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Digital Cameras - Toshiba PDR-M5 Test Images

(Original test posting: 11/5/99)

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! ;)

Movies: We put this at the top of the page, because it's both a neat and unusual capability of the PDR-M5: It can capture AVI-formatted movies for playback on the camera, or on your computer. We've seen "mini-movie" options in digicams before, but not thus far anything like the PDR-M5, which records up to 120 seconds of (silent) video on the standard memory card, proportionately more on larger cards. We suspect this would be a very popular feature in any household with kids, and can also imagine it being useful for things like studying golf or tennis swings, etc. You can record in two different image sizes (160x120 or 320x240), at any of three different compression settings. The two samples below were "filmed" at the small/high quality and large/medium quality settings. (Depending on how your browser is set up, and whether or not you have QuickTime(tm) installed, these links may or may not work for you. If the browser doesn't know what to do with it, try downloading to disk and then double-clicking on the file, in case your computer has QuickTime, but it just isn't connected to your browser properly.).

160x120 movie, best quality, about 9 seconds long. (713K)
320x240 movie, medium quality, also about 9 seconds long (1553K)


Outdoor portrait: (838k) Good color, very good resolution and detail. Tonal range is good, but the darkest shadows have somewhat higher noise levels than we've seen in competing units. Some cameras have pixelation problems between the strong red and blue elements in the flowers, but the PDR-M5 shows no sign of these. In common with many digicams, it has some problems with the blue hues in the flowers and the model's pants, leaving them slightly purplish. Color saturation overall is just a touch low, and the image has a slightly bluish cast. We took our main shot (838k) using the "Daylight" white balance setting, and with +0.6EV of exposure compensation. We also tried the "auto" white balance setting, which produced a slightly bluer cast overall. (Sorry, didn't save the shots for reproduction here. As with most cameras, the exposure meter responded to the very strong highlights in the model's shirt, dropping the default exposure (816k) somewhat. We did experience some odd behavior with the M5's EV adjustment though, in that it wasn't always consistent from shot to shot: Two shots with the same setting could easily come out with 0.3EV difference in the actual exposure. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure compensation settings, from 0EV to +1.5EV, all shot with the Daylight white balance setting.

Exposure compensation series:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/460
Aperture: F9.26
(816k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/460
Aperture: F9.26
(825k)
+0.6 EV
Shutter: 1/300
Aperture: F9.26
(838k)
+0.9 EV
Shutter: 1/260
Aperture: F9.26
(843k)
+1.2 EV
Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: F9.26
(847k)
+1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/460
Aperture: F9.26
(798k)


 
Closer portrait: (813k) This shot generally requires less exposure compensation than the one above, since the model's face fills more of the frame. With the PDR-M5, it looked like it actually wanted about 0.6EV of compensation again, but there was very little difference between the +0.3 and +0.6 EV settings, and then a large jump between +0.6 and +0.9 EV. We chose the +0.9 EV shot (813k) shot because it had better fleshtones than the +0.6EV one (794k), but would have been happier with just a bit less exposure. We shot this test using the "auto" white balance setting, so you could see the slightly more bluish cast it produced as compared to the "daylight" setting used above. Good color and excellent detail, good tonality as well. (No odd tonal breaks in the creases of the model's face.) The table below shows a range of exposure compensation settings from 0 to +1.5EV, all shot with the auto white balance setting.

Exposure compensation series:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/300
Aperture: F10.95
(755k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: F10.95
(772k)
+0.6 EV
Shutter: 1/180
Aperture: F10.95
(794k)
+0.9 EV
Shutter: 1/130
Aperture: F10.95
(713k)
+1.2 EV
Shutter: 1/120
Aperture: F10.95
(790k)
+1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/260
Aperture: F5.03
(795k)


 
Indoor portrait, flash: (641k) Only one shot here, as there weren't really any variations to try. The basic flash exposure worked very well though, with a nice tonal balance, and good color. The color is very slightly "warm", probably a result of the strong incandescent lighting in this scene, but the overall result (641k) is one of the more color-accurate shots we've seen of this test using on-camera flash. Overall, a very good performance.

