Toshiba aims the 3-megapixel PDR-3310 squarely at the high-style, ultracompact camera market. The 3310 is an exceptionally portable, decent-performing digicam with an ample point-and-shoot feature set. But subpar pictures mar this otherwise attractive camera, so if you have a discriminating eye for image quality, look elsewhere.
The power button and the shutter release are the only camera-top controls.
A well-designed LCD menu system complements the PDR-3310's very functional control-button placement. Toshiba endowed this camera with easy-to-understand menus and made critical functions--such as exposure compensation and white balance--a snap to access. Our only quibble with the menus is that often-used exposure-mode and light-sensitivity (ISO) settings are buried in the second tier of commands.
|All the basic controls--a macro-/landscape-mode button, flash settings, an operating-mode switch, and a zoom toggle--are lined up along the top edge of the camera's back.||A five-way controller lets you navigate the menu system.|
A 16MB Secure Digital memory card comes with the PDR-3310.
You won't find any special scene modes, but you can capture black-and-white or sepia-toned images, set a manual white balance, and adjust the light sensitivity from ISO 100 to ISO 400. You can also select any one of three metering systems: multisegment, center-weighted, or spot. The 3X zoom lens covers a 35mm to 105mm range in 35mm-film-camera terms. The 3310's f/2.8 to f/4.8 maximum aperture is average for the camera's class.
You can save still images in the JPEG format only, and you get three selectable compression levels. In addition, you can capture up to 15 seconds of silent Motion-JPEG video clips.
We got good life out of the camera's proprietary lithium-ion battery, easily shooting for several hours on a full charge.
This camera's sharp, bright, 1.5-inch LCD works well in virtually any light and shows about 92 percent of the actual image. The optical viewfinder is small but equally bright and clear, displaying approximately 87 percent of the shot. Like the viewfinder, the flash is tiny, but its range--two to eight feet--isn't bad for an ultracompact camera. Unfortunately, our enthusiasm for the PDR-3310's better characteristics is tempered by its disappointing image quality. Despite its 3-megapixel CCD, the camera captures poor detail. Sharpening the photos in image-editing software helps a little, but the results still fall far short of what better 3-megapixel models can capture. Colors are flat and lifeless--an equally difficult problem to correct.
Adding insult to injury, the lens shows fairly severe barrel distortion at its wide-angle setting and displays pincushion distortion at its telephoto position. Both kinds of distortion make straight lines appear curved. The lack of image detail might not be much of a concern if you don't make prints larger than 5x7, but the color and distortion problems will show up even in small prints.
In fairness, we should note that our exposures were generally good, and we detected little noise in our shots. However, those are small consolations in light of the camera's image-quality defects.