A pro-label Canon lens shines on a compact digital camera
By Rob Sheppard
When Canon announced its new 8-megapixel PowerShot Pro1, I pored over the specs and looked forward to working with the camera. It wasn't the 8 megapixels, impressive as that was, that caught my attention. It was the lens designation—Canon gave the glass its "L" insignia, the company's pro designation. This was unusual, as Canon has exceptionally high standards for the L-series.
In shooting with the camera, I was pleased with the lens and camera performance. This is a remarkable camera that offers 28-200mm (35mm equivalent), with close-up capabilities built in, at a size far smaller (and far less costly) than the equivalent gear in a digital SLR. While the lens isn't interchangeable, you don't have to worry about dust on the sensor; you can add a 1.5x accessory lens for added range. And I found that shooting with achromatic close-up lenses, like those from Century Optics or Hoya, gave truly outstanding macro results.
Some people call these cameras "point-and-shoots," but this is no more a point-and-shoot than a Canon EOS 1Ds. The PowerShot Pro1 continues the basic form of the respected G-series of digital cameras, including the adaptable flip-out/swiveling LCD panel (which has an improved display). You access controls quickly through direct buttons and dials, so there's little use of menus. An especially useful feature is a zoom/focus ring around the lens; this makes the PowerShot Pro1 handle much more like a traditional camera than using buttons for these purposes.
The camera performed admirably in the field. The PowerShot Pro1 adds an electronic viewfinder (EVF), which gives it SLR-like viewing. With an EVF, you see through the lens, but not directly. You look at a magnified LCD screen through the viewfinder (coming right from the sensor), making the EVF experience somewhat different from an optical viewfinder. It can take some getting used to—the PowerShot Pro1's EVF is quite good for this type of viewfinder and lets you see immediately what your exposure and white-balance settings look like.
Filters attach to the lens with an included bayonet holder; however, you can't buy replacements from your camera store and have to order them as "replacement parts" from Canon. That isn't especially photographer-friendly and is unusual for Canon. The 1.5x tele accessory lens attaches smartly with a readily available bayonet adapter.