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A Brilliant Concept Flawed by Networking
on August 12, 2013
I have been a Pro and Semi-Pro photographer for many years. Partly because of that experience, and partly because of the staggering advances we have seen in digital DSLR cameras, I was feeling that I had fossilized in my picture taking creativity.
Although I have repented since, I was an early and loud fulminator against the whole idea of camera phones. I also wrote off Instragram and others like it as abominations.
Every day for about the last five years I have carried a pocketable camera of some sort, (mostly the Canon S95/100), when I wasn't carrying my large Nikons. I got good snapshots and sometimes photographic art but little of the excitement I used to feel doing what I can only call "found photography", or spur of the moment and random inspirations.
Then I came across the PowerShot N. It is so quirky in its controls and features that I instantly found myself way beyond my photographic comfort zone. I started taking pictures at odd angles, (the tilt LCD is a big help here), I took them for no particular reason, I took a lot. The camera just begged to be used in weird and chaotic ways.
I initially thought that the camera's quirkiest feature, which allows the camera to take not only the picture you wanted but then goes on to take 5 shots of its own using random color temperatures, filters, and zoom positions, was a useless marketers gadget. But that was conservative mindset so I forced myself to turn it on and experiment. Most of the time the random shots are pretty poor or uninteresting, but about ten percent of the time I find that the camera has found a perspective and image setting so far beyond what I would ever have thought of that it verged on brilliant.
So, as a creative tool I cannot speak highly enough of the camera, but there are some things that bother me.
I find myself accidentally triggering the touch screen and messing up either a menu setting or even preventing the camera from taking a shot.
The shutter trigger areas on the front lens ring are a little too small for me and not prominent enough for reliable blind shooting.
But the biggest problem is how Canon has implemented the camera's ability to network. Technically I suppose it is great but for the life of me I have never read such a confusing user manual. It suffers from the greatest sin in technical writing; referring the user to different pages during a procedure. So, you start to read about how to connect to lets say your home network; Step 2 might want you to jump 14 pages ahead to read about something. Then while there you might be sent back 5 pages before where you started and so on.
The manual also commits the technical writing sin of never explaining why you have to do such and such, or what the effect of any options might be, or any explanation for why something may or may not work.
I am pretty comfortable around networks but Canon's user manual is just a dog's breakfast.
That said, I now have a superior camera linked to my smartphone (Nexus 4) so I do not have to use the very poor camera in the phone for Twitter, G+ etc.
And I really do think this quirky little piece of experimental camera technology has really helped me to break out of my self imposed creative straitjacket.
I like it a great deal for that.