odd kind

Quirky design, but who's it for? The Canon Powershot N

It looks cute, there are some fun elements to it, but I'm not convinced that Canon has identified a workable target market for the square-shaped, touchscreen Powershot N. Let me explain.

There are some elements of the Powershot N that I like a lot: the lens rings for zooming and shutter release; the tiltable touch-screen that you use the control focus and image review; the 28mm lens with 8× optical zoom; the 12 megapixel sensor with DIGIC 5 processor, and sensitivity to ISO 6,400; the quirky design; and of course, the wi-fi connectivity.

There are some elements of the Powershot N to which I'm indifferent. Being able to apply creative filters in-camera is ubiquitous now. Creative Shot mode, which examines a picture, applies a series of enhancements according to its attributes, and then presents you with five different versions is a novel toy, but doesn't exactly float my photographic boat.

Then there are the elements that leave me going 'Wuh?' Why, exactly, would I want to compile the four seconds of focusing and fiddling before taking any picture in Hybrid Auto mode, so that I can watch some odd kind of meta filmshoot at the end of the day? Why would I want to piddle about taking a photo and then transfering it to my smartphone or tablet so that I can upload it to Flickr because there's no available wi-fi network, when I could just take the photo and apply a filter using my phone? It's a bit gimmicky and feels slightly half-baked. Afterall, there are Android-based 'smartcameras' out there now that provide a whole lot more functionality.

Canon, it looks very to me as if you've designed a camera that is meant to appeal to the Instagramming, filtering, uploading crowd. But the thing is - they've gone and they're not coming back. They love their smartphones and their instant connectivity. They already have the tools they need for the job they want to do. At £270 ($300), I can't see them rushing to buy one in a hurry. In fact, I'm not sure who will.

The fun design demonstrates that you are at least thinking creatively about the point-and-shoot market. Carry on - it needs this. But what you really need to think about are who still uses point-and-shoot cameras. Make cameras for them. With the Powershot N you've a camera that isn't sophisticated enough to be a smartcamera, isn't cheap enough to be a fun camera, and isn't serious enough to be regarded as a game-changer. It isn't even falling between two stools, but three.

Potentially, there are the beginnings of something here, but I'm not sure where you're going with it, Canon.