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Arthur’s Look At
The 4MP Toshiba PDR-M81
A DIGITAL CAMERA MAGAZINE Review

The 4MP Toshiba PDR-M81 joins the parade of new digicams marching toward ever-higher resolutions; 2MB compressed camera files open to 11MB in imaging programs yielding big, beautiful, smooth-looking, prints

Our pre-release model had everything on the physical side finalized—right down to the Canon 35mm to 98mm (equiv) f-2.8 zoom lens. The firmware, though, which controls picture quality and some timing functions was still being tweaked to perfection by Toshiba's engineers.

The top deck of the PDR-M81 has the obligatory Mode dial—Setup, Computer Connection, Playback, Record, Manual Record, and Movies, in that order, which makes it easy to shoot and review images without going through Off—a quirky characteristic of some Toshiba digicams. To the left of the dial are three buttons—one for the Self-Timer function, an Image Quality button for changing compression settings, and a third to select the Flash mode.

Although the resolution settings are done in the menus, it's handy to be able to change compression on-the-fly with the Image Quality button in case you start to run out of space on your memory card. As you go through the three possibilities (which equate to 1:5, 1:7.5, and 1:15), the number of images available for each shows clearly on the adjacent top-deck LCD. It's a nice, simple solution without having to do a menu dive; if you need more card space it's best to leave resolution at its highest setting and up the compression rather than use lower resolutions that capture less picture information.

The back of the camera is extremely clean; an optical viewfinder at the top left (no diopter adjustment, unfortunately), a zoom rocker at the top right, and down the middle a four-way Function switch that lets you navigate through the menus. In Manual mode it serves to set distance and the lens and shutter speeds.

Below the Function rocker you’ll find four buttons that control Menu access, Focus (Auto, Macro, 3’,10’ or Infinity), Erasing images, and Folder creation for organizing photos. Finally, a Display/Info toggle button under the 1.5" LCD monitor allows you to see a data overlay, display images cleanly without the overlay, or kill the display entirely if you need to conserve battery power.

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