Canon Powershot N first impressions

Understanding the Canon PowerShot N

Of all the myriad of compact cameras announced at the CES trade show in Las Vegas at the start of 2013, the tiny Canon PowerShot N, with its either-way-up design, tilting touchscreen and round-lens shutter and zoom controls is sure to be one of the most interesting. Not because of its photographic feature set or appeal to enthusiasts - at heart it's a fully-automated point-and-shoot - but because of its unique design and overall philosophy, and what this says about the way mass-market photography is going.

It's no great secret that the conventional point-and-shoot camera market appears to be in terminal decline. The ever-increasing capability of smartphone cameras means that they're more than good enough for the vast majority of casual users, while their internet connectivity makes it easy to share pictures with the rest of the world the moment they're taken. Throw in the current popularity of Instagram, with its emphasis on the use of 'artistic' image processing filters and community sharing, and it's little wonder that people are deserting the pocket camera in droves. Why carry a small camera when you're taking your phone anyway, and it does what you want better?

Because of this, the traditional camera manufacturers are having to rethink their approach. It's clear that compact cameras have to offer some compelling advantage over smartphones to persuade buyers to part with their money. This has generally meant zoom lens range or features, as in superzoom 'bridge' cameras or high-end enthusiast compacts, both of which have continued to do relatively well. But with the Powershot N, Canon has gambled on something very different - creativity and fun.

So what's the PowerShot N all about?

In essence, the PowerShot N is best seen as a smartphone companion for the Instagram generation. With its flip-up touchscreen, and unconventional zoom and shutter controls that work equally well when the camera is held upside-down, it's designed to encourage shooting at unusual angles. It has built-in Wi-Fi for uploading images to social media, either by direct connection to a hot-spot, or via a smartphone or tablet. It's also very small and easy to slip into a pocket when going out. But perhaps most tellingly its all-new 'Creative Shot' mode, which takes the concept of creative processing filters further than we've ever seen before, is turned on by default. Canon's marketing tagline is 'Creativity with a Twist', and it's very apt.

Obviously the PowerShot N has to offer something smartphones don't, and that's provided by its 28-224mm equivalent 8x optical zoom lens and 12MP 1/2.3"-type sensor (~6.2 x 4.6mm), that's larger than those used in most phones. In combination with the Digic 5 processor, this promises better image quality and much greater compositional flexibility than you'll get from a phone camera. The tilting screen, which flips up a little over 90 degrees, allows shooting at unusual angles, but sadly doesn't move far enough to let you frame self-portraits. 

Body and Design

The PowerShot N is an unusual design to say the least, as emphasized by its front and rear views. The back of the camera has no buttons, only a tilting capacitive touchscreen that's the primary interface, just like a smartphone. There are three small buttons on the sides: the power switch is on the left, while the right side is home to the playback button, a dedicated button to connect to your phone by Wi-Fi, and a little switch to select between normal shooting and 'Creative Shot' mode. The front of the camera is dominated by the 8x zoom lens, and the two silver rings encircling it turn out to be the zoom controller and shutter button. There's a little LED flash on the top right of the camera too.

The slimline ring close to the body is a zoom controller with a fairly conventional action - press one way to zoom in, the other to zoom out. The thicker ring is the shutter release, and despite its decidedly unconventional design it offers the usual action - half press down to focus, full press to take a picture.    What's unique about the PowerShot N is that this design is symmetrical - the zoom ring and shutter button offer exactly the same action when operated from the underside of the camera. It may look like a crazy idea, but it really does work.
There's no controls on the top plate at all, not even a shutter release. Here you can see the camera with the lens retracted; it's not the slimmest in the world, but at 1.2"/30mm, it's still eminently pocketable. The Powershot N has two baseplate compartments - the one on the left is for the battery (which is charged via the camera's USB socket), the tiny one on the right is a for a Micro SD card.  

When you first pick up the N, this design is slightly bewildering - without the familiar position of the shutter button, it's not immediately clear how to hold it and take pictures. But after a couple of minutes playing with it, everything starts to make sense - this is a design that works remarkably well, allowing you to shoot at unusual angles using just one hand (of course a wrist strap will make a lot of sense too). Here are a couple of options we've found for how to hold it.

This is perhaps the most-stable way to hold the N, cradling it with your left hand, and operating the zoom and shutter controls with your right index finger. This arguably makes for a more stable shooting platform than the conventional compact camera pose.    There's no space on the back to put your thumb, so to hold the camera one-handed you have to adopt an unconventional grip. For example, you can pinch it between forefinger and thumb, and operate the controls with another finger.  
Here's a one-handed waist-level grip with the screen flipped-up; the shutter and zoom can be operated using your index finger from underneath the camera. Uniquely, the N can be operated equally well with either hand.  Alternatively you can turn the camera upside-down for overhead shooting, and operate the controls with your second finger.

