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In order to begin shooting straightaway, Canon provides you with one of its own BP-511A lithium batteries. This is almost identical to the ones used in many other Canon cameras so if you already own a digital camera from the company the likelihood is that you can use your old battery as a backup. I say almost identical because the capacity has been upped from 1100mAh to 1390mAh which should see it perform well. In fact, Canon quotes that the battery lasts for around 420 shots while using the LCD monitor but in practice the most I got when using the LCD viewfinder was more like 300 including the occasional power down. This is largely subjective though, and will depend heavily on the number of fired flashes, the size of the images and the frequency of zooming etc.
In the box you do get a charger and a neat little infrared remote control that can not only control the shutter release but also the zoom, playback, display, magnifier and thumbnail preview. It takes around 90 minutes for the battery to reach full charge while the remote has a range of around five metres.
Before shooting, you will probably need to calibrate the electronic viewfinder to your viewing eye using the dioptre dial found at the side of the camera – a fiddly affair requiring fingertips with un-bitten nails. However, if you are the sole user this should be a one-off setting. Although I am not a fan of electronic viewfinders myself I found the Pro1’s 235,000 pixel 0.44inch LCD particularly clear and responsive.
Before you can capture images onto the supplied 64MB CompactFlash card – the capacity of which seems a little conservative considering the file sizes generated by the CCD sensor – you first have to slot in the card along with the battery. These fit neatly into their respective slots in a compartment behind a spring-loaded flap that forms the bulk of the Pro1’s beefy grip.
Once loaded you’re pretty much ready to shoot. A quick flick of the mode lever to instigate the shooting mode and you’re off. Of course snapping away can simply be a point and shoot matter using the Pro1's fully auto mode. This is selected with the mode dial housed at an angle next to the viewfinder. However, the more adventurous can employ some of the Pro1’s other features. For instance, you have a variety of preset modes that are designed for particular shooting conditions such as portraits, landscapes, night scenes as well as a “stitch assist” setting for taking a sequence of shots that can be merged together later on a PC using Canon’s Photostitch software – ideal for making sprawling panoramic images.
Of course there are the usual more advanced settings that you’d expect on a prosumer camera too. There’s focus bracketing, exposure bracketing (+/- 2EV in 1/3 steps), aperture and shutter priority, and of course a self-timer that counts down from 10 seconds or two seconds. In terms of metering you get all you can ask for - evaluative, centre-weighted average or spot metering. There’s even an AF/AE mode termed “FlexiZone” that allows the user to freely scroll the auto focus area around the scene in order to select a focus point.
When selected, most settings are clearly visible on the LCD control panel mounted on the top of the chassis, which in low-light conditions can be lit with an orange backlight. If not present, the majority of settings aswell as a histogram (sadly not live) can be viewed upon successive presses of the info button found on the back of the Pro1.
If you want total control there’s a manual mode too, with access to shutter speeds from 1/4000 to 15 seconds, although rather disappointingly a bulb setting is absent. A manual focus is present too, represented by an on-screen bar, but I doubt many will use this option very often.