DCRP Review: Toshiba PDR-3320
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: February 19, 2003
Last Updated: February 19, 2003

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Traditionally, some of the best values in digital photography have come from Toshiba. They have packed a lot of features into some very inexpensive cameras. That continues today with their PDR-3320 ($299). The 3320 doesn't have as many features as earlier Toshiba models, but it's not bare bones either.

For all the details, check out our full review, which starts now!

What's in the Box?

The Toshiba PDR-3320 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 3.2 effective Mpixel Toshiba PDR-3320 camera
  • 8MB SmartMedia card
  • Four alkaline AA batteries (non-rechargeable)
  • Wrist strap
  • Lens cap w/strap
  • USB cable
  • Video cable
  • Soft camera case
  • CD-ROM featuring ACDSee software and drivers
  • 100 page camera manual plus software manual (both printed)

In order to keep the cost of the camera down (I assume), Toshiba was very stingy in the memory card and battery departments.

With SmartMedia being phased out, it was surprising to see that this newer model still uses the format. Toshiba includes an 8MB card, which is enough to get your feet wet with, but you'll definitely want a larger card right away.

You'll 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 (okay, Toshiba says 100 photos, but you get my point).

The 3320 includes a big plastic lens cap that fits securely over the whole lens barrel. Toshiba includes a strap so you don't drop it off a cliff, as I once did a few years ago.

One nice bundled item is a soft camera case, which is usually sold separately. Good work, Toshiba!

As far as optional accessories go, there are many choices. An AC adapter is available, so you can save your batteries while transferring photos. Toshiba would also be happy to sell you the NiMH rechargeables that I mentioned earlier.

The 3320 can also use conversion lenses and filters, but not in the traditional way. You first need a lens adapter (part M21640, $25), which attaches to the camera via the tripod mount. You then attach the the lens or filter to the adapter. You can choose from wide-angle, telephoto, or super macro lenses. Any 43mm filter will work as well.

The PDR-3320 includes the popular (and capable) ACDSee software. This software, as well as the camera are compatible with Mac OS X and Windows XP.

The camera manual is one huge book with four languages (English, French, German, Spanish). The quality of the manual is about average.

Look and Feel

The PDR-3320 isn't a terribly small camera. It's more midsized than small, and doesn't really fit in your pocket very well. The body is made of plastic, though it feels decently put together. The 3320 can be held with one hand, though I found that I usually used two hands.

The official dimensions of the 3320 are 4.1 x 2.7 x 2.2 inches (W x H x D), and it weighs 230 grams empty.

Let's begin our tour of the PDR-3320 now!

The PDR-3320 features an F2.9 - F6.9, 3X optical zoom. Some other Toshiba cameras' lenses were made by Canon, though I don't think that's the case here. The focal length of the lens is 6.2 - 18.6 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 114 mm. The lens is not threaded, but I did mention how you can use conversion lenses earlier in the review.

The only other thing to see here is the built-in flash, which has a working range of approximately 0.4 - 2.5 m.

One thing not seen here is an autofocus-assist lamp, which helps the camera focus in lower light conditions.

Here now is the back of the PDR-3320.

The 1.5" LCD is pretty mediocre. Not only is it small (1.5"), but it also is low resolution (61.6k pixels). At the default brightness setting, the LCD was way too dark, and turning up the brightness just washes things out. And outdoors, it was quite hard to see as well, though that's fairly typical.

Above the LCD is the optical viewfinder. There is no diopter correction knob, to put things into focus for people with poor vision. One thing to note: you'll get a nice view of the lens when you use it, though it's not nearly as bad as the PowerShot G3.

Just to the left of the optical viewfinder is the power switch. Below the viewfinder is the button used for deleting photos in playback mode. Press it once to delete one photo, or hold it down to erase all, or format the card.

To the right of the viewfinder is the four-way switch. It's used for menu navigation, and if you press it down, you can activate the menus. I found the switch to be poorly designed -- it was too easy to press the wrong way and select the wrong option.

At the top-right of the above photo, you can see the zoom controls, which are well-placed, but a little small for my fingers. It takes about three seconds to zoom the lens from wide-angle to telephoto.