Essentially, the Powershot N forces you to reconsider everything you thought you knew about holding a camera, and to get the most out of it you have to throw away your preconceptions. It's definitely a camera you have to try for yourself to appreciate fully. However the unconventional design does mean that it's not a camera you can easily pass to friends or family for a quick snap; in fact hardly anyone we've handed the camera to has managed work out how to take a picture without being taught.  

Creative Shot mode  

Creative Shot is an all-new mode that takes the concept of creative filters beyond anything we've seen before. Rather than simply applying a series of filters directly to your original shots, it starts by taking a series of bracketed exposures, which according to Canon can include either exposure or focus bracketing. It then not only adds processing filters, but can also select different crops, and even at times rotate the image before cropping (this appears to apply mainly to faces). It'll select five filters out of a broad range, so you never know exactly what you're going to get - there's an element of Lomography here. Thankfully the camera always saves your original too.

The examples below (kindly provided to us by Canon EU) give some idea of how this works. The camera's produced five variants on the original image, applying different filters to the bracketed exposures, and in three cases selecting different square crops. It's definitely interesting, even if it may not necessarily be to every purist's taste.     

Original shot  Filtered version 1
 Filtered version 2  Filtered version 3
 Filtered version 4  Filtered version 5

What's interesting about Creative Shot is that it's semi-random - if you take exactly the same picture several times in a row, you'll get a different set of filtered variants each go. Not all will be masterpieces, of course - in practice you'll likely delete many of them - but you can never be sure exactly what you'll get. The American street photographer Garry Winogrand said "I photograph to see what the world looks like in photographs", but with the N, you can find yourself photographing to see what the camera thinks the world should look like in photographs. It's certainly a unique shooting experience.

Summary and First Impressions

When digital cameras first arrived on the scene, the freedom from the constraints of film camera layout resulted in lots of design experimentation. The articulated screens on Canon's own G-series, like Nikon's classic twist-body Coolpixes, encouraged shooting from different angles. But after a few years everything settled back down again, and if you walk into a camera shop now, most of the compacts on the shelf will look little different in basic design to film cameras such as Canon's classic APS film Ixus II. Inertia can be a powerful thing.

The PowerShot N reminds us again that cameras don't necessarily have to follow these conventional lines, and alternative designs can work really well. It may look like it shouldn't work, but it genuinely does. Whether it truly offers something sufficiently interesting to attract buyers who've been having fun with Instagram on their smartphone, but wouldn't call themselves 'photographers', remains to be seen. But it's certainly refreshing to see Canon trying something a little different.

7
I own it
12
I want it
0
I had it
Discuss in the forums
We are retrieving offers for your location, please refresh the page to see the prices.

Comments

Total comments: 111
craniac
By craniac (6 months ago)

It needs to send the images to some sort of hub, where you can then select where they get sent next. I guess that hub would be your phone.

0 upvotes
Aero Windwalker
By Aero Windwalker (9 months ago)

Canon didn't figure out people wouldn't use it because it's too inconvenient to carry this camera around - it needs at least a instagram upload built it. Canon needs to talk to Facebook before they go ahead and make this.

0 upvotes
Occecid
By Occecid (Jan 25, 2013)

I rarely shoot with anything except DSLRs. However, I had and opportunity to demo this camera for a few days at CES. I was impressed. Love the creative filters. Very easy to operate. I was also surprised on the longevity of the battery with the new ECO system. I'm note easily impressed with point and shoot cameras, but I really had a lot of fun with this one. And that's the key, this camera is FUN. Lots of delightful new concepts.

2 upvotes
brdeveloper
By brdeveloper (Jan 23, 2013)

Good try, Canon. This model looks like a milestone one, but it will never become a big seller - not even the later models which will eventually be launched. It's a cool concept - not really well executed, however.

It could run Android or another mobile OS (Symbian is pretty orphan these days and would be better than a hurried Canon OS). It could have a distinctly bigger sensor instead of a marginally bigger 1/3" (in comparison to 1/3.2" of mainstream smartphones). It's pretty much the same sensor size of a Lumia 920's one which still goes further with a f/2 lens.

Another point: I have a Panasonic LX3 and a Samsung Galaxy Note. I usually connect the camera directly to the phone via OTG cable and a small card reader (about $5-10 bucks total), so I can share LX3's pictures on Instagram pretty easily. No need of WI-FI or NFC.

In short, the Powershot N is a "point-and-share" for granmas and granpas - even in this case, it's not so user-friendly.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Kitamura
By Kitamura (Jan 15, 2013)

I want one!
I am curious, what does the 'N' stand for?

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Jan 15, 2013)

Nothing in particular. Apparently it was chosen as much for the fact that it looks the same either way up as anything else.

