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The first portable video cameras were so big they needed two people to carry them around. But camcorders have been getting smaller every year, and Toshiba is claiming yet another record with the Camileo S20. At just 17mm thick, this is the thinnest Full HD camcorder currently on the market, making even Sony’s HDR-TG7VE look like a porker.
The S20 weighs just 115g without the battery, and it’s small enough to fit into a jacket, trouser or even shirt pocket without causing an unsightly bulge. You can purchase it in no less than eight different colours, including ivory white, blue, chocolate brown, orange, pink, ruby red, silver, and black. So there’s sure to be a version to suit your outfit.
The sensor is a 5-megapixel CMOS, but Toshiba doesn’t divulge its dimensions, and the optics are fixed. There is a macro switch on the top of the device, which works in the same way as with other fixed-lens camcorders such as JVC’s PICSIO GC-FM1, moving the lens so close objects are in focus. Toshiba throws a hefty dollop of interpolation at the sensor to provide 16-megapixel still images. However, the resulting images lack the detail you would expect for their resolution.
The S20 records H.264 video, with four different quality options. Three operate at 30 frames/sec, including 1080p Full HD, 720p, and VGA. A further mode runs at 60 frames/sec with a curious resolution of 848 x 480. There is a small amount of memory built in, but with just 96MB free it’s really only sufficient to check the camcorder is working. So you will need to invest in some SDHC media to get shooting. A 4GB card will be enough for around an hour of footage at the top Full HD setting.
The range of controls is greater than with pocket Internet camcorders, but not by much. There are separate buttons to switch video quality, turn on the built-in video light, and toggle between camera and camcorder modes. A final button turns on the Pre-REC buffering function, which spools video constantly, then adds it onto the beginning of a shot when you press record, reducing your chance of missing something.
Everything else goes through the jog dial. There are white balance presets for daylight plus fluorescent and tungsten artificial lighting, but there’s no manual option. The scene mode section includes a selection of digital effects alongside a soft skin mode, night mode and backlight compensation.
But there aren’t any options to change shutter speed, iris, or focusing, and no more advanced scene modes. As we mentioned earlier, the lens is fixed, so there is no optical zoom available. There is a 4x digital zoom available, but even that only works when you’re not in 1080p mode, presumably because it requires surplus pixels on the sensor which aren’t available at this resolution. For similar reasons, the digital image stabilisation doesn’t work at 1080p, only when shooting at lower resolutions.
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