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Digital Cameras - Agfa ePhoto 1680 Test Images

Outdoor portrait: (1,316k!)The 1680 did an excellent job on this tough, high-contrast subject. As do most cameras, the 1680 produced a rather dark image (539k) with its default exposure setting, due to the large bright area this subject contains. Two steps up the EV-adjustment scale produced the main shot here, a nicely-exposed image with high resolution, excellent color and good detail in both highlights and shadows.

This scene also shows one of the significant benefits of the PhotoGenie processing. This image (555k), taken in 1680 mode, but not processed through PhotoGenie shows slight but noticeable "jaggies" around the edges of the blue flowers. The same shot, with the PhotoGenie processing applied (1,316k!, our main shot for this category) shows no trace of this artifact.

The ePhoto 1680 produces such large images in its highest-quality mode, that we're including the following images, which were re-saved in Photoshop, at a greater compression level. These will let you evaluate the color rendition, without waiting 20 minutes for the download on a slow modem! NOTE though, that these images will show JPEG artifacts which aren't the fault of the camera! All that said, here's the main photo (247k) from above, with the raw 1680-mode JPEG re-saved with a Photoshop quality setting of "6".

 
Closer portrait: (1,282k!) The close-up portrait shot really shows off the resolution capabilities of the 1680. The main picture here (1,282k!) was shot with the exposure boosted upward one notch, while this one (1,244k!) is boosted two. Mac users may prefer the first, PC users the second, due to differences in display characteristics between the two systems. The lighter of the two does lose some detail in the strong highlights of the shirt though, hence our choice of the darker for the main image. Overall, a very impressive performance!  
Indoor portrait, flash: (1,277k!) The 1680's on-board flash did an excellent job balancing between room illumination and that from the flash itself. We were particularly impressed by the absence of odd-colored shadows or highlights, caused by differences in color temperature between the ambient and flash illumination. (The flash on many cameras is more daylight-balanced, which produces blue highlights and reddish shadows when used under incandescent ambient lighting.) To save viewing time, you might want to try this 1280-mode version (803k).  
Indoor portrait, no flash: (1,353k!) We ran a range of variations on this shot: We captured images in both fine and super-fine (1280 and 1680) modes, at nominal and +1EV exposure compensation, and with both automatic and manual white balance settings. The shots taken at nominal exposure came out a bit dark for our tastes, and there did not appear to be much difference between the automatic or manual white balance images at that exposure level. The shots taken with a +1EV (two steps on the 1680's manual exposure adjustment control) seemed about the right brightness, but still carried a fair bit of the warm tones of the household incandescent lighting this shot is taken under. The manual white point option did result in noticeably "cleaner" whites in the model's blouse, and is the setting we chose for the main link above, to represent the 1680's performance in this test. The tables below contain links to all the variations we shot. (The boldface entry will give you the quickest look at representative results.)

 

Auto
White Point
1680 mode,
Plus 1 EV
(1,315k)!
1280 mode,
Plus 1 EV

(825k)
1680 mode, default exp.
(1,288k)!
1680 mode,
default exp.

(799k)
Manual
White Point
1680 mode,
Plus 1 EV
(1,353k)!
1280 mode,
Plus 1 EV
(855k)
1680 mode, default exp.
(1,290k)!
1280 mode,
default exp.
(805k)

 

We also experimented with Agfa's PhotoWise software on this image, playing with the various color, contrast and brightness controls. The biggest surprise was how exceptionally well the "Quick Fix" control worked on the default-exposed images: A single mouse-click, and literally a matter of a few seconds on our Pentium-II/350 Windows machine, and this was the result! (915k!) The color is dramatically better, with much cleaner whites, and more open skin tones. The blue flowers are still shaded toward purple, but the overall effect is quite striking. This control seemed to work best for underexposed images, but we were very impressed with how well it worked, and how natural the resulting image appeared. The process appears benign enough that you could probably apply it to most incoming images as a matter of course, although we didn't experiment with it to any great extent.

