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Canon PowerShot Pro90 IS

An impressive update to the PowerShot "Pro" line, with a 10x optically stabilized zoom lens and 2.6 megapixel CCD!

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 2/6/2001

Design
The 2.6-megapixel Canon PowerShot Pro90 IS is about the size of a mid- to large-size 35mm SLR. Though it is somewhat larger than other SLR-style digicams we've reviewed, the 10x zoom lens and extensive features make the added bulk a necessity. Measuring 5.0 x 3.3 x 5.5 inches (126.5 x 83.9 x 139.1mm) with the lens, the Pro90 won't slip into your shirt pocket, but you can carry it with the accompanying neck strap or a small camera case if you prefer. The Pro90's plastic body keeps the weight down to about 24 ounces (680g) without the battery pack or memory card inserted.



The smooth gray surface of the Pro90 gives it a very clean, sleek appearance all around. From the front, only the lens barrel, shutter button, and large hand grip are visible, with a very small remote control sensor and self-timer lamp blended inconspicuously into the landscape. A ridged zoom ring around the end of the lens barrel controls the optical zoom. The lens itself is protected by a plastic lens cap which can be tethered to the camera body with the included cord. The large palm-size hand grip, which wraps around the battery and memory card slot compartments, has a soft, rubbery texture that grabs the fingers. There's also a small indentation on the front of the hand grip that gives you an added finger-hold.



On the right side of the camera, the CompactFlash slot is protected by a sliding, hinged door. The door slides out toward the back of the camera and then flips open to reveal the slot. Accommodating both Type I and II CompactFlash cards, a small button next to the slot releases the memory card once inserted. Also inside the memory card compartment is a tiny battery slot, which holds the CR2025 battery that powers the camera's internal clock. The only other feature on this side of the camera is the neck strap attachment eyelet.



The left side of the camera is comprised mainly of the lens barrel, a number of camera controls, and the terminal connector compartment. The Flash button, Manual Focus button, Image Stabilizer On/Off switch, Mode dial, and Main dial (with On/Off, Record, Playback, and Computer Connect settings) are on the top of the lens barrel. Beneath the Mode and Main dials is the connector compartment, which is covered by a plastic door that flips open. This door is attached by a small piece of flexible rubber. (Personally, we're not big fans of this sort of attachment, as we feel they're prone to breakage under repeated stress.) Inside the compartment is the speaker, DC-In, Digital (USB or serial) jack, and A/V Out terminal. Speaker holes in the compartment door allow you to hear the playback sound, even when the compartment door is closed. Also on this side of the camera is the other neck strap attachment eyelet.



The top of the camera has the pop-up flash compartment, external flash hot shoe, Jump, Index, and Metering buttons, as well as the Continuous Shooting / Self-Timer / Wireless Remote button and a small, black-and-white status display panel. At the end of the lens (on top) is the microphone for recording sound in Movie mode. An interesting variation in the way the Pro90 Flash operates compared to other digicams is that the Flash button does not pop up the flash. Instead, when an active flash mode is selected, the flash pops up when the shutter button is halfway depressed.

The status display panel reports most of the camera's settings, the current level of battery consumption, and any adjustment bars (such as Flash Exposure Compensation, Exposure Compensation, and the Auto Exposure Bracketing adjustment).



The remaining camera controls are on the back panel, along with the Electronic Viewfinder eyepiece and LCD monitor. Camera controls include the four-way arrow rocker button, Set, Menu, AE Lock, White Balance, and Display buttons. One observation that we made about the Set, Menu, and arrow buttons is that they are easily pressed by accident, particularly when you pick up or put down the camera. Their placement falls right where the thumb naturally gravitates when you grasp the hand grip. This wasn't a big concern when the camera was turned off, but did cause some annoyance when the camera was on. (The shutter button on the front side of the hand grip also falls precariously close to where you grab the camera with your forefinger.)

The viewfinder eyepiece features a soft rubber rim that helps to cushion your eye and protect it from glare, and a tiny diopter adjustment dial is hidden underneath the viewfinder. The swiveling LCD monitor lifts up and off of the back panel to face the photographer. It can also be rotated about 270 degrees to face front, down, and back, plus any angle in between.

A tiny indicator light in the lower right corner of the back panel reports the battery charging status as well as when the memory card is in use. When the indicator is lit solid green, the battery charge is complete. A flashing green light indicates that the camera is accessing the CompactFlash card. A solid orange light means that the battery charge is about 90 percent complete, and adequate for shooting. Finally, the flashing orange light means that the battery is still charging, with the frequency of flashing varying with the charge state.


On the camera's bottom panel are the battery compartment door and metal, threaded tripod mount. The battery compartment door slides out and then open, and a small, orange button holds the battery in place. Since the battery compartment takes up a large part of the hand grip, the soft rubbery "grip" texture extends to the compartment door, making it easy to grasp and open. We also noticed that the tripod mount and battery compartment are too close to allow quick battery changes when mounted to a tripod. A minor note with most smaller digicams, but more important with this model, because it is heavy enough to benefit from tripod use.


A small infrared remote control is provided with the camera, complete with zoom controls, shutter button, Display button, and several Playback controls such as the Index, Zoom, and arrow buttons. A CR2025 lithium battery powers the remote and fits into a small slot just beneath the Canon logo.


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