Review: Toshiba PDR-M61
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Monday, June 18, 2001
Tuesday, June 19, 2001
increase in the number of midrange zoom digital cameras isn't that
surprising. As newer, fancier cameras are introduced at the high
end, some of last years technology trickles down to these midrange
cameras. The Toshiba
PDR-M61 is one such camera. It has a 2.3 Megapixel CCD, 3X optical
zoom, USB, and easy automatic operation -- for under $400. Is the
PDR-M61 your best choice for a midrange camera? Read on to find
in the Box?
PDR-M65 has a decent bundle included with the camera. Inside the
box, you'll find:
2.3 Mpixel Toshiba PDR-M61 camera
AA alkaline batteries (non-rechargeable)
featuring ImageExpert software, full manual, and drivers
page Quick Start Guide plus 109 page full manual (PDF format on
get the negatives out of the way now. First, a big thumbs down to
Toshiba for putting the user manual on CD. The "quick start
guide" only has 4 pages of actual photo-taking information,
so you'll most likely have to crack open the real manual at some
point. I don't think users should be left with the burden of printing
out a 100+ page manual. Of course, that's just my opinion. The quality
of the manual itself is fine -- about average I'd say.
thumbs down for not including rechargeable batteries. The alkaline
AA's in the box go quickly, and end up polluting landfills. You'll
want to get your own NiMH rechargeables as soon as possible.
from that, you've got everything you need: a decent-sized SmartMedia
card, shoulder strap, and the necessary cables and software.
far as accessories go, you can get a number of third party filters
and lenses for this model, but you'll need to buy an adapter first.
page should point you to these products.
PDR-M61 is what I'd call a "midsize" camera. It's about
the same size as the Sony S75/S85, for example. It's made mostly
of plastic, though it doesn't feel cheap. The camera can be operated
with one hand, though I preferred two. The dimensions of the camera
are 4.76 x 2.95 x 2.4 inches (W x H x D) and it weighs 305 grams
empty. Let's take a tour of the PDR-M61 now, shall we?
the front of the camera, there's nothing surprising here. The 3X
optical zoom lens (F3.2) has a focal range of 8.3 - 23.3mm, which
is equivalent to 38 - 114mm. The lens has a built-in cover, so no
lens cap is needed.
flash has an effective range of 1.3 ft 10 ft.
onto the back of the camera, which is quite similar to previous
found the 1.8" LCD difficult to see, even inside with the brightness
cranked up. The display is fluid, but it's just hard to see. Nose
smudges won't be a problem for those who use their right eye with
the optical viewfinder.
of which, the optical viewfinder is good-sized, though the lens
barrel obstructs the view somewhat. There is no diopter correction
for those of us with glasses.
below the LCD is the DC in port, where the optional AC adapter is
the right of the LCD you'll find the following:
switch (for menus)
(toggles LCD on/off, as well as what's shown on it)
the far right, you can see the zoom controls.
on to the top of the camera...
here you'll find the LCD info display, buttons for flash, quality,
and self-timer, the mode wheel, and the shutter release button.
feature I miss from other Toshiba cameras is the backlit LCD info
display. I guess they had to cut a few things out to get the M61
down to a decent price, though.
mode wheel has the following options:
cover these more in detail in the next section.
don't care for the shutter release button on the M61... it doesn't
have enough "play" as you push it down, so it's hard to
tell when it's halfway or fully pressed.
one side of the PDR-M61, and there's nothing to see. So on to the
where you'll find the SmartMedia slot, as well as the USB port.
The SmartMedia slot is spring-loaded, and strangely, the camera
beeps when a card is inserted or removed.
the bottom of the camera. Down here you'll find a plastic tripod
mount, and a battery compartment with an unusual method of opening.
the Toshiba PDR-M61
camera starts up in less than 4 seconds, and the LCD is turned on
by default. The camera takes about 1.5 seconds to lock focus, which
is worse than average. Depressing the shutter release fully results
in a picture with no noticeable delay. While composing a picture,
the LCD locks up or becomes choppy. There's about a 2 second delay
before you can take another shot.
Mode (manual mode)
zoom controls were sluggish, and quite jumpy at times.
has a unique way of letting users select the resolution (Full or
Half) and quality ("stars") of their photos, as the following
photos on 8MB card
1792 x 1200
896 x 600
PDR-M61 is a point-and-shoot camera, and therefore it doesn't have
a whole lot of menu choices. Here they are:
Mode (1 Shot, Multi, Bulb) - more below
(on/off) - whether or not to show the image after it has been
(100, 200, 400, Black & White [what is this doing here?])
Mode (1 sec, 2 sec) - for longer exposures
(2 sec, 10 sec)
addition, there are two other choices that are outside of the menu
system, only available in "manual" mode:
balance (auto, sunlight, fluorescent [3 choices], tungsten)
compensation (-1.5EV to +1.5EV in 0.3EV increments)
"multi" record mode isn't continuous shooting. Rather,
it takes 16 shots in a row and puts them into one collage. The Nikon
Coolpix has this feature as well.
PDR-M61 did a decent job with our macro test. It's a bit dark (that's
what exposure compensation is for), but the colors are correct and
the detail is good.
the news is not good when it comes to the nightshot test. While
the colors are a bit off (white balance tinkering could've probably
fixed this), the big problem is that it's too dark -- not enough
light was let in. I find this to be a common problem with point-and-shoot
cameras, and the M61's relatively "slow" lens doesn't
I'd rank the photo quality of the PDR-M61 as just "fair".
One thing I couldn't help but notice in many shots in the gallery
was the color of the sky. It was always unnatural, more purple than
blue. Other photos had a bit of a reddish look as well. Again, check
out the gallery for many samples.
PDR-M61's playback mode is pretty basic. You've got slideshows,
image protection, 9 thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll. There is
no DPOF printing, which was surprising, since almost no cameras
omit this (probably under-used) featured.
features include the ability to resize and/or change the quality
of your photos.
zoom and scroll feature is decent, but you can only zoom in once
(2X). The scrolling speed has always been excellent on Toshiba cameras,
and that continues on the M61.
isn't much information you can get about your photos, but again,
this is a point-and-shoot camera. The photo above shows you all
the camera is willing to tell you.
takes the M61 about 3 seconds to move between photos in playback
Does it Compare?
2 Megapixel, 3X zoom camera market is pretty crowded, with all the
major manufacturers selling cameras in this space. Unfortunately,
the Toshiba PDR-M61 falls at the back of the pack in my eyes. The
photo quality was sub-par, camera operation was sluggish, and it
was pretty light on features compared to the competition. My advice
is to consider one of the cameras listed below instead -- your money
can be better spent on another camera.
I didn't care for:
average picture quality
Optical viewfinder partially blocked by lens barrel
display too dark; brightness correction doesn't help.
other cameras to consider while shopping include the Canon
PowerShot A20 and PowerShot
S300 Digital ELPH, Fuji's FinePix
2400 Zoom, Kodak's DC4800
(if you can find one), Nikon's Coolpix
775, Olympus' D-490Z,
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the PDR-M61, and its competitors, before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion?
sure to read Steve's
Digicams review of the PDR-M61.
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to email@example.com.