Yet another digital compact camera announcement from Canon brings us the PowerShot Pro1, timed to coincide with the PMA and Focus Photography exhibitions in the US and UK later this month. This 8Mp model assumes the position of flagship in the PowerShot range, with an f/2.4-3.5, 7.2-50.8mm (28-200mm 35mm film equivalent) USM L-series lens.

Yet another digital compact camera announcement from Canon brings us the PowerShot Pro1, timed to coincide with the PMA and Focus Photography exhibitions in the US and UK later this month. This 8Mp model assumes the position of flagship in the PowerShot range, with an f/2.4-3.5, 7.2-50.8mm (28-200mm 35mm film equivalent) USM L-series lens.

Canon claims the camera offers a host of features generally found on Canon digital SLRs, which will suit professional and serious hobbyist digital photographers, including support for RAW format file output and a fast hybrid autofocus system. The camera will be available in March at around £850 plus VAT, says Canon.

The PowerShot Pro1 can shoot at 2.5 frames per second, and has a shutter speed range of 15 to 1/4000s. The Pro 1 is the first PowerShot model to support both sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces. The camera is also compatible with Canon Speedlite EX flashes, and there are add-on close-up lenses and an optical tele-converter lens available.

The L-series, 28-200 USM lens benefits from optical build features found on Canon's SLR EF lenses, such as the use of both fluorite and ultra-low-dispersion elements, which Canon claims reduces chromatic aberrations, permitting larger apertures. The lens offers a minimum focus distance of 3cm in macro mode.

The Hybrid AF system combines contrast detection TTL focusing and external triangulation focusing, which Canon claims offers accurate autofocus at higher speeds. The external triangulation quickly approximates the focusing of the lens, with TTL contrast detection used for focal fine-tuning. The auto-focus point is selectable from either fixed centre or anywhere in the frame, with AF lock. In manual focus mode the lens zoom ring is used as a focus ring.

Metering modes include evaluative, centre-weighted, and spot (centre or focusing frame linked). Exposure features include exposure lock, compensation and bracketing. The sensitivity ranges from 50 to 400 ISO equivalent. The Pro 1 has a 235k-pixel 2 inch TFT LCD screen with 2-10x playback zoom for checking focus and detail.

PictBridge compatibility permits direct printing. The Pro 1 will also record 30 second video clips at VGA (3 minute clips at QVGA or QQVGA). The cameras are supplied with ZoomBrowser EX (Windows) and ImageBrowser (Mac) for image browsing and printing as well as PhotoStitch, ArcSoft PhotoStudio and VideoImpression. Membership of Canon iMAGE Gateway is also provided, a personal online photo gallery with 100MB of free space.