0 upvotes
Amber S
By Amber S (Jan 24, 2013)

Nano.

0 upvotes
xpanded
By xpanded (11 months ago)

Nikon...

1 upvote
1singur
By 1singur (11 months ago)

Nano, perhaps :P

0 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Jan 15, 2013)

Admit it : somebody had to try this. Take the "digicam" and rethink it from the ground up to compete with smartphones.

This is a good try. I don't think it will capture the public imagination, but hopefully it will inspire other companies to re-examine camera design in the 21st century.

The modern "digicam", with the non-touchscreen LCD, teeny tiny buttons, insane megapixel count, and ancient "nested lists" style manu navigation ... needs to die.

1 upvote
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (Jan 14, 2013)

Guys, I really can't understand your comments: some people compare it with smartphones (ignoring the 8x stabilized zoom and real flash), other compare it with enthusiast cameras (ignoring that it has a much smaller size), somebody says that it will be uncomfortable to use (did you actually read the article? why don't you believe a reviewer who actually tried it?), other bash it only because it has filters (which you're not forced to use)...
IMO, this is a great move and a natural evolution of the compact/ultracompact camera. They are trying to innovate the compact camera (do you realize that nobody is buing compacts anymore?), and it will offer the same quality and features in a more compact, cute and usable package, while retaining substantial advantages over a phone. The sensor size must be compared with the size of compact cameras, it's not an EVIL camera! It's small, cute and probably fun to use it. Why not? Stop being just snobs... photography is fun! ;)

3 upvotes
Camerahuhh
By Camerahuhh (Jan 18, 2013)

An LED flash is a real flash, hummnn... and you must be wondering why would anybody buy a Leica X2 with no zoom...

0 upvotes
Trafford
By Trafford (Jan 12, 2013)

A gadgeteer's paradise toy, looks great.

0 upvotes
Ibida Bab
By Ibida Bab (Jan 12, 2013)

If this thing is Japanese made, I am ready to order.

0 upvotes
Gully Foyle
By Gully Foyle (Jan 11, 2013)

Exactly what was missing from the market and fully delivered by Canon, as expected...

Seriously, what is Canon doing? What is wrong with them? Any lenses? Bodies? What about the EOS M? Anything that might actually EXCITE?? Or even raise an eyebrow for that matter?? After the huge letdown called 5DMK3, Canon continues to... impress.

2 upvotes
Spoonboy
By Spoonboy (Jan 14, 2013)

The 5D3 was a huge letdown? Funny, it's exactly the camera I'd been waiting for from Canon.

Comment edited 11 seconds after posting
1 upvote
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (Jan 14, 2013)

Actually, I like the concept very much, and this is the first time in years that Canon comes first with something really innovative, so I can't understand what exactly you're complaining about... I think this concept is a great idea and if the price is right I'll probably buy it, it finally gets rid of many things that are just a legacy of an "old way of thinking". The current idea of compact camera is dead, this is the only way to keep up with cameraphones: provide something diffrerent, truly compact and pocketable and yet able to offer what is missing in a cameraphone: a true optical zoom.

0 upvotes
Gully Foyle
By Gully Foyle (Jan 14, 2013)

@Spoonboy
If you've been expecting for a more expensive 5DMK2 "ver.2", then it's fine by me. The rest of the world was expecting a formidable match for the D800. I call that a letdown.

@tompabes2
If a list of priorities was set from Canon, I would expect the more serious products of its line to be on the top. A "cameraphone competitor" is something I would expect to be the last item on this list, FOR CANON. Had it been, say, Samsung I wouldn't complain.

I understand Canon's moves to open/exploit new markets, but I fail to see the correlation between that and losing ground to competition on the products that made them what they are. Biting the hand that feeds you has never been good practice.

0 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Jan 15, 2013)

I'm sure a revised EOS M with on-sensor phase detection is in the pipe. Perhaps they wanted to delay the announcement to make more of a splash at CP+, or maybe it didn't quite make the deadline.

Geez. People are such crybabies.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Jan 11, 2013)

Very cute. It won't appeal to "pros" because it's too easy to use but I can see it as a fun thing for people who want a very small camera that's just a camera.

2 upvotes
zonoskar
By zonoskar (Jan 11, 2013)

Any idea about the aperture on the lens?

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Jan 11, 2013)

It's engraved on the front of the lens: F3.0-5.9

2 upvotes
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (Jan 14, 2013)

And IMHO considering the zoom length and the size of the body it is not bad at all! I searched the canon website for more detailed info and this camera, though it is certainly not an "enthusiast camera", seems to also have a P mode. The only minus that I could find was a maximum shutter time of 1 second, but I think I could live with it. Very interesting thing... and the metal body... and it's white... I can't wait until April!!! (drool)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Jan 10, 2013)

Love it, except for the fact that the screen doesn't flip all the way up for self-portraits. The zoom ring is definitely the way to go, and the ring shutter button is also genius. The idea that a zoom toggle and shutter button should be at a specific spot on the camera is so last-century.

