Gordon Laing, founder of CameraLabs, is back with another Retro Review, this time taking a look at the PowerShot Pro1, a bridge camera that served as the flagship offering in Canon’s fixed-lens PowerShot Pro series lineup.

At the time of its release, back in February 2004, the PowerShot Pro1 retailed for roughly $1,000. Inside the camera is what was then a top-of-the-line 8MP Sony 2/3in CCD sensor that could capture photographs between 50 and 400 ISO. In Gordon’s own words, ’50 ISO looked great, 100 was just about ok, but at 200 there were visible losses, while at 400 ISO the quality took a big hit. This was sadly common at the time though.’ VGA (640 x 480 pixel) video recording was also possible, albeit at a rough 15 frames per second and limited to 30 seconds.

A cutaway view of the Canon PowerShot Pro1, shared in our original review of the camera.

The camera featured the one and only L-series PowerShot fixed lens that was branded with the iconic red ring usually reserved for Canon’s expensive SLR lenses. The lens was a 7x zoom lens that offered a full-frame equivalent zoom range between 28–200mm. As we noted in our original review, Canon said the lens was given its red ring because it featured both ultra-low dispersion (UD) and flourite elements and offered impressive image quality given its compact nature.

Below are a collection of sample images captured by Gordon on the PowerShot Pro1, shared with permission:

As Gordon notes in the video, Canon made the most of the camera’s real estate, packing it full of controls, including a mode dial, a joypad, a front finger dial and dedicated buttons to switch through certain shooting modes. The PowerShot Pro1 featured a 2” articulating rear 235K-dot LCD display, as well as a top-mounted display for quickly getting a glance at the settings. The electronic viewfinder was relatively high-resolution (235K-dot) for its time and offered a DSLR-like shooting experience in a more compact form factor.

Ports on the camera included a standard USB connection, a DC input for powering the camera externally, a 3.5mm AV output for sharing images on a TV or monitor and a hotshoe that worked with Canon’s array of lighting accessories. Photographs taken with the camera were stored on a Compact Flash card and measured roughly 3–4MB in the highest-quality JPEG setting (there were three levels, as well as a Raw setting).

A photograph of the PowerShot Pro1’s 7x optical zoom fixed lens, complete with the iconic red ring. Photograph by Gordon Laing.

Despite Canon throwing nearly everything it had into the PowerShot Pro1, it would be the last of its kind for years to come, as the high-end bridge camera market was being taken over by entry-level DSLR cameras, such as the Nikon D70 or Canon’s first Digital Rebel camera, the 300D. To close out his 18-year review, Gordon says:

‘Back in the 2000’s I had a soft spot for pro-sumer cameras like the PowerShot Pro or Sony F series, even as basic digital SLRs finally matched them on price. I loved how the manufacturers would not just throw everything they could think of into them, but also use them as testbeds for innovative new ideas or unusual body designs.’

You can read Gordon’s full review and find additional sample images on Gordon’s website, Cameralabs. You can also keep up with his latest Retro Reviews on his YouTube channel, DinoBytes.

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