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Canon PowerShot Pro1

New level of sophistication takes over the top spot in the PowerShot line.

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Pro1 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 05/14/2004

Untitled Document

Digital Cameras - Canon PowerShot Pro1 Test Images

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISOsetting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all*that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested inthe information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait:

Excellent detail and resolution, with accurate color and saturation as well.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the PowerShot Pro1 handled the challenge pretty well, although it's default contrast is a little higher than I'd like.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, less than this shot usually requires. The camera's somewhat high native contrast still left the highlights a little too bright though, and some of the shadows on Marti's face are a little dark. I chose the Manual white balance setting as the most accurate overall, as the Auto and Daylight settings resulted in cooler, slightly purplish color balances. (I'd say that the correct color balance would be roughly halfway between that of the Manual and Auto settings here.)

Skin tones look very good, although the slight overall yellowish cast makes them a bit more sallow than in real life. Other colors are generally excellent though, with the blue flowers in the bouquet almost dead right. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, often producing exaggerated purplish tints in the petals. However, the Pro1 does a great job here.) Color and saturation look good throughout the frame, and the camera does a particularly good job at maintaining shape and detail in the bright red flowers. Resolution is excellent, and detail is strong and well-defined throughout the frame, even in the shadows. Image noise is low as well.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files PRO1OUTMP0.HTM through PRO1OUTMP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

Contrast Series:
While the Pro1's default contrast is a little high for this shot, its contrast adjustment option is somewhat helpful at taming the highlights and opening the shadows. I'd like to see a greater range, particularly on the low site, but the action of the contrast control is just right, adjusting the contrast without significantly affecting either the exposure or color saturation.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Saturation Series:
The Pro1 also has an adjustment for color saturation. Once again, the control works well, and in exactly the way it should. Here though, I'd really like to see more steps with smaller increments between them. I like having the ability to "tweak" a camera's color and tonal response to suite my tastes, but the adjustment steps here are really too large to permit doing so. Large steps like this restrict the usefulness of the saturation control, turning it into more of a special effect than a practical photographic tool.

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail.

Exposure and color are similar to the wider shot above, and the Pro1's 7x zoom lens prevents any noticeable distortion of Marti's features. The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which resulted in very bright highlights but good midtones and at least some detail in the shadows. Resolution and detail are even stronger in this close-up shot, with great definition in the details of Marti's face and hair.

This shot was captured with the Pro1's Auto white balance settings, so you can see the slightly purplish cast in it, as compared to the shot above, which was shot with the Manual (aka Custom) option.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files PRO1FACM1.HTM through PRO1FACP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
+0.7 EV
Slow-Sync Mode
+0.7 EV

A strong, bright flash, with good color and exposure.

The Pro1's built-in flash did a good job here, and illuminated the subject with good intensity. The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, slightly less than average for this shot. The flash is almost too bright here, coming close to blowing out the highlights on Marti's shirt, but the +0.3 EV setting resulted in a shot that looked underexposed. Color looks good, with an accurate blue in the flower bouquet. Skin tones are a little washed out, but still good. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode resulted in slightly softer lighting, due to the longer exposure time, but the strong incandescent room lighting resulted in a very warm color balance. (This is pretty common. A few cameras have their flash heads more nearly color-balanced with incandescent lighting, to provide a better color balance in just this situation. The Pro1 follows the more common practice of having a flash that more closely approximates daylight color balance.) I again opted for a +0.7 EV exposure compensation boost in the Slow-Sync shot.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV in the normal flash mode, see files PRO1INFP0.HTM through PRO1INFP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

To view the same exposure series in the Slow-Sync flash mode, see files PRO1INFSP0.HTM through PRO1INFSP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Nearly accurate color with the Incandescent white balance setting, good exposure as well.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. The Pro1's Auto setting had a lot of trouble here, but did well with both its Incandescent and Manual white balance options. I was a little torn as to which white balance option to pick for the main exemplar for this shot. The Incandescent setting produced a very nice-looking shot, but it felt a little cold to me, while the shot taken with the Manual setting seemed a tad too yellow. I eventually settled on the Manual option though, because I felt it evoked more of the warmth of the original lighting. The shots at right were taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, about average for this shot. (Perhaps most impressively, the tricky blue flowers came out just about right, quite a feat under the very warm-hued incandescent lighting.)

ISO Series: Noise on the Pro1 starts out very low at ISO 50, but increases pretty rapidly with increasing ISO. Noise is low at ISO 50 and 100, visible but acceptable at ISO 200, and pretty objectionable at ISO 400. On a positive note though, the noise is fairly fine-grained, lacking the very large splotchiness seen in some cameras. There's also very little loss of subject detail due to noise-suppression processing.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Accurate color with the Manual white balance, excellent resolution and detail.