But as much as I like it, I'll wait until the next gen model, which will probably have a screen that flips all the way up, will probably be a bit thinner, and will probably be less expensive.

For a first-gen product, it's a good start. I see these kinds of connect-to-your-cell-phone cameras as the perfect companion to our smart-phone generation, especially those who want a step up from our smart phone cameras, but still want all the interconnectivity of smart phone photography (Instagram, instant upload, filters, etc.). I think every compact camera should instantly be able to connect to a smart phone like the Powershot N. It's the 21st century, after all! Compacts need to get with the times.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Kevin Chao
By Kevin Chao (Jan 10, 2013)

is it just me or do the filters look really bad?

4 upvotes
Liz Z.
By Liz Z. (Jan 13, 2013)

It is not just you! That's the way I feel about all the Instagram type filters. It's as if someone in a back room somewhere said "let's take photography back to when most folks owned lousy cameras with cheesy lenses, offer it as new 'apps,' and convince the users that this is the cutting edge of creativity!"

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Andrew Butterfield
By Andrew Butterfield (Jan 9, 2013)

Cute but irrelevant. I want one but I wouldn't use it. Surprised, considering the half-baked ideas camera makers are coming up with that Apple hasn't combined the zoom lens and iPhone dock to make something people will actually want. And perhaps even more surprising nobody else has done it.

0 upvotes
JacobSR
By JacobSR (Jan 8, 2013)

Looks very much like the Pentax Optio X, from something like 2005?

http://static.productreview.com.au/pr.products/b5_4deeb2687cd1d.jpg

0 upvotes
grahamdyke
By grahamdyke (Jan 8, 2013)

I bought the Powershot TX1, crazzy camera, there was never a TX2 and I doubt there will ever be an N1/2/3.

Again same comment as for the Samsung Galaxy camera:
"Shame it's not a phone as well"

When's someone going to catch on at Samsung/Canon/Nikon/Sony/Pentax?

0 upvotes
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (Jan 14, 2013)

This is a very different thing from the TX1. The advantage of this thing is that it's just a compact superzoom (hopefully good quality) camera, but it finally gets rid of all those controls that doesn't make sense anymore in a touch-oriented world. It's cute, it's smaller and it has a real optical stabilized zoom and a real flash, so it is definitely what people will buy to complement their smartphones. This will not affect the enthusiast segment (oly xz1/2, sony rx100, fuji x100 and so on...), it has a different target. It is a great move from Canon: in a couple of years traditional compact cameras will all be like this. Otherwise, nobody will buy traditional compact cameras anymore: they will simply use their smartphones. Then we'll have enthusiast cameras with all the controls advanced users need, but this is the way to go in the compact segment. Samsung tried, but went the wrong way with a super-bulky android camera that won't sell, while this is the right idea.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Vitruvius
By Vitruvius (Jan 8, 2013)

So they removed the articulated screen from the G15 JUST so they could call this "innovative"!?!!? Stupid marketing people at Canon chopped the feet off the G15 which would otherwise be a great pocket camera just so they could "re-introduce" something. I guess it is the only way they can be innovative anymore; remove something good just to give it back.

2 upvotes
RAGordy
By RAGordy (Jan 8, 2013)

I don't hate it. Just not loving it.

1 upvote
Adrian Joseph Roy
By Adrian Joseph Roy (Jan 11, 2013)

I don't like it, and I don't hate it. I just couldn't care less about it. And in my opinion, that's the *worst* thing you can say about a new product - a new camera in particular.

What a let down.

1 upvote
tommy leong
By tommy leong (Jan 8, 2013)

can this do self portraits?
the entitlement generations MUST have....

1 upvote
grahamdyke
By grahamdyke (Jan 8, 2013)

Thats a NO!

0 upvotes
mosc
By mosc (Jan 9, 2013)

seems like a pretty big oversight there. People might use it just for skype and facetime if it were compatible to de-tether. Seeing the screen from the lens end would surely be a nice feature for that purpose.

0 upvotes
zonoskar
By zonoskar (Jan 11, 2013)

Of course it can take self portraits, any camera can. You just can't frame yourself very well without the screen flipping all the way up. Maybe that Wifi connection will eventually lead to apps that can show the preview image on a cell phone.

0 upvotes
Causio
By Causio (Jan 12, 2013)

I think you can use the phone app to use it as a remote - including framing.

0 upvotes
G Davidson
By G Davidson (Jan 8, 2013)

A very interesting camera. I too remember the heady days of early digital cameras, where the movable nature of the LCD lead to many unorthodox, but possibly very usable designs. This seems a return to that, though I admit that a cell-phone camera with all it's apps is hard to compete with for instant uploading.

