Digital-photo newcomers will love the affordable price of this easy-to-use 2.2 megapixel camera with a 3X optical zoom. Toshiba's PDR-M25 can take good pictures, too--in well-lit areas. But its dim LCD and sketchy performance in low-light conditions diminish the appeal of an otherwise satisfactory point-and-shoot camera. Digital-photo newcomers will love the affordable price of this easy-to-use 2.2 megapixel camera with a 3X optical zoom. Toshiba's PDR-M25 can take good pictures, too--in well-lit areas. But its dim LCD and sketchy performance in low-light conditions diminish the appeal of an otherwise satisfactory point-and-shoot camera.
Easy access for quick changes
A moderate-sized camera with a silver plastic body, the PDR-M25 weighs 11.9 ounces with four AA batteries and a SmartMedia card installed. Its controls are designed to provide easy access to settings and are well placed for making quick changes. On top of the camera, there's a crisp, readable status LCD. Three selector buttons below it let you choose image quality, flash, macro, and self-timer settings without missing a beat or having to go into the menu system on the main 1.5-inch LCD. In fact, average users will rarely have to access the menu, but when they do, they will be greeted by a simple, clear layout. However, selecting settings by pressing the center of the four-way rocker button on the back of the camera is a little clumsy and requires some getting used to.
Functional features; weak performance
The PDR-M25 has all of the features that you'll need for point-and-shoot photography. In our tests, its automatic settings worked well enough on most occasions, and we rarely needed to adjust the white balance or take advantage of the manual-exposure-compensation option. We were surprised to find a few advanced features on this basic camera. There's a Bulb setting that lets you take one- or two-second exposures for nonflash nighttime shooting (it's good for photographing fireworks, too). There's also a slow-sync flash mode and three light-sensitivity settings--ISO 100, ISO 200, and ISO 400--to provide some flexibility in low-light conditions. You can use a resizing option in the playback menu to reduce the size of images in-camera, in order to free up storage space.
Unfortunately, the PDR-M25 performed erratically in low-light conditions indoors, regardless of the ISO setting. Locking in automatic focus was sometimes painfully slow and didn't always guarantee that the image would be in focus. Exposure wasn't bad when we used the flash, which generally provided even coverage. But because the optical viewfinder is small and doesn't show a full-frame view and the LCD monitor is dim even at its brightest setting, we found taking pictures in low-light conditions frustrating at best. The camera performed better outdoors but still suffered from slightly sluggish shot-to-shot rates and recycle times.
Pleasing pictures and a budget price
Overall, the image quality of our test shots was good, particularly when we took them in well-lit conditions. Colors were true, with the exception of some macro shots that gave red roses a psychedelic purple jolt. Our images were generally well exposed, and our outdoor shots showed an acceptable amount of detail in both shadow and highlight areas. Noise levels were surprisingly low, especially when the camera was set at ISO 100.