by Rick Smith (September 13, 2001)
The PDR-71 is Toshiba's latest digicam and features quality and value. Key features include:
3.2 Megapixel digital sensor MSRP of $499 Canon all-glass aspherical macro zoom lens SmartMedia storage 2.8 optical zoom 2048 x 1536 maximum resolution Multiple exposure control modes Histogram display 100/200/400 ISO Built-in flash USB cabled Runs on 4 AA batteries Lightweight (8.5 ounces)
This latest Toshiba camera packs quite a few sophisticated features, not generally found on sub-$500 digicams. Some of these advanced features are a 5 mode flash system with red-eye reduction and its ability to accept third-part accessory lenses, such as wide angle, telephoto or fish-eye.
The 2.8 times optical zoom of the PDR-71 has a 35-98 mm 35mm equivalent, which is useful for both still images and AVI movie recording.
You can film up to three minutes of video at 160 x 120 at 15 frames per second or 60 seconds of AVI at 320 x 240, also at 15 fps. Sound is recorded using the camera's built-in microphone. White balance can also be adjusted. Videos are played back using a computer monitor, a television (NTSC/PAL) or the PDR-71's 1.5-inch color LCD.
To make the camera easier to use, especially during fast, continuous shooting, Toshiba has used improved digital signal processing (DSP) technology along with adding a logical user interface. Toshiba's goal was to create a "product that you could hand to someone who has never used a digital camera and they likely would not need an instruction guide to operate it". Some of these key ease-of-use features are:
Automatic focus and setting adjustment in fully automatic mode
An easy to use control dial
Zoom that can be changed using either thumb or index finger
Each function of the camera is clearly marked on the control dial with an icon
Shooting modes and options are changed through the LCD menu
For the advanced shooter, the PDR-71 has both shutter and aperture priority automatic exposure, along with a REAL manual mode where you can set both shutter and aperture independently. The histogram feature is usually found only in very high Kodak digital cameras that start at over $5,000. Viewing a histogram display immediately after a picture is taken really helps you to determine if your image is really good or going to surprise you when you view it with Photoshop.
The Toshiba PDR-71 captures images in three different sizes (2048x1536, 1024x768, 640x480) with three different compression percentages (fine, normal, basic).
Looks like this camera will definitely heat up the competition in this $500 price range.
© 2006 Rick Smith All rights reserved.