I could see this being a fun and creative 'take-anywhere' camera, with pleasingly unpredictable results. Even with all the 'fun' filters on cameras these days, it's not so much fun to use them if you know what you'll be getting. You don't always need all the sharp detail a digital camera is capable of... But it's nice to see it will save an unfiltered photo alongside it.

My only concern is that the filters I've seen on cameras are way cruder than those in the best apps, like Instagram, or Hipstamatic, where they have so much character. I hope they can be as striking and on this camera.

0 upvotes
Panda89
By Panda89 (Jan 8, 2013)

It reminds me of box cameras -such as the Kodak Brownie-. A box, with a viewfinder, a shutter button, and that's it.
I hope the screen can rotate 180° so that you can take self-portraits. If not, I think it is a huge mistake considering the people targeted : my little sister use my RX100 almost only to take pictures of herself and put them on facebook after adding some filters :-/. A wifi camera offering a 180° tilting screen and creative filters would be the perfect camera for her.

1 upvote
Picturenaut
By Picturenaut (Jan 8, 2013)

Fits in Canons long tradition in making some funny unconventional camera models - such as the sort of Scifi Zeitgeist Dial 35 in 1963:
http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/camera/film/data/1956-1965/1963_dl35.html?lang=us&categ=crn&page=1956-1965

So, why not? I like them playing around with the fundamental question what a camera can be today. It is nice to see some completely new ideas about photography in this market full of nice but bit boring retro design models.

1 upvote
Pitbullo
By Pitbullo (Jan 8, 2013)

This camera is just an App. It is an instagram App in a dedicated, weird, camera body.
Cool, I like!

2 upvotes
topstuff
By topstuff (Jan 8, 2013)

So Canon figure that customers here want a flip screen and the ability to shoot from different angles, but DSLR owners do not?

The lack of articulating screens in Canons mid and high end DSLR's is baffling.

Yet the compact camera division at Canon comes up with this.

Odd.

5 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Jan 10, 2013)

Have you seen how militantly conservative most Canon and Nikon DSLR owners are? Any changes that Canon makes to DSLRs is typically met with considerable vitriol by their DSLR owners. It's no wonder that change is slow to come to their DSLR designs.

0 upvotes
Turbguy1
By Turbguy1 (Jan 8, 2013)

Kinda looks like a Hassy, only smaller, no?

1 upvote
Paul Farace
By Paul Farace (Jan 8, 2013)

OK Turbguy... don't go to Sweden for the next few years... I am sure the Hasselblad Mafia has a hit out on you for that comment! :o) Maybe an SWC that never reached puberty?!? Oh no... now I can't go to Sweden either! I think this camera came out of the same department that created the Dial 35 and the O-series back in the film era... nice to see they are not letting their creative juices stagnate. Still, don't go to Sweden unless you're i disguise... just sayin....

1 upvote
TN Args
By TN Args (Jan 8, 2013)

Great to see some true innovation from Canon.

It looks so different (and very nice), the handling concept is quite different and completely logical in accordance with the camera. I've never seen anything like it!

The use of creative filters in a way that dpreview has never seen before, also looks very inspiring. The idea that it is going to produce several versions of each photo and the photographer doesn't know in advance -- yep i can see that working!

Good on you Canon.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Jan 8, 2013)

Shutter button located at the bottom of the camera.

Now, that is cool.

.

2 upvotes
Andrew Butterfield
By Andrew Butterfield (Jan 9, 2013)

No it isn't. It's around the lens...

0 upvotes
JohnMatrix
By JohnMatrix (Jan 7, 2013)

Does the screen flip past 90 degrees? i.e. can the social media slave who uses this camera easily take a picture of themselves?

0 upvotes
misolo
By misolo (Jan 8, 2013)

I think you mean 180 degrees.
(P.S. - ah, had missed the "past", sorry)

Comment edited 50 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Andrew Butterfield
By Andrew Butterfield (Jan 9, 2013)

No (well, very slightly but not enough to take self portraits, so a trick missed)).

0 upvotes
Causio
By Causio (Jan 12, 2013)

I think you can use your phone for that, with the canon app

0 upvotes
KieranGee
By KieranGee (Jan 7, 2013)

So, Samsung have given us their version of 'the connected camera' with the Galaxy Camera, and nopw Canon have shown us their take.
I must say I'm rather more taken with this than I am the Galaxy.

2 upvotes
Benarm
By Benarm (Jan 7, 2013)

Canon should take a hard look at Sony RX100 to learn where innovation needs to be made.

1 upvote
Juck
By Juck (Jan 7, 2013)

lol

1 upvote
howardroark
By howardroark (Jan 7, 2013)

The RX100:
Put a 1" sensor in a camera: already done by Nikon.

