Entry-level consumer digital cameras have many capabilities, but they also have their limitations. Most are fully automatic, or have only limited manual modes, which makes them easy for novices to handle but restricts more experienced photographers. There are also limits to the type of accessories which can be attached, such as external flashes, lenses and filters.
The Canon PowerShot Pro90 IS is an advanced consumer camera which seeks to address these deficiencies. Although it doesn't allow the fitting of interchangeable lenses (such cameras cost more than twice the price), the major shortcomings of the more basic digital cameras have been addressed.
The 2.6 megapixel sensor doesn't sound huge in comparison with less expensive cameras that may feature 3.3 megapixels, but more than just pixel numbers determine digital image quality. A critical factor in digital photography is compression. Using the standard JPEG method, pictures are reduced in file size, but at a cost: the more they are compressed, the more detail is permanently lost. To counter this, the Pro90 can use either JPEG or the RAW file format, which preserves all the details of the original image at the cost of using more storage space.
The lens is very important, and Canon, a world-renowned lens maker, has fitted the Pro90 with a high-quality f2.8 zoom lens. One of my pet hates with consumer digital cameras has been the inability to add filters to the lens - in particular, polarising filters are a favourite trick used to darken Australia's blue skies and produce a pleasing effect. The Pro90 features a 58mm diameter thread which can take a range of filters and lens accessories.
The IS in the camera's name stands for Image Stabiliser, and is a feature that has been around in movie cameras for some time. When switched on, it electronically detects image shaking at low shutter speeds or light levels, and compensates to provide a clearer image.
The Pro90 has 12 different shooting modes, including fully manual control, and as a bonus it can also take up to 30 seconds of low-resolution video. It's an excellent camera for the advanced digital photographer who can't afford the $6000+ for professional models.
Canon PowerShot Pro90 IS
Price: $2799; Phone: (02) 9805 2000; URL: http:\\www.canon.com.au