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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

IMAGE QUALITY – click to enlarge test images

Despite these misgivings, the PowerShot N is a capable compact camera. The touchscreen interface is straightforward and effective, and provides a spot focus function that’s absent from most Canon compacts. It appears to use the same sensor and image-processing engine as the Canon Ixus 255 HS, which helped it to deliver remarkably low noise in photos. Details in brightly lit shots were smooth and natural, and low-light photos were perfectly respectable – something few compact cameras can claim. The lens wasn’t quite as sharp towards the edges of the frame, though, and telephoto shots were a little soft, too. The Ixus 255 HS’s 10x zoom lens gave better results.

Canon PowerShot N sample shot
There’s lots of definition in these subtle, shady textures – this is about as good as ultra-compact cameras get

Canon PowerShot N sample shot
Focus isn’t as sharp at the edges of frames as it is in the middle

Canon PowerShot N sample shot
Focus appears to be slightly soft at the long end of the zoom, too

Canon PowerShot N sample shot
Indoor image quality is excellent, thanks to the low noise from the sensor

Canon PowerShot N sample shot
Image quality suffers after zooming in in low light, but it’s still good enough for sharing online

The lack of a proper flash is a concern, though. The LED that passes for a flash is feeble, with a quoted range of 90cm. A powerful flash should be something that dedicated cameras offer over and above a smartphone’s camera, but not here. The PowerShot N’s low-light image quality is pretty good without it but we’d still like to have the option. An HDMI output is notably absent, too, and the lack of a manual white balance option will be frustrating for some people. Performance could be better, taking two seconds between shots in our tests. The continuous mode trundled along at 2fps. The video mode gave great results, with crisp detail and smooth, silent focusing and zooming. The arbitrary 10-minute clip limit is a bit annoying, though.

We’re always up for a quirky design, and while the PowerShot N isn’t as radical as it might appear, the articulated screen is extremely useful. Image quality is excellent, but most of the differences to the Ixus 255 HS don’t lie in its favour. The Ixus has a proper flash, HDMI, a slightly bigger zoom and sharper focus, and it currently costs around £70 less. We like the PowerShot N, but it’ll need to fall to under £200 before we’d be tempted to buy one.

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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