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Toshiba PDR-M81

Toshiba steps into the 4-megapixel arena with a value-priced, full-featured model.

<<Reference: Datasheet :(Previous) | (Next): Print-Friendly Review Version>>

PDR-M81 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 08/24/2001

We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our 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!

NOTE that these photos were shot with a preproduction prototype camera. The image quality may improve further in the final production models. Stay tuned, we'll have samples from a production model available in a couple of weeks!

Outdoor Portrait: (981 k)

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the PDR-M81 did a good job. The shot at right has a +0.5 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which produced bright midtones, though the highlights are slightly overexposed. We shot this with the Auto (998 k) white balance setting, as it resulted in a more natural color balance than the Daylight (1020 k) setting. (Both settings produced slightly cool images, though Auto is a hint warmer.) Color looks good, though skin tones are slightly magenta and cool. The blue flowers have purple tints at the edges of the petals (this is a tough color for digicams to get right). Shadow detail is good, with moderately low noise. The table below shows an exposure series from zero to +1.5 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
(997 k)
0.5 EV
(981 k)
1.0 EV
(999 k)
1.5 EV
(1009 k)

 

  Closer Portrait: (918 k)

Results are similar to the longer portrait shot above, in terms of color and exposure. The 2.8x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of the model's features, and detail is more evident than in the shot above. Skin tones are slightly magenta and cool, but overall color is good. Shadow detail is again good, with moderately low noise. Our main shot has no exposure adjustment at all, which still overexposes the highlights of the white shirt collar. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.5 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
(918 k)
0.5 EV
(940 k)
1.0 EV
(900 k)
1.5 EV
(970 k)

 

 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (1290 k)

The PDR-M81's flash does a fairly good job, though its intensity is a little weak without any exposure compensation. The background incandescent lighting produces a slight orange color cast, which fades with the +1.5 EV adjustment.

0 EV
1.5 EV

 

 
Indoor Portrait, No Flash
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
: (1245 k)

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, and the PDR-M81 has a little trouble. The Incandescent (436 k) white balance setting has a strong magenta cast, so we chose the Auto (437 k) setting despite its warm, slightly sepia cast. We selected a setting of +0.5 EV for our main shot, as anything brighter created splotchy highlights on the white shirt. Though the blue flowers are quite purple, the remaining color is reasonably accurate.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
1/ 5
F 2.9
(1233 k)
0.5 EV
1/ 3
F 2.9
(1245 k)
1.0 EV
1/ 3
F 2.9
(1507 k)

ISO Series:
ISO 100
1/ 4
F 2.9
(1241 k)
ISO 200
1/ 7
F 2.9
(1295 k)
ISO 400
1/ 7
F 2.9
(1295 k)

 

 

House Shot : (1435 k)

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

We chose the Auto (1435 k) white balance setting for our main selection, as the overall color balance looked the most accurate, though just a hint magenta (the Daylight (1445 k) setting produced a warm image). Color is good, with nearly accurate saturation. Detail is great in the tree limbs and house front, though details are just slightly soft throughout the frame. There's also a fair amount of corner softness in all four corners of the frame. A nice job overall, with low noise in the roof shingles.

 

 
 

 

Far-Field Test

Because of the prototype status of our evaluation model, a malfunction prevented the camera from being operated by batteries alone. Thus, we could not perform this test shot or the Lens Zoom Range series below. We will shoot both tests with a full production model when available.

 
 

 

Lens Zoom Range

 (Coming soon, awaiting production model camera)

 

 
  Musicians Poster: (1476 k)
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

For this test, we shot with the Auto (1527 k) and Daylight (1476 k) white balance settings, choosing Daylight as the most accurate. The Auto setting had some trouble with the overwhelming blue in the image and produced a slightly warm color balance. (The image is slightly warm with Daylight white balance, but skin tones are more natural.) Color is good throughout the frame, though the Oriental model's robe has a greenish tint from the warm cast (this blue has a tendency to go purple, a common problem with digicams, so the M81 performs well). Great detail in the embroidery of the blue robe and throughout the frame.

 

 

 

Macro Shot: (1430 k)

Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

The PDR-M81 performs very well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of just 3.30 x 2.20 inches (83.78 x 55.85 millimeters). Resolution is very good, with a lot of detail in the coins and brooch. Details are just slightly soft, and corner softness is again present. Though slightly magenta, overall color looks good. The flash (1487 k) has trouble throttling down for the macro area, overexposing the image, with the strongest intensity on the right side of the frame.

