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Polaroid i1032 - Digital Camera Review-
Review Date: 03/11/2006
Rating: Average
Author: Stephen Waller
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Introduction:
Announced in May 2006, the Polaroid i1032 is a compact 10 megapixel digital camera with a 3x Optical/4x Digital zoom lens and a 2.4" LCD display. The 3x optical zoom lens is equivalent to 35 - 105mm on a 35mm camera. The Polaroid i1032 is available from around £125.99, this makes it good value for money for an compact digital camera. The camera is enclosed in a sturdy metal body and is available in silver only. It can record video in 640x480, 320x240, or 160x128 resolution at 30fps with sound. It can also function as a sound only recorder. It uses PictBridge Technology, a new industry standard which allows you to print images directly from an enabled camera to a compatible printer without using a PC or photo editing software. The body measures approx. 90 x 61 x 30 mm (without protruding parts), and weighs around 140g. excluding battery and memory card. The Polaroid i1032 is almost identical to the Praktica Luxmedia 10-X3 (also seen in Gold), BenQ C1000, Rollei da1325 Prego, Advent MP10, and others...

Polaroid have this to say about the camera:

"Slip the compact Polaroid i1032 into your pocket or purse and you're ready to capture the action no matter where you go! Delivers amazing quality with 10.0 megapixel images that are ideal for making breathtaking portraits, sharing over the Internet or via email. So easy to use with fully-automatic features. Just point and shoot for perfect pictures!"

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Panasonic Lumix FZ3)


Front - Camera off (Flash, self-timer LED, Lens, & bottom right, Microphone).


Front - Camera on (flash, lens, LED).


Back / right: On the left side are the power and USB sockets. On top is a small power button, and the capsule shaped shutter button. The back has the 2.4" screen, and working from top down, Zoom rocker button, Photo / Playback mode button, Menu button, camera ready LED, 4-way controller and central OK/Set button, information display button, and lastly the record mode button.


Top: Speaker, Small on/off button, capsule shaped shutter release.


Bottom - Plastic tripod mount, battery / memory card compartment.


The Polaroid i1032 comes with a rubber plastic cover, similar to "iPod Skins", this provides additional protection whilst still allowing you to use the camera as normal.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.


Size comparison.


Size comparison.


Size comparison, compared to the 10 megapixel Casio Exilim EX-Z1000.

Specifications / Features:

  • Sensor: 10 megapixel CCD
  • Lens: 3x Optical Zoom- 6 element glass (7.94 - 22.71mm)
  • Digital Zoom: 4x
  • Internal Memory: 32MB
  • Supported Memory Card: Secure Digital (SD)
  • Max. Memory Supported: 1 GB
  • LCD Display: 2.4"
  • Movie mode: Records 640 x 480 at 30fps with sound
  • Video Format: MPEG-4, AVI, WAV
  • ISO: Auto/50/100/200
  • Macro mode: ~5cm
  • Still Resolution: 3680 x 2760
  • Still Image Format: JPEG
  • Flash Modes: Off, Auto, Red eye reduction, Fill Flash
  • Battery Type: AA x 2

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Printed Manual
  • Silicone Skin
  • AV Cable,
  • USB Connection Cable,
  • 2 AA Batteries
  • Strap,
  • CD-ROM

Average box contents - There is limited memory provided with the camera. The silicone skin is useful protection in the rain. It's nice to see the inclusion of a Printed Manual.

Battery usage: Camera power usage seemed good as I was able to take well over 200 8mp photos with freshly charged 2500mAh batteries (around 180 filled the 512Mb SD card). When the batteries do run out, the camera displays"replace battery"(though this message came quite suddenly after the indicator had been showing half-charged batteries for some time). I could not find any reference (in the manual or quick guide) to battery life expectancy. This will vary considerably dependant on camera use (ie image size, flash & frequency of use) however, as it takes regular AAs, carrying spares should avert missing photo opportunities.

Camera Operation and Options: To turn the camera on, the power button has to be held down until the light comes on (about one second) and is ready for taking photos when the light stops flashing. The Photo / Play button switches the camera mode between photo and playback. The M button allows setting of quality preferences. The SCN button reveals 11 preset scene options as well as Program, Aperture, Shutter and full Manual priority. The SET button reveals aperture, shutter, white balance, ISO, and Exposure Value adjustment. The Left button on the four-way controller enables Macro, the Right button switches through the flash modes, and the bottom button self timer modes and multishot. The bottom left (wide-screen) button toggles through the on-screen display information options. The bottom right button switches between the recording modes.

Photo mode/menus:

Photo mode Shooting 'M' button menu

Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen has a high resolution and updates smoothly, it is clear and the text and menus are easy to read and the colours appear accurate. There is no live histogram available. Optical Viewfinder: There is no optical viewfinder.

