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Conclusion - Pros

  • Very good resolution, joint best of group
  • Wide angle seven times zoom lens, fast at wide
  • Selectable color space (sRGB / Adobe RGB)
  • Good shot to shot times
  • Good flash performance
  • Time-lapse feature
  • Relatively compact and lightweight
  • Good ergonomics, decent hand grip, zoom ring
  • Wide range of accessories available
  • Some unique features (ND filter etc.)
  • Clean image, quality image processing thanks to DiGiC
  • Large 2.0" Tilt & Twist LCD monitor, 235,000 pixels
  • High resolution electronic viewfinder
  • Supplied IR remote control


Conclusion - Cons

  • Vignetting / lens shading at maximum aperture
  • Visible noise from ISO 100 upwards
  • Slower than expected startup time
  • Limited latitude of image parameter adjustment
  • No AF assist lamp
  • No live view histogram
  • Lower than advertised continuous shooting speed
  • Long CF write times for Super-Fine images (4.8 sec)
  • Disappointing battery life - camera bug?
  • Poor automatic white balance in artificial light
  • No WB fine tuning


Overall conclusion

The PowerShot Pro1 is a camera designed to be familiar to current Canon owners, easy enough to use for first time buyers and yet still provide a semiprofessional feel and feature set. Canon has borrowed from its professional lens line to put an L quality label on the lens system to indicate that this is a new lens and it has been designed to fulfill the high resolution requirements of an eight megapixel CCD. In use the Canon felt slightly slower than I was expecting, certainly not much faster than the G5 and I didn't see any marked improvement in speed overall from that camera.

Overall image quality was good, that L lens proving it can deliver the resolution and that Canon's reliable DiGiC image processor can turn out a quality image with good tonal and color balance and no noticeable artifacts. We had two areas of disappointment from an image quality stance, firstly the lens exhibited noticeable lens shading especially at wide angle and/or maximum aperture, secondly noise levels were high enough to be seen at ISO 100 and progressively worse at higher sensitivities. This is clearly a trait of the eight megapixel sensor and while we commend Canon for taking a 'purist' approach to image processing these levels of noise really should have been tamed with an (optional?) noise reduction feature.

The Pro1 left me feeling neither hot nor cold, the camera delivered as much resolution as we had expected with on the whole good image quality but didn't really perform as we would hope 'across the board'. I didn't see any major improvements in performance and 'usage feel' and was left slightly disappointed by noise levels at higher sensitivities and the potential lens shading. That said there's little doubt that the Pro1 can deliver great images when used carefully and should certainly be in the top three on your shopping list if you're considering an eight megapixel prosumer digital camera.

Recommended

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8.5
Features 8
Image quality 8.5
Lens / CCD combination 8
Ease of use 8.5
Value for money 7.5

('Recommended' is our second highest rating, a camera has to be good to get this far!)

Digital SLR footnote: If you're considering an eight megapixel prosumer digital camera you should also not rule out a sub-$1000 digital SLR while initially more expensive (certainly if you want to achieve the 28 - 200 mm zoom range) these cameras offer higher quality image processing, cleaner images (virtually noise free up to ISO 1600), faster performance, more flexibility and for all intents and purposes (even large prints) as much resolution. On the downside they're not an 'all in one' solution and they're likely to be larger and need you to buy and carry at least a second lens. By sub-$1000 (at the time of publication of this review) we're talking about the Nikon D70 and Canon EOS 300D (Digital Rebel).

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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