as compact as a smartphone, but offers nice advantages: a longer-reaching optical lens and a larger sensor are two of the main ones.

The camera hides its size very nicely when it’s off and tucked away. When you turn it on, it expands in a couple of different directions.

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First, the lens extends out of the body when you turn it on, and extends even more when you zoom into the scene. There isn’t a separate zoom control like you’ll find on most compact cameras — the zoom mechanism is the outer ring of the base of the lens. Turn the ring, and the lens extends (by wire, not mechanically).

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The screen on the back and also be tiled to a 90-degree angle, making the camera a versatile one in terms of how you use it. Bring it low, above your head, or to the sides, and there’s a way you can tilt the screen and the camera in order to shoot in that orientation.

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If smartphones didn’t exist, this camera would be a great option for consumers how want a highly portable camera for casual snapshots — assuming the image quality turns out to be reasonably good.

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Unfortunately for Canon, smartphones DO exist, so the question will be whether the general public is still willing to shell out $300 and carry an additional gadget in order to document their daily lives. If so, Canon may have a winner on their hands.

The Canon PowerShot N will hit store shelves in April 2013.


P.S. Here’s Canon’s official promo video introducing the camera:


 
  • http://www.facebook.com/zdroberts Zachary Roberts

    Cut the price in half and Canon has my money. Hell you could carry this thing while you run and have something better than a crappy iphone pic.

  • canonboy

    Slow zoom, no IS, bad ergonomics, pricy
    ,

  • Dylan

    DOA

  • natums

    zoom is electric, so you are probably right. It says IS on the lens… unless you found specs that say otherwise, generally the don’t say IS unless it has IS…

    Ergonomics are odd, but this isn’t exact intended for serious extended use.

    For a Canon boy you seem to be shooting this down for odd reasons.

    I’m concerned about shooting speed, low-light, video quality, optical quality. It’s supposed to be a baby camera with a noticeable step-up from iPhone/cell phone camera limitations.

    The zoom may be slow, but unless it’s slower than a standard point and shoot, it’s really a non-issue, since I don’t have a 8x zoom lens worth a damn for my DSLR, the trade-off is all about your needs.

    Image stabilization exists, just not an issue.

    Ergonomics appears potentially be better than my iPhone, the tilting screen and larger physical controls means you can grip the camera and not pinch around it’s edges trying to avoid accidentally touching the screen and snapping a photo.

    This isn’t a DSLR, those issues are really not that applicable in the compact market, they are unavoidable compromises.

  • http://twitter.com/batmatty Batty Matty

    I totally want this little camera. Instead of creating a camera that is trying to “replace” my smartphone camera (*cough* Nikon S800c), Canon created a camera that suppose to be more like an “accessory” to my smartphone. And I think they’ve done a good job! If the image quality is good, I think they will have created a successful little pocket camera. If it were 200 dollars I’d be all in.

  • MD

    I don’t think Canon deserves much blame for the state of the compact market. I may be spoiled on big sensors, but at this point I really can’t comprehend the continued existence of any brand’s point-and-shoots.

    To me, anything bigger than a smartphone had better pack a sizable sensor, or it’s a waste of space. I can understand why the “enthusiast compact” (a niche in which Canon excels) is attractive to some, but that’s about it.

    With the whole segment in a tailspin anyways, I guess Canon is just throwing a few new things at the wall and seeing what sticks. I’d be willing to bet it’s on par with whatever your preferred brand is producing.

  • Brian

    Iphone pictures are Not crappy Thats the problem for this camera

  • Mark N

    Cool, mini view cam. Nice zoom range.

  • D Black

    iPhones , and smartphones in general are awkward while using as a camera. Yes I said it…the emperor has no clothes. These smaller point and shoot ems with fixed lens are answering that need. Now if i can tell my camera to turn the lights on at home we will have reached the singularity..wha ha haha.

  • http://twitter.com/imangelanjo Angel Navarro

    Without looking much at the specs, I like it! I’ve been always thinking of bringing a camera when I’m going out but I don’t want to bring my DSLR for obvious reasons. The concern here now is that, ilke what other people said, the price is still up there if you have a phone with decent quality, you’d still rather use your phone.. Now for improvements, I just wish this camera’s durability is better than any electronic zoom cameras. In most cases that you’re drunk or with a friend who’s drunk, chances are the camera would just shatter into pieces/stuck electronic zoom. On regular days, I think this camera would be awesome.

  • LeGio

    could have had square format and instagram signature as well… totally hispter stuff 8^)

  • Opie

    Exactly, Brian. I can’t imagine many instances where an iPhone’s IQ won’t do, but a P&S would.

