Hands-On With Canon’s PowerShot N: A Compact Camera That Does Instagram One Better

Canon had a number of new cameras on display at CES 2013 this year, but the most noteworthy of all was the PowerShot N, a new ultracompact shooter that’s only about 3 inches by 2 and half, and only 1.2 inches deep. It’s almost square, which makes it resemble the camera depicted in the Instagram icon on the iOS and Android app, and once you use it, you realize the connection probably isn’t entirely accidental.

The PowerShot N is designed entirely around one-handed use, a Canon rep explained, with a touchscreen based interface that generally takes care of most things for you, including even selecting a filter, should you choose. Whereas with Instagram you still have to do some kind of creative input, the Canon rep explained, the Canon PowerShot N on full auto will choose the best filter for your situation. It’ll give you a different one for a sunset landscape vs. an indoor portrait, for example. The camera can also create five different filtered versions of each shot in a new creative mode to let you pick the best.

The PowerShot N still offers a lot of creative control, with shutter and zoom manual ring controls on the lens, which borrows a trick from the PowerShot S100 series of more pro-oriented compacts. It has a 12-megapixel sensor, and improved Wi-Fi connectivity with a new button that allows you to get it connected to the CameraWindow app for iOS and Android with a single click. The camera has a battery good for around 280 shots, with Canon’s new eco-drive, which should add 30 percent more battery by managing power.

In practice, the PowerShot N is an attractive device, and one that you can’t help but enjoy playing with. AF is pretty quick, and the on-screen controls give you just the right amount of access to features without cluttering your interface. Plus, you can upload pics directly to Facebook using onboard Wi-Fi, and even comment on those photos, too.

This is definitely one of the more unique cameras that Canon has released recently. But with the variable angle screen, pocketable form factor, and unique control ring mechanism, it’s a winner based on my early initial tests, especially for those looking for something with better IQ than their smartphone, but with a lot of the same features and similar portability, too. The PowerShot N goes on sale in April and will retail for $299.99.

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