Put a fixed lens in front of a "large" sensor: already done by Canon and with a larger sensor.

Put speedy focus in a 1" sensor camera body: already done by Nikon.

Put speedy focus in a 1" sensor camera body with a fixed lens: chuh-ching....finally, innovation.

Is that it? That is how you define innovation? A small body makes that single change even more innovative, right? I agree that something as trivial as size can make a huge difference, but I don't see Sony coming up with anything mind blowing.

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
Ryan_Valiente
By Ryan_Valiente (Jan 8, 2013)

^
Put all of that in a compact body: Done by Sony.

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jan 7, 2013)

OK, 1/2.33" sensor with f/3.0 lens at best vs 1/3" sensor with f/2.2-2.4 lens in your typical smartphones. Zooming, optical or digital, quickly loses light here and there. What is the point of this thing again?

1 upvote
howardroark
By howardroark (Jan 7, 2013)

The iPhone 5 has a 1/3.2" sensor which is 4.54 x 3.42 mm and this Canon N has a 1/2.3" at 6.17 x 4.55 mm. Not sure if the 1.4 µm is the same, but should be close...15.5268 sq mm vs. 28.0735 sq mm so 14.4MP would imply the same pixel size. Slightly larger pixels, more of them, probably a better set of optics means there will likely be more detail, better noise characteristics at high ISO, and you can actually zoom. Believe it or not these are some of the reasons a point and shoot is preferable to a phone camera in the first place. Canon making a new form factor, modern interface, connecting to your phone and suddenly your point and shoot is much more useful, especially with an articulating screen. What was your question? The point? You know what 2 + 2 is, right? Okay, then you do the math.

6 upvotes
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (Jan 14, 2013)

8x optical zoom, optical stabilizer, real flash, battery life independent from the battery of your phone... this is enough for me, even if image quality will be just on par with the best smartphones (but I think that it will be better) these selling points are worth the money.
Btw, the f/5.9 at the long end of the zoom is not bad at all considering that it is an 8x zoom! A digital zoom will never match. And it starts from 28mm. Not bad at all.

0 upvotes
acidic
By acidic (Jan 7, 2013)

Too bad it didn't have a dedicated Facebook button. Canon are probably reserving that for the 5D Mk IV to take the place of the dedicted Print button that was introduced on the original 5D.

2 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Jan 7, 2013)

It's got a dedicated Facebook button on the touchscreen in Wi-Fi transfer mode. Is that OK?

15 upvotes
plantdoc
By plantdoc (Jan 7, 2013)

Interesting concept for the social media folks. Most camera phones work fine for many people because the pics are just viewed on another phone or perhaps a tablet or smaller image on a PC. You don't need much image quality for such output. Few are printed and saved. Nice to see pics spread around in a very short order, but how many will be saved or available in the future... 6 months, 5 years, more? Technically, digital images may last forever, but only if they are saved and the files upgraded and preserved. I think many people, not all of course, will not be able to show the pics of Sue's birthday 5 years ago, let alone pass along the pics to the next generation. Of course, this isn't a concern of the hardware companies.

1 upvote
maniax
By maniax (Jan 7, 2013)

So you make a 12mpixel photo, upload by wifi to your phone to upload instantly to instagram / facebook which will be converted to a 0.5mpixel photo.

That's just.... great...

0 upvotes
acidic
By acidic (Jan 7, 2013)

The iphone 8 rumoured to be released in 2016 will have a ultra-super-retina-plus display, capable of resolving 12MP. Canon is obviously ahead of the game.

1 upvote
encosion
By encosion (Jan 7, 2013)

iOS has been able to resolve Canon RAW files for a while now actually... But this is a consumer product, not a prosumer product. Great to see them introducing an innovative form factor. The connectivity options are mandatory in any new camera really IMO.

0 upvotes
encosion
By encosion (Jan 7, 2013)

Facebook currently stores 2048 x 2048px images

4 upvotes
VadymA
By VadymA (Jan 7, 2013)

Interesting, but I think the true "companion" to a smartphone would be a module that snaps directly on the body of a smartphone and uses the smartphone screen as a camera display and special apps for direct image processing.

2 upvotes
Panda89
By Panda89 (Jan 8, 2013)

Like the I.am+ camera for Iphone ?

1 upvote
chaosman
By chaosman (Jan 7, 2013)

Cool, I want one... How much are they?

It makes me think of my old Minolta Dimage7 which had an electronic viewfinder that could be flipped up so you looked down into it. A real 'stealth' camera it was.

0 upvotes
jtmon
By jtmon (Jan 7, 2013)

$300

0 upvotes
WT21
By WT21 (Jan 7, 2013)

I like it, but it would need to be cheap.

1 upvote
intensity studios
By intensity studios (Jan 7, 2013)

So it is a cameraphone without a phone. Good job, Canon!

