Toshiba's upright camcorder, the Camileo S30, is designed for those on the go, wanting to capture spontaneous moments in full HD resolution (1080p) without breaking the bank. It's also incredibly light at 120 grams and slim at just 19mm thick. Equipped with an 8-megapixel CMOS sensor for its still images, the S30 does without optical zoom, opting instead for 16x digital zoom.
It's a simple camcorder, with limited control over anything like exposure control. The 3-inch touch LCD screen is really only good for changing the resolution of video capture, adjusting the LED light (which also has a dedicated physical button) and turning on image stabilisation. It's turned off by default. Other controls come down to image effects that can be applied on the video, such as scene modes, artistic filters and white balance adjustments.
At the top is a slot for SD cards, though there is a limited amount of internal storage, which is good for about one minute of full HD footage. The LED light is a great inclusion, useful for illuminating subjects evenly in day or night shooting. The S30 records in MP4 video or JPEG still images.
Connectivity is provided from a slot on the side, where the record, zoom rocker and control buttons are found. Lift the flap to reveal an AV, USB and mini-HDMI out port. The S30 also has a slow motion mode, but it uses the full extent of the digital zoom, and there's no image stabilisation available either, so it is pretty limited in its usefulness. A switch just above the lens adjusts it from macro to landscape mode.
Given the upright configuration, it's very easy to accidentally hold your finger over the lens or even worse, smudge it with your finger. The grip can also obscure the LED light. The S30 comes with a carrying case, hand strap, power adapter, USB video and HDMI cables, a cleaning cloth and software. It also comes with an ingenious little tripod.
We've tested a few of Toshiba's other budget camcorders before, and the S30 presents similar problems; slightly unsharp video images and a general mushiness. The lack of adequate manual control, and the fixed lens, means that many shots that should be fixable with a simple adjustment, can't be adjusted with the filters and settings that are found in the menu system. We expect better for a 1080p camcorder.
Still image quality is actually slightly better than video image quality, with increased sharpness. That said, the lens is a fixed focal length and fixed aperture, which means it does struggle with rendering highlights and blows out areas of bright light. Overall, the S30 produces images with good colour, but it will definitely not be replacing a dedicated still camera any time soon. As for audio, the quality is just OK.
A still from the S30 with full resolution crop inset. (Credit: CBSi)
Note that the video sample below was shot without image stabilisation — before we realised it was automatically turned off!
Toshiba's S30 will satisfy those happy to sacrifice video quality for a slim camcorder. Those looking for the best compromise between image quality, price and portability should look at something like the Sony Bloggie or Flip MinoHD.