American writer and futurist Alvin Toffler coined the term 'prosumer' in predicting the blurred roles of producer and consumer in a saturated economy, in which businesses need to mass-produce highly customised goods. That word, however, has also been adopted to describe a market segment (professional consumer) comprised of demanding hobbyists.
For photo enthusiasts in search of a digital snapper that does more than just point and shoot, and does away with the hefty size, weight or expense associated with digital single lens reflex (SLR) cameras, digital prosumer cameras meet their needs.
Small packages These cameras typically include a full range of professional-quality programmed shooting modes and varying degrees of manual control.
One of the most attractive digital prosumer cameras in the market today is Canon's 12.1-megapixel PowerShot G9. It has a 6x optical zoom lens with image stabiliser, multicontrol dials with 25 shooting modes and a generous 3-inch, high-resolution liquid-crystal screen that makes it easy to frame shots.
Like its predecessor, the G7, the G9 is powered by Canon's proprietary Digic III imaging processor. This enables red-eye correction, low-power consumption and multiple face-detection technology, which picks out faces in a scene to provide subjects with sharpness and the right exposure.
Image is everything The G9 provides a user with the option of recording pictures in so-called Raw format, a feature the previous G7 lacked. Raw image files contain recordings of the purest quality, which is important to photo enthusiasts who want additional computer processing with their pictures, using software tools such as Adobe Photoshop.
Feeling retro Taking its design from old rangefinder cameras, the G9 has a rugged aluminium body with beautiful textured leather finish, a bayonet ring elegantly processed with black alumite, and a pronounced grip and thumb rest
for superb handling. Its analogue-style controls give a reassuring 'click' while the shutter sounds are based on those of the original Canon professional cameras. The PowerShot G9 costs HK$4,580.