Toshiba PDR-M700 Review
In the PDR-M700, Toshiba has produced a high-quality 3.2 megapixel consumer digicam with a unique combination of 10X optical zoom lens, high-speed continuous shooting, and a large 2.5-inch LCD viewfinder. Toshiba designed the M700's feature set to accommodate the needs of the advanced amateur, while also providing automatic modes of operation for the beginner.
Toshiba has been known more for its electronic than its photographic products, so they have wisely partnered with Canon to produce the 37-370mm equivalent zoom lens for the M700. It produces sharp images throughout its impressive zoom range, with no noticeable pincushioning, but quite noticeable barrel distortion at the wide angle end of the zoom range. The lens aperture varies through the zoom range from a typical F2.8 at wide-angle to an impressive F3.1 at the full telephoto focal length of 370mm. Your photographs of distant fast moving subjects will benefit from the speed of this lens by allowing you to use a slightly faster shutter speed than other 10X zoom digicams would. The lens is not image-stabilized, so hand-held shooting at 370mm will frequently result in blurry images due to camera shake. We recommend that you avoid disappointment by using a tripod or monopod for your long telephoto shooting.
The M700's built-in pop-up flash is well positioned directly over the lens, eliminating the possibility of casting a shadow of your subject onto the background when the camera is used in landscape orientation. As with most consumer digicams, the flash has limited range and produces its best results with portraits or shots of small groups. We did notice a problem using the flash in Manual Program mode; the camera set its shutter speed based on ambient light even with the flash was on, resulting in blurry shots from the low shutter speed and overexposure. The M700 is not equipped with a focus-assist lamp, so autofocus in dimly-lit interiors was often ineffective. Another issue you'll have shooting in dimly-lit interiors is the absence of an optical viewfinder; the M700 is equipped with an electronic viewfinder (EVF), which performs no better than the LCD viewfinder in low light.
Outdoors, you'll enjoy the M700's wide zoom range. Not only will it allow you to capture images of distant subjects like no other digicam in its price range, but you'll find that it will enhance your creativeness by allowing you to better compose your shots too. At 37mm, the wide-angle end of the zoom range is fine for most landscape shooting, but barrel distortion will be noticeable in your architecture photos. Our sample images were well focused, well exposed, and well saturated with accurate color.
The shooting performance of the M700 belies its price. Shutter lag from pre-focus to image capture is only 2/10 second, and 9/10 to autofocus and shoot. The M700 also has an impressive continuous shooting mode (without flash), allowing you to capture 6 images at a rate of 4 frames per second. By combining this robust shooting performance, 1/2000 second shutter speed, and a fast F3.1 aperture at 370mm focal length, Toshiba has produced a very cost-effective camera for sports and wildlife photography. The EVF is quite an asset in such shooting situations, allowing you to pan with the action while seeing the entire image area - operating the camera more like an SLR than a consumer digicam.
We rate the PDR-M700 a good value at its $449 MSRP. Toshiba kept its cost down
by using plastic for the body, but included the large, bright 2.5-inch LCD viewfinder
and remote shutter release. The LCD is one of the largest you'll find on a consumer
digicam, providing sizable images for your preview and review, and presenting
large icons and text as you navigate the camera's menu tree.
It is simple enough for a child to use in automatic mode,
and provides enough adjustability to satisfy the intermediate user. If you are looking for
a camera suitable for a range of uses including family snapshots, outdoor sporting events,
and perhaps bird watching, the Toshiba PDR-M700 will meet your needs while being
light on your pocketbook.
August 21, 2003:
IMPORTANT NOTICE TO OWNERS OF THE TOSHIBA PDR-M700 DIGITAL CAMERA
Toshiba Imaging Systems Division has discovered that under certain conditions, a limited quantity of early production runs of the Toshiba PDR-M700 digital camera, battery power will decrease rapidly when using the optional AC adapter. This condition affects cameras bearing serial numbers listed as follow:
Consecutive numbers from:
063353691 - 063361601
Toshiba has resolved the condition. Although Toshiba has not received any customer complaints regarding this condition, our primary concerns are product quality and overall customer satisfaction. As a result, Toshiba will replace your affected PDR-M700 camera with another PDR-M700 camera, which does not allow rapid battery depletion, at no cost to you.
If the serial number of your PDR-M700 camera bears serial numbers listed above, please
contact Toshiba at (800) 686-7442 between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm PST. We will
provide you with directions for returning the camera.
Firmware update v1.10
Toshiba USA has posted a firmware update for the M700 that adds three new functions: Large Icons, Manual Focus, and High-Speed Image Scrolling.
Go to the PDR-M700 Firmware Update page.
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