Users may expect Canon to cut corners with the PowerShot N due to the fact that it’s meant to be an approachable and fuss-free way to shoot. Fortunately, you'll be relieved to know that the PowerShot N definitely shoots better images than a smartphone. With its 12.1MP CMOS sensor, colors turned out saturated and the camera scored 2000LPH (horizontal) by 1800LPH (vertical), which is similar to the better-performing compact cameras in the market. But since there's no manual shooting modes, there's no way for users to adjust the aperture and shutter speed, making the PowerShot N a basic camera in terms of shooting modes.
The PowerShot N is able to control noise with the aid of its noise reduction software. Thus while you will see a bit of noise creeping in at ISO200, it’s quite well-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 we feel that’s an optimal estimate as the number of shots you get from the camera would be lower if you’re going to transfer images to your smartphone wirelessly.
Below are sample photographs shot with the Canon PowerShot N. The photos have not been post-processed and are copyright to SPH Magazines. They are provided for your reference only and we ask that you do not reproduce them elsewhere. Click for the full-resolution images
With many opting to shoot with their smartphones, it’s inevitable that the merits of purchasing a digital compact are hotly debated - especially those who've invested in premium smartphones. Certainly digital compact cameras are facing a huge challenge and while we feel that the PowerShot N is a step in the right direction to revive this camera segment, Canon’s concept still needs polishing.
Image quality and noise control definitely trumps a smartphone, and it is light and convenient to boot. However that's where the positives end. Potential buyers of the PowerShot N are either looking to shoot with it as their main shooting device or as a companion to their smartphone. Unfortunately, the PowerShot N didn't quite turn out to be a very compelling option in either scenario.
Those who are used to handling a traditional compact will find the PowerShot N awkward due to its square shape and the use of the unconventional shooting ring. Then there's the comparison against smartphones where the camera still falls short in other areas besides its good imaging quality. For example, Instagram offers more filters, Wi-Fi implementation still needs more polish and taking self-portraits is close to impossible due to the difficulty in pressing the shutter ring from that angle and how the display only tilts 90 degrees upwards. If you could look past some of these drawbacks to try something new and unique, we might have recommended it, but with the PowerShot N’s high asking price of S$399, it's difficult to justify given some of its limitations.
If you're looking for an interesting imaging related product for gifting, the Canon PowerShot N might be an interesting option, but we also reckon the cheaper name card sized Nikon Coolpix S01 to be an equally suitable candidate too.