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Toshiba PDR-M700

Toshiba introduces 10x optical zoom and an updated user interface.

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M700 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 08/26/2003

Digital Cameras - Toshiba PDR-M700 Test Images

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait:

Good resolution and color. Very high contrast at the default setting, but the low contrast setting helps a great deal.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the PDR-M700 had a little trouble with the harsh lighting, but its contrast adjustment option helped quite a bit.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightened the midtones somewhat, while the low contrast setting helped hold onto the highlight detail. I chose the Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, as the Daylight setting was just a little cool.

Marti's skin tones are about right here, and the often-difficult blue flowers are just about right as well. The strong reds and greens in the bouquet appear just slightly muted, with a cool tint in the red flowers, but overall color is pretty good. Resolution is high, and detail is strong throughout the frame. Shadow detail is moderate, with moderately low noise.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files M70OUTAP0.HTM through M70OUTAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

I found the M700's contrast adjustment very helpful on this shot, doing pretty much exactly what you'd expect from it. (Pulling in both the highlights and shadows, leaving the midtones about where they were.) The shots below show the effect of the contrast adjustment.

Contrast was quite high with the camera's default contrast setting, under the deliberately harsh lighting of this test. The PDR-M700's Low contrast setting subtly decreases overall contrast, improving midtone detail. Highlights are also brought into check, though the overall exposure is just a hint dim.




 

Closer Portrait:

Great resolution and detail, though color balance is cooler than in the wider shot above.

Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, and the PDR-M700's 10x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. Color balance is a little cool in this shot, captured with the Auto white balance setting, with paler skin tones as a result. Detail, however, is much stronger, with great definition in Marti's face and hair. The shot at right was taken with -0.3 EV of exposure compensation, which produced bright midtones, but at the expense of the stronger highlights. Shadow detail is again moderate, with pretty low noise.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +0.7 EV, see files M70FACAM1.HTM through M70FACAP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
+0.3 EV
Slow Sync Mode
+1.3 EV

Pretty good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, but the Slow Sync setting results in a strong color cast.

The PDR-M700's built-in flash illuminated the subject fairly well, though it required a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment for the best exposure. (This is less compensation than this shot normally requires. Here's a sample image at the default setting though, which is quite dim.) The background incandescent lighting results in a very slight warm cast on the back wall, which spills onto Marti's features. Shadow areas are cool and bluish, but overall color isn't too bad. The camera's Slow Sync flash mode combines the flash with a longer exposure, but the additional ambient light results in a stronger color cast from the background incandescent lighting. In this mode, I found the best exposure with a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.3 EV in the normal flash mode, see files M70INAFM1.HTM through M70INAFP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page. At the same location, you can view the exposure series from -0.3 to +1.7 EV in the Slow Sync flash mode, with files M70INAFSM1.HTM through M70INAFSP5.HTM.



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Despite a greenish cast and poor color saturation, most accurate overall color balance with the Manual setting. Good exposure, however.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. The PDR-M700's Auto and Incandescent settings both had trouble here, and produced warm images. The Manual setting fared slightly better, though overall color is a hint greenish. Marti's skin tone is pale, as is overall color throughout the frame. The blue flowers of the bouquet are quite dark and purplish, though this is probably to be expected, given the difficult light source. I found the best exposure with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, a bit less than this test usually requires. Though this shot is just slightly dim, anything brighter blew the highlights on Marti's shirt pretty badly.

ISO Series:
Noise was moderately high with the Auto ISO setting on this shot, with strong coloration in the pixels (most notably in Marti's skin.) Even at ISO 70, noise is only moderately low, and again noticeable in Marti's face and neck. (Overall, the M700's image noise seems higher than that of most competing camera models.)

ISO Series
ISO 70
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good resolution and color, but the bottom corners of the frame are very soft.

Despite a slight reddish cast, the PDR-M700's Auto white balance setting produced great results here, with the most accurate white value on the house trim. The Daylight setting was slightly warm, and the Manual setting resulted in a cooler cast. Resolution is high, with good detail in the tree limbs above the roof. The shrubbery in front of the house also shows good detail, though definition is softer here. Details are sharpest in the top half of the frame, as the bottom corners are quite soft, the softness extending nearly halfway up the frame.



