Last year's Canon PowerShot N was a weird little point-and-shoot camera with an odd design aimed at roping in the masses who have ditched tiny cameras for smartphones. It was neat, but not all the way there. With the new PowerShot N100, Canon has redesigned the camera so that it can do even more smartphone-like things.
The PowerShot N100 is actually two cameras. There's a standard point-and-shoot camera on the front that uses an 5x optical zoom. On the back, there's a dinkier "sub camera". So it's kind of like a smartphone: Pretty good camera on the front and less good camera on the back.
The whole point of the two cameras is to let you "frontback" yourself and what you're looking at—very much like you can using the popular smartphone app. Using the Dual Capture mode, you get a big photo or video of the scene you're looking at plus an inset picture-in-picture image of yourself. Which is kind of fun! But is it enough reason to buy a $350 camera? Or rather, if you weren't interested in the creative modes and everything else a camera had to offer would it push you over the edge?
In terms of design, the Powershot N100 dials back some of the weird. It's got a real shutter button instead of the clumsy ring you had to push down around the edge of the lens to take a photo before. Canon also rounded out the corners of the little guy so that it looks like most other point-and-shoots.
Last year's Powershot N was a risky product, and from the looks of it, the risk went a little to far astray of the norm. Canon's latest risk doesn't seem like much of a risk at all. You can already Frontback yourself with an app. It shows just how desperate things have become at the bottom of the Canon's line. At this point, it seems like nothing's going to revitalize the volume seller point-and-shot market, but hey, Canon's gotta try. Available in May.