So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Relatively low price
- High levels of fringing, Noisy shots, Poor colour balance, Some under sharpening
The UDC-7M performed poorly in almost all of our tests, producing noisy, soft shots that had noticeable haloing. We'd recommend you steer clear of this unit if you're after a compact camera.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
A new entrant into the compact camera market, Uniden aren't nearly as experienced as companies like Canon and Olympus, and it really shows in their first 7 megapixel unit, the UDC-7M.
Testing revealed issues in pretty much every department, including high levels of fringing and chromatic aberration, colour representation problems and extremely prominent image noise. Coupled with a rather plain design and basic menu system, this makes for a rather unappealing compact camera.
It was evident from the moment we opened our outdoors shots that this camera has some severe problems. The fringing found was some of the worst we've ever seen, occurring not just in areas of high contrast or bright backlighting, but across the entire shot. It appears mostly as blue and red haloing, and severely detracts from the quality of the pictures.
Thus it was no surprise when the camera scored .159% in Imatest's chromatic aberration test. This is quite a poor result for a camera in this category, and mirrors what we saw in our test shots. The score of 1432 for sharpness is quite a bit better, and is about what we'd expect from a mid-range 7 megapixel unit. However Imatest also revealed excessive levels of under sharpening, giving it a score of 27% in this area, which is particularly high. This also came across in our test shots, particularly our outdoor shots, where everything had a distinctly soft look to it, which somewhat counteracted the fairly solid sharpness score.
The colour results were not much better. Imatest awarded the UDC-7M with a 10.6 rating in its colour check test. Most compacts score around 7 in this category, with very few falling above 10. There were errors evident in most parts of the spectrum, with reds, blues greens and yellows all exhibiting some noticeable inaccuracy.
While colour performance was a little below average, the noise results were far worse. With an Imatest score of .96% for noise at ISO 100, the UDC-7M really suffered in this regard. Very few cameras score over .7%, with most achieving results around .5%. Our shots at this sensitivity exhibited noticeable fine noise that caused speckling and blurring around edges. However, where the UDC-7M really suffered was when we ramped up the ISO settings. At ISO 400 it scored a rather large 2.65%, the sort of result we normally see from a mediocre camera at ISO 800 or ISO 1600, while at its highest setting of ISO 800, it received a mammoth 6.52%. We have never had a camera score close to this high, even at ISO 1600 or greater, and our shots at this level were completely unusable.
The interface system is quite basic, offering all the features grouped together in a single menu, rather than split up like most cameras have these days. It is fairly simple to operate, and offers most of the things you'd expect, including white balance presets, several focus modes and exposure compensation. There are also 14 scene modes, a two frame per second burst mode and standard 640x480 video shooting. Take note, the burst mode is not immediately obvious as Uniden has hidden it in a separate menu, accessed via the video camera button, rather than representing it with the standard burst mode icon. This makes it quite difficult to find the first time around.
In our speed tests the UDC-7M performed reasonably, but was still a little slower than normal. With a .12 second shutter lag and 3.1 second start-up time it isn't the speediest camera around, but its 1.9 second shot-to-shot time is a little more impressive.
The design is fairly plain, with a generic matte silver colour scheme and a boxy form factor. Despite being constructed mostly of plastic it feels rather sturdy, and should be able to take a few knocks without any issues. The controls are similarly minimalist; a directional pad and menu button do the majority of the work. New users should have no trouble operating the unit.
One area we were slightly more impressed with was the battery life. Uniden quote it at approximately 300 shots, running off the included lithium ion battery, and we found this to be quite close to the mark. This is a solid performance by the UDC-7M, and is on par with more expensive models in this category.
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