Here's the top of the camera now. Up here, you'll find the LCD info display, a few buttons, and the mode wheel.

It's nice to see that Toshiba hasn't abandoned the LCD info display. I believe that every camera which has room for one should include one of these. It's not backlit, but you can't have everything on a $299 camera. Items shown on the info display include battery life, image quality setting, shots remaining, and the current flash setting.

Below the info display are three buttons. They are for:

  • Macro mode + self-timer
  • Flash setting (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, forced flash, suppressed flash, slow sync)
  • Image quality - see chart later in review

To the right of those buttons is the mode wheel -- there's not a lot to see there. The items on the wheel include:

  • Setup
  • Playback
  • Auto Record
  • Manual Record

The manual mode really isn't that manual after all -- it just unlocks the white balance and exposure compensation controls.

Above the mode wheel, you'll find the shutter release button.

Note how the lens barely extends out of the body.

On this side of the camera, under a rubber cover, you'll find the 3320's I/O ports. Let's take a closer look.

The I/O ports in question are for USB (called digital here), video out, and DC-in (for the optional AC adapter).

Over on this side, you'll find the SmartMedia slot. The plastic door that covers this slot feels a little flimsy. SmartMedia cards don't come any larger than 128MB, so keep that in mind.

Finally, here is the bottom of the 3320. You can see the battery compartment, which holds four AA-sized batteries, as well as a metal (I think) tripod mount.

Using the Toshiba PDR-3320

Record Mode

It takes just over 4 seconds for the PDR-3320 to slowly extend the lens and "warm up" before you can start shooting.

Press the shutter release button halfway, and it can take 1-2 seconds, or more, for the 3320 to lock the focus. In low light, expect a difficult time locking focus. Shutter lag, which is the time between the moment you fully press the shutter release button and when the photo is actually taken, varies. In good lighting, it's not a problem. In lower light, the lag becomes more noticeable.

Shot-to-shot speed is average -- about 4.5 seconds between shots at the highest quality setting.

The 3320 uses Toshiba's "star system" of photo quality. Image size is either full (2048 x 1536) or half (1024 x 768), while image quality ranges from one to three stars, with three being the highest quality.

Size Quality # photos on 8MB card
(included)
# photos on 64MB card
(for reference)
Full
2048 x 1536
*** 6 59
** 12 103
* 28 229
Half
1024 x 768
*** 29 243
** 52 424
* 77 623

Photos on the PDR-3320 use the following naming convention: PDR_####.JPG, where #### is 0001 - 9999. File numbering is maintained even as you erase or exchange memory cards.

The 3320 has two menus: one overlay-style and one traditional. The overlay-style menu (shown above) is only available in manual mode, and it allows you to change white balance (auto, sunlight, fluorescent x 2, incandescent) and exposure compensation (-1.5EV to +1.5EV, 1/3EV increments).

The "traditional" menu is used for adjusting the following:

  • Rec mode (1 shot, multi, bulb)
  • Preview (on/off)
  • ISO (100, 200, 400, black & white) - why the latter option is here, I do not know
  • Bulb (1, 2 sec)
  • Self-timer (2, 10 sec)
  • Display (Off, on, all) - toggles LCD on/off, and the info shown on it
  • LCD brightness (-5 to +5)

The multi feature isn't a true burst mode. Rather, the camera takes 16 shots in a row (at a 0.25 sec interval) and puts them into one image (it's like a collage). The bulb mode will let you take exposures at 1 or 2 seconds (tripod required).

The menus and features on the 3320 are considerably less impressive than on the last Toshiba camera I tested, the PDR-3300.

There is also a setup menu, with basic things like language, date/time, beep, auto power off, etc.

That's enough about menus, let's talk photos now!

The 3320 did a nice job with the macro test. The colors are nice and saturated (the red a little too much, perhaps) and the image is sharp. The minimum focus distance in macro mode is 8 cm at wide-angle, and 40 cm at telephoto.

Using the 3320's bulb mode feature, I was about to take a pretty good 2 second exposure from Twin Peaks. I think another second or two would've been better, but this is a good shot for a low cost point-and-shoot camera. Also note the lack of noise in the shot.

