Now here's something unexpected from Canon. The PowerShot N is an almost-square camera that just doesn't seem like the traditional Canon school of thought. Does that make it fun, or is the N just plain weird?
The PowerShot N's shape might look strange, but the concept makes sense for both left and right-handed shooters. There's no traditional shutter button or zoom, however, so that the camera can be flipped upside down and used in the same way.
There are both shutter and zoom functions, of course, but each is controlled via a ring around the lens. This means it's possible to fire off a shot by pressing to the centre of the ring. Well, it's possible, but it does mean the near-impossible task of getting your hand/finger to the unnatural centre position. It just feels plain odd.
But there's a touchscreen that comes to the rescue, which is useful for finger-pointing to autofocus and firing the shutter all in one, without the faff of playing Twister with your own fingers to fire off a shot. The N also utilises the power of touch to navigate its menu options, including the usual Canon-style quick menu to adjust manual settings as required.
The PowerShot N's internals are based around a 12.1-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5 processor so quality from its 28-225mm equivalent lens ought to be assured.
Also thrown into the mix is Canon's latest version of Wi-Fi. We weren't able to get a full demonstration of this at the time, but were told that the Canon CameraWindow software had been updated for an improved user experience. We sure do hope so, as with cameras like the PowerShot S110 we found the Wi-Fi implementation to be somewhat sloppy and long-winded.
Canon's been bold with the PowerShot N. But perhaps a little bit too bold. Camera ergonomics are there for a reason and, as much as we like companies that explode the norm, the N feels rather odd in the palm.