Nuggets: Agfa CL20 loves simple folk

The images will never be high-quality, but you won't struggle to take 'em, even after Christmas lunch

At first glance, the Agfa CL20 doesn't look like a proper digital camera at all. It looks more like a toy compact camera.

Look closer though, and you'll realise that, while it can't compete with the functionality of its more advanced (and expensive) competitors, it is easy as pie to use and does the simple stuff well.

It also doubles as a Web cam, and can even record a little bit of video, which isn't bad for £110 off the shelf.

There's nothing so impressive as an LCD screen here -- just a rather pokey optical viewfinder. If you're put off by the bells and whistles of, say, the Nikon D1 (come back tomorrow for a review of this snaptastic digital SLR) then you'll breathe a sigh of relief at the CL20. Six buttons is it, so no degree required...

To take a picture, just point and click. If it's gloomy, or you're indoors, then you might want to enable the flash -- we found that without the aid of a flash the CL20 took very grainy pictures in artificial light. To star in your own snaps, just turn the self-timer on.

The CL20 supports three resolution types -- 512x384, 1024x768 and 1280x980 (which uses software interpolation to generate a higher resolution image). This means the CL20 simply isn't capable of creating images as detailed as a two or three Megapixel camera can.

The CL20 is basically an updated version of Agfa's CL18, and the best thing about this new improved version is the addition of a CompactFlash card slot. Although you'll have to buy a CF card separately, even a humble 8MB card will provide a boost -- as it'll hold 45 1280x980 JPEGS or a monster 160 512x384 JPEGS compared to six and 30 respectively if you stick to the 1MB internal memory of the CL20.

To download your images to our computer, just plug a USB lead into the camera. Twain drivers are supplied, so you'll be able to get your pictures into pretty much any image-editing software package. There's also an "AGFAnet" button if you want to send your pics to the Agfa Internet printing service.

So, the CL20 probably won't win you many photography prizes, but even a true technophobe should be happy to cope with its few controls. That simplicity is a bonus if you're after a party camera too, as you ought to be able to operate it while plastered.

  • Agfa CL20

  • Compact digital camera

  • £110 (inc VAT)

  • Maximum resolution - 1280x960 pixels (with PhotoGenie interpolation)

  • Flash, autoflash, self-timer

  • Focal range - 65cm to infinity

  • CompactFlash slot, USB port

  • Web cam and video-capture functions

  • 2xAA batteries supplied

  • Bundled software - AgfaPhotoWise 3.0, VideoImpression, NetMeeting

  • www.agfa.com


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