 

Far-Field Test

Very good resolution and detail, slight overexposure limits dynamic range.

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.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the PDR-M700 performed well here. Though just slightly soft in the leaf patterns, the tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show strong detail. Overall sharpness is quite good from corner to corner. The camera's dynamic range is slightly limited, as it picks up only moderate detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window (a trouble spot for many digicams). Detail is also moderate in the shadow area above the front door. Overall color looks good, although the red bricks appear just slightly undersaturated, and exposure is about right. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, contrast, sharpness, and effects series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
2,048 x 1,536
M70FARLF
M70FARLN
M70FARLE
1,600 x 1,200
M70FARMF
-  -
1,280 x 960
M70FARSF
-  -
640 x 480
M70FARTF
-  -


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 70
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High

Sharpness Series:

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp

Effects Series:

Effects Series
Normal
Vivid Color
Black and White
Sepia




 

Lens Zoom Range

Excellent 10x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (10x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The PDR-M700's lens is equivalent to a 37-370mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a pretty substantial telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
10x Telephoto
4x Digital Telephoto



 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Slight color casts with each white balance setting, and slightly muted color. Good resolution and detail.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. All three of the PDR-M700's white balance settings tested produced slight color casts here, though I found the Daylight setting did the best job overall (though slightly magenta). The Auto setting had a much stronger magenta cast, and the Manual setting had more of a greenish tint. The slight reddish/magenta tint of the Daylight white balance gives the blue background a purplish cast, and has the same effect on the shadows of the blue robe. Resolution is high, with well-defined detail in the embroidery of the blue robe, as well as in the flower garland and beaded necklaces.


 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Very tiny macro area with great detail, though the flash is blocked by the long lens.

The PDR-M700 performed very well in the macro category, capturing a tiny minimum area of only 1.07 x 0.80 inches (27 x 20 millimeters). Resolution is very high, with strong detail in the printing and fibers of the dollar bill. The brooch is soft due to the very short shooting distance. Corner softness is slightly visible in the left corners of the frame, but the distortion isn't distracting. Because of the close shooting range and the PDR-M700's long lens barrel, the flash was ineffective with this shot. (Plan on using external lighting for the closest macro shots with the M700.)



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Slightly warm color balance, but good exposure and overall performance.

All three of the PDR-M700's white balance settings tested here produced warm color casts, though the Auto setting resulted in the least strongest cast. (The Manual white balance was a bit greenish, and the Daylight setting more yellow.) Exposure is about right, as the camera distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target nicely. Colors are fairly bright in the large color blocks, though the large red and blue additive primary colors border on oversaturation, while most other colors are a little dull (particularly the magenta swatch). The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows moderate detail, with a moderate level of noise.





 

Low-Light Tests

Good low-light performance, despite slight color casts, at all four ISO settings. Sensitive enough for average city street lighting at night and quite a bit darker.

With its full manual exposure control, adjustable ISO, and maximum exposure time of 16 seconds, the PDR-M700 has all the tools it needs for good low-light shooting. (Although it really could use an autofocus-assist lamp, as its autofocus system runs out of steam around 1.5 foot-candles, or 16 lux. - Plan on using the limited manual focus presets for shooting after dark.) The camera produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test at all four ISO settings. (Though the ISO 70 and 100 images here were just a touch dim.) Color was pretty good, though in some cases the dim lighting resulted in a magenta tint. Noise was moderately low at ISO 70, increasing to high level at ISO 400. I also bright streaks of color in the upper left corner of the frame at the 100, 200, and 400 ISO settings on the longest exposures, apparently the result of some sort of chip problem. (These only appeared in the longest exposures, and only at ISOs of 100 and above, so the camera still shows pretty good low-light capture ability.) The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

  1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
ISO
70
Click to see M70LL0703.JPG