 
House shot: (1,808k!) Our standard "House" poster shows the excellent detail the 1680 is capable of, as well as the behavior of the PhotoGenie™ interpolation, and the effect of the manual white-point setting. A full range of image-quality variations are displayed in the table below, for manual white balance settings. (The 1280-mode sample (1,231k!) will give you a slightly quicker "look" than the main photo above.) Overall detail is excellent, and color is very good as well. If you examine this auto white-balance shot (1,239k!), you can see the subtle but noticeable improvement we found typical of this technology when working with well-lit subjects: the manual white-balance images show a somewhat cooler tone, and overall color rendition truer to the original. As before, we have included both PhotoGenie-processed and "raw" camera images here so you can see the difference PhotoGenie makes.
With PhotoGenie Processing
Manual
White Point
1680 mode
(1,808k)!
1280 Mode
(1,231k)!
307 Mode
(332k)
Auto
White Point
 
1280 Mode
(1,239k)!
 

"Raw" Camera Files
Manual
White Point
1680 mode
(614k)
1280 Mode
(301k)
307 Mode
(78k)

 
 
Far-Field shot: (1,645k!) This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles, and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

The abundance of fine detail in this shot makes it ideal for examining lens performance, even though there will be substantial variations in the subject matter itself due to changing seasons and weather conditions. The ePhoto 1680 displays excellent sharpness, right out to the corners, and virtually no trace of chromatic aberration. The table below contains versions of this shot in all of the 1680's resolution modes, including the monochrome "text" mode, as a reference for resolution in that mode, with "real" subject material. The "PhotoGenie"-interpolated images provide an interesting view of how Agfa's enhancement technology works with a wide range of detail. Some of its effects are quite subtle, others quite evident. In this shot (1,645k!), it appears to reduce image noise somewhat, while applying a variable degree of sharpening, depending on the contrast of the objects. (Note that the sharpening is much more evident along the eaves of the house than in the fine detail of tree branches and pine foliage.) To its credit, its effect on most of the fine detail in the image is fairly subtle, sharpening it without introducing obtrusive artifacts of its own. The overall impact, particularly on printed output, is a clean sharpening, without strong halos or other obvious artifacts. (The one artificial note we did observe was that the shadowed tree limbs stood out as more starkly black than they were in the actual scene.) For comparison, here's a copy up-sampled in Photoshop (692k). Not only would we vote for the PhotoGenie version, but we found we couldn't duplicate PhotoGenie's subtle sharpening effects using any of the Photoshop sharpening tools, in any combination.

With
PhotoGenie
1680 mode
(1,645k)!
1280 Mode
(1,117k)!
307 Mode
(307k)
Black/White
Mode
(885k)
Without
PhotoGenie
1680 mode
(60k)
1280 Mode
(307k)
307 Mode
(79k)
Black/White
Mode
(279k)

 
"Musicians" poster: (1,479k!) Again, really excellent detail and resolution, among the best we've seen. The main shot (1,479k!) was taken with the white balance set to "manual", while this one (975k, 1280-mode) was shot with the balance set to "auto." Again, while subtle, we felt that the manual white balance produced a noticeable improvement in overall color balance. For this image, we ran a full set of resolution samples with the manual white-point adjustment, and included examples of both PhotoGenie-processed and "raw" images.

With
PhotoGenie
1680 mode
(1,479k)!
1280 Mode
(966k)
307 Mode
(261k)
Without
PhotoGenie
1680 mode
(648k)
1280 Mode
(313k)
307 Mode
(78k)