The shooting 'M' button menu: This gives you access to the following settings in Photo mode: Resolution, Quality, Metering, Sharpness, Effect, Date Stamp, Digital Zoom, & Setup, which has a submenu for sounds, auto review delay, power save, date & time, language, file number, TV format, USB, welcome image, format & reset to default.

Shooting 'SCN' button menu Shooting 'SET' button menu

The shooting 'SCN' button menu: Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, Portrait,Landscape, Night scene, Sunset, Sports, Kids,Beach & Snow, Backlight, Fireworks, Close-Up, Text.

As well as the usual preset scene modes, having aperture, shutter or full manual priority options is a useful bonus.

The shooting 'SET' button menu: Aperture, shutter speed, white balance, ISO, and EV are available dependant on the preset selected in scene mode. Selecting M in 'SCN', would enable all options.

Playback (Review) mode options:

View View video playback

View mode: Scrolling through the photos is quick and there is a slide show option as well as various editing functions. The zoom is quick up to 5x and has the option of cropping the original to the zoomed in section.

The View 'M' button menu: protect, delete, slide show, DPOF, copy to card, effect, rotate, resize, voice memo, s. image (welcome picture) and setup.

View 'M' button menu View 'SCN' button menu

Picture Size / Quality: The chart below gives an indication of the number of images the internal memory will store at specific image sizes and settings.

Image Size:
Number of Photos Stored / Quality
Super fine
Fine
Normal
10mp (3648x2736)
5
9
14
3:2 (3648x2432)
5
11
16
8mp (3264x2448)
6
12
18
5mp (2560X1920)
9
20
30
3mp (2048X1536)
16
30
49
VGA (640X480)
164
295
435

As shown in the table above, higher quality images take a large amount of memory, and you can't fit very many photos in the provided memory, so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended. The manual suggests the Polaroid i1032 supports up to 1Gb SD. There is a reasonable choice of image sizes and compression.

A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to be away from a computer for a long time (such as when going on holiday) then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in. This camera takes only secure digital memory. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Polaroid i1032:

Find the latest prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 256mb: £5.75, 512mb: £5.50, 1gb (1000mb): £14.22
Need more help deciding what memory card to buy? Have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards or our article what size memory card should I buy?

Speed: The camera takes 3 seconds to switch on. It takes roughly 4.5 seconds to switch on, focus and take the photo. Focusing is quick in average light at around 0.4 - 0.5 seconds set to wide angle, but slower when using macro. Shutter response is fairly quick at around 0.1 - 0.2 seconds. Shot to shot time is average at around 2.0 seconds between shots (with review switched on), with flash switched on this shot to shot time is around 10 seconds. Continuous shooting allows you to take 4 shots at roughly 1 frame every two seconds (flash not an option). Playback mode is fairly quick, and it's easy to zoom up to 5x on your last shot and check for blur with the zoom control. Moving from picture to picture is very quick, however it shows you a blurred version first and then shows you a sharper version a second later. Moving around the different menu options is rapid. The screen updates in photo mode are generally very quick and smooth.

Ease of use: The camera is intuitive in use, even though there are quite a lot of options and features. The controls on the back are fairly easy to use - the menus are responsive and easy to read. The shooting/recording modes are easy to access, with a dedicated button. There are numerous pre-set scene modes to enable you to take photos in different situations, and this is where you can select shutter, aperture, or manual priority.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position and in easy reach for using the camera with one hand. The number of buttons for a mainly automatic point and shoot digital camera appear to be right. They feel okay, although the shutter release, being capsule shaped, will not function well if pressed at either end. Personally, I would have preferred a round one. The buttons are labeled fairly well. I thought the camera felt okay ergonomically, although there is very little in the way of a handgrip. The battery compartment cover seems to be well positioned and easy to open, though if not treated with care, could easily be damaged.

Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Polaroid i1032 Sample Photo Gallery!

Inside:

Stephen with Cordoba (preset 'portrait' 10Mp ISO50) Group photo (soft focus,preset 'back light' ISO100)

Inside: The camera has quite good, well saturated colour - this one used portrait as preset, with no noticeable red-eye. Unless the subject is central, focus will be eratic. The flash is quite adequate and over exposed in some instances with colse-ups. (Notice some barrelling with wall picture, and purple fringing in flash reflections) Exposure and colour is good with larger group photos. The camera did a fairly good job at focusing most of the time even in low-light.

ISO Noise Test: Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO: 50, 100, 200)

Below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 10 megapixel Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 and as a reference point, the 6 megapixel Canon Powershot A700.

Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 Polaroid i1032 Canon Powershot A700
Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 Polaroid i1032 Canon Powershot A700
ISO50 - Actual Pixels ISO50 - Actual Pixels ISO80 - Actual Pixels 1/2 f3.2
ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels 1/4 f3.2
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels 1/8 f3.2
 
ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - N/A ISO400 - Actual Pixels 1/15 f3.2
 
ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - N/A ISO800 - Actual Pixels 1/30 f3.2
SO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - N/A ISO1600 - N/A
ISO3200 - Actual Pixels ISO3200 - N/A ISO3200 - N/A

The Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 noise is very colourful and blotchy being made out of mainly large red, green and blue dots. It's easy to see why the Polaroid i1032 has decided to limit ISO options when looking at the Casio's results, in fact the Polaroid results appear slightly less noisey and slightly sharper, so perhaps Polaroid could have provided an ISO400 mode as well.

Outside:

Rose outside (ISO100) Lytham Windmill(ISO50)

Outside: The camera has quite rich, saturated colours, with good contrast and fairly good detail. There was no noticeable vignetting in any photos.

Zoom: This camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the optical and digital zoom is capable of.

Wide-angle (ISO50) 3x Optical Telephoto (ISO50) Full Optical + Digital Zoom

Exposure: The photos of the clock tower are exposed well with detail in the dark areas as well as the lighter areas - exposure in other photos varied considerably. Purple fringing is evident in the wide angle and 3x optical zoom photo. Vignetting was low on all photos.

Lens noise and zoom: The lens is fairly quiet in operation. The lens gives reasonable control over how you frame your subject with about 24 steps between wide and telephoto zoom. The zoom button is very responsive (sensitive), particularly in playback mode.

Purple Fringe (Top Left section ISO50) Purple Fringe Source(ISO50)

Other Image Quality issues: Exposure using the Normal preset was varied, however selecting the appropriate metering mode (Center, Multi or Spot), or preset may overcome this. Purple fringing was quite bad in high contrast areas near picture corners. This is a lens quality issue, which becomes more exaggerated the higher the resolution of the picture, and will be a limitting factor as far as to how much enlarging will be practical.

Macro: the macro mode allows you to focus between .05M and 1M on wide angle and .25 and 1M using Telephoto. The manual does not recomend the use of flash for macro shots closer than 20 to 30 Cm.

Macro Pulsar (10Mp ISO100) Actual Pixels (ISO100)

Noise seems low in this photo and colour is good.

Video mode: The camera features video in 640x480, 320x240, or 160x128 resolution at 30fps with sound. Video quality and length seemed quite good even in low light.

Conclusion

Image Quality: Exposure can be hit and miss with this camera when outside on bright sunny days, it can however produce some excellent colours, and very good macro photos on duller days. Purple fringing was quite bad in high contrast areas near picture corners, and will become more noticeable, on prints larger than A4. This is a lens quality issue, which becomes more exaggerated the higher the resolution of the picture. The camera was generally competent at focusing. I noticed slight barreling but no pincushion distortion. There is a good range of image sizes, and compression options, and a choice of two aspect ratios. Auto white balance seemed to be good. The camera gives you good options to customise images - there are three sharpness and metering settings and full manual exposure, for example. The more experienced photographer should find the manual options quite useful. The camera will display a shaking hand, to warn you could end up with blurry pictures, especially in low light, or when using the zoom. (5/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is compact and quite stylish, however grip isn't one of the cameras strong points. The shutter release button, if not pressed centrally fails to respond. The camera is straight-forward to use, the menu system is easy to use and the layout of buttons and controls is good. There is a very good choice of features and options. The camera switch on, focusing and shutter speed is reasonable, but the continuous shooting mode seems slow. The screen size and resolution is good at 2.4", and the build quality appears good. Battery life is good. The video mode has a decent range of resolutions at 30fps with sound. (7/10)

Value for Money: The Polaroid i1032 10 megapixel digital camera with a 3x Optical/4x Digital zoom lens and a 2.4" LCD display at around £125.99, is good value for money, and is one of the cheapest compact digital cameras available with these specifications, however spending slightly more money is likely to get you a better quality camera with better image quality. (6/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Polaroid i1032 is a quite stylish, 10 megapixel digital camera with a 3x optical zoom lens and a 2.4" screen. It has a lot of manual features available to control picture quality. In this case, the Polaroid i1032 is noticeably let down by the lens, as it produces worrying purple fringing (chromatic aberrations), emphasised when using higher resolutions, so no matter how much post-processing goes on, this aspect of image quality will always be a weak point. Exposure appeared inconsistent, though it was possible to compensate for this with more considered use of the presets or some post processing (the worst photos were left out of the gallery). As the lens design does not support the 10 megapixel CCD resolution, polaroid have failed to capitalise on its benefits, and it performs like a camera with a smaller CCD.

Polaroid i1032: Average (6/10)
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What I like:

  • Full manual options
  • Good battery life
  • Blur warning

What I don't like:

  • Purple fringing
  • Inconsistent exposure
  • Self-timer refocuses after the countdown!
  • Limited ISO settings

Additional Test Images are viewable in the Polaroid i1032 Sample Photo Gallery.

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