Four new Canon cameras, including one that does away with the shutter button


posted Monday, January 7, 2013 at 9:00 AM EST

Canon has today announced four new digital camera models for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada: the Canon PowerShot N, ELPH 130 IS, PowerShot A2600, and PowerShot A1400.

Of the quartet, the most eyecatching is the PowerShot N, which takes a long, hard look at the humble shutter button, and subjects it to some out-of-the-box thinking. One look at its front panel, dominated by an image stabilized 8x optical zoom lens, is enough to tell you it's different from the average camera. Were it not for the strap lugs jutting from either side, it would actually look more like a network camera than your typical compact, thanks to its lack of a shutter button. In fact, the only obvious physical controls on the whole body are the power and mobile device connect buttons, found on the sides. Instead of the typical button and rocker for shutter and zoom control, both variables are controlled with rings around the lens. The outer ring controls lens zoom, while the inner ring doesn't actually control -- instead, it moves across the lens axis slightly. Pushing down on the top of the ring slightly from any angle -- even with the camera upside down -- is analogous to a shutter button being half-pressed. Push harder, and you take a photo.

It looks like a network camera, but the Canon PowerShot N is a conventional digicam whose shutter button is replaced by an unusual shutter ring.

While its unusual interface defines it, on the inside the Canon N has much in common with other PowerShot models. There's a 12.1 megapixel CMOS image sensor, and a DIGIC V image processor. The lens has a 28mm wide angle and Intelligent IS image stabilization. On the rear, the 2.8-inch LCD has a top-mounted hinge allowing it to fold upwards for viewing from difficult angles or for self-portraits, rather than the side-mounted tilt/swivel design more common in Canon cameras. As noted previously, the screen is also an input device, thanks to a capacitive touch-sensitive overlay. Power comes from a proprietary lithium-ion battery, and the PowerShot N features in-camera USB charging, plus an unusual Eco mode that detects when the camera is stationary and puts it in sleep mode after ten seconds.

Available from April 2013, the Canon PowerShot N is priced at US$300 or thereabouts. Find out more in our Canon PowerShot N preview!

The stylish ELPH 130 IS' lens is similar to -- but not as bright as -- that in the PowerShot N.

Prefer the conventional to the controversial? (Let's face it -- unusual cameras like the PowerShot N aren't for everybody!) Well, fear not: Canon simultaneously unveiled another option that's both traditional and stylish at once. The Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS, like the PowerShot N, has an 8x optical zoom lens with a 28mm wide angle, although with a maximum aperture varying from f/3.2 to f/6.9, it's not quite as bright at either end of the zoom range. It does share Canon's Intelligent IS image stabilization system, though, and it has a higher-resolution 16 megapixel image sensor paired with a DIGIC 4 image processor. There's also a three-inch LCD screen.

The Canon ELPH 130 IS ships from February 2013, with estimated retail pricing around US$200. For more, read our Canon ELPH 130 IS preview.

The Canon PowerShot A2600 replaces last year's A2400.

Want a new digicam that gives you a bit more resolution and zoom reach than yesterday's entry-level models, but aren't willing to break the bank to get it? The Canon PowerShot A2600 may well have your name on it.

On its front deck, the Canon A2600 sports a 5x optical zoom lens with a 28mm wide angle. Maximum aperture varies from f/2.8 to a decidedly dim f/6.9 across the zoom range, and there's no optical image stabilization, just a  digital image stabilization. The A2600 features a 16 megapixel image sensor paired with a DIGIC 4 image processor. There's also a three-inch LCD screen. More details in our Canon A2600 preview.

The PowerShot A1400 is the most affordable of Canon's announcements, and the only one with an optical viewfinder or support for standard AA batteries.

If your most important purchasing criterion is the pricetag, then the Canon PowerShot A1400 will be on your list to consider -- it comes quite close to the magic $99 price point, yet still manages to include a healthy zoom range and a high-res sensor. You may also be looking at it for another reason: unlike the vast majority of affordably-priced cameras these days, it actually has an optical viewfinder!

Impressively for the price, the Canon A1400 has the same 5x zoom lens, 16 megapixel image sensor, and DIGIC 4 processor as the A2600. As well as the added optical viewfinder, there's also a slightly smaller 2.7-inch LCD screen, and an AA battery power source. Read more in the Canon A1400 preview.