Canon N Answers the Cell Phone Threat

Written by Tech84 on May 10, 2013

Technology is constantly advancing. What was once in high demand eventually becomes obsolete, or at the very least, a device that you’re ashamed to pull out in public. You know what I’m talking about. It’s like still having a flip phone and pulling it out to text while your friends are snapping high quality photos with their iPhones. It might be time to work out a retirement plan for that old device and jump into the current day. 

It’s interesting to watch as things change and devices become unnecessary or even undesirable. Think about your digital camera. When was the last time you used it? I haven’t seen mine in a while. Why? My phone takes high quality pictures, leaving me with one less thing to carry.

Canon, the world’s top camera maker, has decided cameras are still necessary, and that they weren’t going to shy from from the consumer market. There will always be a need for high end photography equipment, and Canon is certainly a leader in that niche. But has the age of the consumer grade point and shoot passed?

It appears the answer is, maybe not. Canon took the challenge and may have found some success in the new Canon N. 

I splurged and bought the camera, and was pleased with the results. It was almost instant that I knew Canon was onto something. 

First and possibly foremost, the zoom capability is far superior to that of your existing phone. In fact, it’s light years ahead of any digital or optical zoom featured in a cell phone. Next, it simulates the design features of your phone, making it feel oddly familiar, although I’m sure I’m accidentally going to try to answer it at some point.  These features are great, but the biggest bonus of having a smartphone is your ability to instantly forward the photos to friends or post them to social networks. The N has this functionality as well.

The Canon N has a more sensitive sensor, and a much bigger lens. While the lens is still only 0.4 inches diagonally, it’s much bigger than the one in your phone, leaving you with higher resolution photos and added clarity. 

The design and operation is intriguing, much more so than your smartphone. It is to a square shape, with a black and white exterior consisting of only 3 buttons: Play, power and connect to phone. The device doesn’t come with the typical shutter button, instead you snap a picture by pressing up or down on a ring that goes around the lens. 

The design is simple and works like a phone. You can hold it upside down, right-side up or at an angle. Just like your phone it detects which way you are holding it and adjust accordingly. As an added bonus, the screen flips to 90 degrees, allowing you to take pictures at interesting and exciting angles. 

Now, are those features enough to make you dump the smartphone in exchange for a “real” camera? That’s sort of like asking if you need a “real” accountant or if Quickbooks can handle your taxes. The answer? It depends. Can I do a simple return myself? Of course. But when it comes time to ask “How do I rollover my 401(k)?” I’m afraid Quickbooks simply isn’t going to be up to par. This camera is no different. If you’re a light user that likes to use Instagram and post photos to Facebook, then your phone is probably more than enough.

I suppose if you’re looking for a real answer it all depends on your level of photography geekiness, but the feature set is certainly impressive for a camera in the sub-$300 market. Will that lead to widespread consumer adoption? I’m not sure, but Canon is certainly on to something by creating a consumer grade point and shoot that has most of the features that we love from our phones, while taking better pictures to boot. Only time will tell.

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