12 upvotes
mosswings
By mosswings (Jan 7, 2013)

We're moving closer to the modular, wearable camera at blinding speed, driven by the rapid collapse of the casual camera market. Imagine bluetooth-pairing this "capture" module with a wearable viewfinder like Google's Glass or Vuzix's Smart Glasses:
http://reviews.cnet.com/specialized-electronics-accessories/vuzix-smart-glasses-m100/4505-7847_7-35536668.html
And you get where both the consumer communication and imaging market may be headed. Enthusiast formats could benefit from this as well - the eyeglass portion of the image capture system could incorporate extremely high resolution monitors. You could still use big ol' lenses if you wanted, except now you'd snap on a tiny capture module and you'd hold them like a camcorder or a beer can on its side.
Although this isn't a replacement for enthusiast cameras, it is a hopeful sign that at least some legacy manufacturers are thinking out of the box.

1 upvote
howardroark
By howardroark (Jan 7, 2013)

Has there been a rapid collapse of the casual point and shoot camera market? Competitions has certainly increased greatly over the years within the camera makers and because of camera phones, but it seems that the explosion in photography lately has been caused by the combination of internet enabled camera phones. The market that existed before the exploding popularity of that form of photography doesn't seem to have suffered a death blow by any means. If anything we now will be forced to value truely great photographs because of our constant immersion in horrible photographs.
You know, the first cameras on phones were horrible. Now they are someone usable. Pairing this camera with a phone is an awesome idea. Having a good lens with a good sensor linked to the phone is almost as good as having a phone camera (instead of a camera phone). Now if only it had a real flash.

0 upvotes
mosswings
By mosswings (Jan 7, 2013)

Apparently so. 2012 sales figures for P&S cams, in both $ and units moved, is down 36% over 2011, and 2011 showed a similar trend. That's a collapse by anyone's standards. There hasn't been a collapse in the demand for casual photography, but the rate of improvement of cameraphones, coupled with the rapid adoption of smartphones by the public who used to regularly replace their point-n-shoots and the demand for easy sharing of pictures - photos as an alternative to speech rather than as an archival means of communication - has led to this rapid switch in photographic tool preference.

1 upvote
howardroark
By howardroark (Jan 7, 2013)

What about all the other camera market segments? Has ILC or DSLR absorbed any of those users and increased? Or is it just that the technology has matured to the point that people don't feel the need to upgrade as often? I just can't imagine smartphones butchering camera sales THAT much.

2 upvotes
mosswings
By mosswings (Jan 7, 2013)

The overall camera market unit sales numbers have been decling steadily for the last 5 years. Sales $ have remained flat to slightly declining; mirrorless cameras have eroded some DSLR sales but have captured more of the top end of the P&S market. Lower end P&S cameras have been gutted by smartphones. Higher end DSLRs have remained fairly flat, but they're a small portion of the overall market. People are still buying cameras, just very different ones than they did 4-5 years ago.

0 upvotes
G Davidson
By G Davidson (Jan 8, 2013)

I've recently had people visit me here in Japan, where they've also done a fair bit of traveling. Whereas years ago they used to bring simple compacts, now it's all iPhones and their photos are probably better. Certainly it's less to carry. So yes, from what I see, casual photography is moving to smart phones, in a way it never could to the dumb ones.

Then, when friends want something better, they aren't so often going for a better compact. More are getting entry-level DSLRs or mirrorless. Deservedly or not, the reputation of compacts is 'not good enough' and in terms of end results, not much better than their phones.

0 upvotes
MrTaikitso
By MrTaikitso (Jan 7, 2013)

I was literally about to buy an S100 in John Lewis (they are £250, almost half the new price from a year ago), but this looks enticing, thanks to the flip screen. But is the IQ going to be up to snatch? (Am online reading reviews of the S100 that seem to praise the thing.)

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jan 7, 2013)

No, IQ will not be even up to S100, which itself is far from being a champion of compacts.

1 upvote
tharwan
By tharwan (Jan 7, 2013)

I think the key part of such a device would be the integration with a smartphone to easily share pictures instantaneous. Wi-Fi is nice but I don‘t want to disconnect my iPhone to connect to my camera (at least with my NEX 6 I dislike this process a lot). Why not bluetooth? Why no clever dock/usb connector cable?

0 upvotes
AngryCorgi
By AngryCorgi (Jan 7, 2013)

$300 honestly feels about $50 too high, if you ask me. Great ingenuity though on the interface.

6 upvotes
Chris Cortazzi
By Chris Cortazzi (Jan 7, 2013)

At last! a camera which left-handers can use!

1 upvote
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Jan 7, 2013)

More like a camera which will be just as painful for left and right handed people to use.

9 upvotes
CarVac
By CarVac (Jan 7, 2013)

Finally, someone ditches the standard form factor. Bravo, Canon.

