Despite the Gigashot’s high video quality specification, Toshiba hasn’t included a lot of features for the enthusiast. The body of the camcorder would have been big enough for an accessory shoe, but there isn’t one. The AV connections are all output only, and don’t include a microphone input nor headphone minijack. At least the battery is not enclosed, opening the possibility of larger capacities than the 1,200mAh unit supplied in the box. A 2,400mAh battery is an optional extra.
In the default Auto mode, the camera takes care of absolutely all settings. The only options available to the user are zooming and initiating a recording. The auto button glows blue when activated, and so do the buttons for zoom and record – presumably to guide the total novice. The system of powering on and off when the LCD panel is opened and closed is also convenient for the new user.
But switch out of auto mode and a few manual controls do become available. Separate buttons are provided for the built-in video light and backlight compensation, and the joystick can enable manual focus, exposure control, scene modes and flash configuration. Manual focusing operates via a wheel on the edge of the LCD, rather than a lens ring, but it is still quite easy to use. Scene modes include Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night Scene, Snow&Beach, Sunset and Stage. The exposure control provides settings from -6 to +6, but there is no indication how this relates to aperture or shutter, and no direct control over either.
The rest of the functions require a trip to the menu system. You can use either the joystick or the wheel on the LCD edge for navigation. Aside from basic camera settings, the menu lets you raise the video gain to one extra level. You can switch between averaged and spot metering for exposure, toggle focus assist, and select one of the five preset white balance settings, or fully manual mode. There’s even an x.v.Color mode, and the option to increase or reduce microphone sensitivity a notch – a kind of poor man’s audio level control. But there are none of the widgets starting to appear on Sony and Panasonic camcorders to help improve the abilities of complete novices. So no face detection or shooting guides.
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