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Polaroid x530 Foveon - Digital Camera Preview
Preview Date: 13/04/05
Rating: Not yet rated.


Introduction: The Polaroid x530 should be available soon, and is currently available in very limited quantities from some Argos stores in London. The camera features a 1.5mp/4.5mp Foveon CMOS sensor, a 3x optical zoom lens, and a 2" colour screen. The camera is enclosed in a textured black plastic body. It records 3 minute long 640x480 / 15fps and 320 x 240 / 30fps videos with sound.

The camera's quite chunky with the following size: 105 x 61 x 71 mm. (without protruding parts), and weighs 238g (without the battery and memory card)

Update 15/04/05: Review postponed indefinitely due to the product being recalled. As such it is not fair to comment on image quality, and/or camera performance, as these could be drastically different when the final product is released. When the final product is released I hope to have a complete review posted on this page. Click here for more details.

Polaroid have this to say about the camera:

"The Polaroid X530 is the world's premier digital-image maker, creating pictures with a quality that has never been seen before! This has all been made possible by the Foveon X3 direct image sensor which, based on the color film principle, captures all of the color information in three pixel layers, and a newly developed chip: the ASF19. As a result, color is reproduced naturally on each pixel location and the signal is converted with total precision into image information. This method differs from all other digital cameras, where several pixel locations were used to calculate the signal.

The Polaroid X530 also comes with unique PhotoLab software program which includes the Foveon X3 Fill light tool to assist in situations where the picture does not quite work out due to difficult lighting. With this tool, sensational results can be achieved without any prior knowledge of image editing. What's more the X530 also offers an image editing menu* which enables pictures to be edited directly on the camera, right on the spot."

* This feature isn't available in camera with X3F / RAW images.

The Camera: It's compact and made out of rubberised black plastic.
(Photos of the camera taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3)


Front - Camera off.


Front - Camera on, lens extended, flash, microphone (above x530 lettering), AF-assist lamp, optical viewfinder, shutter, and rubberised handgrip.


Back - the 2" TFT screen, optical viewfinder, on/off switch, zoom control, menu button, flash/delete button, self-timer / continuous shooting, display button, 4-way controller / OK button, function button.


Top - mode dial, shutter, and speaker.


Bottom, under the camera there is a metal? tripod mount, and the battery and memory compartment.


Left Side (from back) nothing on this side.


USB, TV Out, and DC-in which is used to charge the battery whilst the battery is in the camera.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic.


Size comparison.


Size comparison.


Size comparison next to the 4 megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS1.

Specifications / Features:

  • Foveon X3 direct image sensor
  • 3x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom, auto focus lens
  • SD Card compatible
  • 2" colour TFT LCD screen
  • Raw or JPEG still image capture
  • Auto or Manual white balance (manual white balance is not an in camera feature)
  • Macro focus (from 1cm)
  • Manual focus
  • Movie mode: Record 640 x 480 at 15fps and 320 x 240 at 30fps with sound
  • In-camera editing: Rotate, Crop, Remove red-eye
  • ISO: Auto ISO, Manual ISO 100, 200, 400
  • TV Out

The Box:

Box Contents:

  • Polaroid x530 Digital Camera
  • Quick Guide
  • Warranty Card
  • Card reader
  • 32mb SD Card
  • Lithium-Ion battery
  • USB Cable
  • AC Adapter
  • Video Cable
  • Neck Strap
  • Lens cap and strap (although not needed)
  • CD-Rom (inc driver, manual, PhotoLab etc)

Good box contents - 32mb is an average size memory card for a 5 megapixel camera, a usb memory card reader is a welcome addition, as is the provision of various different plug types. A printed manual would be nice, as this would make the camera even easier to use.

Resolution / The Foveon Sensor:

In the manual it states the 1.5mp (1408x1056) setting is the default and optimal resolution setting, they recommend this setting for printing. For further details on the differences between the Foveon sensor and standard 'Bayer' sensor, please see Foveon's website.

Polaroid x530 PhotoLab Software / X3F (RAW) Format:

The Polaroid x530 allows you to take RAW photos, these record exactly what the sensor is seeing, giving you greater range and potential to fix image problems later - to do this the camera comes with Polaroid Photolab, as shown below:


Polaroid Photolab - Click to enlarge.

The program has various settings, such as X3F, which is the image straight from the camera, Auto, which auto corrects the image, and Custom, which allows you to manually adjust exposure, contrast, shadow, highlight, saturation, sharpness, and 'X3 Fill light', as well as colour, white balance etc. When saving the image, you have the choice of saving it as a 1.5mp image (in brackets it has 'optimal' next to this resolution), or as a 4.5mp (print) image, or a 0.5mp (email) image.

Photolab seems to do a better job of turning the 1.5mp image into a 4.5mp image than the in camera 4.5mp option, although the image is still quite soft, and could do with further sharpening. Tweaking the sharpness seems to improve image quality - however my custom settings above seem to have made the image shown have too much contrast. After some more experimenting, and changing the white balance to Flash, I seemed to get a better result, as shown below.

RAW + AUTO RAW + CUSTOM

Taking RAW images equates to about a 6.5mb raw file. Not only does this mean you may need to spend more time processing the images, but you'll also need a bigger memory card to store the photos. (Full size versions of these images can be found in the gallery).

* Please note that this camera is a pre-production / recalled camera so please disregard comments regarding image quality, as this may be drastically different when the camera is released. More details here.

Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.