A New Megapixel Winner from Agfa

 by John Henshall

 Agfa ePhoto 1680 Digital Camera

Agfa's latest camera shares the same lovely industrial design as its year-old brother, the ePhoto1280, except that the 1680 is a beautiful silver colour. There may be little difference externally but, inside, the 1680 brings many advances.

Studio portrait of Gilly taken on the ePhoto 1680The 1680 is a true megapixel (1,228,800 pixels to be precise) camera with a 1280 x 960 CCD, compared to the 1280's 1024 x 768 (786,432) pixels. Software can still be used to interpolate upwards, now to 1600 x 1200, using PhotoGenie to remove artifacts such as those which come from JPEG compression. The 1680 is also much faster at capturing and storing images. Although the 1280 was painfully slow between images it nonetheless won many accolades, including Best Buy from 'Which?' in August 1998. Thanks to its swivel zoom lens, both the ePhoto1280 and 1680 may be used to shoot above the head (without ladders), or right down to ground level (without dry-cleaning bills).

Home made shade for the LCD viewfinder

But the 1680 is still difficult to use in bright daylight, when the LCD can be washed out by the sun. And there isn't an optical viewfinder to use in such conditions. I took it to the Fairford air show, where I managed to catch only the back end of Concorde and to miss the Red Arrows completely. After that I made a tube of black cardboard to shield the unwanted rays. Agfa should provide this as an accessory - and add a magnifier.

Flash reflector to trigger the studio flash unitsOne of the lesser known features of both the 1280 and 1680 is the manual setting of exposure when using flash. Keen to explore the usefulness of this in a studio setup, I fashioned a reflector out of kitchen foil and taped it in front of the flash, to reflect the built-in flash away from the subject but towards the slave on my Elinchrom studio flash. This completely defeated the object of Agfa's FlashTrack™, which is designed to keep the on-camera flash in line with the lens while the camera body is rotated, but it was sufficient to test the 1680 as a studio camera. To make things more difficult I shot a low-key portrait, using just one softbox.

The Agfa ePhoto1680 is to be launched at Photokina this month and I can now reveal that this was the camera I used to photograph all the product shots in last month's Chip Shop. Check back on those pictures of the Epson PhotoEX, Apple G3 Laptop and Kodak DCS315. At this stage I have no idea what price Agfa will set but I guess it will be in the region of £595 - £795.

The ePhoto1280 was an excellent camera, the ePhoto1680 is even better. You'll enjoy it.


• High quality

• No optical 'finder or LCD shade

• Megapixel

• Lovely design

• Good value

This article first appeared in "John Henshall's Chip Shop", September 1998.

This document is Copyright © 1998 John Henshall. All rights reserved.
This material may only be downloaded for personal non-commercial use. Please safeguard the future of online publishing by respecting this copyright and the rights of all other authors of material on the Internet.

Reports & Reviews indexHome