Toshiba PDR-M60 Review (2000)
The Toshiba PDR-M60 was my first ever digital camera. Up until this point I was shooting everything on my Minolta Vectis S-1 APS SLR, or using disposable cameras on nights out. One of my art college flat mates had a Sony digital camera that took a floppy disk as media storage, and as my course was requiring more and more images in digital format, it made sense to shoot them that way instead of going through the annoyance of film processing and scanning.
This camera probably cost around as much as my SLR at the time. Digital was all very new. We were still using 56k dial up modems to connect to the internet - assuming no one wanted to use the phone! On the subject of phones, the Nokia 3310 was the phone of choice, when all you could do with it was make calls, text message, or play snake!
So what are some of the highlights of the Toshiba PDR-M60? Well it’s a 2.3 megapixel camera with a fairly mediocre optical zoom and very shocking digital zoom. Like my old Fujifilm FinePix 2800 Zoom, It recorded photos onto the Toshiba owned SmartMedia card, which is another thing that’s been consigned to history.
One of the quirks of this camera is that it has an optical viewfinder, much like a 35mm film point and shoot. You’d think this would be pointless and redundant, but actually, because of the speed this thing would eat through batteries, it was always better to use the viewfinder rather than the tiny tiny LCD screen.
With a maximum ISO rating of 400, this camera sucked in not even close to low light. The flash was all but pointless, and if you did use it, your batteries would run out even quicker. I remember going out for the day and packing 3 sets of extra batteries, and considering it takes 4x AA’s, that’s a thirsty machine!
The biggest complaint about the PDR-M60, and I fell foul of this is that the mode dial had a habit of ejecting itself from the camera, and because of the way it was attached, once off, it wouldn’t go back on. This was a problem because without the more dial, you couldn’t turn the camera on or off, view any of your pictures, or connect to a computer via USB, so basically it was useless at that point.
As far as photos go, the quality you get from this really is bad by today’s standards. I’ve attached some examples below. They’re all unedited, and whilst they’re passable when viewed small, the noise and lack of detail is really quite shocking, even when compared to a phone camera.
The other problem for me was that with an equivalent focal range of 38-86mm, I often struggled to zoom out enough to fit things in. Hence why I couldn’t get the whole of the Blue Whale in at the Natural History Museum.
There was a ‘Manual’ mode, but in reality this was the same a Program on most modern cameras, as all it did was give you exposure compensation, and even then only up to 1.5 stops in either direction.
It’s still fun to play with old film cameras, however, old digital cameras really don’t stand the test of time in much the same way unfortunately, and the Toshiba PDR-M60 is one that I am happy to leave stored away for nothing more than posterity’s sake.
What was your first digital camera? How does it compare to today’s offerings?