It's a rare day when a company as big as Canon invites us into its design studio (well, sends us a bunch of amazing sketches and renders), showing the design process behind one of its most radical designs to date. Though you may disagree with me that making the PowerShot N higher and narrower actually constitutes as being "radical," the thinking displayed by Canon's Product Designer Miyabi Orihashi certainly breaks from the norm.
Tasked with designing the hardware exterior for Canon's compact camera lines, Orihashi first joined the Japanese company in 1999, where she worked on the PowerShot A and IXUS series of cameras before going on to try her hand at its printer line, and then resuming her work in Canon's compact cameras division.
Given digital cameras have long been rectangular items thanks to the numerous controls that were squeezed onto the side of the display; a familiar shape thanks to the film cameras before them which needed width for loading the rolls, Orihashi's work on the PowerShot N must've had a few people scratching their heads. Measuring 3.1 x 2.4 x 1.2 inches, it's quite a contrast from the IXUS 530 HS model, for example, which is 3.4 x 2.1 x 0.78 inches in size. But it certainly makes sense -- with the advance of touchscreens, physical controls are superfluous, so all of that hardware real estate is just a waste of materials.
"We wanted to create a product that would meet the needs of people in their 20s -- largely beginners who regularly share images across social networks, capturing their life as they go," Orihashi commented on the N. With the flip-up touchscreen which tilts to 90-degrees, and two rings around the lens, the idea is that you can take a photo from whatever angle the camera's held at, using the lens' rings to zoom in and take your photos.
Commenting on the design process, Orihashi described how "it was a purposeful decision to create something that was unique in its design which the symmetrical design of this camera does. We wanted to make a product that didn’t confine consumers to shoot in the traditional way."
Whatever you may think of the design, hopefully you'll be as fascinated as I am by this visual peek into Orihashi's brain, as shown in the sketches below. If you need a reminder of what the finished product actually looks like check out our hands-on here, or crib up on the specs over 'ere. Personally, I find the look refreshing -- it's cute; a nice novelty, and at £269, it makes for a dinky secondary camera.