Canon PowerShot Zoom Overview


Apparently, Canon is trying to do some wacky experiments again. Not so long ago, they presented this oddly looking new device. And although it is some months old now, it somehow slipped under our noses. But today, we want to talk a bit about this interesting optical tool, which honestly, needs to be rugged and have a black version as well.

With the arrival of powerful and efficient mirrorless cameras (Fujifilm and Sony at the lead) and later smartphones, folks such as Canon have remained in the rear, focusing on specialized sectors like cinema and professional photography. However, this doesn't mean that they would abandon doing some experiments from time to time, and thanks to that mind-set, we can witness some curious devices like the PowerShoot Zoom.

Canon's latest optical device or "camera" looks like the lovechild of an action camera and compact monocular device. However, it is not so much being resistant as offering a huge zoom. Hence, the monocular or elongated shape of it.

So let's see what this photo peeping device is capable of doing, and since there isn't too much information available on it, we will expand with some verified user experiences while having some fun with them!

A Broad Overview

Builtin, we can find a rather small 12.1 MP 1/3" CMOS sensor capable of recording videos at 1080p Full HD and 30 fps with continuous auto focus while zooming, and we'll get to the zooming capabilities in a bit. After all, that is the key element which makes this camera so unique from other monocular devices out there.

Official specs mention that the shutter speed is Auto; and during movie recording, the camera uses shutter speeds between 1/4000 - 1/30 second. But when shooting stills, it can kick it a bit further to 1/8000. Iso sensitivity is also Auto, and it runs from 100 to 3200. But given the fixed aperture values of f/5.6 at the wide focal length and f/6.3 at the longest telephoto mode, we simply wouldn't rely on that ISO 3200.

Some further Specs

Covered the sensor above, we could further mention the DIGIC 8 imaging processor which we find to be decent for such a small photographic device. The zooming modes are quite bumpy and step up from 100mm to 400mm and 800mm with the touch of a button and then it goes back to 100mm. These are 35mm equivalents, and the 100mm - 400mm are true optic zoomings, but 800mm is a digital x2 zooming. Digitally, these all correspond to 1.2x / 4.8x / 9.6x respectively. Oh, and the real focal lengths are marked to be 13.8mm to 55.5mm, but what really matters is the 35 equivalency.

The optical internals come with 11 elements crunched in 8 groups, and comes with image stabilization. Paired with Optical image stabilization controls to improve stills and video shooting, and the appearance when using the Electronic Viewfinder, and there's no CIPA* standard measurement available.

* Until now, we didn't know about the CIPA either. This is the "Camera & Imaging Products Association", which is an organization based in Japan since 2002, and deals with photographic related technologies. So, these folks are like the Nipon FDA or UL for cameras and stuff. Its members are engaged with the production of film-based and digital cameras, and other related equipment, and the CIPA organization succeeds the Japan Camera Industry Association (JCIA). So yeah, nice history lesson here.

White balance is also Auto, and with no raw shooting capabilities (it shoots at JPEG which complies with DCF 2.0 and Exif 2.31), this didn't surprise us. The video recording limit is up to 9 Minutes, 59 Seconds with NTSC video encoding, and AAC LC audio file format. There are no further things to say about the audio but that it comes with a built-in microphone.

Related to the viewfinder, we are quite disappointed. The main attractiveness of this device surely is the monocular aspect of its construction. And an electronic viewfinder of 2.36 Million dots feels low considering the size of this palm-usage oriented device. But, it has a viewing coverage area of 100% which is the least these folks could do. 

And no, there's no built-in flash nor external flash connections in the Canon PowerShot Zoom. However, the following is relieving. For recording, this little friend uses microSD/microSDHC/microSDXC (UHS-I). This may sound like something quite obvious, but when these folks released their intentions back in 2020 (on a crowd-source platform actually, and it isn't the first time they do it) there was no clear information about whether it would have internal memory or micro SD capabilities. Time was in charge of letting us know better, and now we are certain that Canon did the right thing to do.

More on the interface, you need to be aware that the charging port on this camera i s USB Type-C, (something we do favor unlike many early users that got this camera back in 2020). We are no geeks or whatsoever regarding USB connections, but we do find USB Type-C to be more comfortable than USB Mini or USB Micro. It doesn't matter where you plug it, it is always the right direction! How could people hate that? The connection is mainly designed for charging the built-in lithium-ion battery pack, which lasts for approximately 150 shots per charge.

