Previous news story    Next news story

Canon PowerShot N takes a different angle - as smartphone side-kick

By dpreview staff on Jan 7, 2013 at 14:00 GMT

Canon has announced the PowerShot N, a compact camera designed specifically as a smartphone companion for the Instagram generation. The N is built around a tilting touch-screen, and its round-lens zoom controller and shutter release are designed to make it behave identically whether held right-way-up or upside-down. It offers a 'Creative Shot' mode that generates multiple versions of your image, so you get the shot you composed plus five alternatives with different crops and processing effects. Canon promises one-touch Wi-Fi connectivity to make it easier to upload images and video to your smartphone and the internet. To extend its capability beyond that of a smartphone, the N has a 28-224mm equivalent lens and a 12MP CMOS sensor that works with a Digic 5 processor.

Along with all the other camera makers, Canon is desperately trying to find a way to keep the compact camera relevant as more users conclude they're happy using their smartphones. So, while the 12MP sensor, 8x zoom lens and Digic 5 processor are all immediately familiar from existing Canon cameras, the company is trying to offer a shooting and connectivity experience that's more engaging than a conventional compact camera. It's become increasingly common for manufacturers to offer Wi-Fi capability and apps to allow communication with a smartphone, but the current implementations have been too awkward to be a compelling reason to buy.

Canon clearly hopes that making a small, fun-to-use, easy-to-connect camera will convince people that the PowerShot N is worth carrying alongside your smartphone. We had a chance to have a quick play with the camera, to get an idea about how well it succeeds. Click the link below to read our first impressions.

Jump to:

Press Release:

Creativity with a twist; Canon unveils the PowerShot N

London, UK, 7 January 2013– Canon today unveils the PowerShot N- a totally new type of camera that offers a different approach to capturing creative, spontaneous photos and sharing them instantly with social networks. The unconventional square design, innovative zoom and shoot operation lens rings and tilting touch screen encourage people to capture their world from a fresh angle, whilst the new Creative Shot mode automatically generates a selection of unexpected creative treatments with every shot taken. The perfect smartphone companion, the PowerShot N has been designed to simplify image sharing with intuitive Wi-Fi connectivity allowing a new generation of high-quality, artistic images and Full HD videos to be shared in near real-time1.

Inject every shot with artistic flair

Thanks to the new Creative Shot mode, anyone can impress their friends and followers with unique, creative images that offer a different perspective on a typical scene or subject. When an image is captured in Creative Shot mode, the PowerShot N intelligently analyses the scene and determines which of a host of creative elements could enhance the scene or offer a different creative angle. Multiple variables including composition, exposure, point of focus, white balance, gradation and contrast are considered before five alternative versions of the original shot are automatically generated, which can then be shared at the touch of a button.

Alternatively, a creative edge can be added to a single shot with Canon's creative modes, including Miniature Effect, Soft Focus, Toy Camera Effect and Monochrome. Users can also add drama to a movie clip with Super Slow Motion Movie mode.

Combining creative flexibility with point-and-shoot ease of use, the PowerShot N features new Hybrid Auto mode which records the four seconds before every shot in 720p resolution, before using Canon's acclaimed Smart Auto technology to determine the best settings to capture the perfect shot. At the end of each day, the four-second clips are merged into one to tell the "behind-the-scenes" story of the day's images – perfect for adding new context to an online album.

Shoot and share in an instant

Making it the ultimate mobile companion, the PowerShot N features integrated Wi-Fi and one-touch connectivity to smartphones or tablets, thanks to the Mobile Device Connect Button. Users can upload images or movies to social networks such as Facebook ® and YouTube™ just moments after they've been captured, no matter where they may be. Once home, the best shots can be printed wirelessly or transferred to a PC thanks to the swift, reliable connection. The GPS via mobile feature, using the free Canon smartphone app, can also add location information from a GPS-enabled smartphone or tablet to an image, allowing users to share the exact location of their fun with friends.

Revolutionary design, 'Any Way Up' operation

The unusual, eye-catching design of the PowerShot N sets this model apart from every other – just like the images it captures. The compact, symmetrical design, tilting touch screen and an innovative system of lens rings - the twist lens ring can be turned in either direction to operate the zoom function, while a second ring is used as the shutter release - allow the camera to be used any way up, even upside-down, unleashing the ability to view the world from a completely different perspective.

The advanced capacitive 7.1 cm (2.8") touch screen also allows users to control essential functions, such as focus or the shutter, with a simple touch, and review their images with familiar, intuitive gestures. Available in white or black, the square, metal body is dominated by a 28mm, 8x optical zoom lens, making it easy to shoot groups and landscapes. Thanks to Canon's advanced ZoomPlus technology, which provides detailed, full-resolution shooting with up to 16x zoom, users can also get even closer to the action or frame a subject tightly for compositions with impact.

