The X400 is a cut above most budget camcorders when it comes to zoom. It offers a 23x optical telephoto, rather than the digital-only variety, although this is augmented by a 120x digital zoom you can’t turn off. The image stabilisation is still electronic, though, and onlly has one mode. Although it’s better than nothing, we didn’t find it tremendously effective.
All of the X400’s settings are accessed via an icon-driven menu which is called up on the 3in touchscreen. Three icons at the top provide rapid access to a selection of frequently-used functions. One toggles the built-in video light, which has limited range but is still welcome in a budget camcorder. There’s also a setting Toshiba calls Digital Light. This is essentially a video gain booster, which brightens the image in poor illumination, at the expense of some image quality. A second button lets you switch quality modes, and a final button enables backlight compensation, always a handy setting to have readily available.
The remaining functions are only accessible via the full menu. This is also icon-driven, which makes some functions hard to find as their icons are a little obscure. For example, image stabiliation and motion detection use an icon of a hand and a person, but both are leaving trails so you have to think twice about which is which. Fortunately, each icon requires two clicks to access; the first click merely brings up a text description at the bottom of the screen, so you can check you have the right function before committing.
There aren’t many of the manual settings we usually expect from a camcorder, either. There’s no facility for manual focusing, nor direct control over exposure, let alone shutter and iris. White balance presets include sunny, fluorescent and tungsen alongside the fully automatic option, but no manual setting. Even the range of scene modes is pretty meagre, with just night, backlight compensation and soft skin mode included in this section. You do get a macro mode and control over how the exposure is measured, with auto, centre and spot options. There’s also face tracking available and a pre-rec buffering function to help prevent you missing a shot due to being slow on the shutter.