Steve's Digicams


PalmCam PV-DC2590

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

The Panasonic PV-DC2590 PalmCam features a 1.3-Megapixel CCD that generates 1280x960 images, 1.8" color LCD, 3x optical zoom lens and probably the most interesting feature is its dual CompactFlash card slots and the included Compact Modem (the first I've ever seen!)

The PV-DC2590 is housed in a silver plastic case that measures 4.65"(w) x 2.68"(h) x 2"(d) and weighs about 9 oz. without batteries. Typical of many compact zoom digicams, the PV-DC2590's lens extends when the camera is powered up and retracts back into the body when it is powered down.

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

The 1.8" TFT color LCD screen used is typical of the type seen on the Olympus D-220, D-320, D-500 and D-600 models. It has a slightly "grainy" appearance unlike the newer HAST type of LCD screens which display very well defined images. The refresh rate is close to realtime, there is no streaking or lag when the camera is rapidly panned. The brightness of the LCD is user adjustable but reverts to default intensity when the camera is powered down or goes into standby mode after 60 seconds of inactivity.

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

Panasonic also makes a PV-DC2090 digicam that looks almost the same as the PV-DC2590. The most noticeable difference is the monochrome LCD data display on the top which is absent on the PV-DC2090 model. Also absent are the Flash Mode and Rec Mode buttons which are only found on the PV-DC2590. And only the PV-DC2590 comes with the Compact Modem.

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

The user controls are fairly intuitive and clearly marked. You have the main mode dial to turn the camera on in Manual Record, Record (Auto) or Playback mode. On the top of the PV-DC2590 are three buttons; flash mode, self timer and Record mode and of course, the shutter release.

On the back is a 4-way rocker switch that in Record mode functions as the zoom lens control by pressing the top or bottom of the switch. In Playback mode you push the right or left side to go forward or backward through the stored images.

In Record, Manual Record or Play modes the 4-way switch also lets you navigate the camera's menu system after pressing the Menu button to activate it. I'd like to show you the Record mode menus but alas the PV-DC2590 does not output video in Record mode, only in Play mode. This of course means that it cannot be used with a TV set as an external monitor during Record operations.

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

Here's a closeup look at the data LCD on the top and the control buttons on the PV-DC2590. Note the display indication of "Card 1" - this tells you which CF card slot the camera is currently using. Other data displayed includes: Battery condition, b&w mode, modem, flash mode, time lapse mode, recording mode, self timer and number of pictures remaining.

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590 Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

I hope the appearance of dual CF (CompactFlash Type II) slots is a trend on the newer digicams. It not only means you can use two CF memory cards but you can also use the new CF+ multifunction cards such as a CompactModem.

A modem ?  Yep, that's what I said... the PV-DC2590 comes with a modem card that lets the camera call your home (Windows) computer or even a FAX machine to transmit its pictures. You'll notice it in the picture above sticking out in front of the 8mb CF memory card. The CompactModem is only available on cameras sold in the U.S. The Compact USB port card comes on the Japanese version of the PV-DC2590 in place of the Compact Modem.

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590 Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

Making the modem a U.S.-only feature is going to annoy plenty of people but an even bigger annoyance is that the entire PV-DC2590 camera system has been designed basically for PC/Windows users. Macintosh users have to buy an optional serial cable unless they use a CF card reader.

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

Replacing the batteries is easy due to their inline positioning. You open the door and all four slide out quickly and can be replaced just about as fast.

It comes with a set of alkalines and Panasonic includes a mail-in coupon for a free ($3 shipping/handling) set of four high-capacity AA NiCd batteries and a charger. There's also $45 worth of coupons for discounts on Panasonic NiCd batteries and other types of chargers.

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

This is the typical playback screen with all the OSD (OnScreen Display) info shown: Battery condition, active Card slot #, date/time, frame number and the image quality "F"ine.

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

As with most digicams the PV-DC2590 can display a screen of nine thumbnail images from memory to allow you to select one and quickly jump to it. It can also playback images in slideshow format and zoomed-in format.

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC2590

PV-DC2590 Features

  • 1.3 Million Pixel CCD
  • 1280 x 960 SVGA or 640 x 480 VGA resolution
  • Record Modes:
    • Super Fine
      Motion Image
  • 3x Optical (34-102mm) Zoom plus 2x digital
  • Auto Focus with
    • 20cm Macro
  • 1.8" LCD Color viewfinder
  • Optical Viewfinder
  • Compact Fax/Modem card
  • Monochrome Display LCD Panel
  • Dual CompactFlash (Type II) memory slot
  • 4-Mode Flash
    • Automatic
      RedEye Reduction
      Always On
      Always Off
  • Full Motion Recording 320 x 240 (4 seconds/40 images)
  • Burst Mode: up to 16 images at 0.5 sec interval
  • 10-Sec Self Timer
  • NTSC Video Out
  • Serial interface
  • Dimensions: 4.65"(w) x 2.68"(h) x 2"(d)
  • Weight: 9.8 oz.
  • Windows 95, 98 or later
    Macintosh OS 8.0 or later (req optional Mac adapter)
  • Included Accessories:
    • 8 MB CompactFlash™ Card
      Serial cable (PC)
      Hand strap
      4xAA alkaline batteries
      Video cable
      Compact Modem card
  • Included software:
    • Panasonic Download Utility (PC/Mac)
      Adobe PhotoDeluxe Home Edition 3.0 (Win)
      Adobe PhotoDeluxe 2.0 (Mac)

Steve's Conclusion

Overall the image quality of the PV-DC2590 is about average for a 1280x960 pixel digicam but not spectacular. The color balance and saturation is very good. The 3x zoom lens works quietly and quickly and the cycle time between shots is fairly zippy. The LCD although not as good as most we have tested recently is still adequate except outdoors where most LCDs fail.

It's just slightly larger than what I would call "pocket" size and Panasonic has named it appropriately as the "PalmCam." It is very easy to use and the controls are clearly marked and easy to get to when needed. A novice user will be able to easily generate quality pictures with this camera. My only complaint is when it is used with the flash. Even if you have pre-focused the camera by half-pressing the shutter it takes a good two seconds for the camera to actually take the shot after you fully press the shutter.

The PV-DC2590 is powered by four AA size batteries and as usual I highly recommend using NiMH rechargeables. Battery life is good to above normal even when using the LCD screen often. The refresh rate on the LCD is very close to realtime and exhibits no blurring when the camera is panned. All in all it should be a good value for the money if it's sold around the $500 range.

The biggest negative is the time it takes to snap the shutter when using the flash. Even when you pre-focus it still takes a good two seconds for the shutter and flash to fire once you press the shutter all the way. When not using the flash the camera will fire the shutter within a half a second or less.

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