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Camera Reviews > Canon PowerShot Pro1
Canon PowerShot Pro1 Review
Date: May 4, 2004
Amateur - Prosumer
HANDLING & FEEL
Levels adjusted and image sharpened in Photoshop
50.8mm, Program AE, Evaluative, 1/10 sec., F3.5
and ISO 50
The Canon PowerShot Pro1 comes in a professional
black finish with a body made of a combination
of magnesium alloy and high grade plastic. It
has excellent build quality and with dimensions
of 117.5W x 72H x 90.3D mm (4.63W x 2.84H x 3.56D
in.), excluding viewfinder and protrusions, you
notice right away that it is quite smaller than
most of its other 8MP competitors.
It is this compactness that I find so appealing
in the Pro1. It is about the same size as the
PowerShot G5 but weighs about 135g more. Though
the Pro1 at first feels a bit hefty, in fact,
it is one of the lighter 8MP digital cameras.
Fortunately, Canon includes a nice neck strap.
impressions out of the box is that the Pro1 is
a beautifully proportioned camera constructed
with lots of attention to details. The handgrip
provides a good comfortable grip, the lens barrel
is large with a very distinctive red line around
it and a shiny, attractive metallic rim. Another
nice touch is that 35mm equivalent focal lengths
are engraved on the lens.
Most controls fall within reach of the fingers
of the right hand. The handgrip is rubberized
and provides a comfortable grip. The left hand
holds the camera under the lens and rotates the
Zoom Ring. Since the Pro1 is a compact camera,
your ten fingers can easily get in each other's
way. I experiment a bit and eventually settle
on having only my index finger and thumb of the
left hand turning the Zoom Ring, and the rest
of the fingers of the left hand acting as a support
more or less under the camera.
A lot of thought seems to have been given to
the placement of the control buttons. As you imagine,
the large 2-in. LCD takes quite a bit of real
estate on such a compact camera, so Canon engineers
have been very clever in where the control buttons
are placed. Most control buttons are cleverly
recessed to avoid accidentally pushing them. The
only exception is the Manual Focus button -- which
I turn on inadvertently all the time just by picking
up the camera.
The shutter release button is, of course, slightly
angled on the handgrip. Right behind it is the
Main Dial, probably the most used control on this
camera. It allows for fast operation without removing
the eye from the viewfinder. As an example, to
select an exposure compensation value, press the
Up Arrow on the Omni Selector (using your thumb);
rotate the Main Dial to the desired value; press
the Main Dial to select the value. Quick and easy.
To turn the camera on, you switch the Mode Lever
to the right (Shooting Mode). Switch it to the
left to go into Playback Mode. A very tiny Release
Button is embedded in the Mode Lever and you naturally
press it as you switch the Mode Lever. Unless
this Release Button is pressed, the Mode Lever
will not accidentally switch to one or the other
mode. To turn off the camera, slightly press the
OFF Button in the middle depression of the Mode
It takes about 3 sec. for startup, with the lens
extending 2 cm (3/4 in.). At full telephoto, the
lens extends quite a bit, about 5.5 cm (2 in.).
The Pro1 has a Zoom Ring which also serves as
a Manual Focus Ring in Manual Focus mode. This
is not a mechanically linked ring but implemented
using a small Ultrasonic Motor (USM), which permits
high-speed zooming operation (see next paragraph).
It is quite well implemented and allows precise
zoom control. It defaults to a Zoom Ring, but
depress the Manual Focus button and, while keeping
it depressed (with your thumb), turn the ring
to manually focus. If you have enabled MF-Point
Zoom in the Rec. Menu, the AF frame area is magnified
for a clearer view. Zoom first, then manually
While a mechanically-linked zoom ring may feel
more precise, Canon Pro1's USM allow you to zoom
in and out rapidly. Just hold the Mode Lever in
the Shooting Mode and turn the zoom ring. Instead
of needing 3-4 turns of the ring to go from wide-angle
to max. telephoto, it takes only one turn and
barely 2 sec. It's a blazingly fast way to go
to either end of the focal lengths.
The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has 235,000 pixel
resolution, and is so clear and detailed that
I find I use it all the time. To those who, like
me, wear glasses, there is a Diopter Adjustment
Dial that is not only easy to rotate but,
get this, really works!
Kudos to Canon for including a large (5 cm /
2 in.) high-resolution (235,000 pixels) LCD monitor.
The LCD monitor conveniently tilts and swivels
270° to permit taking shots without arkward
body contortions. I find it especially useful
when taking macro shots close to the ground.
A Monitor Selector Button placed to the left
of the EVF toggles between the viewfinder and
the LCD. When you close the LCD, the viewfinder
switches on. When you open the LCD, the viewfinder
switches off, and the LCD turns on. On power on,
the camera defaults to the last monitor used.
If Reverse Disp. is set ON via the Rec. Menu,
intelligent orientation reverses the image when
the LCD is flipped over to face your subject (otherwise
the LCD image would be upside down). The LCD has
two brightness levels (Normal and Bright), adjustable
via the Set up Menu.
Canon's new hybrid AF system allows for high-speed
autofocus. It consists of the standard TTL contrast-detection
AF and is now supplemented by an external "triangulation"
AF. There are two possible focus modes: Single
(AF is engaged only when the shutter release is
pressed halfway) and Continuous (AF is continuously
engaged). There is slight shutter lag, but in
low-light conditions, the AF will hunt a bit to
obtain focus lock. Inexplicably, there is no AF-assist
on the Pro1! [This from the camera manufacturer
who set the example by equipping one in each and
every digital camera up to now.]
Canon Pro1's usability extends to mundane things
like the CF Card/Battery compartment. The latter
has a large cover that takes up the whole right
side (viewing the camera from behind) of the hand
grip. The door slides out slightly and swivels
open revealing a wide space to easily insert battery
and CF card. The Terminal Cover also swivels open
to allow unimpeded access to the terminals.
I have not found any major
design faults on the Pro1. At first I felt that
the Mode Dial was a bit too stiff and would have
preferred to be able to operate it with the thumb
of my right hand alone (it takes index and thumb
to rotate it), but got used to it pretty quickly.
As usual, we profer a number of improvements that
we feel would make the Pro1 even more enjoyable
- Move the Flash and Macro buttons to the side
of the body (i.e. lens barrel) just behind the
lens. They are currently on the top of the body
and not easily reachable with the fingers of
the left hand. The left side of the lens barrel
is a natural resting place for the thumb of
the left hand.
- Implement the Super Macro mode using the
Macro button. There is a Super Macro mode that
allows you to focus as close as 3 cm (1.2 in.).
This mode is unfortunately reachable only via
the Rec. Menu and it takes 18 presses of the
Down Arrow on the Omni Selector to reach it.
Not sure why it was not implemented as a toggle
of the Macro button.
- Switch the position of the Manual Focus and
AE Lock buttons. I feel that AE Lock is more
used than Manual Focus. The Manual Focus button
is also raised and it's too easy to inadvertently
set it on.
- Dampen the popup flash. The on-board flash
pops up with too LOUD a thud.
The feel and construction of the Canon PowerShot
Pro1 is excellent, and the camera handles very
well. In choosing the 8MP digital camera that
is right for you, do not discount the compact
size of the Pro1.