One of the things that Canon seems to have exploited with this tiny camera is that it enhances the mobile experience of virtually any decent or high-end smartphone. Paraphrasing their words, they deliver something smartphones cannot do, which is that massive zooming power. This is achieved with the wonder of wireless connectivity, which can be WiFi or Bluetooth as you wish. One downside is that the device lacks of GPS, which is quite odd since some of the clear niches they are targeting this camera is precisely outdoorsy people who love exploring the wilderness while spotting birds and related creatures on the woods.

And speaking of which, that takes us to the next interesting aspect of this $299.00 device, the environmental resistance. Afterall, we've compared it to an action camera don't we? The operating temperature is 0°C to 40°C, or 32°F to 104°F. And the operating humidity is from 10% to 90%, so we can tell that it is quite rugged, but not that rugged as the GoPro and other action cameras on the market right now.

Physically, this camera seems to feel good on the hand due to its palm-oriented ergonomics, and with the following dimensions it seems comfortable to use. Dimensions 1.3x2x4.1" / 33.4x50.8x103.2mm (WxHxD) and a total weight of 5.1oz or 145grams (Body enclosed with battery and memory). And with a notorious child using it during the camera's promotional video, we can tell that it is comfy to use.

In Other Words

The Canon PowerShot Zoom is a both long-range viewing and recording device with compact and easy to carry around design. It is considered to be a unique digital camera that combines the imaging possibilities of any other point-and-shoot camera with the mobility and reach of an stabilized monocular device or palm-sized telescope.

With its impressive zooming capabilities, the Canon Powershot Zoom results in an ideal device for handheld birding & wildlife viewing as sports seeing. Never miss a moment due to distance-sitting. The aforementioned sensor might seem small, but is quite sufficient for recording both stills and full HD 1080p sharp videos with continuous auto focus that helps to keep subjects sharp.

Every video recording is further benefited by the built-in Face Tracking auto focus when working with human subjects. Last but not least, the image stabilization helps both stills and videos by reducing the appearance of camera shake for steadier recording in various lighting conditions.

Who Should Buy This Camera?

There is a very limited niche that would find this to be an interesting camera. And we hope that Canon already knows this, otherwise they'll have yet another big disillusion. It is quite a pricey device, and there are some flaws in it, but we are optimistic about its overall welcoming. In a nutshell, we think that the domestic realm and the outdoorsy folks are the ones that will find this camera to be an interesting acquisition for their life-styles.

Without giving you starred biases, we present you some interesting insights from some serious folks that have experienced what shooting with the PowerShot Zoom really feels like. 

  • It is certainly a walk-around monocular camera presented in a small handy package.
  • The camera is great for watching wildlife and birds in their natural habitats.
  • The camera doesn't behave well in low light, so be careful when shooting under those conditions since it will go up to ISO 3200 and it will produce nasty noise on the resulting JPEGs.
  • There is a somewhat manual control available for exposure compensation, fixed or follow focus point, single shot or 10 shots/second.
  • It can't take true macro close-ups, so forget about using the camera for those photographic purposes.
  • It is disappointing that it can't be used with a tripod or monopod for some extra sturdiness for those special shots.
  • External control buttons are power, photo, video, zoom selection, menu and a decent diopter adjustment.
  • The box comes with, the camera of course, and an IFC-100U interface cable, a WS-800 wrist strap and user manual kit. So, it requires an external charger/wall adapter with a minimum capacity or power capability of 9V.
  • There is a 125 page user manual available for downloading, and there is a firmware update 1.0.1 at Canon's website.
  • Like any other camera, half Pressing the shutter or photo button in this case will start focusing.
  • Do not try using a white cube iPhone charger since it simply won't charge, and it takes about an hour to charge completely.
  • Some caution is deeply advised for you to take some time to get to know how the camera works best.

Wrapping it Up

The Canon PowerShot ZOOM is a pocket-sized super zoom camera that shoots high quality stills and Full HD video, perfect for families enjoying outdoor activities or the casual wildlife enthusiast.

Just to be clear, on the very end of the small letters, Canon states that this camera has no charger supplied. Minimum charging requirement is a USB PD compliant power source providing a minimum of 5V, 1.5A with a USB Type-C output and using the provided USB Type-C to Type-C cable. So be aware of this since it seems to be the most recurrent thing on the reviews site we scrambled for your better knowledge on this delightful camera.

We do think that Canon made a mistake by simply giving us the white color for this device. It looks a bit old, and for outdoorsy and other related activities, white is the worst color option to have. Things get dirty out there in the field Canon folks, get out of your pristine working places for once in a while. And if you have not considered this, being inconspicuous is crucial for many photographers out there, and there is nothing more notorious than a shine piece of white plastic placed in front of one's face to record something or to see better.

Of, and for that imaging capabilities, a $199.00 price tag would have been a wiser call. But that's just our very personal opinion.

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