 
Macro shot: (1,516k!) The ePhoto 1680 did well in macro mode, with a minimum capture area of 3.2 x 4.2 inches (8.0 x 10.7 cm), at its closest working distance of 4 inches (10cm). The 1680 is somewhat unusual in that you can achieve the greatest macro enlargements with the lens set to the wide-angle end of its range, rather than the telephoto end! (The lens zooms in a factor of 3x, but focuses 5x closer at the wide-angle end of its range.) This results in a rather short working distance relative to the area covered. (You can even see the bottom of the camera mount from our copy stand at the bottom of the main images here.) Although it's not rated to, we found that the 1680's flash worked very well up close, as this image (1,053k!! shows. We recommend taping a piece of neutral-density gel material across the flash head for really close work with light-colored subjects, though. For 'web workers, the 1680's digital telephoto mode will work in conjunction with the macro mode, to produce close-ups like this (259k), and its normal 640x480 mode is particularly "clean", thanks to PhotoGenie, as shown in this image (265k). Finally, for completeness, here's a shot in "1280" mode. (1,002k!)  
"Davebox" test target: (1,300k!) The "Davebox" is a tough test of color accuracy and tonal rendition. The 1680 did quite well here, producing clean, bright colors. As with most digicams today, the "gamma" of the 1680's images is more suited to display on a PC monitor than a Mac one. (We're Mac folks from 'way back.) On Macs, the Davebox image looks a little washed-out, but setting your screen gamma up to 2.2 or higher quickly clears the "haze." On PCs, the color and tonal range is excellent, with very good highlight and shadow detail. On the Q60 target, the 1680 holds color in the difficult pastels all the way to row "B", and all but the very darkest step of the grayscale wedge can be distinguished by playing with the contrast settings on your monitor, or in an imaging application. The only (minor) weaknesses are in the somewhat weak rendering of the bright green and yellow squares on the MacBeth™ target, and the rather purplish coloration of the MacBeth's magenta swatch. For this shot, we've included images captured using manual white-point correction, across the range of resolution modes. For contrast, here's a sample in 1280 mode, taken with the white balance set to "auto".
(All shots with PhotoGenie applied)
Manual
White Point
1680 mode
(1,300k)!
1280 Mode
(821k)
307 Mode
(211k)
Auto
White Point
1680 mode
(1,308k)!
1280 Mode
(825k)
307 Mode
(212k)

 
ISO 12233 ("WG-18") resolution target: (514k) (Technoids only) (Note: Main shot here without PhotoGenie processing.)Visual resolution of 600-650 line pairs per picture height in the horizontal direction, and a solid 600 lp/ph in the vertical direction is among the best we've seen to date (12/98). The diagonal high-resolution resolution wedge at upper left in the image shows clearly distinguishable details along the diagonal of as much as 800 lp/ph, albeit with low amplitude. The images are almost entirely free of color artifacts due to aliasing of the sensor striping pattern. The unusual, artifical subject content appears to "fake out" the PhotoGenie processing of the 1600x1200 images, revealing odd artifacts in the diagonal resolution elements, and some over-sharpening of the image. Overall performance is excellent though, at the very top of the (December, 1998) field. Monochrome mode doesn't reveal any more detail, but produces a smaller file, with very low levels of JPEG artifacts. In typical "more than you probably wanted to know" fashion, we include below a full set of resolution target samples, shot in all resolution modes, at both wide-angle and telephoto ends of the lens' range, and both with and without the special PhotoGenie processing.

Telephoto
With
PhotoGenie
1680 mode
(1,246k)
1280 Mode
(771k)
307 Mode
(215k)
Black/White
Mode
(596k)
Without
PhotoGenie
1680 mode
(510k)
1280 Mode
(267k)
307 Mode
(65k)
Black/White
Mode
(231k)

Wide-Angle
With
PhotoGenie
1680 mode
(1,250k)
1280 Mode
(777k)
307 Mode
(217k)
Black/White
Mode
(597k)
Without
PhotoGenie
1680 mode
(514k)
1280 Mode
(270k)
307 Mode
(65k)
Black/White
Mode
(233k)

 
Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: Viewfinder accuracy is better than average, at 90% coverage of final image, and flash uniformity ranges from excellent at the telephoto end (201k) to very good at the wide-angle end (229k) of the lens' range. Particularly impressive is the lens' almost total lack of geometric distortion: A very rare feat, particularly at the widest-angle setting!

 

 

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