SAN FRANCISCO (05/01/2000) - If you're an inveterate shutterbug, you'll like Agfa Corp.'s $499 EPhoto CL30 Clik digital camera. Thanks to its built-in 40MB Iomega Clik drive, the EPhoto supplies plentiful storage for your images, so you can snap more often between downloads. And at 25 cents per megabyte, Clik disks cost less than traditional media like compact flash, which run $3 to $4 per MB. While the Iomega drive may attract high-volume shooters, the camera weighs a hefty 13 ounces, is a bit clunky to hold, and needs extra time between shots.
A single disk stores up to 60 full-resolution (1152 by 864 pixels) or 360 low-resolution (640 by 480 pixels) frames. Once it's full, you can swap out a Clik disk in seconds and start shooting again.
The EPhoto takes four AA batteries. Because of the Clik drive's hefty power demands, the batteries drain faster than on many other digital cameras. You won't find advanced controls, either: The EPhoto is simple, with three-way manual zone focus--macro, portrait, and distant--and a 2X digital zoom. You have to unscrew the front of the camera to attach optional filters or an auxiliary wide-angle or telephoto lens. One advantage: You get a built-in flash.
This 1-megapixel unit produces an 1152 by 864 image, which Agfa's PhotoGenie software can bump up to 1440 by 1080. Generally, image quality on the shipping unit I tested was good and colors were pleasing; enhanced contrast improves sharpness. But images look grainy when shot in less than ideal light.
What sets the CL30 apart--and justifies its cost--is its Clik drive. Clik disks handle like standard memory cards, but have to rev up to speed, so you have to wait a bit longer between shots than with most cameras. The camera behaves as if it were just another drive when you hook it up to the PC via its USB cable, however, so you get fast and easy data transfers.
The CL30 may be just right for users who take lots of pictures or who want a basic backup solution along with a camera. But for others, its low-cost media won't offset its awkward handling and sluggish shooting speed.
AGFA'S new EPhoto comes with a 40MB Iomega Clik drive built in.
EPhoto CL30 Clik
PRO: Relatively low cost, high capacity, easy to use, good software.
CON: Slow shooting speed, awkward to hold, limited features.
VALUE: Best for users who shoot lots of pictures between downloads.
Street price: $499