Steve Sanders wrote an extensive review
and includes some sample images on his ePhoto
Constantin Dragut compared
the Olympus D-500L to the ePhoto 1280
(he has some samples on his web
Agfa ePhoto 1280.
- Unusual shape and handling. Feels uncomfortable at first
but once you get used to it you realize the real possibilities you have
at your fingertips. The swinging lens allows you to shoot from angles otherwise
impossible with a regular camera design.
- Very high lens quality. The auto-focus works without
a glitch in any light situation.
- Very good fill-in flash.
- Manual controls offer greater flexibility in ëcreatingí
- Even though the high mode (1280x960) is accomplished
by interpolating the pixels (Agfa technicians say it is not interpolation
- what is it then?), the PhotoGenie software utility that comes with the
camera makes indeed magic. Picture quality rivals Oly600. For 5x7 prints
1024x768 in HQ mode offers near perfect outputs on a photo quality printer
(I use HP Photosmart).
- The control could not be easier. With a single knob you
control and set everything except the zoom.
- Like any camera that uses only the LCD for everything
you need tons of batteries available in order to be able not to miss your
- The camera is kind of slow in both taken (and storing)
the pictures as well as displaying them for preview.
- Comparing shots taken in identical conditions with both
cameras I have noticed a slight greenish cast that can be easily corrected
with the supplied software.
- The software that comes with the camera is one of the
best if not the best of all Iíve tried so far. You can manipulate
the image in any way you want and it is fast and fun to use. It prints
multiple images on the same page (from 1 to 12, I believe) or thumbnails
of your albums. You get even a little icon on your Taskbar (by the volume
control) for easy access to the application. One right click and you can
either see the images in the camera, open an album or PC card or download
pictures and save them on your hard drive.
- Lack of an optical viewfinder makes it difficult if not
impossible (at night) to frame the picture.
- Well, this one looks and feels like a regular SLR camera,
though smaller and lighter.
- Good control but it takes a while to know exactly which
knob to push without reading the labels.
- I liked the close-ups in the macro mode for being able
to get that blurry background (thatís why I chose the 500 which
has a 150mm tele compared with only 105mm for the 600 model).
- Very good color balance, pleasant tint even though it
is a little bit to the high side (colors too vivid).
- Noisy tele.
- Poor LCD quality. You cannot tell how the picture will
look like just by previewing it on the LCD. The SLR doesn't help much.
What you see through the viewfinder may be completely different from the
final look (and it allows you to see only 95% of what the camera will actually
capture - what is the SLR for then?).
- Eats the batteries very fast (not as fast as Agfa if
you don't use the LCD that much).
- And now the main complain (heard over and over in our
newsgroup): The camera is unable to focus in low light situations. Moreover
it happened several times to deliver blurry pictures even in good illumination
and the green light (focus lock) not blinking.
Even with a couple of shortcomings both cameras are outstanding
devices (too pricey though) that mark a breakthrough in the digital photography
field. So I had to make a tough decision in which one to keep (I wish I
could keep both for rather subjective reasons). I finally opted for Agfa
ePhoto 1280, which I believe, is a better deal. And this is why:
- >4 MG SSFDC card instead of 2 MG.
- More creativity due to unorthodox design.
- Manual controls versus fully automatic.
- Outstanding software.
- Fits easily in a (big) pocket.
- Comes with rechargeable NIMH batteries (instead of regular
Alkaline - worthless) and a charger.
- For the same resolution costs about $75 less than DL500
and a bunch less than DL600, with only a slight compromise in final resolution.
- TV output ( I donít really use it but I think
is nice to have it - just in case you are away from your computer and you
want to show your creations to your audience - everybody has a TV).
So, after hundreds of shots and long nights spent in front
of my computer and printer, the Oly is gone and the Agfa wins.
Chris Hillery (11/26):
Well, I've been playing with my new Agfa 1280 for a little
bit now, so I'll share my thoughts thus far. I'll mostly cover my negative
impressions first, then go on to the positive side. Let me say that on
the whole I'm very satisfied with it, but there are several significant
downsides which need to be considered. (Having not dealt with other digital
cameras except in passing, I have no idea whether these things are worse
or better, comparitively speaking.)
Speed: I can tell right away that by far and away the biggest problem I'm
going to have with this guy is that it's slow. It takes several
seconds to turn on, and picture recycle time (downtime while it compresses
one shot before you can take another) is on the order of 15 seconds. In
Play mode, where you can view the images in memory, it takes a number of
seconds to scroll each one onto the screen before you can do anything else.
Also on the subject of speed, there is a delay between pressing the shutter
button and the photo actually being taken. This is even if you press the
shutter halfway to allow it to autofocus and so forth before pressing fully.
This is a huge pet peeve of mine; it's certainly not unique to the Agfa,
and seems to be endemic amongst digital cameras and indeed some non-digitals
(my APS compact has a similar issue). It's intensely frustrating when trying
to take pictures of subjects that are moving unexpectedly at all, like
say people or animals.
