Canon PowerShot N

Is the compact camera still relevant in an age of smartphones? Canon chooses to rework the formula with a tiny, pocket-sized point-and-shoot.

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

First impressions

What can save the compact camera from the wrath of the smartphone? As more and more consumers use the device in their pockets as a primary photography tool, the poor old point-and-shoot has to do something to stay relevant.

This urge for relevancy is particularly clear when looking at the design and features of the Canon PowerShot N. It doesn't look like the cameras you've seen before; it's almost square, and is just 7cm wide on its longest side.

Its diminutive size doesn't necessarily mean that the camera loses out on other features. Inside is a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor with the high sensitivity tag that graces other higher-end Canon compacts. The total lack of buttons at the rear means that the 2.8-inch screen is a capacitive touch-enabled panel that can flip up 90 degrees.

Controls around the lens are normally reserved for premium compacts, but the PowerShot N gets a shutter and zoom ring at the top and bottom of the lens. Incidentally, it also extends to 8x optical zoom.

Inevitably, Canon must see the likelihood of photographers wanting to use an actual camera alongside their mobile device, so the PowerShot N comes with plenty of wireless connectivity options. After an initial configuration, a dedicated connect button links the camera to any number of other devices to transfer photos and videos. The process is purported to be simple, with one-touch access that quickly links to frequently used devices.

While Canon no longer issues Australian retail prices, the PowerShot N will be available in May from retailers.

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