There are may pros and cons of digital photography as opposed to traditional silver halide pictures. As the technology improves and prices fall within reach of the masses, more and more people will switch to this digital revolution.
For the moment, the prices of digital cameras that can offer equivalent image quality to a 35mm camera are still over 10 times more than those same 35mm versions. Epson's top end digital camera, the 850z, costs a whopping £630 but has a feature set that should impress even professional photographers.
A 2.1 megapixel CCD produces resolutions up to 1600 x 1200, 3x optical zoom, 2x digital zoom, a hotshoe for an external flashgun and an adapter for additional lenses and filters all combine to give you top quality pictures. With Epson's HyPict, an interpolation technique, the 850z can provide a 3 megaPixel output - 1984 x 1488 pixels, to be precise.
On the back is a big 2in colour LCD screen, and you can either use the battery powered backlight or ingeniously flip down a cover and let the sun provide the light. As we have come to expect from Epson, the menus are easy to navigate using buttons surrounding the screen, and you can review images, delete them or record a sound clip of up to 10 seconds with each image.
113 pictures at 640 x 480 can be stored on the supplied 8Mb Compact Flash card, but at the highest resolution just 10 will squeeze on. Since the 850z has a compatible Type II Compact Flash slot, you can use a 340Mb IBM Microdrive in it. This is an ideal cost effective solution for taking and storing hundreds, or even thousands, of photos without the need to download.
An AC power adapter is an optional extra, but a set of Ni-MH AA batteries is included, along with a mains charger. Downloading images to the PC drains the batteries so the AC power adapter becomes more essential for the regular user. Epson claims that batteries should last for approximately 130 shots when using the LCD screen, but using the optical viewfinder you can expect to take 1000 or more.
After rigourously testing the 850z, we found it was easy and intuitive to use. The build quality is excellent, and it should stand up to many years of use. Most importantly, the picture quality was fantastic. Colours were vibrant and tiny details were faithfully reproduced.