Oh, one other significant annoyance - I can't see a way to delete a photo
from memory quickly. In fact, you have to twiddle out of Record mode to
Playback (which has to go through Off, so you have to wait for it to come
back on), wait for an image to display, select the image you want, wait
for IT to display, then delete and confirm twice. Very awkward if you know
you just took a bum shot and just want to reclaim the memory.
Build: The camera itself feels mostly quite solid. It's got a good weight
and the twist assembly feels rugged. However, both the lens and the LCD
screen are unprotected; you really must invest in a soft case. (The lens/flash
assembly DOES come with a cover, actually, but it's a ridiculous little
Tupperware-looking thing that doesn't really stay on very well.) A screw-on
UV filter to protect the lens would be a very good idea also. Also, the
little door which covers the input and output plugs has an annoying tendency
to flop open.
Features: Now, the good news. User control is simply excellent, and the
EasyPilot interface to control things (basically an on-screen display with
menus and the like) is quick and intuitive. (It's not quite as speedy as
dedicated controls for all these features, but it's much easier to figure
out - there are only 5 buttons on the whole camera!) It allows several
selections of focus, white balance, aperture and shutter speed, and you
can select any combination desired. It does surprisingly well with macro
focus and even indoors takes pretty good pictures with no flash. (It is
only rated as ISO 100 equivalent, however.) With-flash pictures also come
out very well, although on extreme close-ups the fill-in flash tends to
overexpose the nearest parts of the subject.
The 3x zoom is quick and responsive, and in my opinion a zoom lens is an
absolute requirement for any real work - picture composition is needlessly
complicated by its absence. The lens is, as alluded to earlier, threaded
(46mm), allowing additions of a variety of external filters and small lenses.
Image quality: As advertised, picture quality is excellent. I should have
some photos at my website
soon, although frankly as I'm just getting started with photography these
may or may not be compelling. While the CCD resolution is 1024x768, Agfa's
"PhotoGenie" software can interpolate this up to 1280x960, with
generally superb results. Colors seem very true-to-life, although they
are marginally less vivid than some Kodak samples I've seen. (I couldn't
say conclusively whether this was a fault of the Agfa or whether the Kodak
was a little too vivid.)
Form factor: I like this design, although it's certainly not going to sit
well with everyone. It's definitely going to take some time to get used
to - no viewfinder, rotating LCD display window, vaguely Sharp ViewCam-like.
Since it doesn't rest on your face you have to be more careful when snapping
the shutter to avoid camera shake. But you can take some very interesting
shots by holding the camera in different places that would be very difficult
with a normal configuration. Since the lens and flash are on the same part
of the body, the flash always points in the right direction. It is a little
hard to hold in a portrait orientation, however.
The lens can twist all the way around to take self-portraits; the image
on the LCD screen thoughtfully inverts when the lens is twisted beyond
a certain point so you don't have to frame yourself upside down. Oddly,
the on-screen display doesn't work when the image is inverted. The picture
quality of the LCD screen is quite high.
Included goodies: The camera comes with a set of 4 AA NiMH rechargable
batteries and a full-featured although rather cheesily constructed recharger
(complete with amusing Engrish instructions). I can't comment much on the
recharger as mine doesn't work. Battery life is on the order of 90 minutes
of LCD screen time per charge; as always, invest in a couple sets of batteries
to keep rotating through. Investing in a one-hour charger might be nice
too. (Actually, the included charger claims to charge at around 2 hours,
so that's not so bad.)
The PhotoWise software for downloading, viewing and tweaking the photos
from the camera is clear and functional, and does the few things it does
quite well. Also included is LivePix 1.1 SE (photo manipulation) and PhotoVista
(panorama "stitching" software), neither of which I've really
played with. One sort-of sad note: The documentation for both the camera
and the software is all online in the form of .pdf files; the camera documentation
in particular seems to be rather terse about something.
Random notes: Comes complete with video out, with an included cable. Connecting
this disables the LCD screen, and everything that would normally appear
on it goes to the TV instead, so you can in fact use this as an odd camcorder
(with an external VCR).
Accepts the new compact flash SSFDC cards; comes with one 4MB card which
can hold anywhere from 60 "low-quality" 640x480 pictures up to
6 1280x960 pictures.
Has a standard tripod screw mount. Forgot to check, but I believe this
screw mount is plastic like the rest of the body, so conceivably this could
wear over time.
Can synchronize with external flashes. Not exactly sure how this works,
but it's a feature some people seem to want...
That's about all for now. As I said, on the whole I'm very satisfied, and
I don't know of any other camera which meets my requirements (zoom, flash,
LCD preview/delete screen, 1024x768 or better, lots of tweaky settings,
and very good image quality). About the only one that seemed to stack up
was the Kodak DC120, which I eventually decided against primarily based
on the Agfa being newer technology and of a somewhat more interesting form
factor; the sample images from both led me to find the Agfa more pleasing
also. The DC120 is a fair bit cheaper, however, and allows long exposure
times up to 16 seconds (the Agfa tops out at 1/8 second). Hopefully in
a year or two manufacturers will have come out with a model that does all
this faster and at
an even better price point...
DCRP Camera Sample Photos