capsule review

Canon PowerShot Pro1

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Canon PowerShot Pro 1 Bridge Camera

    TechHive Rating

    The Pro1's compact case makes it a pleasant camera to tote. Its battery life could be better, however.

Canon PowerShot Pro1
Photograph: Rick Rizner

The PowerShot Pro1 is a sweet camera. With its all-black body and lens barrel-based zoom control, it has the feel of a very compact single-lens reflex model. It's built on the now-standard advanced digital camera shape: a squared-off body with a large protruding lens and a chunky right-hand grip that doubles as the camera's battery compartment. But the Pro1 feels significantly smaller in the hand than its competitors--especially other 8-megapixel models. An easy-to-grip ring on the camera's stubby lens barrel controls the zoom. It's still a powered zoom, but a fairly smooth and precise one nevertheless. The ring doubles as your focus control when the camera's manual focus is switched on. Unfortunately, this arrangement does make it difficult to use the camera one-handed.

The Pro1 earned high scores in color and exposure accuracy, sharpness, and distortion avoidance. With flash, it nicely reproduced subtle shadings of our model's skin tone and colorful clothing. Shooting outdoors on a bright, sunny day with high contrast, the camera retained the shadow details without washing out the pure blue sky.

Canon gave the Pro1 a fine selection of advanced controls. Bracketing options include exposure and focus--though the Pro1 took bracketed shots somewhat slowly. You can store two custom white-balance settings and two custom user settings.

The Pro1 retains the dual-menu structure found in Canon's other advanced models. Pressing the Function button pops up key controls such as ISO, resolution, and bracketing. The well-organized main menu holds many other exposure and setup options. You also get a moderate number of dedicated buttons for changing the flash, focus, and metering functions. Shortcuts on the four-way thumb button let you change the exposure value and white balance settings. Overall, setting up the camera for different lighting conditions and effects is quick.

Other refinements include the ability to set the flash so that it automatically pops up whenever the camera decides it's needed, or to have it pop up only when you press the flash control button. And markings on the lens barrel give you the focal range in 35mm equivalents.

We like the Pro1's manual focus: Press the MF button on the camera, and the zoom ring switches to focus. As you turn the dial, a center portion of the viewfinder is magnified, helping ensure sharp images, especially when you're working with close-ups. We're less fond of the manual exposure control: To change the aperture and shutter values, you turn a small dial located immediately behind the shutter button; to switch between the two, you press the dial. The only way to find out how close your settings are to a correct exposure is by pressing the shutter button halfway, every time you change the shutter speed or aperture--very annoying.

For some reason, you can't change the zoom while capturing video. The electronic eye-level viewfinder is easy to view, even with glasses on, but we noticed some image smearing when we panned quickly. Shutter delay is about a second with a full press of the trigger, and there's no delay if you've set the exposure lock (by pressing the shutter button halfway down).

The PowerShot Pro1 kit includes a wireless remote trigger and a clip-on lens shade. The front of the lens barrel is not threaded, but Canon includes a clip-on adapter for 58mm filters. The package also includes ArcSoft's PhotoStudio and VideoImpression software for editing your still shots and your movies, respectively. They arn't our favorite tools for managing and editing digital photos, but they're good, capable applications.

If you're looking for a high-end digital camera but don't want the size and weight of an SLR, the PowerShot Pro1 is a great choice--nicely designed, a pleasure to use, and capable of making great shots.

Tracey Capen

This story, "Canon PowerShot Pro1 " was originally published by PCWorld.

To comment on this article and other TechHive content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    The Pro1's compact case makes it a pleasant camera to tote. Its battery life could be better, however.

Related:
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.