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Toshiba PDR-M60

Toshiba introduces a "value-priced" 2 megapixel camera with nice image quality and a 2.3x optical zoom.

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 1/12/2001

Included Software and Accessories
The software CD packaged with the Toshiba PDR-M60 includes Sierra Imaging's Image Expert software, as well as a USB driver and full copies of the PDR-M60 camera and software manuals. Though the software manual states that Image Expert is compatible with Windows systems only (Windows 95/98/2000/NT), we were able to install the program on an iMac running OS 8.6, so Mac users with OS 8.6 and higher should be able to load the software. Image Expert provides limited image-editing and correction tools, as well as a Camio viewer for viewing and organizing your images into albums. Image Expert also prepares images for printing.

Accessories shipped with the camera include a 4MB SmartMedia card, USB cable for connecting to Macintosh or PC computers, a video cable, shoulder strap, and four AA Alkaline batteries.


Test Results
In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the Toshiba PDR-M60's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the Toshiba PDR-M60 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

The PDR-M60 did a pretty good job with color balance, although we noticed a bit of a warm cast in many of our images. In general, we used the automatic white balance setting for most situations, though it had some trouble with the harsh lighting of the outdoor portrait. Still, the automatic setting did the best job of interpreting each light source, with the exception of the indoor portrait, which the incandescent setting handled pretty well. The PDR-M60 reproduced the large color blocks in our Davebox test target nearly accurately, though a little undersaturated. Tonal handling looked good, as the subtle variations of the Q60 target were visible up to the "B" range, and the camera distinguished between the red and magenta color blocks on the horizontal color chart. Despite the camera's tendency to produce rather warm images, the PDR-M60's color performance is not too bad.

The M60 did fairly well in the resolution test, with a resolution in the horizontal direction of 650 lines per picture height, and a resolution in the vertical direction of 600 lines. This is a shade off the best performance we've seen for a 2 megapixel camera, but not far. Close examination of the resolution target also shows why some of the "natural" scenes appeared a bit "soft", despite good detail: The M60 appears to use a bit less in-camera sharpening than is common on digicams, with the result that the edges of objects aren't overemphasized to the extent that they are in competing units. The result is arguably more accurate photos, although many users at this level would perhaps prefer a camera that "over-sharpens" to produce crisper-looking prints. A big plus for web or email users is that the M60's low-resolution capture mode produces relatively "clean" images, correcting a problem we saw in previous Toshiba digicams.

The PDR-M60 features complete automatic exposure control, with the user able to adjust white balance, exposure compensation, ISO, and flash mode only. A well-executed "bulb" exposure mode let us capture good (albeit somewhat noisy) images in light levels as low as about 1/4 of a foot-candle. To put the PDR-M60's low light performance into perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about one foot candle, so the PDR-M60 should be able to handle most normal night shooting situations.

We found the PDR-M60's optical viewfinder to be slightly tight at the wide angle setting, showing approximately 81 percent of the final image area. The viewfinder proved to be more accurate at the telephoto end, showing approximately 92.5 percent of the final image area. (Percentages were the same for both the 1792 x 1200 and 896 x 600 resolution sizes.) All of the images framed with the optical viewfinder showed a slant towards the lower left corner, with the entire target shifted up and to the left. When framing with the optical viewfinder at the telephoto setting, we noticed that the final image was shifted even further to the left, so that the edge of the target and part of the wall behind it are visible on the right side. The LCD monitor was only slightly more accurate than the optical viewfinder, showing approximately 93 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 95 percent at telephoto (again for both image sizes). Since we usually like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the PDR-M60's LCD monitor does a pretty good job.

The PDR-M60 performs well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 2.39 x 1.60 inches (60.80 x 40.72mm). Color balance was a little cool, but detail and resolution both look great. The PDR-M60's built-in flash has some trouble throttling down for the macro area, as its intensity is much too strong for the close-up shooting range and completely washes out the exposure.

Overall, the PDR-M60 produced good images, but was slightly off the mark of the best two megapixel cameras that we've worked with. (Appropriate, given its fairly aggressive pricing.) It has some trouble with harsh outdoor lighting, and produces warm color casts in many situations. Still, color balance looks nearly accurate, even with the warm casts, and the camera's low light capabilities should extend your shooting range to include most night situations. Overall resolution is also very nice. The automatic-only exposure mode makes it perfect for consumers who don't want to worry over exposure decisions, and the ability to alter the white balance, ISO, flash mode, and exposure compensation make it flexible enough to handle most situations.


Conclusion
The Toshiba PDR-M60 offers several features that endeared us to its more expensive siblings, the PDR-M70 and PDR-M5, but are scaled down to meet the more affordable price. Though most exposure controls are automatic, the user can adjust ISO, White balance, and exposure compensation. When used at its highest quality setting, the PDR-M60 image quality is very good--enhanced by a sharp LCD monitor that displays captured image files in bright, accurate color. The lightweight, smoothly contoured body is well-balanced, with a large hand grip surrounding the bulky battery compartment. Though it's a bit large for your shirt pocket, it should slip easily into most coat pockets or purses. Overall, the PDR-M60 is a great option for on-the-go consumers who don't have time to worry over exposure decisions, but still want to take great pictures at an affordable price.


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