The digital-camera market has been in limbo for much of this year. Each manufacturer appeared to be waiting for the right time to dip its toe into the USB market. At the same time, cameras with two-megapixel capability became common. This left snappers downloading huge files, using an ancient serial connection. This experience is excruciating – remember, if you are old enough, downloading an 8MB file using a 14,400bps modem. Yuck.
The PhotoPC 800 boasts not only a two-megapixel image, but USB connectivity. Now, downloads are almost instantaneous.
The PhotoPC 800’s resolution is 1,600-x-1,200 pixels in fine mode. However, Epson has used a new technology it’s calling HyPicT, that enables a resolution of 1,984-x-1,488 pixels. The results are impressive although this must be an interpolated image. The resulting pictures are close to three megapixels in size.
The controls are extensive, but unobtrusive. You can just point-&-click most of the time, but you also have access to more advanced features. You can control shutter speed, ISO equivalent sensitivity settings, auto and manual focus, and electronic iris control. You may not use most of these settings, but it’s good to have them just in case.
The camera needs just two rechargeable batteries – though it comes with four – and a charger. The two batteries make the camera smaller and lighter than its predecessors – though, I prefer the single-cell options offered by Sony and Fujifilm.
The camera is of a traditional design, and looks like a regular 35mm camera – with the exception of the 1.8-inch LCD screen on the back. As the owner of a digital camera that uses a distinctly digital design, I enjoyed the anonymity of the PhotoPC 800 – it’s not for show-offs.
The Epson software bundled with the camera is also good: a simple interface with quick downloads; Epson Photo!Print; Photo! 3 and Mr Photo; plus Adobe PageMill for Web development. These packages might not be your first choice for image editing, but at £458 you can’t complain. If you are really serious about image editing, you’ll have to buy your own high-end software.
The PhotoPC 800 looks too small and neat to be capable of such high-quality pictures, but it’s an impressive camera. It’s Small enough to carry anywhere and powerful enough to create great images – on top of this the USB is fast enough to make downloading hi-resolution pictures a real snap.