It's two weeks since we caught news of the 4 megapixel PDR-M81 from Toshiba Japan. Toshiba US will present the PDR-M81 on Monday at Digital Focus and PC Expo. We've just received the official press release. Labelled as 4.2 megapixels the camera outputs a 2400 x 1600 image (3:2 ratio) which works out at 3.84 megapixels. It has an (unusual) 2.8x optical zoom lens (made by Canon) supports Print Image Matching, weighs in at 240 g (no batts) with an expected retail price of approx. US$600.

Toshiba Shatters Four Megapixel Barrier with New PDR-M81 Digital Camera

Toshiba Sets New Standard for Consumer Digital Camera Excellence, PDR-M81 Offers 4.2 Megapixel Performance, AVI Video/Audio Recording, Advanced Auto/Manual Operations, USB Connectivity & Newly Designed Lens System

IRVINE, CA, June 18, 2001 -- Toshiba Imaging Systems, a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., today announced that it is bringing the powerful imaging capabilities of a 4.2 Megapixel CCD sensor to its award-winning digital camera line-up by launching the new PDR-M81 digital camera.

The PDR-M81 digital camera will be shown publicly for the first time at the PC EXPO trade show in New York, New York, on June 24, 2001. It is expected to be on store shelves in July with an MSRP under $1,000.

With its ability to capture high-resolution 2400 x 1600 images, the PDR-M81 raises the quality bar for consumer digital picture taking. Aiming to appeal to the broadest range of consumers, business people and photographers, Toshiba engineers cleverly combined the PDR-M81's next generation imaging technology with a user-friendly "point and shoot" design and a wealth of exciting audio/video features.

"The PDR-M81 brings to the market an unprecedented level of imaging performance, making it an ideal choice for photographers making the transition from analog to digital imaging, as well as for current digital camera users looking to upgrade to the next level," said Doug Freck, Vice President & General Manager, Toshiba Imaging Systems. "While other manufacturers are talking about consumer digital photography someday reaching the same quality as traditional photographic film, Toshiba is doing it here and now."


Boasting an awesome 4.2 million-pixel CCD sensor along with a 35mm-equivalent lens (35-98mm) with 6X zoom, the PDR-M81 captures images of such natural color and clarity that they truly mirror the appearance of pictures taken with non-digital cameras. Printing these images at 300dpi yields eye-catching photographs suitable for framing or family photo books, or for archiving and sharing memories digitally on a CD. In addition, business people will find that they can easily incorporate the camera's JPEG-format images into top-notch looking brochures, reports and presentations. Plus, thanks to the camera's ability to shoot at lower-resolution settings (1200 x 800, 720 x 480), the PDR-M81 is also perfect for producing internet-ready photography and video for web pages or e-mail attachments.

The PDR-M81's arsenal of professional-level features includes a newly redesigned lens (f=7.25-20.3mm) equipped with a 2.8X optical zoom and a 2.2X digital zoom. The lens has a macro mode for photographing subjects as close-up as four-inches away. The all-glass Canon® lens was designed using 7 elements in 5 groups to reduce distortion and provide maximum resolution.


The PDR-M81's automatic settings take the guesswork out of digital photography. Features such as a high-precision auto white balance; an auto exposure control that automatically selects the best aperture and shutter speed for a specific setting; an auto-focusing system; and auto-sensing flash technology that adjusts flash output to lighting conditions, allow new users to experience the fun and satisfaction of being a digital photographer just minutes after taking the camera out of the box.

In addition to the convenience of automatic operation, the PDR-M81 comes equipped with manual features to aid discriminating photographers in achieving their own personal vision. The user-selectable white balance settings accommodate for diverse lighting conditions such as outdoors, cloudy, incandescent and fluorescent. The full manual exposure control enables the user to select the appropriate shutter speed (1/2 second to 1/1000 second) and f-stop in 1/2-stop increments up to +/- 2 stops.

There is also an aperture priority AE mode for choosing the f-stop, as well as a shutter priority AE mode for selecting the right shutter speed to capture images of fast-moving subjects. Photo enthusiasts will also appreciate the greater control afforded by the camera's manual focusing, burst shot mode, and range of ISO settings.

Boasting a working range up to ten feet, the built-in flash system has several modes to choose from including slow-sync for artistic photography involving moving or low light subjects. Other modes are automatic, red-eye reduction, and fill-in flash.


Among the smallest digital cameras available, the PDR-M81 makes a striking impression with its highly polished silver and black color scheme. And while it weighs less than 8.5 ounces and sports pocketsize dimensions, it is laden with today's most in-demand features.

As a legacy feature of the popular Toshiba PDR-M70 camera released a year ago, the PDR-M81 has an AVI movie mode that lets users film up to three minutes of video at 160 x 120 resolution (15 fps), or 60 seconds at 320 x 240 (15 fps). Sound can be recorded during the video filming by using the camera's built-in microphone. When the video is finished it can be viewed on a computer monitor, a television (NTSC/PAL), or on the camera's 1.5-inch polysilicon color LCD. The video can even be used to spruce up a web page or as a creative e-mail attachment.

The PDR-M81 features automatic playback of images on its LCD so users can view and select which pictures they want to keep or erase. This process is made easier by a digital 2X zoom that allows for zeroing in on areas within a specific picture. Other playback options include a multi-frame playback for viewing up to 9 images at once, and an automatic slideshow.

Accessories include an 8MB SmartMedia card, a USB cable for fast downloading of images, serial cable, wrist strap, protective lens cap, a soft carrying case, and a CD-ROM containing a USB driver and Sierra Imaging's popular ImageExpert® software for managing, editing and accessing images.

The Toshiba PDR-M81 camera is Windows® and Macintosh® compatible. Four AA-sized batteries power it.

Toshiba PDR-M81 specifications

CCD * 1/1.8" 4.2 megapixel (3.84 megapixels effective)
Image sizes 2400 x 1600, 1200 x 800, 720 x 480
Image ratio 3:2
Lens 2.8x optical, 35 - 98 mm (equiv.) - Canon lens (F2.9 - F4.8)
Digital zoom Up to 2.2x
Focus range Normal: 80 cm - Infinity
Macro: 10 cm - Infinity (Wide), 25 cm - Infinity (Tele)
Sensitivty ISO 100 / 200 / 400
Shutter speed Auto: 1/2 - 1/1000 sec
Manual: up to 15 sec
Exposure compen. +/-2 EV in 0.5 EV steps
Exposure modes Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Full Manual, Auto Bracketing
Continuous shooting 1.3 fps, max 7 images. Multi-image 16 frames in one shot mode
Movie mode 320 x 240 / 160 x 120 (max 3 minutes), with audio, AVI M-JPEG
Compliance EPSON Print Image Matching
LCD 1.5" TFT
Connectivity USB, AV out (NTSC / PAL switchable)
Power 4 x AA batteries (NiMH rechargeable recommended)
Storage SmartMedia (up to 128 MB)
Dimensions 107 x 47 x 71 mm
Weight (inc batts) 343 g
Availability July 2001 - Japan
Price 69,800 YEN (approx. US$600)

Click here for samples from a Beta PDR-M81 (posted by Yamada Kumio)

* CCD is likely to be the Sharp RJ21R3BA0PT.