3.3 secs
F2.8
ISO: 70

Click to see M70LL0704.JPG

6.5 secs
F2.8
ISO: 70

Click to see M70LL0705.JPG

16 secs
F2.8
ISO: 70

Click to see M70LL0706.JPG

16 secs
F2.8
ISO: 70

Click to see M70LL0707.JPG

16 secs
F2.8
ISO: 70

ISO
100
Click to see M70LL1003.JPG

2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see M70LL1004.JPG

4 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see M70LL1005.JPG

8 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see M70LL1006.JPG

16 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see M70LL1007.JPG

16 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100

ISO
200
Click to see M70LL2003.JPG

1/1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200

Click to see M70LL2004.JPG

2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200

Click to see M70LL2005.JPG

4 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200

Click to see M70LL2006.JPG

8 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200

Click to see M70LL2007.JPG

16 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200

ISO
400
Click to see M70LL4003.JPG

1/2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400

Click to see M70LL4004.JPG

1/1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400

Click to see M70LL4005.JPG

2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400

Click to see M70LL4006.JPG

4 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400

Click to see M70LL4007.JPG

8 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400




Flash Range Test

Good intensity at the eight foot distance, but progressive falloff from there.

In my testing, the PDR-M700's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, though with a progressive decrease in intensity from the eight foot mark on out. - I'd thus have to rate its flash range as 8 feet. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see M70FL08.JPG

1/2 secs
F4.3
ISO: 100

Click to see M70FL09.JPG

1/2 secs
F4.3
ISO: 100

Click to see M70FL10.JPG

1/2 secs
F4.3
ISO: 100

Click to see M70FL11.JPG

1/2 secs
F4.3
ISO: 100

Click to see M70FL12.JPG

1/2 secs
F4.3
ISO: 100

Click to see M70FL13.JPG

1/2 secs
F4.3
ISO: 100

Click to see M70FL14.JPG

1/2 secs
F4.3
ISO: 100




 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

High resolution, 1,000 lines of "strong detail." Average barrel distortion.

The PDR-M700 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 700 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,000 lines, although you could perhaps argue for as high as 1,100 lines in the horizontal direction. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred around 1,250 lines.

Optical distortion on the PDR-M700 is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured barrel distortion of roughly 0.8 percent. (While this is average among cameras I've tested, it's still too much IMHO.) At the telephoto end, I found only a single pixel's worth of pincushion distortion, a vanishingly small 0.05% distortion. Overall, a good performance, particularly for such a long-ratio zoom. Chromatic aberration is average to a bit better than average at wide angle, showing relatively light color on either side of the target lines, but is somewhat more pronounced (that is "average") at the telephoto end. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) I also noticed significant corner softness, mainly in the lower corners of the frame.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,048 x 1,536
M70RESWLF
M70RESWLN
M70RESWLE
1,600 x 1,200
M70RESWMF
- -
1,280 x 960
M70RESWSF
- -
640 x 480
M70RESWTF
- -

 

Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,048 x 1,536
(Fine, Tele)
M70RESTLF




 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Nearly 100 percent accuracy from the LCD monitor, but the EVF is slightly tight.

The PDR-M700's electronic eye-level viewfinder (EVF) is just a little tight, showing 90 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 92 percent at telephoto. (Not bad results relative to optical viewfinders, though.) The LCD monitor is much more accurate though, showing nearly 100 percent of the frame at both lens settings. (A little surprising, since the EVF and LCD should both be showing the same image.) However, images framed with the LCD monitor are shifted toward the top of the screen just slightly, cutting off the very top portion of the frame. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the PDR-M700's LCD monitor performs well here. (Just remember to include a small amount of extra space at the top of your composition.) Flash distribution is a little uneven at wide angle, with just a little falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution more even, but dimmer. (The telephoto shots shown below are quite blurred due to focusing problems in the darkened studio where these flash-uniformity tests were shot. Here are links to shots taken to check viewfinder accuracy, captured with the studio lights on, at telephoto, with the Optical (EVF) finder and rear panel LCD.)


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD



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