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In early 2004, the prosumer digital camera market was set alight with the launch of a range of 8 megapixel cameras from the likes of Sony, with its DSC-F828, Nikon and its Coolpix 8700, and Canon with its PowerShot Pro1 that I’ll be taking a closer look at here.
Currently, the Pro1 tops Canon’s PowerShot line-up of digital cameras and unsurprisingly anyone who’s used one of the company’s cameras before will immediately feel at ease with its menu layout and operation. As a user of both the Powershot G1 and EOS 10D I can certainly vouch for that.
However, I have to admit that I have always been a little undecided with the true merits of a prosumer camera. I say that because with the ever tumbling price of digital SLRs, prosumer cameras, in my opinion, are starting to look a little over priced – and that’s before you factor in the generally superior image quality you’ll get from an SLR coupled with a decent lens.
Anyway, I’ll talk more about pricing and image quality later. For now let’s look at what the Pro1 has to offer. As mentioned earlier, the Pro1 features an 8 megapixel CCD sensor which in this case is backed up with what Canon term as iSAPS technology or “intelligent Scene Analysis based on Photographic Space”. This is basically a method of speeding up the AF, AE and Auto White Balance by analysing data that’s derived by relating the brightness of the scene and the distance between the subject and camera according to the zoom position of the lens - all quite techy stuff, but what I can say is that when shooting the same scene in full auto-mode, the Pro1 was far slicker and more precise than my Canon G1.
Of course my Canon G1 is a far older camera, but there are clearly some G-Series features that have been carried through to the design of the Pro1. One of the most obvious that has been retained is the flip out, rotatable LCD screen.
Like the G1, the Pro1’s LCD screen can be flipped out, rotated and folded neatly back into the body.
I’ve always liked this feature, which makes shooting from the hip or above your head a real possibility. It’s also perfect for self portraits or even group shots when you want to ensure that everyone including yourself is in frame. I also found the Pro1’s 235,000 pixel, two-inch TFT screen clear and bright enough to work with, even on sunny days, providing it's set to its brightest mode.