All three of the Pro1's white balance settings produced good results, though the shot taken with the Manual setting had the best overall color and white value in the house trim. The Auto and Daylight settings both produced slightly warm color balances, but still good results. Resolution is very high, and the tree limbs and front shrubbery show strong detail, as does the house front. (Even though the poster was made from a 500MB scan of a 4x5 transparency shot with a tack-sharp lens, the Pro1's eight-megapixel CCD extracts practically all the detail that's to be found here.) Canon's conservative approach to in-camera image sharpening is seen here in the form of a slight softness to details throughout the frame, although the images take sharpening in Photoshop(tm) very well. There's a little increase in softness in the corners of the frame, but the worst of the effect seems to be confined to the extreme corners, not projecting very far at all into the body of the photo.



 

Far-Field Test

Exceptional resolution and detail, with a good dynamic range and amazingly little distortion of any sort. (Note: The main shot here was captured with the Pro1's low contrast setting.)

This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

The Pro1 is the first time Canon has put "L-series" glass on an integrated-lens digicam, and the results really show in this image. This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the Pro1 does a really excellent job with it. Details are strong and very well-defined throughout the frame, especially in the tree limbs over the roof and in the fine foliage in front of the house. Even the very fine details of the tree bark on the small cherry tree in front of the house are clear and distinct. In-camera sharpening does a good job here, as details are pretty sharp throughout the frame, with little or now visible "halos" around contrasting objects. Most impressive though, is how sharp the image remains, even in the extreme corners of the frame, and the almost total lack of coma or chromatic aberration. This is quite unusual in my experience, and a real indication of the quality of the Pro1's lens.

The camera did lose most of the detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window with its default contrast setting. The low contrast adjustment worked beautifully though, taming the highlights and opening the shadows, without adversely affecting either exposure or color. Overall color looks good, and the exposure is just about right as well. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, saturation, contrast, and effects series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
3,264 x 2,448
PRO1FAR3264F
PRO1FAR3264N
PRO1FAR3264E
2,272 x 1,704
PRO1FAR2272F
-
1,600 x 1,200
PRO1FAR1600F
-
1,024 x 768
PRO1FAR1024F
-
 -
640 x 480
PRO1FAR640F
-


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Sharpness Series:
As I noted above, the Pro1's default sharpening is slightly understated, although perhaps a bit more aggressive than normally found on Canon cameras. Playing with the sharpness adjustment, the high setting results in an image that's obviously been heavily sharpened, but without an excess of strong artifacts. The "Soft" setting leaves a very velvety-looking image that responds well to hard/tight sharpening in Photoshop. (Try 0.4 pixels and 300% on the "Soft" image below, you'll be amazed by the detail.) Even though you only have three steps available, the sharpness adjustment on the Pro1 covers a very useful range.

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp

Saturation Series:
Likewise as above, I'll note here that I think the Pro1's color saturation adjustment provides steps that are too big to be useful photographically, at least in the majority of situations in which I'd want to play with the camera's color saturation.

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High

Contrast Series:
The contrast adjustment does a very good job here, doing exactly what you'd hope it would, the "Low" adjustment dropping the rendered brightness of the strong highlight on the paint around the bay window just within the working range of the camera, while also opening the shadows slightly. A very nice job, to the extent that I chose the "Low" contrast setting as the main exemplar for this shot.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High

 

Effects Series:

Effects Series
Black and White
Sepia
Low Sharpening
Vivid Color
Neutral Color




 

Lens Zoom Range

Am excellent 7x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (7x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The Pro1's lens is equivalent to a 28-200mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a pretty wide angle to a pretty substantial telephoto, a very useful range. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
7x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Pretty good performance from all three white balance settings tested. High resolution and well-defined details.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. All three of the Pro1's white balance settings that I shot with produced pretty good results though, with only slight color casts. I found the best color with the Daylight setting, as the Auto setting was slightly warm, and the Manual setting a bit cool and magenta. The blue robe looks about right, without any strong purplish tints in the deep shadows. Resolution is excellent, with strong detail in the embroidery of the blue robe and red vest, and in the other fine details. (The original data file for this poster was only 20MB though, so cameras like the Pro1 are definitely capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Really exceptional macro performance, with good color and detail, though the flash is blocked by the lens.

The Pro1 performed exceptionally well in the macro category, capturing a very tiny minimum area of only 0.97 x 1.29 inches (25 x 33 millimeters). Resolution is very high, with excellent detail in the dollar bill. The coins and brooch are soft due to the shallow depth of field at the very short shooting distance (not at all the fault of the Pro1), but the level of fine detail in the bill is excellent. As is often the case with digicam macro shots, all four corners of the frame are rather soft, due to curvature of field at this very close shooting distance. While it would be better if this were not the case, almost every camera I test that shoots anywhere near this close ends up with softness in the corners of its images. The Pro1's flash is in a bad spot for macro shooting, especially given the very close range, so you'll definitely need an alternative light source for the closest macro shots.



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Excellent color and saturation, and an accurate exposure.

The Pro1's Auto and Manual white balance options both produced very good results here, so I stuck with the Auto setting for the main shot. The Daylight setting was a hint warm, but results were still pretty good. Overall exposure looks about right, and the Pro1 does a good job with the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. The large color blocks are very accurate and well-saturated, though the blue and red additive primary color blocks are just a little oversaturated, to my eye. Highlight and shadow detail are both excellent, with low noise in the shadow areas. All in all, an excellent job.

