Toshiba PDR-T10 Review

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Toshiba PDR-T10

Steve's Conclusion

The PDR-T10 is Toshiba's 2.0-megapixel entry into the mico-digicam market. It has fixed focal length lens with up to 4x digital zoom. The case has several different front covers available so you can change its look completely. This camera is designed to be a top-pocket automatic point - n - shoot. Introductory pricing is $299 as of May, 2002.

Toshiba has called this "the first digital camera ever to utilize its LCD as an interactive touch-screen menu..." however this is inaccurate as, many years ago, the Nikon Coolpix 300 was the first with touch-screen control. Toshiba missed the boat with such a definitive statement.

When powered up the lens doesn't need to rachet out (no zoom) so it's ready to take the first picture in about 3 seconds. Shooting in "High Quality" mode, the camera shoots, processes and stores an image in less than 7 seconds. This makes the shot-to-shot cycle time also about 7 seconds or less. The total shutter lag (time from pressing shutter to actually capturing) is about two seconds. These times are with the flash enabled so they include flash cycle time. There is no sequence mode. Where these times are fairly average, if you do the usual half-press of the shutter and wait for the green focus light it will average about 1/2 second which is quicker than most. When powered down, the lens is not covered by any type of cover but the lens front element is covered by a permanent protection filter, which tells me to check the front glass for fingerprints before snapping away.

This is one of the few sub-compact digicams that does not use a 'wimpy' proprietary battery and allows the user the flexibility of using NiMH batteries or, in an emergency, a pair of off- the-shelf alkalines. I congratulate Toshiba on this decision especially since there is no optical viewfinder and no way to save power by turning the LCD off. Get a charger and 4 pack of 1800mah NiMH batteries ($35 or less) and you will be shooting all day since you are using two at a time, just charge them at night.

The physical size and weight of the PDR-T10 allows it be carried in your hand or by the wrist strap all day without fatigue. It's what I'd call a shirt pocket / purse size camera but it is a tiny bit fatter than some of other micro-digicams. The placement of controls on the LCD touch screen display are less than ergonomic, but what do you need to control while shooting with a micro? Just point - N - shoot.

There is no shutter priority, aperture priority or manual modes but you can set one of five scene modes or put it in Auto. It requires the color LCD to see what you are shooting and as such, it can be a challenge if you're outdoors in the bright sunlight. I have yet to see a color LCD that is 100% useable in the sunlight and the PDR-T10's is no exception. The brightness control is accessed in the record or play menu where you can brighten the LCD for sun viewing though I found this just over drove the brightness on the LCD and washed it out some. Without a doubt the only really successfully way I found to shoot in bright sun was cupping the left hand around the LCD and use the right hand to shoot the exposure as shown on the Features & Menus page. In all other lighting conditions the LCD is more than ample.

Well-lit outdoor photography is where this camera excels, but that is where every camera is at its best. An evenly lit distant subject, wide angle lens, stopped down aperture and fast shutter speed is what makes outdoor photos "good." It says nothing about the camera's ability to render sharply focused, close range pictures of people with accurate skin tones and a rich blue sky in the background. That takes a lens that is sharp and a focusing system that accurately adjusts for the subject distance. It also requires a metering system that properly calculates the exposure of an unevenly lit scene and background, an imaging system that white balances accurately and renders true color and contrast. The PDR-T10 has much higher than expected consistency in these things. Far surpassing the recently reviewed Toshiba PDR-3310 which is considerably more expensive ($200 more). The overall color saturation and metering function were very good for the level of camera this is. A source of annoyance I did find was its lack of a tripod socket. Though this is a tiny camera, it is always handy to use a small table top mini-pod for self timer pictures of the family but not without a tripod socket.

Indoor flash has some serious limitations. The range is barely 2 meters (about 7 feet). Today's physics require a larger camera body to house a bigger diameter lens to collect more light or a more powerful flash capacitor and tube to be able to accurately capture more distant objects with flash. This camera is small and limited in space but the Minolta Dimage X which is smaller yet has a flash output of 9.5 feet in a similar wide angle mode.

The PDR-T10 will do well against competing two megapixel micro-digicams because of its $299 price point and size. Size and weight are major considerations in choosing this camera. It's the kind of camera that you don't mind taking along on all-day outings as it's easy to carry in your hand or shirt pocket, its always with you. In automatic mode it's very easy to operate and qualifies as a point-n- shoot digicam that anyone can use.

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