A Cool Idea That Needs Pol­ish

Canon PowerShot N

HWM (Singapore) - - Lab Test -

While just about ev­ery hand­held cam­era sports a rec­tan­gu­lar form, the PowerShot N is shaped like a square. Size­wise, it’s com­pact enough to slip into your back pocket al­though the touch-sen­si­tive tilt­ing dis­play does add some thick­ness. The com­pact size also means that Canon went with a mi­croSD card slot, in­stead of the ubiq­ui­tous SD card slot.

The PowerShot N’s 2.8-inch dis­play is able to tilt up 90 de­grees so as to al­low you to shoot from the hip or at waist-level. The PowerShot N will clev­erly ad­just the ori­en­ta­tion of the screen and the shot cap­tured so there’s no need to tilt your head.

Due to the PowerShot N’s slim pro­file, the num­ber of but­tons on the cam­era is kept to a min­i­mum. Shar­ing photographs can be done quickly with the Mo­bile De­vice Con­nect but­ton that al­lows users to pair their smart­phone or tablet with the cam­era via Canon’s Cam­er­aWin­dow app.

There’s no shut­ter but­ton or zoom lever on the PowerShot N, but fret not as shoot­ing is done with the two rings sur­round­ing the lens bar­rel - the larger one is the zoom ring while the smaller ring is the shoot­ing ring, which you press down on to trig­ger the shuter. The shut­ter ring is a lit­tle sen­si­tive though, and can eas­ily be trig­gered when try­ing to pre-fo­cus by half-press­ing. One way to work around this is by us­ing the touch­sen­si­tive dis­play to fo­cus and fire a shot, sim­i­lar to a smart­phone. We’re not sure if this was an over­sight on Canon’s part, but the shoot­ing ring can only be pushed up or down when in land­scape mode, so you will have to push the ring left or right when shoot­ing in por­trait mode.

There are no man­ual shoot­ing modes, with the avail­able op­tions be­ing Cre­ative Shot, Smart Auto, Hy­brid Auto, Pro­gram, and seven fil­ters to shoot with. The mode that will prob­a­bly in­ter­est users the most is Cre­ative Shot mode. This unique mode takes six dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the scene when you snap a shot. One im­age will be the orig­i­nal while the other five will fea­ture dif­fer­ent com­po­si­tions, color, and many other vari­ables which are ran­domly ad­justed. What you get pretty much de­pends on luck, mak­ing this an in­ter­est­ing and fun mode to shoot with.

Col­ors in im­ages shot turned out nicely sat­u­rated, with the cam­era scor­ing 2000LPH (hor­i­zon­tal) by 1800LPH (ver­ti­cal), pretty much on par with most com­pact cam­eras avail­able to­day. You will see a bit of noise creep­ing in at ISO200, but it’s quite con­trolled and for­tu­nately, the cam­era’s noise re­duc­tion doesn’t get too ag­gres­sive.

The PowerShot N’s bat­tery life is rated for 200 shots, though the num­ber of shots you get from the cam­era will be lower if you’re go­ing to trans­fer im­ages to your smart­phone wire­lessly ev­ery now and then.

Those who are used to han­dling a tra­di­tional com­pact will find the PowerShot N awk­ward due to its square shape, while the un­con­ven­tional shoot­ing ring in­volves some get­ting used to. The lack of man­ual shoot­ing modes also makes the PowerShot N a cam­era aimed at the more en­trylevel users.

When com­pared to a smart­phone, the PowerShot N’s only real ad­van­tage lies in im­age qual­ity. Apps like In­sta­gram of­fer a great deal more fil­ters for spe­cial ef­fects, while the PowerShot N’s WiFi im­ple­men­ta­tion in­volves far more steps than we’d like. Tak­ing self­ies isn’t easy, thanks to the awk­ward shut­ter ring, as well as how the tiltable dis­play only moves 90 de­grees up­wards.

Last but not least, the PowerShot N’s ask­ing price of $399 is a lit­tle tough to ab­sorb, as you can just as eas­ily pick up a com­pet­ing com­pact cam­era that’s a great deal more us­able for the same money, or just a lit­tle more.

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