Measuring just 78.6 x 60.2 x 29.3 mm when the screen and lens are closed, the PowerShot N's extremely compact dimensions allow it to be slipped into any pocket and carried anywhere, so scenes, subjects and situations that might usually be missed can now be immortalised in the superb quality offered by Canon's advanced compact imaging technology. USB charging also provides added convenience, allowing the camera to be charged quickly and easily on the move.

Canon signature image quality

Despite its compact size, the PowerShot N inherits much of Canon's latest imaging technology to deliver superior, Canon-quality images and movies. Combining a high-sensitivity 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor and an advanced DIGIC 5 image processor, the HS System featured in this camera supports a maximum ISO of 6400 to produce sharp and clear images in challenging low-light conditions.

The powerful 8x optical zoom lens is supported by Intelligent IS, which automatically applies the most appropriate image stabilisation for smooth video and crisp stills. Complementing the artistic still images, Full HD video (1080p) can also be recorded.

PowerShot N key features:

  • Creative Shot
  • Unique design
  • 8x zoom, 28mm lens; Intelligent IS
  • HS System: 12.1 MP CMOS sensor, DIGIC 5
  • Wi-Fi; GPS via mobile
  • Mobile Device Connect Button
  • Any Way Up operation; Tilt-up touchscreen
  • Full HD video capture
  • Hybrid Auto; Smart Auto (58 scenes)

1 Internet connection permitting

Canon PowerShot N specifications

Body type
Body typeCompact
Max resolution4000 x 2248
Image ratio w:h1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels12 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors13 megapixels
Sensor size1/2.3" (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorDigic 5
ISOAuto 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
White balance presets5
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatUnknown
File format
  • JPEG 2.3
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.)28–224 mm
Optical zoom8×
Maximum apertureF3.0 - F5.9
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Macro focus range1 cm (0.39)
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDTilting
Screen size2.8
Screen dots461,000
Touch screenYes
Screen typePureColor II G touch
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed15 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/2000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Auto
  • Hybrid Auto
  • Program
  • Creative Shot
  • Super Slow Motion Movie
Built-in flashYes (LED flash)
Continuous drive2 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (24 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30, 120 fps), 320 x 240 ( 240 fps)
Storage typesmicroSD/microSDHC/microSDXC
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-9L rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)200
Weight (inc. batteries)195 g (0.43 lb / 6.88 oz)
Dimensions79 x 60 x 29 mm (3.11 x 2.36 x 1.14)
Other features
GPS notesvia Smartphone app

Additional images

I own it
I want it
I had it
Discuss in the forums


Total comments: 36
By wchay (7 months ago)

Has anyone bad mouthing this camera actually picked up one or tried it? It's an amazing little jem.
No shutter release? It's got two -and positioned more appropriately for waist level shooting than the standard SLR control positioning that almost every P&S, ICL, and DSLR uses. White balance is spot on in 99% of my shots with this camera. Did tests against my enthusiast compacts and semi-pro DSLR, and this one pulls out aces in auto WB in situations where the others require manual preset to come even close. Same with high ISO noise - no contest - this little camera wipes the floor with all my other cameras.

FYI - I compared it against: Nikon D200, Coolpix P7100, & Lumix LX3. This little guy tells me it's time to upgrade!

By ovatab (Jan 8, 2013)

it could be more revolutionary with square (6.17 x 6.17 mm) sensor.

By Nismo350Z (Jan 8, 2013)

Why bother uploading via wifi to the smartphone? Why even carry two devices? There was once a popular term called 'convergence'. Canon should just partner up with a mobile phone manufacturer and create the ultimate smartphone camera. If anything, I would've figured either Sony or Samsung to be the first ones to make that a possibility.

By jonte0 (Jan 10, 2013)

OK, so you need 2 sim cards.... problem?

By AmaturFotografer (Jan 8, 2013)

This thing has swivel screen that EOS-M should have.

Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Jan 8, 2013)

This is incomprehensible.

By Airless (Jan 7, 2013)

They should have made it with a 1" sensor and a smaller zoom range like the RX100. But we all know Canon is dumber than Sony so that will never happen.

By Revenant (Jan 8, 2013)

This is hardly an enthusiast camera like the RX100. You don't see any low-end P&S models with a 1" sensor from Sony either, do you?

By hiplnsdrftr (Jan 7, 2013)

So, I'm gonna be kinda contrarian and say that this is one of the few P&S designs that makes any sense. At least it's an attempt to evolve and stay relevant.

This N tries to offer something different than the thousands of identical P&S cameras offered by all camera brands. I'm actually shocked that the usually quite conservative Canon put this out.

By Lan (Jan 7, 2013)

The interesting detail in the article (for me) is that this is apparently using sensor shift stabilization. I don't remember seeing that in a Canon camera before - so far they've (always?) used lens based stabilization.

What I'm waiting for is a combined lens based and sensor shift stabilization system that works together. Pentax/Olympus with a Panasonic OIS doesn't count, as they either use one or the other, but not both.

Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Jan 7, 2013)

I'm pretty sure that's an error - it's an IS lens, like all the others.

By ogl (Jan 7, 2013)

How to use it...?

By happypoppeye (Jan 7, 2013)

Point the shiny glass thing in the front towards the object you want to record and snap a picture ...first you need this thing called "power" though you have to put a battery and a "media card" in there :)

...sorry, had too ...tells you up above, read

Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Jan 8, 2013)

Define "it."


Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
By DRNottage (Jan 7, 2013)

What are the guys at Canon smoking?? As great as my Galaxy S3 camera is, what's the point of this thing? This will be looked back upon as one of Canon's biggest missteps ever in a couple of years.

Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Jan 7, 2013)

After a quick, but moderately detailed test of my S3 versus my Canon compact camera, the S3's camera will likely never be used again.

1 upvote
By rrccad (Jan 7, 2013)

holy smokes that's small .. interesting concept.
how well it connects into the phone and acts with it wouldl be the key .. but it's certainly a few steps up from your traditional smartphone.

By b534202 (Jan 7, 2013)

Yeah, to be a 'companion' to a smartphone, it should act like an external drive to the smartphone, and/or that it will automatically transfer the photo to my phone right after a picture is taken w/o me doing a thing. Basically, I need to be able to access the picture from my phone right away.

iae aa eia
By iae aa eia (Jan 7, 2013)

300 dollars?! and some say the sony rx1 is expensive, ha! wait less than 10 times the time necessary to buy this canon and you can buy an rx1.

ok, if you want to give a gift for a person who likes photography, but does mind shooting in a point-and-shoot way, that's the camera.

By tkbslc (Jan 7, 2013)

Wow this is terrible.

By Artistico (Jan 7, 2013)

Now, if only it came with an Android phone inside it as well, it could just have been something... interesting.

By keeponkeepingon (Jan 7, 2013)

Deja-vu all over again.

I'm surprised there is no mention of Casio's tryx?

Maybe because no one remembers it?

It even has an LED lamp instead of a real flash (just like the tryx) and is premiering in white.

What's with the knobs on the side? I often prop my cameras up sideways but it looks imposible with this camera?

Could someone explain what's the point of loosing a shutter release so you can shoot with the camera upside down? What's the point of that?


1 upvote
the mono eye
By the mono eye (Jan 7, 2013)

the knobs are for the camera strap

By Peiasdf (Jan 7, 2013)

How do I hold this thing if I don't have model's nimble fingers? I even hurt my hand using a rangefinder-esk EVIL/mirrorless for 2 hours.

By ManuelVilardeMacedo (Jan 7, 2013)

Oh, poor thing...

By EricWN (Jan 7, 2013)

Maybe your gentle hands are not going to be happy with this device either. Can happen, they cannot develop it to suit everybody.

1 upvote
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Jan 7, 2013)

Things I like about my compact (Elph 500 HS) over my smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S3):

Wider angle lens (24mm versus 29mm equivalent)
Telephoto lens (105mm versus 29mm equivalent)
Faster lens (f/2 versus f/2.6)
Xenon flash versus LED flash (brighter, better color, freezes motion)
Better handling and controls including a shutter release and tripod mount
Bigger sensor
Better processing

Canon has managed to get rid of four of those seven items in attempting to produce a smartphone supplement. Amazing.

By pixelatorcw (Jan 7, 2013)

Great summary! I feel the same, using my pocketable S100 or RX100 instead of my smartphone as often as I can, ideally in combination with an EyeFi card to simplify upload.

From Canon I would have wanted a new S110 (S120?) with dramatically improved (simplified!!) wifi and mobile connectivity rather that getting rid of a significant portion of the key features on your list (which are the same that have made S90/S95/S100/S110 such a great camera). But the Powershot N is obviously not targeted at me...

By sarlo100 (Jan 7, 2013)

This isn't the answer. Canon should just build the camera/smartphone already. While they still have time to get ahead of the curve.

1 upvote
By Amit5 (Jan 7, 2013)

Right. It will probably come from Samsung, with their know-how. I will Not feel silly holding an android phone to my ear, with a big lens on its back. In fact, I wish there was one already!

By Peiasdf (Jan 7, 2013)

@Amit5, test using your DSLR. See if you feel silly holding a DSLR to your ear.

By happypoppeye (Jan 7, 2013)

What was the question?

Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Jan 8, 2013)

Where's that loud buzzing sound coming from?

the mono eye
By the mono eye (Jan 7, 2013)

creative indeed... but need to see how much of a "smart phone side-kick" it can be...

Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Jan 8, 2013)

Someone please explain this "smart phone side-kick" thing to me. Why not carry a normal-looking digicam for a side-kick? What are they teaching in Marketing/Communications School these days?

By pidera (Jan 7, 2013)

Reminds me of my Nikon SQ - loved that camera !

Total comments: 36