    If I need better than my iPhone can give me, I go to my dslr. I suppose a zoom could be nice, but the low light/DOF characteristics aren’t going to be noticeably different.

    One is unlikely to make earth-shattering photography with a P&S. Why bother carrying a second party cam?

  • Opie

    I can’t be the only who thinks the camera market would be a much nicer place if the point-and-shoot segment just died already. Maybe then companies would go back to spending the proper amount of time engineering real cameras, rather than throwing out gobs of nonsensical trendy crap that’ll just be replaced by an equally-forgettable model in six months.

    I’m sure it’s naive, myopic, and a tad elitist… but I’d be happy to let the smartphone market take over consumer photography, leaving camera companies to tend solely to those who really care about their pictures. This probably won’t happen, for a variety of reasons…but I can dream, right?

  • quickpick

    exactly, i never “go out to take pictures” with a smartphone, i just want a dedicated camera for it with RAW-option preferably which would be the reason to get the N if it had one, but since no mention i’ll be happy with my s100 as smaller than DSLR for now…

  • Martin

    Put a phone on it and you have my money.

  • Martin

    That’s the point, this is not 300 $ better than my iphone 4s.

    And what about that “flexible” screen? is very small for be touchable and doesnt twist enough to be a plus. For example i see people taking auto photos all the time. Why not make it a little more flexible to give visual feedback to the user?

  • Sean Curran

    You really think an iphone is on par with an s100? I see a reason for point and shoot still, especially for traveling. I know this is no s100, which could be there problem in my opinion. The basic point and shoots sx260′s have much better performance than my iphone and cost a mere $185.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.maniago Jonathan Maniago

    I think that consumer point-and-shoot cameras should just raise the white flag already. Only the higher end models offering full manual control (ex. Sony’s RX100, Canon’s S/G series) are still worth the hassle of carrying 2 separate devices.

  • Opie

    I don’t necessarily think smartphones are quite on par with the best compacts yet, but the difference doesn’t seem dramatic enough to justify the extra money and bulk, especially when you’re going to be carrying your phone anyways. Neither is likely to be used for much serious photography, so the stopgap seems pointless.

  • coby bray

    I rather like the looks and use of this camera and even at the lofty $300 (which i think is to high) I could sell this in my store, I think people forget about the baby boomer generation that is getting a little old right now with there retirement with many that have chosen not to enter the smart phone revolution but still buy gadgets like P&S cameras because they are familiar with them.

  • Jared

    Phones have killed the compact industry because most people don’t care about the quality of their images… They just want to document Girl’s Night, or whatever. The iPhone CAN take decent pictures, but sometimes it’s a struggle. People who want decent images are still going to buy cameras, but it’s hard to want to justify this cost. If I were going to spend a few hundred, I’d probably push for something better. Not a DSLR, per se, but something more substantial. Canon should reduce the price here to make it more enticing… Otherwise, consumers could be swayed to keep shooting with their phones or pass this up for something grander.

  • http://www.facebook.com/duke.shin1 Duke Shin

    How is this any more portable than a powershot?
    Oh right, the target demographic wears V-necks and tight skinny jeans all the time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leoabreuphoto Leonardo Abreu

    Apple will sue Canon.

  • Chris

    I’d rather get the S110 since it has the same Wifi feature to connect to your smartphone so I’d get RAW, wider on the bottom end, better flash and a bit more customizing available. But that’s just me…

  • http://www.facebook.com/xsportseeker Renato Murakami

    Us photographers, gadget geeks, and prossumers can be dissing this, but I think it’s a smart move from Canon. As I see it, this seems like one of those luxury products made to show off… which quite frankly, composes a huge part of Apple’s market.
    A camera made to show off, not necessarily to be cheap, or to be put to pro usage.
    It’s probably a good enough size to be used as an acessory (fashion) while still functioning as something more than Instagram camera.
    The uniqueness in design will probably be enough to sell quite a bit.
    As for me, Nokia 808 completely killed the need for P&S.

  • dave

    this camera is what i’m waiting for. i have an old shaky hands and this one can be hold closer to my body with the lcd flip up.

  • funkzillabot

    Adorable. I’m totally getting one.

  • noël

    cet appareil n’a pas grand interêt

  • noël

    moi je veux un appareil CANON qui soit un téléphone/ smartphone 3G 4G… WIfi, bluetooth GPS qui tient dans la main et qui grace à ses optiques interchangeables fait des images CR2 Jpeg de12MP