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Canon PowerShot Pro1, plus hands-on

Feb 9, 2004 at 14:03 GMT

Pre-PMA 2004: Canon has today revealed its submission to the eight megapixel race, the PowerShot Pro1. The Pro1 has a unique lens, it's the first time Canon has placed it's professional "L-series" label on the fixed lens of a digital camera. The 28 - 200 mm equiv. (7x) lens has a maximum aperture of F2.4 to F3.5 features a USM (ultrasonic motor) for zoom. Canon are satisfied classifying this lens with the "L-series" label because it incorporates both UD (ultra-low dispersion) and fluorite lens elements. The Pro1 has an eight megapixel CCD sensor, 2.0" fliip-out LCD monitor (235,000 pixels) and electronic viewfinder (also 235,000 pixels). The Pro1 will be priced at $999 in the US and €1199 in Europe.

Click here for our hands-on preview of the PowerShot Pro1
(full specifications, more pictures, menus)

Press Release:

Canon leads with Professional's Compact

Amstelveen, The Netherlands, 9 February 2004. Canon, a leader in photographic and imaging technology, today cements its leadership position in digital photography with the release of the 8.0 Megapixel PowerShot Pro1, the new flagship of the PowerShot range. Targeted at professional and highly advanced photographers, the camera is the first compact from Canon to be fitted with a Canon professional L-series lens; the f/2.4-3.5, 7.2-50.8mm (28-200mm 35mm film equivalent) USM lens. An abundance of features generally reserved for Canon's high-end digital SLR cameras combine to deliver outstanding camera performance and exceptional image quality for enlargements up to A2 size.

Professional features include RAW file recording and a hybrid AF system, combining TTL and external metering focusing systems for fast and precise auto-focus. The PowerShot Pro1 can shoot at 2.5 frames per second, and has shutter speeds from 15 sec to 1/4000 sec. The photographer is handed full control over all focus points and exposure variables. Twelve shooting modes, including two custom modes, cover a broad range of shooting situations. The camera's purpose built DIGIC processor delivers high speed, noise free and extremely accurate colour rendition and image processing. This is the first PowerShot to support both sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces. Advanced photographers will recognize the PowerShot Pro1 as a “system camera”, with complete access to Canon’s Speedlite EX flash range, close-up lenses and an optical tele-converter lens.

"The PowerShot Pro1 is the professional's compact," said Mogens Jensen, Head of Canon Consumer Imaging Europe. "With its combination of L-series lens, 8 Megapixel resolution and DIGIC processor, this camera reaches far into the domain of professional digital SLRs. The PowerShot Pro1 further establishes Canon as the undisputed leader in compact camera technology".

L-Series lens

The bright red line on the PowerShot Pro1 lens barrel is the mark of a Canon professional range L-series lens, representing the highest standard for optical performance and engineering excellence as demanded by professionals. This mark is reserved for only the finest Canon lenses, until now only seen at the top end of Canon's interchangeable SLR EF lens range and the XM2, Canon's professional digital camcorder. The 28-200mm L USM lens incorporates both fluorite and UD (ultra-low dispersion) elements for unrivalled sharpness of image. The optical characteristics of fluorite allow Canon's engineers to push past the theoretical limits of optical glass, eradicating the effects of secondary chromatic aberrations that degrade the image quality of even the finest glass lenses. The iris type circular aperture creates an elegant background blur while a neutral density filter allows for larger apertures in bright conditions.

USM

The zoom is driven by a tiny ultrasonic motor (USM). The motor uses ultrasonic frequency vibrations to drive a tiny rotor which is powerful and highly responsive, delivering fast and precise zoom control. The motor's good holding torque also allows the zoom to be stopped quickly, accurately and firmly at the required zoom position.

Focusing

The PowerShot Pro1 has a new Hybrid AF system that combines contrast detection TTL focusing and an external triangulation focusing to deliver perfect auto-focus control. Contrast detection focusing can be precise but slow, while external metering is fast but can lack accuracy. The PowerShot Pro1 first uses triangulation to move the lens' focusing element into an approximately correct position. TTL contrast detection focusing is then used for a final fine-tuning. The result is the best of both systems for fast and precise focusing. FlexiZone AF/AE means the auto-focus point is selectable from either fixed centre or anywhere in the frame. The AF system includes AF lock, manual focus and a closest focusing distance of just 3cm at Super Macro mode. A single-function button on the rear of the camera switches from AF to manual focus mode, changing the function of the lens zoom ring to a focus ring.

Exposure

Metering modes include evaluative, centre-weighted average and spot (centre or focusing frame linked). Exposure features include an AE lock, +/- 2EV compensation in 1/3 stop increments and AE bracketing, while a range of ISO settings (Auto/ISO 50/100/200/400 equivalent) provides flexibility in a range of lighting conditions.

Composition

The PowerShot Pro1 features a high resolution 235k-pixel, Poly-Silicon TFT, 2.0" vari-angle LCD, with a selectable mirror image (reversed laterally) display. A 2x - 10x playback zoom allows accurate checking of focus and detail. An intelligent orientation sensor automatically rotates images when required before review. The camera features a large, high-resolution 0.44" 235k-pixel EVF electronic viewfinder positioned directly above the lens, a familiar location for SLR users.

Prints, movies and monitoring

As with all Canon's latest digital cameras, the PowerShot Pro1 is PictBridge compliant, allowing for direct printing without a PC to any compatible printer, regardless of brand. The camera records 3-minute movie clips at QVGA and QQVGA and 30-second clips at VGA. PAL/NTSC selectable video outs provide for real time monitoring during studio work. An intervalometer takes up to 100 shots in 1 to 60 minute increments.

Flash, accessories and extras

The PowerShot Pro1 is compatible with the full range of Speedlite range of flashes, including the MR-14EX Macro Ring Lite and MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite flash units. An inbuilt retractable flash offers 3 levels of manual power adjustment, while 13 levels of adjustment are available with external Speedlites. Lens accessories include a 1.5x tele-converter to extend focal range beyond 300mm and a close-up lens. Included with the camera is a 64MB high-speed CF card, flare preventing hood, filter adapter ring and rechargeable Li-ion battery (BP-511A) and charger. Up to 420 shots are delivered from a singe battery charge.

Software and access to CANON iMAGE GATEWAY

Software supplied includes browsing and printing software ZoomBrowser EX (Windows) and ImageBrowser (Mac). Also included is PhotoStitch for merging multiple images to create wide panoramas, plus photo and movie manipulation software ArcSoft PhotoStudio and VideoImpression. Drivers include TWAIN (Windows 98/2000), WIA (Windows Me). Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) support allows the camera to connect to any Windows XP or Mac OS X (v10.1/v10.2) system without the need for driver installation.

Camera ownership entitles the purchaser to 100MB free storage space on the CANON iMAGE GATEWAY, a form of private online gallery where albums can be stored and shared and where the camera's settings (such as shutter sounds and start up image) can be personalised.

Click here for our hands-on preview of the PowerShot Pro1
(full specifications, more pictures, menus)