Although providing a similar 8Mp resolution and 7X optical zoom, the PowerShot Pro 1 at 545g is considerably lighter than the recently-released 955g Sony DSC F828 (reviewed at left). The design of the PowerShot Pro 1 is reminiscent of the ground-breaking Pro 70 and Pro 90 models of a couple of years ago, with more rounded styling than the current PowerShot G5 or diminutive Ixus models.
The crystal-clear 1.8in LCD viewfinder can be rotated for easy framing from a variety of angles and the electronic viewfinder with dioptic adjustment offers comfortable use for either the left or right eye.
The Pro 1 can use Type I or Type II cards and supports the FAT32 format for cards larger than 2GB. A 64MB card is included with the package; however, you should buy an additional 512MB card to avoid frustration when away from base.
With two selection dials, an LED screen and a dozen function buttons sprinkled all over the body, the first impression of the PowerShot Pro 1 may be that it is a confusing camera to use. However, once you become familiar with the button functions, you quickly realise that the system is a lot more efficient than drilling down through various menus to get the camera function or feature you need in a hurry.
Not a pocket-sized camera by any means, the Pro 1 is nonetheless small and light to hold, with the shutter button and record/review switch sitting comfortably next to the right thumb and index finger. However, the Canon PowerShot Pro 1 may be a challenge for users with larger than average hands.
The 28-200 (35mm equivalent) zoom lens is controlled using a traditional ring, as opposed to the rocker switches found on most digital still cameras. This provides a much more tactile response for the user, allowing more accurate zoom control. However, it must be noted that the electronic zoom control, although quick, will take some adjustment for traditional film-based SLR users expecting the in--stant response of a mechanical zoom control.
Lens quality is exceptional: it incorporates a fluorite element that is normally reserved for Canon’s high-end professional SLR lenses, resulting in strong colour saturation and more detail in shadow areas.
Autofocusing is fast and accurate, although a fair amount of hunting seemed to occur before composure, which was distracting at times. Thankfully, an autofocus lock button provided an ideal solution. PictBridge support allows you to proof your images away from a PC. Simply plug the camera into a PictBridge-compatible printer and proof your prints straight away.
In the past, delays in returning control to the user after capturing a RAW image was one of the biggest reasons quoted by professional photographers working within an action or reportage environment for sticking with film. The picture-taking performance of the PowerShot Pro 1 is outstanding, particularly when dealing with large RAW image files. This feature alone would be reason enough for many photographic professionals and enthusiasts to consider the switch to digital.
Battery life is one of Canon’s fortes and the PowerShot Pro 1 is no exception: the 511A did not need a recharge throughout a week of hard shooting. Canon estimates that you can take around 420 photos per charge. A lens hood comes in handy in bright conditions, but the use of a finicky lens cap attachment means that less fastidious users may leave the lens cap in the camera bag.
The software package is impressive, including many of the utilities such as the zoom browser and Photostitch applications developed locally by Canon Australia.
The PowerShot Pro 1 compares favour-ably with other 8Mp offerings such as the Sony DSC F828 in image quality, lens size and picture-taking performance. An easy-to-use menu structure and amazing battery life make it one of the best digital camera choices for the photographic enthusiast.
The Canon PowerShot Pro 1 is a well-featured 8Mp semi-professional camera that should suit users wanting digital SLR performance in a compact package.
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