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I have been a keen photographer for a number of years and have a full range of cameras, from the instant camera to the SLR. Until last year 2003 I was sold on the SLR and would not consider a digital as they did not offer me the same quality and control and the SLR. Then along came a birthday and some money to spend and my wife suggested buying a digital camera. I thought long and hard about this and did my research and eventually bought a Canon S50 (you can read my review on this camera). This camera was bought as it offered 5MP at and affordable price – I was not disappointed. On holidays this year my wife dropped the camera and broke the LCD screen thus rendering the camera useless. The holiday insurance paid for the replacement of some of the camera. I was now hooked on digital photography and wanted to buy a camera, which would offer me a better features, more MP and a lens which would be good and versatile. The Canon Powershot Pro 1 was chosen. What a Tool!! Read on and find out why.
Small and Handy
The first thing that you notice when picking up the Pro1 is how small it is. If you've only seen it in pictures it appears much larger than it does in the "flesh". But Canon has done a fine job on the ergonomics, and with only a few exceptions the controls are very well placed. The body is of an all-new design, and it's apparent — to me at least — that a lot of thought has gone into the human factors engineering. As but one example, the button for switching between the electronic viewfinder (EVF) and the rear LCD is placed by itself on the left side of the camera, where the left hand can reach it. Most cameras place it somewhere on the rear panel close to a myriad of other buttons. The shutter release is placed in the perfect position in terms of ones finger angle, but the length of finger press needed is much greater than I've seen on almost any other camera. You get used to it, but I would have preferred a lighter touch before autofocus engages. The On/Off control is also of clever design. It's a lever that falls right under ones right thumb. Swivel it to the right and the camera goes into shooting mode. Swivel to the left and you're in review mode. Right above it is a recessed OFF button, and in front of that a bright green (or yellow) power LED. There is also a card activity red LED on the right/rear of the body. No doubts with this camera as to its operating state. Also, even if the camera is placed in playback mode, just touch the shutter release and you're ready to shoot; no levers to move or switches to reset. Nice. What I didn't care for is that when the camera shuts itself down automatically at the end of the user set timeout (to save battery), the lens retracts and the camera is completely off. Most similar design leave the lens extended and the camera in a stand-by mode. This is preferable for two reasons. Firstly, because the lens can accidentally snag on something as it retracts, and secondly because it lengthens re-start-up time. Build quality and materials choice appears to be first rate. Though small, it is all-metal, and has real heft. The balance is also near perfect. People with large hands may find it a bit too small though.
What you see is what you GET.
Both EVF and LCD are of high quality. Of course the camera switches to the LCD when it is folded out. The swiveling LCD design is similar to what we've seen before. The nice thing about this design approach is that the mechanism can be folded closed to protect the screen, reversed so that it can be flush against the body, or rotated so that it is either to the side or facing forwards.
Button and Knobs
The usual buttons and knobs is found on the Pro1, but in typical Canon style they are well laid out. Some button do double duty, performing different functions in record and playback modes, but when this is the case they are labeled in white for record and blue for their playback function. There is a button marked function which causes an on-screen menu to appear. It allows ISO setting, special effects, bracketing and flash exposure compensation to be set quickly. The four-way controller offers access to additional setting functions when in shooting mode. Press it upward and exposure compensation becomes available. Press it downward and white balance options appear.
The Pro1's lens is a 7.2 - 50.8mm f/2.2 - 3.5L optic. This is equivalent to 28-200mm in familiar 35mm terms. The big news here is that this is an "L" Series lens, the first time that Canon has applied this designation to any lens other than pro-level lenses for its SLR cameras The lens is provided with the usual petal-shaped lens shade. I'm not crazy about its design though. It doesn't fit firmly. When twisted into place it locks, but then a bit more firm pressure and it continues to rotate. Also, the front of the lens is not threaded for filters. Instead Canon provides a filter adaptor which bayonettes on and which then can take 58mm filters. But, the provided lens shade does not then fit. This is simply not an acceptable design. Canon needs to make the filter ring part of the lens, and the shade big enough to fit over it. Back to design class on this one. Interestingly, the zoom control also changes image magnification during playback. One can also do this with a separate button (the flash pop-up button during Record mode), but I find that zooming the lens during review is a very clever and handy method.
The Bottom Line.
Would I recommend this camera – The short answer is a BIG YES.
I paid £626.98 at Jessops,(broucher price at Jessops is £799.00) this was a price match from an on-line shop. I was able to buy it at £599 at another on-line shop but Jessops awould not match this price as the company was not UK based. I choose to pay the extra to have the piece of mind that if anything went wrong with the camera, Jessops was only a short journey from home and I would not have to post the camera away.
It pays to shop around and ask Jessops to price march. This is not the first time they and given me a good deal.
Go into them with the best price you can find and try them out.
Have fun trying to better my price at Jessops. (by the way I live in Northern Ireland and some of the companies charge extra for postage. I do not know why this as we are in the UK)
All the best
Have had this camera for about 2 months and the quality of the pictures is superb, and can be blown up to A2 without any distortation of the image. The problem with wanting to print up to this size is that there are few places which can cater for that size of image, the images need to be sent away. The longer I have the camera the easier it is to use and I have found out more about using this camera quicker than any other camera I have had in the past.