SAN FRANCISCO (03/21/2000) - Big camera, big storage, high resolution, hefty price: The only petite attribute of Casio Computer Co. Ltd.'s $999 QV-3000EX 3.34 True Megapixel digital camera is its removable IBM Corp. MicroDrive--a 340MB hard drive the size of a matchbook. That's enough room to save 245 images at this innovative 3.34-megapixel camera's top resolution of 2048 by 1536.
Alternatively, you can use the unit to capture scores of 30-second AVI video clips at 320 by 240 resolution--or some combination of still shots and video.
Unfortunately, there's no microphone for recording audio.
The camera has a high-speed (f2.0), razor-sharp Canon 3X zoom lens (which you can increase to 6X, with the electronic zoom activated). The QV-3000EX runs on a set of four rechargeable nickel-metal hydride AA batteries but the energy-hogging MicroDrive can exhaust them in as little as an hour, so be sure to keep a spare quartet of batteries on hand.
The QV-3000EX's long list of modes and features will especially appeal to power users. You can fine-tune image quality and appearance, shoot panoramas, take time exposures in low light, and capture portraits with soft backgrounds. The camera's best feature may be a bundled software application: Casio's Photo Loader automatically launches and downloads all images when the camera is attached to the IBM MicroDrive adapter or to a USB port.
The QV-3000EX yields excellent images. Colors look pleasing--strong rather than realistic--and images come out sharp and well defined. This complex camera may overwhelm novices and will force even experienced users to do some learning.
But the great-looking images it produces and the MicroDrive's huge storage capacity (which alone commands a street price of $399) make it an excellent value for serious photographers.
QV-3000EX 3.34 True Megapixel
Pro: Feature-rich, high-resolution camera; drive can store scores of high-quality images.
Cons: Awkward, bulky design; complex controls.
Value: Fair price for excellent performance and features.
Street price: $999