 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (619k) This shot is 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. With the white balance set to "incandescent," the PDR-M5 did a credible job, as seen in our main shot (619k), although it needed the exposure compensation set up by 1.2 EV units. By contrast, the auto white balance setting produced a very yellowish image, as seen here (619k). The table below shows a range of exposure compensations, from 0 to +1.5 EV, all shot with the incandescent white balance setting

Exposure compensation series:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/10
Aperture: F3.47
(598k)
+0.3 EV
Shutter: 1/9
Aperture: F3.47
(608k)
+0.6 EV
Shutter: 1/7
Aperture: F3.47
(624k)
+0.9 EV
Shutter: 1/7
Aperture: F3.47
(617k)
+1.2 EV
Shutter: 1/6
Aperture: F3.47
(619k)
+1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/4
Aperture: F3.47
(630k)


Contrast in the images was somewhat low, although a full tonal and color range was present. For the fun of it, we tried adjusting the images, both in Photoshop(tm) and our favorite easy-to-use, ultra-cheap image adjuster PhotoGenetics(tm). The results were very interesting, as shown in the table below:

Image-adjustment examples:
The original camera image: OK, but a bit dull.
(143k)
The result of an "auto levels" in Photoshop - Pretty good, but the color could be better.
(155k)
The result of a fair bit of manual tweaking in Photoshop. Better color, but quite a bit of work.
(176k)
The output from PhotoGenetics
(185k)


We went through quite a few "generations", but the results were worth it, and never required more than deciding whether we liked image "A" or "B" better. Significantly better color than our own laborious tweaking in Photoshop (IOHO), and the best part is the "genotype" is ready to apply to other images from the same camera! Pretty cool!

 
House shot: (949k) Always a tough test of camera resolution, the PDR-M5 turned in results that were about average of the 2 megapixel field that we've tested so far (October, 1999), although to its credit, the sharpness doesn't fall off in the corners as much as we've seen on some cameras. Color is good, with a slight yellowish tinge, contrast is slightly low. Our main shot (949k) was taken with the white balance set to auto. Here are a pair of low-resolution shots, taken with auto white balance (233k) and daylight white balance (232k). (The daylight version resulted in a more pronounced color cast.) Overall a good, but not exceptional performance. We also observed that the low-resolution (800x600) images of the PDR-M5 aren't as sharp as you might expect: For smaller images, you'd probably be best off capturing the image at the larger file size with maximum compression, and then reducing the size in an image-editing program after the fact. The table below contains samples of all the resolution/quality modes:

Resolution/Quality Series:
Large Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(949k)
Large Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(475k)
Large Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(227k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(232k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(117k)
Small/Basic
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(56k)


We also shot versions of this image in the largest/highest-quality mode, testing the three "sharpness" settings. The results are in the table below:

Sharpness Series:
Soft
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(941k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(930k)
Hard
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(931k)


 
 
Far-Field shot: (933k) 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.

Another tough resolution test, in this one, the PDR-M5 captures all the detail, but the in-camera sharpening doesn't do as good a job as it could making it evident in the final image. The upside is that the resulting image takes sharpening unusually well in Photoshop. Color is quite good, in our main shot (933k), taken with the auto white balance setting. (For comparison, here are two low-resolution images, taken with automatic white balance (219k) and daylight white balance (215k) ) The strongest highlights in the house are blown out, but that's not entirely the camera's fault, because: 1) The house was repainted just a month or so prior to this shot, with brighter white paint than previously, and also without the mildew tinge present in many earlier shots. 2) Since the camera's exposure system responded to the extremely bright white, darkening the rest of the image, we applied exposure compensation of +0.3EV to brighten the image in our main exposure series. This exacerbated the loss of highlight detail. The table below contains samples of all the resolution/quality modes, all shot using the auto white balance setting:

Resolution/Quality Series:
Large Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/180
Aperture: F8.31
ISO Speed: 100
(933k)
Large Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: F8.31
ISO Speed: 100
(462k)
Large Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: F8.31
ISO Speed: 100
(237k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: F8.31
ISO Speed: 100
(237k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: F8.31
ISO Speed: 100
(116k)
Small/Basic
Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: F8.31
ISO Speed: 100
(57k)


We also shot versions of this image in the largest/highest-quality mode, testing the three "sharpness" settings. The results are in the table below:

Sharpness Series:
Soft
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(941k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(930k)
Hard
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(931k)


The PDR-M5 has a variable-ISO option, which we also exercised on this shot. As usual, boosting the ISO value increases noise, which is fairly easy to see in the relatively flat-tinted gray of the roof on the house. The results are in the table below:

