Although thicker the Pro1 is actually no larger front on than the PowerShot G5. Styling wise Canon appear to have tried to move away from the 'brick' shape with a more rounded hand grip and slanted surfaces. Also noteworthy is the extensive use of the almost trademark shiny round buttons which are easily recognizable from Canon's range of EOS film and digital cameras. The new larger lens actually provides a more balanced appearance to the camera, the red L-type ring is very dominant and shows Canon's clear intent to push the camera's Pro appeal.
At the back some simple molding assists thumb grip and the control layout is straightforward with all buttons at close hand. The large two inch flip out and twist LCD monitor occupies the rest of the rear of the camera. Overall build quality is very good and the camera feels solid, although interestingly having the Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom on hand demonstrated to me that it's still possible to go further still, it feels even more robust.
Side by side
Below you can see the Pro1 beside the current eight megapixel competition, it comes in as a middleweight, the lightest camera being Nikon's Coolpix 8700, the heaviest the Sony DSC-F828. From a size point of view you can see that the Pro1 and Coolpix 8700 are fairly similar in size, the C-8080 Wide Zoom and DSC-F828 markedly larger.
(inc. batt & CF)
|Nikon Coolpix 8700||8 mp, 8x zoom||113 x 78 x 105 mm (4.4 x 3.1 x 4.1 in)||512 g (1.1 lb)|
|Canon PowerShot Pro1||8 mp, 7x zoom||118 x 72 x 90 mm (4.6 x 2.8 x 3.5 in)||640 g (1.4 lb)|
|Minolta DiMAGE A2||8 mp, 7x zoom||117 x 85 x 114 mm (4.6 x 3.4 x 4.5 in)||654 g (1.4 lb)|
|Olympus C-8080 WZ||8 mp, 5x zoom||124 x 85 x 99 mm (4.9 x 3.3 x 3.9 in)||724 g (1.6 lb)|
|Sony DSC-F828||8 mp, 7x zoom||134 x 91 x 156 mm (5.3 x 3.6 x 6.1 in)||906 g (2.0 lb)|
In your hand
The Pro1's fairly large hand grip makes it comfortable to hold (certainly better than the G3/G5 in this respect), the simple molding on the rear of the camera a natural location for your thumb. The lens barrel makes a natural support position for your left hand. Weight balance feels approximately fifty/fifty with the lens on the left side (from the rear) and the battery on the right.
On the top of the camera is the LCD Display Panel which provides a fairly wide range of information on current camera settings and exposure. It may not come as a huge surprise to find out that this display panel is actually identical to that found on the PowerShot G3/G5. The primary difference being the addition of a red backlight which can be switched on with a press of the backlight button.
A breakdown of displayed information can be found on the diagrams below.
Diagram reproduced with permission from PowerShot Pro1 manual.
Continuing a tradition Canon started with the Pro70 the Pro1 has a flip-out and twist LCD monitor which can be folded away when not in use (protecting the screen) or can be flipped out from the body, twisted through 180 degrees and folded back onto the body just like any other digital camera.
This is the largest flip-out and twist screen Canon has used to date, it's two inches diagonally and has 235,000 pixels. In use it proved to be detailed and bright, thanks to an anti-reflective coating the screen remains useful even in bright outdoor conditions. The flip-out and twist design of the LCD is perfect for the studio, out in the field, for protecting the LCD when it's not in use, taking waist level shots, overhead shots, self portraits etc. The LCD provides 100% frame coverage in live view mode.
Canon's first use of an Electronic Viewfinder since the Pro90 and it's mostly good news, they have implemented the excellent 0.44" 235,000 LCD seen in other recent digital cameras such as the Fujifilm S7000 (and S20 Pro). It provides a high resolution live view which is identical to the feed provided on the LCD display. Fold the LCD against the camera body (first image above) and the EVF is on by default, with the LCD open simply press the display button beside the EVF to switch between the LCD and EVF.
Unfortunately just like most EVF implementations (except Minolta's) the EVF works less well in very low light situations.
Battery / Compact Flash Compartment
The Pro1 has a dual battery and storage compartment mounted horizontally in the side of the hand grip. To open slide the compartment door to towards the rear of the camera and flip it open (the metal hinge springs on its own past approximately 45 degrees). Inside is first the battery slot (for Canon BP-511A / BP-511 / BP-512 / BP-514) and a Type II Compact Flash slot. The battery is held in place by small clip latch. The Pro1 is compatible with Type I and Type II Compact Flash cards including the IBM/Hitachi Microdrive as well as cards with a capacity greater than 2 GB (which require FAT32 format).
Battery / Charger
The Pro1 is supplied with a new updated version of the BP-511 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. The new BP-511A has a capacity of 1390 mAh at 7.4 V (10.2 Wh) versus the older BP-511 which provides 1100 mAh at 7.4 V (8.1 Wh). Unlike the G3/G5 which charge their battery in-camera the Pro1 is instead supplied with the CB-5L (or CG-580) external battery charger which takes around 90 minutes to fully charge a completely flat battery.
Image on the left: the new BP-511A as supplied with the Pro1 beside the older BP-511.