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Canon PowerShot N review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £270
inc VAT

Excellent image quality, but the innovative design only brings marginal benefits


1/2.3in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 8.0x zoom (28-224mm equivalent), 195g

The PowerShot N is the strangest looking camera we’ve seen in a long time. There’s an 8x zoom lens on the front, a 2.8in touchscreen on the back and very little else. There are buttons on the side for power, playback and Wi-Fi, plus a mode switch, but no sign of a shutter button or zoom lever.

Canon PowerShot N

These key functions are built into the metal rings that encircle the lens. Zooming is achieved by twisting, and pushing the ring up or down captures a photo. The idea is that, like an iPad, there’s no right or wrong way to hold this camera. The screen tilts up to allow shooting from waist height. If you want to shoot with the camera held above your head, just turn it upside down – the zoom and shutter release controls will work in exactly the same way. They fall comfortably under the fingers in portrait orientation too, although the screen’s single-axis hinge isn’t any help here.

Canon PowerShot N

The design is certainly innovative, but more conventional controls and a screen that tilts both up and down would have achieved roughly the same result. Then again, articulated screens are rare on ultra-compact cameras, and they’re always extremely welcome.

Canon PowerShot N

The minimal design and integrated Wi-Fi also point towards another form of innovation. Wi-Fi cameras let users take photos with a camera and edit and share them on a smartphone a few seconds later. The PowerShot N’s design seems to fully embrace this concept, stripping the camera down to its essential components, including a relatively small 2.8in screen for composing shots, on the basis that they’re more likely to be viewed on a smartphone.

Canon PowerShot N

It’s a compelling idea, but Canon’s Wi-Fi implementation is a limiting factor. Photos and videos are transferred on demand, with browsing either on the camera or smartphone app (available for iOS and Android). However, there’s no option to transfer photos automatically as soon as they’re captured, which would have given much tighter integration between camera and smartphone. There’s no remote shooting function either, and the app-based GPS tagging function is a little clumsy. The 200-shot battery life is another worry. This camera might not last a full day’s use if the Wi-Fi radio is used extensively.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ***
CCD effective megapixels 12.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.3in
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 2.8in
LCD screen resolution 461,000 pixels
Articulated screen Yes
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 8.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 28-224mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,000×3,000
File formats JPEG; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot MicroSDXC
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 200 shots
Connectivity USB, Wi-Fi
Body material aluminium
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB cable
Weight 195g
Size 60x88x29mm

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £270

Camera Controls

Exposure modes auto
Shutter speed auto
Aperture range f/3.0 (wide), f/5.9 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 80 to 6400
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 5 presets
Additional image controls none
Manual focus No
Closest macro focus 1cm
Auto-focus modes multi, flexible spot, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer