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Toshiba PDR-M3

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      17.07.2000 06:11
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      In many ways this the same camera as the PDR-M1, but with the major addition of a 3x optical zoom, along with some minor but noticeable improvements in image quality. The Lowdown This camera features a 1.5 megapixel, 1/2 inch CCD sensor for excellent resolution. It can capture 1280x1024 and 640x480 image sizes. As noted previously, it has a 3x true optical zoom lens (35-105mm equivalent on 35mm camera) as well as a 2x digital zoom that extends the effective focal length to 210 mm equivalent. There is both optical and LCD (1.8", 70K pixel) viewfinders, and an internal 5-mode flash. The flash modes include low-power "Ext. Sync." mode for use with external slave triggers. It features video output (NTSC, US/Canada; PAL, European models) and a 1/4 to 1/1000 shutter speeds. It comes with 4MB Smart Memory card, a special LiIon battery pack, EZ Print Link, and an AC adapter/charger. The camera is a little too large to fit comfortably into a standard men's-size shirt pocket (I tried and it just barely didn't make it). It does sport a sturdy metal bracket though, to which a wrist strap can be attached. It also includes a metal tripod socket. For you left handers out there, the PDR-M3 is a "right-handed camera" with most of the controls set up for use by the thumb and fingers of the right hand. Those who are right-handed (the vast majority) will find its design, ergonomics, and user interface to be excellent: The camera controls and menus are very easy to navigate in normal shooting, and even the complexity of "manual" mode was quite easy to maneuver through. As with most digital cameras today, Toshiba has resolved the "optical vs. LCD" viewfinder dilemma by providing both. The LCD viewfinder is much more accurate than the optical, revealing about 90% of the final image area. The area shown by the LCD viewfinder is consistently well-centered in the actual field of view of the
      sensor, as is the optical viewfinder at the wide-angle end of the lens' range. Other than the rather excessive image cropping in the optical finder, both optical and LCD viewfinders worked well. As for the actual pictures, I feel the PDR-M3 did a solid job. Its exposures were consistently accurate, color and tonal rendition were good, and the resolution was very good. This is a camera that offers "point and shoot" ease of use, and good pictures, yet provides the photographer with a greater degree of exposure control than most products competing in its price range.

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