Canon PowerShot Pro1 Review
The Pro1 delivered what has become 'the expected standard' from all digital cameras, good outdoor performance, pretty poor indoor incandescent and fluorescent auto white balance. It's more than a little disappointing with each new generation of camera to see no advances in automatic white balance, especially from companies who are quite happy to push more megapixels as a selling point. Come on Canon, HP can do it...
|Outdoors, Auto||Outdoors, Cloudy, Sunny||Outdoors, Manual|
|Incandescent, Auto||Incandescent, Incandescent||Incandescent, Manual|
|Fluorescent, Auto||Fluorescent, Fluor H, Flour||Fluorescent, Manual|
Overall the Pro1 performed well in our flash test, the skin tone shot was well exposed, even the white background didn't fool the Pro1's metering system. Neither tests threw up any major problems, white balance was always spot on and metering good.
|Skin tone - No color cast, good exposure, natural skin tone||Color patches - Good color balance, no color cast, good exposure|
For exposures of 1.3 seconds or longer the Pro1 automatically initiates dark frame subtraction noise reduction, the camera records a second frame after the initial exposure with the shutter closed and uses the noise recorded on this frame to 'subtract' noise from the main exposure. Overall performance as good although it's certainly possible to pick out one or two 'black pitting' where the noise reduction has replaced a hot pixel with a black one. There was also more noticeable grain noise than I had expected.
|Manual exposure, ISO 50, 15 sec, F7.1|
|Manual exposure, ISO 50, 8 sec, F5.0|
The Pro1 has two macro modes; there is normal macro focus which allows you to zoom across the entire zoom range but indicates the best range where optimum frame coverage can be obtained. Our best result in this mode (closest frame coverage) was around 58 mm equiv. The second macro mode can only be activated from the camera menu and puts the camera into a special 'Super Macro' mode in which you can not change the zoom which is locked at 28 mm equiv. Unfortunately I didn't really feel that any of these various macro modes delivered what we could called true macro performance without the trade off of strong lens distortion or softness.
The macro tests below are using our new macro focus test chart and measurement system; each line on the grid is 10 mm, taken at shortest subject distance in each macro mode.
* Only at 2272 x 1704 resolution
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
The Pro1 produced almost the same barrel distortion at wide angle as we have seen from the other four eight megapixel digital cameras in the market at the moment, including interestingly the Nikon Coolpix 8700 which doesn't have a particularly wide angle zoom (it starts at 35 mm). At telephoto the Pro1 faired very well with no measurable distortion.
|Barrel Distortion, 1.3% @ wide angle||Pincushion Distortion, 0.0% @ telephoto|
Vignetting / Lens Shading
The Pro1's lens does exhibit lens shading at wide angle and telephoto (maximum aperture) and it is likely that at maximum aperture this shading would be visible in everyday shots. While things improve if you stop the lens down at least one corner of the image remains affected. This was a disappointing result and we had noticed it in a few of our 'everyday shots', I can only presume it's a consequence of the Pro1's compact lens design.
Our vignetting measurement is made by taking the average luminance value of the darkest corner of the image and comparing it to the average luminance at the center of the image, any difference greater than 15% may be visible in everyday shots.
|Wide angle, F2.4 (max. aperture)
18% maximum fall off, bottom right corner
|Telephoto, F3.5 (max. aperture)
18% maximum fall off, bottom left corner
|Wide angle, F5.0
11% maximum fall off, bottom right corner
9% maximum fall off, bottom left corner
Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)
There's no doubt that this eight megapixel CCD in combination with such "ambitious" lenses is a recipe for purple fringing. Our first wake up call being the Sony DSC-F828. Thankfully while the Pro1 certainly does exhibit some purple fringing it's not as strong in color or amount as the DSC-F828. Second image, no pun intended.
|Image thumbnail||100% crop|
|28 mm equiv., F2.4|
|28 mm equiv., F4.0|
Overall Image Quality / Specific Issues
There's no doubt that Canon worked hard to produce a lens which could deliver an image to that tiny high resolution CCD with good resolution. This shows in the images which are detailed and sharp and exhibit a level of detail several steps above what we're used to seeing from the previous five megapixel generation. Our biggest disappoint about the lens was the noticeable lens shading at both wide angle and telephoto, shooting at or near to maximum aperture it is likely this would be visible in everyday shots.
Canon are also consistent with their image processing, the "DiGiC" processor delivering vivid, sharp images which are both faithful to the original scene and also appealing to viewers. Canon also always seem to do a good job with tonal balance, maintaining good dynamic range (shadow and highlight detail) with a natural 'film like' appearance to the image (no nasty video camera like clipping or unreal blacks).
The only place the Pro1 trips up is perhaps noise from ISO 100 upwards. A couple of years ago when Canon explained the thinking behind DiGiC they made it very clear that they weren't going to do any noise reduction other than dark frame for long exposures. The concept being that if you keep noise as low as possible at the input stage you don't need to apply potentially destructive noise reduction, to date this has pretty much paid off, however with the advent of the eight megapixel sensor we're down to much smaller photosites and thus higher noise levels, and it shows.
Otherwise I had no major complaints about the Pro1's image quality and found no specific issues which needed further analysis.
Apr 20, 2004
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