Toshiba Camileo S20
HD video on a budget
Review Toshiba’s Camileo S20 is aimed at a very demanding consumer. The type of consumer who wants a highly portable pocket camcorder with HD recording, and yet, has a budget of just £120. So, the Camileo S20 seems to offer it all – price, performance and portability. But can it really deliver so much for so little?
Light in the hand and on the wallet: Toshiba's Camileo S20
The Camileo S20 looks stylish and comes in a choice of four colours – pink, red, silver and black. It’s a super-slim model measuring 59 x 106 x 17mm and weighing around 120g with battery and card. Within its compact body is a 5Mp 1/2.5in CMOS chip, f/3.2 fixed focus lens, 4x digital zoom, video light and the ability to record Full HD (1920 x 1080/30p) video, as well as 720/30p HD, WVGA and VGA video.
It also offers still photo shooting at a standard 5Mp, with a '16Mp' high quality option, which uses interpolation. Video is shot in the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format, and stills are in JPEG format. You also get a 3-inch flip-out LCD screen (230,400 dots resolution) and 96MB of internal memory for recording – it takes SD/SDHC cards too, inserted from a slot hidden behind a plastic cover on the top of the S20. The unit is powered by a lithium-ion battery and has an internal charger.
Round the back is another plastic cover conceals AV, HDMI and mini USB ports. In both the video and photo modes, you can select from seven scene options. The video mode also has several effects: time lapse, slow motion, digital stabilisation and motion detection. There are also four white balance settings for photo and video modes, plus two selectable ISO speeds (800 and 1600) for still photo shooting.
Considering the price, the Camileo S20 comes with a superb set of accessories. As well as the usual battery, charger, AV and USB cables, you also get an HDMI cable, mini tripod, UK and Euro plug adapters, cleaning cloth and pouch. There are also CD-ROMs containing Arcsoft software and a trial version of Magix Movie Edit Pro 15. Alas, both are for PC only. Indeed, the only major disappointment is the lack of support for platforms other than Windows.
Made with Windows users in mind
While your mileage may vary, recent versions of Apple’s iMovie video editing software do support AVCHD, although no Toshibas appear on the compatibility list. As with many camcorders, you need to be tethered to the device to import this footage – copying off an AVC file to the desktop to import to iMovie later won’t work. That said, we did use the eternally useful Handbrake to transcode S20 AVI files this way. The application can be tweaked to output more than just iPhone and Apple TV-friendly clips that can be used by other software.
A budget camera, yes.
I bought one of these and it is pants.
Not what I would call HD quality, my pocket stills camera takes better video and the zoom on the S20 is woefull.
re: Why not 24p mode as well
Off the top of my head, I would say because of the following:
Problems with fast motion – as a format 24p handles this less well that shooting at more frames per second. You really need to plan your shooting in order to avoid choppy footage, which means it’s not great for capturing ‘the moment’, which is why many buy this kind of camera.
Lack of editing software that can natively handle 24p – really you’re looking at pro software that can handle it well. Similarly how many consumers will have the hardware to burn blu-ray?
Cheapness of the camera – at this price, I doubt many are seeing the camera as a long-term investment and therefore aren’t looking at a ‘future-proof’ buy. The price point is low enough to be a strong impulse buy when the latest and greatest version comes out.
24p, what? – I suspect a lot of consumers don’t know what hell that is, let alone care.
The way users output footage – although some of these cameras produce great results and would be suitable for professional uses (especially if there’s an external mic input like the Zi8), an awful lot of users will using it to email clips or uploading them to YouTube (more than a few cameras are marketed as being great for YouTube).
Re: your last point (“Or do movie-makers want to leave their precious footage on a more delicate, easily deletable, flash memory card that will fill up, or a hard drive that could crash?”), well as we all know every computer user takes a robust approach to such things…
I got the sister model of this camcorder last year on release... its awful it may technically be HD, but in 1080i your hard pressed to notice it over the compression and interlace errors, the colours too were crazy! try videoing a 2 yearold on his new trampoline in the sunshine... nope! it worked ok for almost static subjects though! in the end, sent it back waited a few months and got the kodak, which is much better, but not a patch on the titanium sony thing my mum bought!!
overall, the kodak is passable, the Tosh - an SD camcorder produces a better image!