ISO Series:
ISO 100
Shutter: 1/350
Aperture: F7.93
ISO Speed: 100
(893k)
ISO 200
Shutter: 1/530
Aperture: F7.93
ISO Speed: 100
(893k)
ISO 400
Shutter: 1/1000
Aperture: F7.93
ISO Speed: 100
(894k)


 
Lens Range (new): We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following pair of shots, showing the field of view with respectively, the normal shooting mode, and with the "digital telephoto" option engaged. Note that both images here are shot in low-resolution mode, to ease download times. In normal shooting mode, the larger image size is also an option, but in digital telephoto mode, only the smaller file size is possible.

Wide Angle
(937k)
Telephoto
(913k)
Digital Tele, 2x
(139k)

"Musicians" poster: (898k) The detail in this shot is quite good, and the color is accurate, but rather muted by lower contrast overall. As we noted earlier, the detail is there, but the image is a bit soft overall. Sharpening in Photoshop brings out much more detail than is evident in the raw camera image. Again, we chose the automatic white balance option over the daylight setting as being the more accurate. The table below shows the results obtained with all resolution/image quality setting combinations:

Resolution/Quality Series:
Large Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(933k)
Large Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(462k)
Large Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(237k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(237k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(116k)
Small/Basic
Shutter: 1/55
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(57k)


We also shot versions of this image in the largest/highest-quality mode, testing the three "sharpness" settings. The results are in the table below:

Sharpness Series:
Soft
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(883k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(914k)
Hard
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(943k)


 
Macro shot: (898k) PDR-M5 macro performance is good, if not microscopic: As seen in this sample (898k), the minimum capture area is 3.0 x 3.9 inches (75 x 100 mm). The digital telephoto (194k) can be used in macro mode, adding a 2x magnification, but only by halving the image size. The flash is only rated to a minimum distance of 90cm, but we found was very capable of throttling down for macro work, as seen here (894k).

 
"Davebox" test target: (784k) In this test, the automatic white balance option again won out, producing the exceptional color seen in our main shot (784k). Here's a low-res example of the daylight white balance option (150k), which you can see produced rather yellowish results. This was really an excellent performance, with very accurate colors, proper saturation, excellent separation of the tough red/magenta colors, and good tonal range, with good detail in both highlights and shadows. Overall, very impressive! The table below shows the results obtained with all resolution/image quality setting combinations:

Resolution/Quality Series:
Large Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(784k)
Large Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(370k)
Large Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(211k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(152k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(87k)
Small/Basic
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(57k)


We also shot versions of this image in the largest/highest-quality mode, testing the three "sharpness" settings. The results are in the table below:

Sharpness Series:
Soft
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(742k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(774k)
Hard
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F3.8
ISO Speed: 100
(762k)


 
 
Low-Light Tests 
Along with its little brother the PDR-M4, one of the PDR-M5's real strong points is low-light shooting: Toshiba has taken advantage of the very powerful processor they've built into the camera to do some very sophisticated processing to "subtract" the noise and work around "stuck" pixels in the sensor when shooting at very low light levels. (They do this by taking two shots for every picture when the camera is working in "bulb" mode. The first shot takes the picture for you, the second is taken with the shutter closed, and provides a noise calibration. By essentially subtracting the second from the first, they cancel-out a lot of the noise that would otherwise be produced.) In our testing, we felt we obtained very good results down to a light level of only 0.5 foot-candles (5.5 lux, the level we've been referring to as 6 EV in previous reviews.) Even at a light level of 0.25 foot-candles (2.7 lux), we obtained this shot (948k). - It has a very strong magenta cast, but a little levels-correction in Photoshop produced this result (948k). That's pretty amazing! 0.25 foot-candles is so dark we have a hard time finding our way around the studio. For comparison, a typical night scene lit with streetlights is about two full EV units (f-stops) brighter, at 1 foot-candle! The table below has links to images shot at light levels ranging from 8 foot-candles (88 lux) down to 0.25 foot-candles (2.7 lux). The thumbnail index page contains links to other low-light shots, taken with different exposure settings, for those who might be interested.)

