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Agfa ePhoto CL30

Agfa "Point and Clik!" Digital Camera

Big Storage, Small and Handy Unit

by Jim Bray

Agfa's CL30 "Clik!" digital camera looks to all intents and purposes like your garden variety consumer digital camera - but it has a couple of interesting new wrinkles to amaze and delight its owners.

For instance, it offers both serial and USB interfaces for getting your photos into your PC - and its built-in Iomega "Clik" drive holds 40 megabytes worth of digital masterpieces, which is up to ten times the capacity of the "flash memory" cards found in many digital cameras.

I can attest to this storage tour de force. My own digital camera has a 4 meg compact flash card and, while it's usually enough for the relatively few shots I take in real life, it never seems enough when I'm actually out in the field taking pictures for clients.

So having ten times the capacity gives you a wonderful amount of photographic elbow room.

In fact, I was astounded to find that at the lowest resolution you can get 360 shots on a disk! That's a pile of pixelated pics! I can only get 20 shots from my camera.

The Clik! disk looks like a tiny CD-ROM; it's only about two inches square and the disk itself is contained in its own little caddy. There's also nearly a quarter of it exposed to the daylight, however, so remember to keep your fingers clear in case something awful happens to your prize-winning shots.

The Clik! disk slides into and out of the Agfa quickly and easily, with no fuss, much like a floppy disk goes into its drive.

There are plenty to other things to like about this $499 unit, including thoughtful touches like a plastic cover over the 1.8 inch LCD screen that helps keep fingerprints (or, worse still, nose prints) off the display.

The display isn't much good for setting up a shot, but it's great for checking your work afterward to ensure you got the shot you wanted.

A handy little menu wheel lets you access the camera's features by rolling it with your thumb, then pressing it as if it were a mouse button.

The CL30 handles resolutions of up to 1.5 million pixels, and you can shoot at five resolutions, from 640x480 to 1440x1080 pixels. The higher the resolution the better your picture quality is (not counting for operator error or lack of photographic talent, of course), though the downside is that higher resolutions take up more disk space, so you get fewer shots per disk.

Shots at the highest resolution can be printed out as 8x10's from your color printer.

Using the camera is point and click easy, and four different flash modes help you get the right illumination. There's also a 2X digital zoom.

Agfa's "PhotoGenie" technology, which is built into the camera, is supposed to remove artifacts (like jagged edges or pixelization) from your images, and it appears to do a good job. The four AA batteries are included, which is good.

What isn't as good is the lack of an AC adapter, so downloading your shots to your PC will contribute to the batteries' demise.

One nice thing about the camera's USB connection is that it's fast (which saves battery life), and it doesn't require a vacant serial port. The Agfa also offers serial connection, but why use that if you have USB?

I've tried a couple of digital cameras that used the serial interface and, with a PC that also had a serial mouse connection, it meant jumping through a horrible rigmarole of hoops: unhooking the mouse, connecting the camera, rebooting, and then fumbling around in the photo software without being able to point and click with the (now disconnected) mouse - a real pain!

With USB, it's more or less just "connect and download."

The CL30 comes with PhotoWise software, which is fine for downloading the pictures from the camera and doing basic retouching. As with most software that's included with digital cameras, there's nothing wrong with it and most people may find it's all they need. If you're a professional, however, and you want to wreak some real digital havoc on your shots you'd be better served with a more powerful application.

You can also use the software to print out contact sheets and create slide shows.

Should you ever need one, extra Clik! disks sell for about $10.

Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.














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Updated May 26, 2009