Review: Canon PowerShot Pick

The Canon PowerShot Pick is an interesting beast. I’m not quite sure if I know what it is exactly, and I think it may have a bit of an identity crisis too.

Is it a webcam? Or is it a security camera? Or is it a security camera masquerading as a webcam. Or indeed, vice versa.

Let me try and explain.

The PowerShot Pick is one of the new breeds of what are PTZ cameras. This means instead of having a fixed lens, the lens mechanism in these units can pan, tilt and zoom which gives a hell of a lot more flexibility as you can imagine. This is why they are in demand as security cameras.

But they are also infiltrating into the broadcast space. It is much easier for a director with a console operator running say, 6 PTZ cameras to get the action at a large music concert for example, than having to direct 6 separate cameras on dollies or booms etc.

(I bet the director of the PULSE concert by Pink Floyd in the 90s that I posted last week would have killed to get some PTZs back then).

So, why not combine these tow uses – security and broadcast – and scale it down a bit, and you have a pretty funky, albeit at almost $500 a pretty expensive – webcam?

Throw a few party tricks in such as voice control and wi-fi connectivity to your PC (via a dedicated app) to make the PowerShot Pick act as a webcam and on the surface, you have a versatile little beast yes?.

On the technical side, it also has automatic tracking complete with image stabilization to keep you in the frame. It uses auto-subject searching based on face recognition and is even smart enough to adjust the composition automatically. If the PowerShot Pick is connected to your smartphone (yep, another app) you can use touch tracking too.

Description

The PowerShot Pick is about the size of a small pepper pot, and the one I received was black, but you can apparently get it in white as well. I reckon Canon would make some extra sales if they brought out a Dalek version with skins you could change.

The ports are covered by waterproof seals and there is one for USB-C for charging / data transfer and a second for the mini-SD card. Two buttons are also on the body, one being power on / off and the other wireless on / off.

The top half of the body is the rotating lens mechanism.

Technical Stuff

The image sensor in the PowerShot Pick is a 1 /2.3” CMOS type with 11.7 effective megapixels. The aperture can vary between f/2.8 to f/5.0.

In the PTZ area, the PowerShot Pick can Pan through 340°, Tilt 110° (from -20° to +90° and Zoom optically zoom at 3x and digitally to 4x.

Recording is to 1920 x 1080 HD at a choice of 23.98, 29.97 or 59.94 fps in 16:9 resolution.

The focal length (in 35mm equivalent) is 19 – 57mm.

There is a built-in stereo microphone, as mentioned, both wi-fi and Bluetooth is supported.

Finally, the PowerShot Pick weighs in at 170g and dimensionally is 56.4 x 81.9mm.

In The Real World

The first thing you need to do out of the box is charge the PowerShot Pick. This had me tricked for a minute as surely no, Canon would not make something without an indicator light? It turns out there is one, but it is easily hidden by the rubber waterproof flap when you open the port. While charging it flashed orange and is on constantly when full.

Next, I downloaded the app for my Samsung smartphone. Pairing is via Bluetooth and on the surface should be a simple operation; power on the camera (it gives little R2D2 whistles and beeps when you do – very un-Dalek like) and then you press the Bluetooth pairing button.

In the perfect world, this should then pair within a few seconds, ask for confirmation, and then away you go. In my case though, this camera had been used before and needed to be un-paired from the previous camera.

Thankfully, although it took a few attempts, it is not a hard process, and not like it would be if this was a real security camera where that has to be manufactured instigated in most cases.

Once you are paired, you can page through a few screens on the smartphone where you are told about some of the party tricks of the PowerShot Pick such as the auto detect and voice commands, remote shooting and viewing and auto registering people.

Then you are ready set the PowerShot Pick up to your requirements.

The Smartphone App

The first option of the smartphone app is Camera and from here you can choose whether you want to capture a still or a video. A single camera icon triggers the camera to shoot.

 Additionally by using the on-screen controls you can pan, zoom and use the tracking option. By using your finger on the image, you can also control the lens direction.  At top left is a small icon for aperture control letting choose the exposure.  This is more akin to using an ISO control I found, with the image getting visibly brighter or darker as you wind the value up or down.

The next screen is for playback. Thumbnails of images shot are displayed and touching one will open it up for viewing (still) or playback (video). You can download any video or still from the camera to the smartphone with a single button press, with the option of choosing which folder to save to.

You can also tag images with a star icon to mark importance or whatever you want the tag to act as I guess. Deleing files is an option from here too.

The next page is the Settings page where a whole bunch of options awaits. These range from Shooting modes to Basic Camera Settings, Network Settings, Webcam Settings and a list of allowed Voice Commands which in reality are a little limited if you compare for example to a GoPro or DJI Action Camera, restricted to Snap A Picture, Record a Video, Auto Off or Find Others.

I did lose the Bluetooth connection a few times even though the phone was right next to the camera, and when this happens, the app locks up for a few seconds which is a bit disconcerting, before doing a search and reconnecting.

I also noticed that using the app to pan, tilt and zoom had the occasional lag, especially if it had been left alone for a while. Once the camera it “realised” it was under manual control however, it was very responsive.

Registering People

You can register up to 12 people to the camera. More on this in a second.

At this point I heartily recommend downloading the PDF manual from https://cam.start.canon/en/C009/manual/c009.pdf. On its website, Canon has a walkthrough of the features and functions of the PowerShot Pick with ‘how to’s’ on each, but for me, it was a little disjointed, not letting me quickly cross reference subjects.

For example, until I got the PDF, the functionality of registering people had me a little confused.

Basically registering a person makes the PowerShot Pick shoot them when they come in range. You can set a priority level so they will be shot more often. For example, if you have a person 21st birthday party out of all the people you have registered (family, friends) you might select the birthday boy / girl as the highest priority so that during the party there are more shots of them.

You can use this function in either still or video mode. And example of using it, combined with auto tracking might be when shooting a team-based sporting function. The camera can track an individual in the field of play and shoot accordingly.

Summary

I like the concept of the PowerShot Pick. I can see lots of opportunities where it would be useful. But not in its present form and at the current price.

Sure this is Pick 1.0 and there always has to be a 1.0 version of everything so it can at least get out in the field and have the waters tested, see what people like and dislike, what suggestions they make and what things they absolutely hate.

The things that need improving in Pick 1.0 include low light capability, the response time, battery life and the AI needs tweaking to make it more responsive and reliable.

A few reviews I have read allude to the design as being ‘creepy’ and looking too much like a security camera as I mentioned.

I personally don’t see this as a problem. We have become very used to these devices and they are appearing in more and more homes now as well – and with very good reason. See my story on that very subject here.

At present, the PowerShot {ick is a little too much gimmick value and not enough actual camera. Canon is a camera company first and foremost and I am sure they know this.

So I am interested in Pick 2.0 very much and see what sorts of improvements and new things the boffins can add.

You can get more information from Canon here.

 

 

 

 

 

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