DigitalCameraReview.com
CES 2013: Canon PowerShot N First Look
by Laura Hicks -  1/28/2013

The Canon PowerShot N just begs you to be creative with this little camera. Seriously small, the N is designed to pack a powerful, creative punch to your images.  The PowerShot N offers an 8x zoom, 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 5 Image Processor. The body of the camera houses a 2.8 inch tilting touchscreen that encompasses the entirety of its back.

The camera boasts a powerful new feature called Creative Shot. This feature analyzes an image and automatically creates a series of five artistic photos of the original with varying composition, lighting and color.  This feature negates the need to post process on your computer and allows you total creative control in your camera. The camera also offers 58 scenes selections for its Smart AUTO function. The PowerShot N features Smart Shutter, enabling users to start tracking a subject by pressing touch panel LCD, and then capture the image by lifting their finger off the screen.

At CES I was able to get my hands on this camera a few times. The first time I saw it I didn't get it. The second time I saw it I still didn't get it. It wasn't until the third time I picked it up that I understood the depths of its functionality. A single image that I took in the camera's creative mode function changed my mind and allowed me to see what the N has to offer.

In general, I am not a huge fan of the "creative mode" functionality in point and shoot cameras. The different effects are usually so-so and lack the true creativity I desire in my images. But the "N" uses much different technology than any other camera's creative mode that I have used. The camera actually analyzes the image and creates 5 unique images in addition to the one you created. And it doesn't just reprocess the original image with 5 effects. No, the camera takes the original image and then "dreams up" the others. For example, I took a picture of another camera at the Canon booth. The original image was comprised of the entire camera. The N took that image and gave me 5 unique images including one that was cropped in to just show the "Canon" name that was located on the front of the camera. It also gave me an image that was black and white. It gave me another image that was a crop from the opposite side of the front of the camera. The kicker was that each image retained a single focus point. And the focus point was not the same as what I deemed the single focus point in the original image. Holy cow! That's huge. After that, I was sold and also a little worried. That functionality is almost too creative for only $300. If this function is as good as it seems Canon might want to invest into putting it into a more expensive line of cameras.

The lighting in the briefing room was not great, so it's hard to say if the camera has great color quality. From the sample image I discussed earlier, the color was very good. However, that sample was taken in creative mode and could have had color adjustments as part of the final image. The autofocus was responsive. When images are taken in creative mode, the original image and subsequent images take a few seconds to appear on the screen. That was not the case in the traditional shooting mode. Those images appeared on the screen quickly.

Almost every function is controlled through the touchscreen interface. The screen was responsive to the touch. The user interface seemed simple, intuitive and easy to learn.

The camera seems a bit small for me, but I am not their target market for this camera. This camera is designed for the young (13-20ish), creative, non-professional photographer. It is for someone that loves Instagram type pictures and does not have the time or desire to edit images on their computer. The built-in Wi-Fi in the Canon PowerShot N solidifies that this camera is created for someone that enjoys social media and wants to upload their images on the run. The PowerShot N also offers users 1080p Full HD video capabilities with a dedicated movie button for capturing movies on-the-go, too. 

When photographing with this camera, the user understands they lack the ability to control much of the cameras functionality. The PowerShot N does most of the thinking for you. For some, that sounds like an ideal camera; for others that sounds like a curse. Once we get this camera in our hands we will give you a much deeper look into the Canon PowerShot N and let you know if this little camera is worth the hype.  

The PowerShot N is expected to be available in April 2013 for an estimated retail price of $299.99, in white or black.