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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 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 1/12/2001

Executive Overview
With its smooth contours and somewhat bulbous shape, Toshiba's PDR-M60 represents a scaled down, slightly slimmer version of its popular relatives, the PDR-M5 and PDR-M70 models. The all-plastic body keeps the camera at a very light weight (10.2oz, 290g), though at 4.76 x 2.95 x 2.4 inches (121 x 75 x 61mm), its size warrants a slightly larger coat pocket for carrying to special events and family outings. Toshiba has eliminated the need for a lens cap by including a built-in, retractable lens cover that slides open when the camera is turned on. The lens then telescopes out about 1/4 inch into its operating position. We appreciate the large, rounded hand grip, which provides a comfortable hold and a substantial point of balance.

For composing images, the PDR-M60 provides an eyelevel optical viewfinder and a 1.8-inch color LCD monitor. An information display reports camera settings, available image space, and battery power on the LCD monitor, but can be canceled while composing images to eliminate unnecessary distractions. The LCD monitor also provides standard playback zoom and index display functions, as well as a quick image preview that pops up for two seconds after each image capture. For optics, the PDR-M60 features a 2.3x, 8-18mm optical zoom lens (equivalent to a 38-86mm lens on a 35mm camera). Focus is automatically controlled via a contrast detection system which bases its readings on the center portion of the image. A macro and 2x digital telephoto function are available in any capture mode. (Remember that digital zoom degrades image quality by producing higher noise levels and lower resolution.)

The PDR-M60 offers both Automatic and Manual exposure modes, although in this case, Manual mode is limited to White Balance, Exposure Compensation, and ISO adjustments. There are no manual aperture or shutter speed controls, except for the Bulb exposure mode, which allows you to set one- or two-second exposure times. In both Automatic and Manual exposure modes, the user can adjust the ISO speed equivalency setting or color mode. Choices include 100, 200, and 400 ISO, as well as a B&W (black-and-white) setting. In Manual mode, the White Balance setting provides Auto, Daylight, Cool Fluorescent, Standard Fluorescent, and Incandescent lighting adjustments. Exposure Compensation, which is also available only in Manual mode, ranges from -1.5 to +1.5 in one-third exposure equivalency unit (EV) increments. The built-in flash operates in Automatic, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, or Slow Synchro modes, all controlled by an external button on the camera's top panel.

In addition to the Bulb setting, the PDR-M60 also offers a Multi-Shot mode, which captures 16 sequential 448 x 300 pixel images at up to 0.25-second intervals with one press of the shutter button. All 16 of these small images are saved as a single 1,792 x 1,200-pixel resolution image. The camera's self-timer can be set to either two or 10 seconds, through the Record menu. And an Erase button on the back panel allows you to quickly erase images, either in Record or Playback mode, with an option to format the entire SmartMedia card.

An NTSC video cable accompanies US and Japanese versions of the camera. (We assume that European models are equipped for PAL timing, given the option to change the video format in Set-Up mode). The television set acts as a larger LCD monitor, allowing you to compose or review images. Images are saved to SmartMedia cards (a 4MB card is included) in JPEG format. Also included with the camera are a USB cable and software CD for connecting and downloading images to a computer. The Sierra Imaging's Image Expert software provides moderate image editing and correcting tools, as well as the ability to organize images into albums and set them up for printing.

The PDR-M60 is powered by four AA batteries (a set of alkaline batteries is included); an AC adapter is available as an optional accessory. To help conserve power, the PDR-M60 features an auto shut-off function that powers down the camera after a user-specified period of inactivity.

Overall, we enjoyed shooting with the PDR-M60 and appreciated the simple user interface, which took no time at all to figure out. It is perfect for those consumers who want a good digicam, but who don't want to be bothered with complex exposure decisions. The camera's automatic exposure controls cover all the basics, while features like White Balance, ISO, and Exposure Compensation give the experienced shooter just a taste of manual control. Lightweight and very portable, the PDR-M60 combines the convenience of USB computer connection with a 2-megapixel chip and a reasonable price.

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