ISO Series:
As noted above, noise in the Pro1's images starts out quite low at ISO 50, but increases at a fairly rapid rate as you move to higher ISO values. Noise for most users will be negligible at ISO 50 and 100, noticeable at ISO 200, and probably unacceptable at ISO 400. As the ISO increases though, there's surprisingly little loss of detail due to noise-suppression processing.

ISO Series
ISO 50
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400


Sharpness Series:

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Hard


Saturation Series:
A good range of saturation adjustment, but there needs to be more/finer steps here for it to be photographically useful. (Although the "Vivid Color" and "Neutral Color" settings of the Effects menu do provide more subtle adjustments.)

Saturation Series
Low
Normal
High


Contrast Series:
A good contrast adjustment, but I'd like to see it cover a wider range, with the same size steps.

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Effects Series:

Effects Series
Black and White
Sepia
Low Sharpening
Vivid Color
Neutral Color




 

Low-Light Tests

Great performance, with good color and exposure even at the darkest light levels.

The Pro1 produced clear, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at all four ISO settings. (Though at ISO 50, the best shot was at the 1/8 foot-candle, 1.3 lux, light level.) The camera's automatic white balance setting did a very good job here. Color balance is just a little pinkish at the lowest light levels, but overall color is much better than average. Noise is quite low at the lower ISO equivalents, rising to a moderate level at ISO 200, becoming distracting at ISO 400. The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all my sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

(Note: If you'd like to use a light meter to check light levels for subjects you might be interested in shooting, a light level of one foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure of two seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 100.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
50
Click to see PRO1LL0503.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL0504.JPG
5 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL0505.JPG
13 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL0506.JPG
15 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL0507.JPG
15 sec
f2.4
ISO
100
Click to see PRO1LL1003.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL1004.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL1005.JPG
6 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL1006.JPG
10 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL1007.JPG
13 sec
f2.4
ISO
200
Click to see PRO1LL2003.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL2004.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL2005.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL2006.JPG
6 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL2007.JPG
6 sec
f2.4
ISO
400
Click to see PRO1LL4003.JPG
1/3 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL4004.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL4005.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL4006.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.4
Click to see PRO1LL4007.JPG
3.2 sec
f2.4



 

Flash Range Test

Great intensity and performance, with virtually no falloff even at the furthest distance of this test.

In my testing, the Pro1's powerful flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, without any significant decrease in intensity. Canon states the strobe's range as being from 11.5-16 feet at ISO 100, as the lens zooms from maximum telephoto to maximum wide angle. Given that the shots below were taken at ISO 50, Canon's own spec seems very conservative. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see PRO1FL08.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see PRO1FL09.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see PRO1FL10.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see PRO1FL11.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see PRO1FL12.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see PRO1FL13.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5
Click to see PRO1FL14.JPG
1/60 sec
f3.5



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Very high resolution, 1,600-1,650 lines of "strong detail." Higher than average barrel distortion, but very low pincushion distortion.

The Pro1 performed very well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 1,100 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,600 lines vertically, 1,650 horizontally. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 2,000 lines, and even then, some detail is still visible.

A note on "resolution:" Some reviewers would doubtless report the Pro1's resolution as being higher, but I tend to be conservative in these numbers, feeling that you shouldn't rate a camera as resolving a level of detail if the artifacts and aliasing are as strong as the primary subject detail. Hence my somewhat lower figures. It's also worth noting that I've found the resolution of the four 8-megapixel digicams I've tested thus far (the Pro1, Olympus 8080, Sony DSC-F828, and the Nikon Coolpix 8700, as of this writing) to be the same, in terms of the number of lines they can resolve on the test charts. There are differences between their res-chart images though, in terms of how crisp the images appear. This has as much to do with the cameras' image processing though, as it does with their actual optical resolution, so I don't try to slant my figures here to acknowledge that. (For what it's worth though, I found the Sony F828 to be the most crisp looking, the C-8080 and the Pro1 in a near-tie next, and the 8700 the softest of the lot, although not by a great amount.)

Optical distortion on the Pro1 is higher than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I found only 0.06 percent pincushion distortion there (about two pixels' worth). Chromatic aberration is higher than I'd have expected, given the "L-series" glass in the Pro1's lens, with about seven or eight pixels of fairly strong coloration on either side of the target lines in the corners. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) It's likely that the chromatic aberration was exaggerated somewhat by corner softness, which I noticed in a few shots (most visibly in the macro shot).

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
3,264 x 2,448
PRO1RESW3264F
2,272 x 1,704
PRO1RESW2272F
1,600 x 1,200
PRO1RESW1600F
1,024 x 768
PRO1RESW1024F
640 x 480
PRO1RESW0640F


Resolution Test, Telephoto
3,264 x 2,448
(Fine, Tele)
PRO1REST3264F


Sharpness Series
Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Excellent accuracy from the electronic viewfinder.

The Pro1's electronic "optical" viewfinder (EVF) is very accurate, showing 99+ percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. The LCD monitor is also very accurate, since it shows the same view, just on a larger screen. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Pro1's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in that regard. Flash distribution is good but a little uneven at wide angle, with some slight falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform, with only faint falloff at the very corners.




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