Review: Toshiba PDR-3300
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
you're talking about digital cameras to someone, the name Toshiba
rarely comes up. That's unfortunate, because Toshiba's digital cameras
are some of the best out there, are are excellent values too.
in point: the PDR-3300.
This $349 camera features a 3.2 Megapixel CCD, a 2.8X Canon zoom
lens, and a plethora of manual controls. The 3300 replaces the popular
dose the PDR-3300 stack up against the 3 Megapixel competition?
Find out in our review!
in the Box?
Toshiba PDR-3300 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.2 effective Mpixel Toshiba PDR-3300 camera
Secure Digital card
alkaline AA batteries (non-rechargeable)
featuring ACDSee software and drivers
page camera manual plus software manual (both printed)
order to keep the cost of the camera down (I assume), Toshiba was
very stingy in the memory card and battery departments.
camera includes an 8MB Secure Digital card. When you see how few
photos it holds, you'll want a larger one right away. You can use
either SD or MultiMedia (MMC) cards with the 3300.
also find four, non-rechargeable AA batteries in the box. Once they
die, you'll be out of luck, so I recommend buying a set or two of
NiMH rechargeable batteries. They last longer, cost less, and don't
end up in the trash after 30 pictures.
should give you an idea about the size of the PDR-3300
you can see above, the 3300 has a built-in lens cover, so no lens
caps are necessary.
throws in two very nice accessories with the PDR-3300: a remote
control, and soft camera case. The remote control can only be used
for two things: taking the picture (record mode), or going to the
next picture (playback mode). Still, it's a nice thing to have.
far as optional
accessories go, there are many choices. An AC adapter is available,
so you can save your batteries while transferring photos. The 3300
can use conversion lenses and filters, but not in the traditional
way. You first need a lens adapter, which attaches to the camera
via the tripod mount. You then attach the the lens or filter to
PDR-3300 includes the popular ACDSee software. This software, as
well as the camera are compatible with Mac OS X and Windows XP.
camera manual is one huge book with four languages (English, French,
German, Spanish). The quality of the manual is about average.
PDR-3300 isn't going to win any awards for looks. It's a pretty
boxy-looking camera, and I could live without the cheesy clear plastic
panel no the front. Of course none of this affects the most important
things: usability and photo quality. The body is mostly made of
the right hand grip is small, the 3300 is easy to hold with one
hand or two. The camera falls into the midsize category -- it'll
fit in most, but not all pockets. The official dimensions of the
camera are 4.5 x 2.7 x 1.8 inches (WxHxD), and it weighs in at 230
grams (8.1 oz) empty. For the sake of comparison, the Olympus D-550Z
is 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.4 inches and 180 grams.
begin our tour of the PDR-3300 now!
PDR-3300 features a Canon-made F2.9 lens. The focal range is 7.25
- 20.3 mm, which is equivalent to 35 - 100 mm. That's right, it's
just shy of a full 3X. The lens is not threaded, but you can use
conversion lenses using the method described in the previous section.
four items above the lens include the optical viewfinder, IR receiver,
self-timer lamp, and the flash. The 3300's flash has a working range
of 0.5 - 2.9 m. I'm not sure if this is at wide-angle or telephoto,
as Toshiba was not specific. You cannot use an external flash with
thing not seen here is an autofocus-assist lamp, which helps the
camera focus in lower light conditions.
now is the back of the PDR-3300.
1.6" LCD is a bit smaller than the 1.8" display usually
found on cameras of this size. The LCD resolution (60K pixels) isn't
that high either, but the images on it are bright and fairly fluid.
the LCD is the huge optical viewfinder -- one of the largest I've
seen in some time. There is no diopter correction knob, to put things
into focus for people with poor vision.
Disp(lay) button to the left of the LCD toggles the LCD, and what's
on it, on and off.
three buttons to the right control:
(Auto, forced w/redeye reduction, forced, flash off)
(10 or 2 seconds)
those three buttons is the four-way switch. This is used for menu
navigation, plus adjusting the exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV
in 1/2EV increments). Just left of that is the button which invokes
the main menu.
the upper left are the well-placed zoom controls. The zoom mechanism
moves smoothly and quietly.
the top of the camera now (had to rotate this one, hence the weird
background). The PDR-3300 is rather strange, as it has a switch
for the lens cover and another for the power. Why they couldn't
just make it one switch is beyond me. The little icons above the
lens cover switch (at left) don't make much sense either.
between those switches you'll find the mode wheel. The choices are:
have more on these later.
last thing of note on the top of the camera is the shutter release
button. One thing missing is an LCD info display. If they didn't
have two switches up here, they certainly could fit one in.
to see on this side of the camera.
interesting stuff is on this side. Under a rubber cover (that didn't
like to stay closed), you'll find ports for USB/Video out as well
as DC in.
an angled look at the bottom of the camera. Just above where the
four AA-size batteries go, you can see the SD/MMC card slot. The
downside of having the card slot down here is that you can't remove
the card while the 3300 is on a tripod.
is also a metal tripod mount on the bottom.
the Toshiba PDR-3300
that you opened the lens cover, the PDR-3300 takes over 5 seconds
to extend the lens and "warm up" before you can start
taking pictures. That's a bit slower than average. If you didn't
open the lens cover, the camera will put an error message on the
you press the shutter release button halfway, the camera generally
locks focus in a second or less. I had more trouble than normal
getting the camera to focus on subjects, especially indoors. Shutter
lag (the time between fully pressing the shutter release button
and the photo being taken) was minimal. If you just press the button
all the way down without stopping halfway, you can fire off a shot
in a little over a second (of course, it may not be in focus!).
speed is average -- about 5 seconds between shots at the highest
of which, here's a look at the image size and quality settings available
on the PDR-3300.
photos on 8MB card
photos on 64MB card
2048 x 1536
1024 x 768
640 x 480
change the quality setting, you have to burrow into the menu system
a bit. You can't just cycle between them -- you can use one setting
at a time.
PDR-3300 has automatic and manual modes. Unlike some other low-cost
cameras, Toshiba really means it when they say "manual mode".
You have full control over everything except white balance. In automatic
mode, things are locked up except for the "scene modes".
multi-photography shot (takes 16 shots in a row and puts them
into one photo)
3300 has two menus: one overlay-style and one traditional.
the overlay menu at left, also note the exposure info and histogram
overlay style menu is used for adjusting the following:
control (Program mode, aperture priority mode, shutter priority
mode, full manual)
balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, bluish fluorescent, reddish fluorescent,
(one shot, burst mode, AE bracketing)
(AF, macro, 1m, 3m, infinity)
auto record mode, focus and scene will be your only options here.
Now, more about those manual modes.
aperture priority mode, you set the aperture (range of F2.9 - F8),
and the camera picks an appropriate shutter speed.
priority mode is just the opposite -- you choose a shutter speed
(15 - 1/1000 sec) and the camera chooses the aperture.
full manual mode, you choose both.
burst mode, the camera will take up to 3 shots at an interval of
0.8 seconds between shots. AE bracketing mode will take three shots
in a row with different exposure compensation values (-0.5EV, 0EV,
+0.5EV) -- these values cannot be edited.
more traditionally-styled menus have even more options. These include:
(on/off) - shows photo after its taken
(Standard, vivid, monochrome, sepia)
(Normal, 2X, 4X) - where X is equal to 100; do note that 2X is
the default in auto record mode!
(Normal, soft, hard)
(Normal, strong, soft)
- Digital zoom
(on/off) - I recommend keeping it turned off
- LCD brightness
(-5 to +5)
- Quality -
see chart earlier
There is also
a setup menu, with basic things like date/time, beep, auto power
enough about menus, let's talk photos now!
the subject is nicely focused and sharp, though not as saturated
as I would have liked. You can get as close as 10 cm (3.9 inches)
from your subject in macro mode on the PDR-3300.
was a very foggy night when I took the above shot, which gives the
sky a brown cast (not just on this camera, either). Still, the image
is pretty well exposed (perhaps a bit overexposed), and I don't
see any purple fringing like on some other cameras that I've taken
this shot with. There isn't much in the line of noise, either.
3300 did a really nice job with the redeye test. There really isn't
any redeye to speak of here (at least when using the redeye reduction
feature). The cropped image above was enlarged 200% so you can see
PDR-3300 shot sharp, well-exposed images in my (brief) testing.
Chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) were not a problem. However,
I did notice a pronounced blue cast in a few of my samples, especially
outdoor images with lots of sky. Take a look at the gallery
to see the samples. I should add that I didn't notice this in the
few outdoor samples over at Steves
Digicams, so I'm not sure if it's a real problem or not.
PDR-3300 has a pretty basic movie mode, though you have lots of
controls over the quality. You can choose between full (320 x 240)
or half (160 x 120) sizes, plus ***, **, or * in the quality department.
The fewer stars, the lower the quality of the video, and the lower
the movie can be. For example, a Full/*** movie can be 30 seconds,
while a Half/* movie can be 180 seconds, and so on.
is not recorded with your movie. The files are saved in AVI format.
can use the zoom lens during filming.
people like to photograph their pets (not to mention that I forgot
to take a movie outdoors), here's a short movie of my sister's dog:
Click to play movie (1.0MB, AVI format)
Can't play it? Download
cameras have always had one of my favorite playback modes, and that
continues on the PDR-3300. The camera has the basic features down:
slide shows, DPOF print marking, and image protection are here.
You can view one image on the screen at once, or nine.
advanced features include zoom and scroll, rotating, resizing, and
and scroll lets you move in 2X or 4X into your photo, and then scroll
around. This is useful for checking the focus.
moving the four-way switch up or down, you can rotate your image
in 90 degree increments. You can also resize your image, or lower
the quality (to save memory, or for e-mailing).
find plenty of additional information about your photo by hitting
the Disp button. You can see exposure info, plus a histogram.
3300 moves through images on the LCD with about a 1.5 second delay,
which is about average.
Does it Compare?
were sort of "hit or miss" with the Toshiba PDR-3300.
The hits are the great price for a 3MP zoom camera, the full manual
controls, and nice playback mode. The misses are the so-so bundle,
fussy autofocus, and the blue cast I noticed in some photos. I urge
you to check out the other reviews and sample photos out there before
making a final decision about the photo quality. Aside from those
problems, the PDR-3300 does get my recommendation. The 3300 also
measures up nicely compared to the competition from Sony and Olympus
-- and it has many more manual controls.
value - 3X zoom, 3 Megapixel for under $350
manual controls, save white balance
nice playback mode
control and camera case included
in record and playback modes
job at reducing redeye
I didn't care for:
cast in a few images. Fluke?
sound in movie mode
could be better (no rechargeable batteries, small SD memory card
looking body; must flip two switches to turn on camera
other (lower cost) 3 Megapixel cameras to consider include the Canon
PowerShot S30, Kodak
Finecam S3, Nikon
Coolpix 885, Olympus
C-3020Z and D-550Z,
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P5,
and the Toshiba PDR-3300
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the PDR-3300 and its competitors before you buy!
a look at our photo gallery to see
how the 3300's pictures turned out.
a second opinion?
sure to read Steve's
Digicams review of the PDR-3300.
welcomes your comments or questions about this review. Send them
to email@example.com. Due
to my limited resources, please do not write asking for personal
recommendations, missing software/manuals, or technical support.