Once a respected brand when it came to DSLR alternatives, Canon is now slapping the PowerShot label on all sorts of gimmicky experimental cameras, including the new PowerShot PX: a sort of security camera-meets-AI-powered photographer that promises to automatically capture the best possible photos and videos of an event all on its own.
About a year ago Canon released the PowerShot Zoom which put a basic point-and-shoot camera inside the body of a digital monocular. It could only snap images at a measly 12-megapixels and muster just 1080p video, but it had an impressive zoom range of 100 to 400-millimeters, which could be further boosted to 800-millimeters using a digital zoom feature. For $300 it was targeted at birders and sports enthusiasts who didn’t want to shell out thousands of dollars for expensive telephoto lenses, but it was far from being a runaway hit for the company.
Fast forward a year and we’ve now got another complete rethinking of the PowerShot line. The PX looks like a tiny immobile robot thanks to a lens hidden behind a clear shield that’s able to pan 340-degrees left and right and tilt 110-degrees up and down. Its 19-57-millimeter (equivalent) zoom lens isn’t designed for capturing far-off action, however, it’s more for photographing large groups of people or portrait-style shots when subjects are closer to the camera.
Shots are once again limited to a resolution of around 12-megapixels (11.8MP, to be exact) with video recorded at 1080P at 60FPS. And on a full charge, the PowerShot PX can run for anywhere from two to five hours depending on how shutter-happy it decides it needs to be. It can share images to a smartphone through a mobile app when connected to a wifi network, which also allows the PX to be remotely operated when a user wants to deliberately capture a specific moment.
Canon promises the PowerShot PX will autonomously follow the action around it, looking for not only human movement but also waiting for ideal poses and facial expressions before it snaps a shot. It’s reminiscent of the many wearable life-blogging cameras we’ve seen over the years, but minus the wearable part. As gimmicky as it may seem, being autonomous does mean that the PX frees up everyone to actually be in the shots it snaps, instead of requiring one person to be the designated photographer and end up excluded from most photos, except for extended arm selfies. But, $500 is a bit steep for a 12MP camera when Canon’s cheaper point-and-shoots even offer more resolution, although it is on par with what most smartphone cameras are now capable of.