There's a bit of redeye in our usual test shot... not horrible, but noticeable. The shot above (enlarged a bit here) was taken with the redeye reduction feature turned on. Note that most software packages can fix redeye fairly easily.

The distortion test is a new one here at the DCRP. It is designed to show both lens distortion and vignetting. The lens distortion (barrel distortion in this case) is pretty obvious, and you can see a bit of vignetting in the lower-left corner. But I have better examples of that.

Which brings me to the biggest problem with the PDR-3320: the photo quality. It suffers in three major areas, based on my usage:

  • Exposure problems
  • Vignetting
  • Brownish cast

The exposure problems are easy to see if you take a look at the gallery. At default settings, the camera consistently under-exposes.


0.0 EV

+0.6 EV

The example about shows just how dark images came out without using exposure compensation. Even bumping it up +0.6EV didn't totally fix it. This problem was also noted over at Steve's Digicams.


Vignetting

Vignetting, or dark corners, is very noticeable on the PDR-3320. It appeared in almost all of my test photos.

Finally, there is the brownish cast. Most of the images I took, on both sunny and cloudy days, indoors and outdoors, had a brownish look to them. Using "auto levels" in Photoshop made the colors much more realistic:


+0.6 EV

+0.6 EV, auto leveled

In case you didn't notice, I found the photo quality on the 3320 to be disappointing. Its' a shame too, because of they were properly exposed, they'd be pretty good. Have a look at the photo gallery if you haven't done so already.

Movie Mode

Believe it or not, the PDR-3320 does not have a movie mode of any kind!!

Playback Mode

Toshiba cameras have always had one of my favorite playback modes -- that's still the case here. The camera has the basic features down: slide shows, zoom and scroll, thumbnail mode, and image protection are here. One thing missing though is DPOF print marking, though I wonder how many people actually use this.

More advanced features include image resizing and "quality reduction". The resize function will convert your full-sized image to a half-sized one. Quality reduction allows you to increase the compression (by lowering the number of stars) for a given image. In both cases, the original image is overwritten.

Zoom and scroll lets you magnify into your image by a factor of 3 (and nowhere in between), and then scroll around in the zoomed-in area. The scrolling is very fast.

Don't expect to get any real info about your photos on the PDR-3320. What you see above is all you get.

The 3320 moves through images on the LCD with about a 2.5 second delay, which is fairly slow.

How Does it Compare?

After a string of cameras from Toshiba offering good features, photo quality, and value, the PDR-3320 left me wondering where things went wrong. While the 3320 does offer fairly good easy of use and is a good value for the money, it's mediocre -- or worse -- in almost every other area. The most important feature of any digicam is photo quality, and the 3320 was very disappointing in that respect. Photos were consistently underexposed, often with a brownish cast and dark corners. The camera's LCD isn't great, nor is the four-way switch. It also lacks a movie mode of any kind. If the photo quality was competitive, I could forgive these other faults, but I'm afraid that's not the case. You're better off checking out the competition instead.

What I liked:

  • Great value - 3X zoom, 3 Megapixel for under $300
  • Camera case included
  • Supports external lenses/filters
  • Bulb mode for long exposures (1-2 seconds)

What I didn't care for:

  • Poor image quality, in terms of exposure, color casts, and vignetting
  • No AF illuminator
  • No movie mode
  • Sluggish playback mode
  • Four-way switch not well-designed
  • Low resolution LCD is hard to see
  • Bundle could be better (no rechargeable batteries, small memory card included)

Some other (lower cost) 3 Megapixel / 3X zoom cameras to consider include the Canon PowerShot S30, Fuji FinePix A303, Kodak DX4330, Nikon Coolpix 3100 and 3500, Olympus D-550Z, and the Sony DSC-P71.

As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the PDR-3320 and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

Take a look at our photo gallery to see how the 3320's pictures turned out.

Want a second opinion?

Be sure to read Steve's Digicams review of the PDR-3320.

Feedback

Jeff welcomes your comments or questions about this review. Send them to jakeller@pair.com. Due to my limited resources, please do not write asking for personal recommendations, missing software/manuals, or technical support.

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