Range/Illumination: 
10 EV
8 fc
(425k)
9 EV
4 fc
(363k)
8 EV
2 fc
(408k)
7 EV
1 fc
(398k)
6 EV
0.5 fc
(427k)
5 EV
0.25 fc
(279k)


 
Flash Range Test (New)
(This test was added in August 1999, so cameras tested before that time won't have comparison pictures available. As we go forward though, all the new models will have similar tests available.) Toshiba specifies a maximum range for the on-board flash of 2.5 meters, or about 8 feet. We found that the flash was indeed brightest at that distance, but felt it could be considered usable to at least 10 feet. We were surprised though, that it doesn't appear possible to use the flash in conjunction with a boosted ISO value. - This would have roughly doubled the maximum usable distance. The table below shows the results we obtained with the PDR-M5's onboard flash, at distances ranging from 8 to 13 feet.


Flash Range/Distance: 
8 ft
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F5.03
(777k)
9 ft
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F5.03
(812k)
10 ft
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F5.03
(814k)
11 ft
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F5.03
(817k)
12 ft
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F5.03
(818k)
13 ft
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F5.03
(786k)


ISO 12233 ("WG-18") resolution target: (787k) The PDR-M5's results on the resolution target generally supported it's behavior on the other tests we performed. With a horizontal visual resolution of 700 lines per picture height, and a vertical visual resolution of 600-625, it's about midrange in the current crop of 2 megapixel digicams. As the test pattern frequency increases beyond its resolution limit, it shows moderate color aliasing. As noted earlier, its half-resolution mode doesn't provide the best results: Sharpness is way off, and it's very prone to color aliasing. - If you need to conserve memory space, we'd recommend shooting the higher resolution, only in the lowest quality mode, and shrink the images down in the computer after the fact: The results will be far superior. The tables below show the usual array of images shot in various combinations of size, quality, and sharpness setting, at both wide angle and telephoto settings:

Resolution Series, Wide Angle:
Large Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F3.47
ISO Speed: 100
(784k)
Large Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F3.47
ISO Speed: 100
(370k)
Large Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F3.47
ISO Speed: 100
(211k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F3.47
ISO Speed: 100
(152k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F3.47
ISO Speed: 100
(87k)
Small/Basic
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F3.47
ISO Speed: 100
(57k)


Resolution Series, Telephoto:
Large Res/Fine
Shutter: 1/40
Aperture: F5.03
ISO Speed: 100
(784k)
Large Res/Normal
Shutter: 1/40
Aperture: F5.03
ISO Speed: 100
(370k)
Large Res/Basic
Shutter: 1/40
Aperture: F5.03
ISO Speed: 100
(211k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/40
Aperture: F5.03
ISO Speed: 100
(152k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/40
Aperture: F5.03
ISO Speed: 100
(87k)
Small/Basic
Shutter: 1/40
Aperture: F5.03
ISO Speed: 100
(57k)


We also shot versions of this image in the largest/highest-quality mode, testing the three "sharpness" settings. The results are in the table below:

Sharpness Series:
Soft
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F3.47
ISO Speed: 100
(759k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F3.47
ISO Speed: 100
(782k)
Hard
Shutter: 1/65
Aperture: F3.47
ISO Speed: 100
(814k)


 
Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: The PDR-M5's optical viewfinder proved to be rather "loose" in our parlance: That is, considerably more of the subject ended up in the final image than was seen through the optical. The LCD finder was about average. At the wide-angle end of the lens' range, the optical viewfinder (225k) shows about 75% of the final view, while the LCD viewfinder (215k) shows about 90%. At the telephoto end of the lens' range, the optical viewfinder (214k) shows 72.5% of the final view, while the LCD viewfinder (202k) again shows 90%. (Surprising as it may seem, most LCD viewfinders show less than the full image area, so the 90% result for the D-M5's LCD is about typical.) In digital tele mode (56k), the LCD finder showed 88% of the final view.

Flash uniformity is better than most cameras, with only very slight light falloff in the corners at the wide-angle end of the zoom range.

We've recently begun testing cameras for optical distortions, such as barrel/pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration. The PDR-M5 showed moderate barrel distortion at the wide angle end, measuring 0.9% deviation across the width of the frame, and about 0.65% barrel distortion in telephoto mode.

Chromatic aberration was almost non-existent at both telephoto and wide angle lens settings. (At the wide angle end, there's slight flare in the blue channel that could be mistaken for chromatic aberration, but even this is very minimal.)
 

 

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