Canon PowerShot Pro90 IS Review
Canon knew they'd struck a chord with the Pro 70's original design and they've continued (and refined) that on the Pro90, with a similar "L shaped" body it has familiar "SLR like" appearance. The Pro90 is smaller and lighter than its older brother yet manages to pack a big 10 x zoom lens into the barrel. The body itself is made of a strong plastic material (that doesn't feel at all cheap), the hand grip is coated with a rubber material and the back of the LCD's flip-out case is metal. Overall build quality is high, despite the use of plastic there are no creaks or obvious weaknesses.
Canon have moved to a more rounded design on the Pro 90, there are almost no square edges or hard corners but lots of round smooth transitions and comfortably shaped hand / finger rests. The hand grip itself feels very comfortable in your palm with a deep recess at the front for fingertips. My only gripe would be the location of the SET and MENU buttons which are sometimes just too easy to press with your thumb when gripping the camera.
The flip-out and twist LCD can be locked either facing out or facing in or flipped / twisted at any angle in-between. Top of the camera is logical enough, with the same big LCD we saw on the G1 this time on the top of the hand grip, flash hot-shoe in the middle, exposure mode dial on the left and other buttons on the right. Note that zoom control is via the ring on the end of the lens, unfortunately it's not a rotating ring but rather a push / pull mechanism (much like HP's C-912).
Here's a size comparison of the Pro90 beside Olympus's E-10, as you can see the Pro90 is smaller and more "rounded" in design.
Rear LCD Display
The Pro90's flip out and twist LCD is identical to that found on the G1, the swivel joint itself is very stiff and each 90 degree position has a strong click into place (although it is stiff enough to hold itself at any angle in-between). When completely reversed it clicks into place on the back of the camera just like a conventional digital camera LCD.
This design 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.. Almost whatever you require. And I for one am glad to see its return. Additionally the LCD also has an excellent anti-reflective coating (so it's double Kudos) and is considerably brighter and "crisper" than most digital camera LCDs, it can easily be used outdoors in direct sunlight.
Top Information LCD
The top LCD provides a lots of information on the current exposure, photographic and digital settings, available frames, exposure adjustment and white balance. A full detailed breakdown of displayed information can be found on diagram below.
Again, this is the same LCD (except for the loss of the Macro icon) found on the G1, with lots of useful information it's more than possible to change various camera settings without having to use the main LCD.
The viewfinder on the Pro90 is of the new Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) variety, this kind of viewfinder is essentially a miniature LCD with a focusing eyepiece, the viewfinder view itself is simply a relay of the display seen on the main LCD, that means you get a full TTL (through the lens) view along with additional exposure and settings information. In this case the Pro90's EVF is relatively good, clear and bright with no obvious vignetting at the corners though you definitely get that "looking down a tunnel at a screen" view. The miniature LCD is surprisingly sharp and fairly high resolution with no obvious pixelisation (something we've criticised other EVF's of).
Interesting to note that there aren't the traditional status LED's beside the viewfinder, instead these status marks are shown on the LCD / viewfinder displays.
Behind a compartment door in the base of the hand grip fits the Canon BP-511 Lithium-Ion battery pack (the same used on the EOS-D30 and G1) which is rated at 7.4 V, 1100 mAh (8 Wh). This powerful battery can be found for around US$70 / £55 at various online retailers. The battery pack charges in-camera using the supplied AC adapter/charger which simple plugs into the side of the camera. Optional double battery chargers / car chargers can also be purchased.
Behind a relatively good (but still plastic) compartment door you'll find the CompactFlash slot, with a sensibly located eject button and plenty of room for fingers it's easy to retrieve cards from this compartment. Able to take both CF Type I and Type II CF cards the Pro90 fully supports the IBM Microdrive (indeed during our testing we primarily used the 1 GB MK II Microdrive).
On the right side of the camera a sturdier door (compared to the G1) conceals the now standard Canon digital I/O connector to be used with the supplied USB cable, A/V output and the DC in socket for connection to the supplied AC adapter/charger along with the speaker.
TWAIN drivers are supplied for both Windows and Mac, note that these drivers allow you to connect and transfer images from the camera, however the camera will not appear as a virtual hard drive like other USB connected cameras (which is a shame). The TWAIN driver is required acquire the proprietary Canon RAW format (a pair of .CRW & .THM files).
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