 

 

"Davebox" Test Target: (1270 k)

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

We shot samples of this target using the Auto (1270 k) and Daylight (1280 k) white balance settings, choosing the Auto setting for our main image. (The Daylight shot was a little too warm.) Exposure looks about right, as the highlights show good detail, although saturation is a bit weak in the large color blocks. Good detail in the shadow areas, with very low noise.

 

 

 

Low-Light Tests

The PDR-M81 performs well in the low-light category, capturing bright, useable images at light levels as low as 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) at the 100 ISO setting (images were still usable at the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) setting, though slightly dim). At the 200 and 400 ISO settings, images were bright and useable as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux). At all three ISO settings, the camera's Auto white balance produced very magenta images from 1/16 to one foot-candle. Thus, we snapped an image at 1/16 foot-candle with the Daylight (1313 k) white balance, which produced slightly more accurate (though warm) results. Noise is very low at the 100 ISO setting, increasing only to a moderate level at the 400 ISO setting. (We refer interested readers to Mike Chaney's Qimage Pro software for a program that does an excellent job of removing noise of this sort without overly disturbing the underlying picture information.) The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

2fc
8EV
22lux
1fc
7EV
11lux
1/2fc
6EV
5.5lux
1/4fc
5EV
2.7lux
1/8fc
4EV
1.3lux
1/16fc
3EV
0.67lx
ISO
100
Click to see M81LL102.JPG
1,237.7 KB
1/1
F2.9
Click to see M81LL103.JPG
1,276.9 KB
2
F2.9
Click to see M81LL104.JPG
1,317.0 KB
8
F2.9
Click to see M81LL105.JPG
1,404.4 KB
11
F2.9
Click to see M81LL106.JPG
1,300.7 KB
16
F2.9
Click to see M81LL107.JPG
1,512.3 KB
16
F2.9
ISO
100
Click to see M81LL202.JPG
1,242.1 KB
1/ 1
F2.9
Click to see M81LL203.JPG
1,422.6 KB
2
F2.9
Click to see M81LL204.JPG
1,533.9 KB
8
F2.9
Click to see M81LL205.JPG
1,480.3 KB
8
F2.9
Click to see M81LL206.JPG
1,424.4 KB
11
F2.9
Click to see M81LL207.JPG
1,393.4 KB
16
F2.9
ISO
100
Click to see M81LL402.JPG
1,501.1 KB
1/2
F2.9
Click to see M81LL403.JPG
1,446.3 KB
1/ 1
F2.9
Click to see M81LL404.JPG
1,377.8 KB
4
F2.9
Click to see M81LL405.JPG
1,427.8 KB
4
F2.9
Click to see M81LL406.JPG
1,455.5 KB
8
F2.9
Click to see M81LL407.JPG
1,514.9 KB
8
F2.9

 
Flash Range Test

In our testing, we found the PDR-M81's flash brightest at eight feet from the test target, as intensity decreased noticeably with each additional foot of distance. Even at eight feet, flash power is a bit weak. Flash power is very weak and ineffective at the 14 foot distance. Below is our 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 M81FL08.JPG
480.0 KB
1/64
F4.8
Click to see M81FL09.JPG
454.5 KB
1/64
F4.8
Click to see M81FL10.JPG
410.9 KB
1/64
F4.8
Click to see M81FL11.JPG
427.7 KB
1/64
F4.8
Click to see M81FL12.JPG
399.8 KB
1/64
F4.8
Click to see M81FL13.JPG
402.9 KB
1/64
F4.8
Click to see M81FL14.JPG
383.7 KB
1/64
F4.8

 

 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test: (984 k)

The PDR-M81 performed well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 650 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,400 lines.

Optical distortion on the PDR-M81 is a bit lower than average at the wide angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.59 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we found only two pixels of barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing about three pixels of coloration along either side of the target lines. (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.)

 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

The PDR-M81's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing approximately 81.5 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 83.25 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor fares much better, showing approximately 95.69 percent of the image area at wide angle, and approximately 96.75 percent at telephoto. Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the PDR-M81 performs well here. Flash distribution is uneven and dim at the wide angle setting, with falloff in the corners of the frame. At the telephoto setting, flash distribution is even, though the intensity is dim.

 


Wide Angle (Optical)
(495 k)

Telephoto (Optical)
(489 k)

Wide Angle (LCD)
(480 k)

Telephoto (LCD)
(457 k)

 

 

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<<Reference: Datasheet | Print-Friendly Review Version>>

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