Announced earlier this year at CES, and following the innovative design of its predecessor the PowerShot N, the Canon N100 is nice enough camera with a few quirks that might need working around…or just plain understanding.
Shooting with the Canon N100
Controls and Handling
The Canon N100 looks and feels mostly like a real camera. Not that square monstrosity that predated it (the Powershot N). Gone is the weird shutter-release-on-the-lens design. Gone is the…well, not much else. But just be thankful they got rid of that lens design, sheesh.
You still get built in WiFi, but now you also have a rear-facing camera. Taking these features into account, along with creative filters (and even a film-simulation mode), one can tell this camera is meant to be fun, even if that comes at the price of performance.
Despite this relative emphasis on ease-of-use over performance, we can’t write the Canon N100 off completely: a 1/1.7” sensor puts it just a smidgen above some of the competition out there, and with some nice IS and a decent f/1.8 aperture when the lens is at its widest (a 24mm equivalent).
In other areas, the performance seems a little handicapped, with a relatively low ISO range (80-6400), no outward controls for rapidly changing shooting modes, and that weird screen that only flips up 90 degrees (Why Canon? WHY?).
The lens on this camera is does not offer a lot of zooming power. Aimed predominantly at people who want to take portraits of their friends and family, this camera doesn’t really need the zoom range that other manufacturers are putting into their products. However, if you’re looking for some zoom, the Canon N100 has 5x optical and a little digital left over (though I didn’t use it, ’cause who wants to see that eyesore?). If you’re looking to shoot distant birds, or photograph people from half a block away, there are other cameras out there that might suit you better.
ISO performance on the N100 isn’t terrible, with decent results up to ISO 800. For dimmer situations necessitating higher sensitivity, I would still try to stay at 3200 or under, as ISO 6400 does show a fair amount of grain.
Like most Canon point and shoots with built in WiFi, the N100 is easy to sync to a smartphone using the Canon Camera Window app, which allows transfer to smartphones and tablets, as well as remote shooting and geotagging. The remote shooting functions were fairly bare-bones with the N100, and silent mode is co-opted by some weird beeping that goes on with the camera when the shutter is triggered. So, the WiFi isn’t ideally suited for any sort of candid captures, but works great if you just want a basic remote or wish to share photos with smart devices.
The Canon N100 has a rear-facing camera, so you, the photographer, can still have pictures of yourself when you’re presumably photographing your friends. I don’t have any friends, but I do love Zeikos camera gear, so I shot that with me making ducklips in the corner of the frame. CLASSIC.
Like almost every point and shoot or compact camera out there these days, the Canon N100 also comes with a plethora of artsy filters. Now, normally these filters suck on small sensors. Something just seems off, whether it’s the way the image processor handles them, or some curse that befell all smaller sensors by some sort of full-frame warlock. At any rate, the 1/1.7” sensor and the Digic 6 Processor seem to work in tandem to deliver moderate results, even when using the Toy Camera filter. (These images were also shot using the camera’s macro focusing mode, which is quite nice, but not as good as some of the competition.)
Image quality on the N100 is surprising to say the least. Even though I was working with JPEGs, there was still a little room for tweaking, and I even managed to save one slightly under-exposed photograph. In general, the automated performance seems intelligent enough to do it’s job, while the hardware (and software) give you images with a teeny bit of leeway. Colors are very nice, and you won’t find a real need for the Vivid Effect unless that’s really your thing.
The Canon N100 is a decent little camera with enough features, gizmos, and doohickeys to keep younger photographers on top of their passion. Canon has pushed this camera as a “story camera” and there’s a lot going for it in that niche. The social inclination of the N100, from the rear-facing camera to the built-in WiFi, speaks to the denizens of Twitter and Facebook. However, a lack of prosumer features, and the half-implementation of some decent ideas (again, a 90 degree articulating LCD…) means this puppy isn’t going to see the audience that the SX700 will, even though both cameras sit at around the same price.
If you’re in the mood to try something new and fun, or you want to be connected while you shoot with your compact, this camera might just be the One.