German brand AgfaPhoto made its presence felt in the local scene as it unleashed a slew of products earlier this month. One of them is the eClipse Explorer, an HD video camera that promises not to break your piggy bank, and we got the chance to play around with it a bit. Does it have anything more to offer than its cheap price tag? Let's see.
Outdoorsy on the outside
It's officially summer and rightfully so, traveling is in your checklist. This does not bode well for many of our precious gadgets especially with all the bumps and grinds you'll be doing, but this is exactly where the AgfaPhoto eClipse Explorer could prove to be a winner.
It's shock-proof and water-proof (up to 16ft) making it the outdoor junkie's weapon of choice. We tested the poor device by taking it to a dip in the pool and yes, it still worked fine though you have to summon extraordinary shooting skills to produce nice-looking shots.
Yep, it's one rugged performer, though, as with the case of other hardy gadgets, there's a trade-off in terms of looks. Suffice to say, the AgfaPhoto eClipse Explorer is not your supermodel-lookin' gadget--it's thick, blocky and quite heavy. However, it's clear that uber-good looks isn't what this device is going after. Ruggedness is the name of the game for the AgfaPhoto eClipse Explorer and its façade is only secondary.
Easy as 1-2-3
Going in tandem with its rugged nature are navigation options and tools that are easy to use. The buttons are laid out quite intuitively so as you'll not get lost in navigating through features and options, especially with the 4-key directional pad and dedicated menu key. This is good news since you'd like to enjoy the outdoors more and spend less time tinkering with the options.
In a word, no, at least in the stills department. Coming in with just 5-megapixels of resolution, no flash and other nifty features digicams have, the AgfaPhoto eClipse Explorer is not your ideal device if you're looking for the best photos every time. However, this is not to say that the photos suck big time. They can pass for average most of the time especially in well-lit situations though in low-light scenes, it's a different story especially with the lack of a flash feature.
From stills to movies
As for its video recording capabilities, we'd like to say that we're quite impressed. First off, this baby can record videos in full HD (1080p) which means you can enjoy your fave outdoor clips in stunning resolution. The videos are clear and crisp, with the colors coming in sharp especially when you shoot outdoors during the day. We have to admit, though, that as with stills, there's much left to be desired when shooting at night.
As for playback, the built-in HDMI port for playback using large displays. There's also an SD/SDHC expansion port for cards up to 32GB so you'll never run out of real-estate for your HD videos.
Now here's where we liked the AgfaPhoto eClipse Explorer the most. With normal use (casual shooting with HD recording here and there), we were able to last over 3 days with a single charge making it one of the most energy-efficient camcorders we've tested so far. Amp up the activity and we still got 2 days worth of use. Again, this is perfect for the outdoors since you won't have plenty of access to power supplies when you're on the road.
Worth your hard-earned cash?
Absolutely! We're talking about an HD video recorder here that can produce decent shots and is water-proof and shock-proof with a lengthy battery life. All these for a tad under 6K. We'll go out of our way and recommend this for those looking for a hardy outdoor companion and not for bells and whistles that have no use when you're out spending some QT with mother nature.
Click here to view the AgfaPhoto eClipse Explorer in the Buyer's Guide