4 upvotes
Photo_AK
By Photo_AK (Jan 7, 2013)

Finally? Really? Not that Nikon ditched "standard form factor" back in the late nineties ...:
http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C900/C900A.HTM

2 upvotes
CarVac
By CarVac (Jan 7, 2013)

Do note where the shutter button is on that Nikon. It's actually as close as they could get it to a conventional form factor when closed, and the interface is no different at all. Also, there are rather a lot of older digicams like it.

In any case, I had rather hoped that the Lytro would be something more like this, with all of the controls and the screen on the top of the brick instead of on the back, allowing you to hold it at your side and take photos unnoticed.

2 upvotes
solarsky
By solarsky (Jan 7, 2013)

Odd, the Nokia 808 gives this a far better run for the money, IMHO...

8 upvotes
howardroark
By howardroark (Jan 7, 2013)

Too bad that is one phone with one fixed lens built around one ecosystem. The camera may be the most amazing camera on a phone ever, but you also have to buy the ecosystem and the phone hardware attached to the camera. No thanks.

6 upvotes
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (Jan 7, 2013)

What, the lumpy phone with a dying OS, released and promptly discontinued as they focused on the Lumia series? That 808?

2 upvotes
Jamesphotographer
By Jamesphotographer (Jan 7, 2013)

Yes, it is too bad without changeable lens system and remote control. NEX and Ricoh are much much better. I don't buy it.

0 upvotes
CarvingPhoto
By CarvingPhoto (Jan 7, 2013)

Instagram has better filter! LOL!

0 upvotes
garyknrd
By garyknrd (Jan 7, 2013)

And this is different than my camera phone How? With the hype about camera phones here. I see this as kinda in left field.

1 upvote
roblarosa
By roblarosa (Jan 7, 2013)

How is it better than your cell phone? Bigger sensor, a real lens, optical zoom, better jpeg processing engine.

1 upvote
misha
By misha (Jan 7, 2013)

But there are a number of hybrid cell phones already with similar size sensors and real zoom lenses.

0 upvotes
b534202
By b534202 (Jan 7, 2013)

So what phone do you have that is better than this thing?

1 upvote
SirSeth
By SirSeth (Jan 7, 2013)

Believe it or not, there are people like me who refuse to be drawn into any product that shackles the owner to a never ending exorbitant payment plan for data rates. We are people who practically live in wifi-zones, but the market is so controlled that few devices allow us the features of a smart phone on our own terms and with our own data networks. I'll tell you why every development like this rocks--It's one step closer to ending the strangle hold that cell phone companies have over their users--especially the users who want choice! This camera offers a leagues better lens & better sensor with the uploading convenience of a cell phone. Personally, if it had a full mobile OS, I'd love to skype with a better lens and sensor than the iPod touch my wife uses.

Comment edited 53 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Mustafa
By Mustafa (Jan 7, 2013)

Why use flash if you have ISO6400?

3 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Jan 7, 2013)

Why use ISO 6400 when flash and ISO 200 actually provides usable pictures.

4 upvotes
Scott Greiff
By Scott Greiff (Jan 7, 2013)

I can imagine giving this to my wife as a companion to her iPhone. But the lack of flash could be a deal breaker...

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Jan 7, 2013)

Actually, the LED on the top right turns out to be a flash after all.

3 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Jan 7, 2013)

LED flashes stink. They are dim, have poor color rendition, and can't freeze motion because they need to be on for around 100 times as long as a Xenon flash does to do the same job.

f/3 - f/5.9 makes it slower than most cell phone cameras. Better processing and a larger sensor will help a lot, but it doesn't help the flash situation much.

1 upvote
Houseqatz
By Houseqatz (Jan 7, 2013)

so, you've used the device? how does the IQ compare to s110?

1 upvote
gsum
By gsum (Jan 7, 2013)

He must have used it otherwise he wouldn't have been able to post such an informed analysis.

1 upvote
Edymagno
By Edymagno (Jan 7, 2013)

A smartphone with a zoom lens but without a phone. Bravo Canon, I'm transfixed!

3 upvotes
Edward Pang
By Edward Pang (Jan 7, 2013)

I want the shutter button and Xenon flash back! Without them, I can just use phone camera instead.

0 upvotes
islandphotos
By islandphotos (Jan 7, 2013)

Unless this can be fired with one hand, I think Canon has missed the boat. Look at any concert, street scene, etc. and notice that the cameras/cell phones are being fired above their heads and with one hand. Without this portion of the market, I don't see enough sales to make this more than just another passing design exercise.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
The Trout
By The Trout (Jan 8, 2013)

Maximum minimalism, what's not to love?

1 upvote
natatack
By natatack (Jan 13, 2013)

any word on the macro capability of this camera?

0 upvotes
Total comments: 111