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I like to dabble in the fine art of picture taking, having a go with the video functions too, so when I'm out and about I generally use my mobile phone if I want to take a picture or video of something that catches my eye. (and no, I don't wait outside the ladies only Gym with a smile on my face... although I think I've seen that guy there sometimes).
Sometimes though, if I have purposely aimed to go somewhere, shall we say, scenic, such as a National Trust property, as I am a member and I like to get the full value of the annual fee, then I tend to take a camera to get some better pictures of the beautiful scenery that surrounds me.
A few month back though I was given a strange looking rectangular device which, on closer inspection, turned out to be a camcorder, which I decided to give it a go and head out to take some moving pictures, or as it's called in this modern times, video footage.
The camcorder that I was given didn't look like your normal camcorder, looking like a shoe box with buttons, it was a slim design with the lens on one corner. This one was in fact from a very well known company called Toshiba, with this camcorder going under the name of the Camileo s30, (which is not to be confused with other versions of the camileo range).
Firstly, I'll get my tape measure out and let you know how big the actual body of this camcorder is and why I said it did not look like your normal camcorder...
It's only about 120mm high by 60mm wide and 15mm thick, weighing in at a mere 120grams, (kitchen scales used there).
Now what I'd like to do before I go on is to take a look at the basic specs before I go into the camcorder itself... (let me look at the box and the booklet that seems to have fallen onto the floor..., arrr, here we go, I've found a few bits about it, ).
It is an 8MP camcorder
It has a 3inch LCD touch screen.
Digital zoom x4/x16
Full HD video capture with wide screen capabilities
1920 x 1080 maximum resolution.
It offers Electronic Image Stabiliser, which sounds technical.
There's the usual things that most camcorders offer, such as automatic everything, white balance, exposure, focus, although all the automatic functions can be over ridden and used manually, if your heart so desires.
As for what this one record in, well, video capture is M-PEG-4 and stills capture is J-PEG, which means that what ever you record can be moved onto a laptop/PC in an instant.
It does have a small internal memory, only 128MB, which is enough for a few seconds of decent footage really, but as it has an SDCard slot, which can take your standard size SD/SDHC card, you can slot in an extra 32GB of memory which can then record an entire movie when you're sat at the back of the cinema hoping that the bushy haired fat man who's sat in the seat directly in front of you doesn't suddenly stand up, (if that's what you want to do that is... I don't use mine for that purpose).
Other specs which may be of interest are...
Self timer for those vain people amongst us who like to take pictures of themselves
There's also a built in light for those darker places, although when using the light the battery will drain a lot quicker.
And a microphone so that you can catch your singing voice in full glory as you dance around the bedroom pretending you're auditioning for the Britain got no talent show.
It also offers USB connectivity so that you can connect it to your PC, although you do have to install the CD that comes with the camcorder in order to access the full functions of this one.
To use the CD ROMs direct on your PC your PC will have to have certain minimum requirements, such as...
Windows XP and above, (I'm not sure about Windows 8 as yet but it works fine on Windows 7). Also, your PC will need at least a 2.4GHz CPU running with at least 512MB RAM and have a spare 700MB of HDD space.
And of course a USB port to connect it all together.
But if you just want to transfer your pictures from this onto your PC then simple use the old fashioned SD card method where you take the card out of the camcorder and slot it into the PC, then transfer the data and replace the card... simples.
Apart from the camera and the two CD Roms, you also get a pouch, a cleaning cloth, a strap and a small but quite useful tripod, together with a few cables such as USB, AV, HDMI and the good old power adapter.
To be honest, it's not that many camcorders or camera, or anything of the like, that gives you all these leads, especially the HDMI cable, and the tripod is a bonus too, even if it's not the best on the market, it is still good enough to steady this unit.
The software you get with this unit is your basic drivers, together with a few extras on the CD, like Arcsoft MediaConverer, media impression and a trial version of something called MAGIX video deluxe.
* So shall we look at its design. What do you mean No..! What am I doing here then..?
I'm going to tell you anyway as I have this urge to let you know...call me selfish, call me what you want really.
Anyway, it is shaped like a slim rectangle. To be honest it's no bigger than an external hard drive. Along the front, or side, depending on which way you hold it, but I'll say along the side that the lens is on is the lens, obviously, which is at the top, with the light directly underneath it.
On the top there is the microphone, the memory card slot, which is protected by a sliding cover that is held in place with a thin piece of rubber. Then there's the Macro switch, which, for those that don't know what a macro switch does it makes taking very close up pictures come out as clear as day. This does take a bit of practice but once mastered it's amazing how good some close up pictures can really look, such as flowers with a bee buzzing about inside it.
Back to the looks of this camcorder. On the side/end, the larger flatter section, there is the rotating screen which, when twisted around, gently eases itself into the body of the camcorder and protects it from knocks. Then, when twisted out the other way, you can see exactly what your lens is pointing at.
When the screen is opened out it reveals a couple of buttons on one end, those being the mode button and the internet button, and the power button on the other end.
Above the screen, when it is back in place, there is the single speaker so you can hear what you have recorded during your time.
Finally, on the back end, the end opposite the lens, there are several buttons and ports, from the top, we have a couple of little lights that light up depending on whether you have the video or the still shots on. Then, as we go down, there's the record button, with the zoom buttons below that, the pause button comes next with the light button below. It then has the ports so that you can connect directly to either you PC or straight to a television, there's the HDMI, TV and finally the Mini USB port. All these ports are neatly hidden behind a lovely cover that slides open and closed.
Also, right at the bottom, there is a couple of little holes that are for sliding a piece of string through so that you can add a wrist strap to the unit in case you lose your grip when using it.
I nearly forgot, on the bottom, if you turn the camcorder upside down, there is the tripod thread socket which is standard size so there's no hassles if you don't want to use the tripod that comes with this unit.
* Is it easy to use...?
Simple as that really, next question..?
Kidding. No seriously, it is easier to use than turning a key in a lock. Unless the key snaps or the lock is older than my lucky underpants and is in no fit shape at all, (the lock not my lucky pants... although...!!! No).
All you have to do is make sure you charge up the battery, slot it into place, flip out the screen and then wait until the camera turns on automatically. If it doesn't turn on the you can simply press the power button.
Then it's a matter of opting for the stills or video option, which is done by either pressing the mode button or pressing the appropriate symbol on the screen, and seeing which light at the top illuminates.
The touch screen allows you to go into many settings, changing things to how you want the camcorder to run, giving you options such as motion detection, which puts the camcorder into a sort of sleep mode until someone, or something passes the lens and then the camcorder goes into action and begins to record. It also has a slow motion option which can be used to watch your footage slower, if that's what tickles you fancy.
There are many more options which are easily accessed by the press of a button or two on the touch screen.
As I said, simple to use.
And turning it off is even easier. You either shut the screen back into the closed position or press the power button again.
Then you put the camcorder away.
* Is the screen easy to see..?
Yes. It's on the side of the unit, you can't miss it once your pulled it away from the main body.
Ow, right, you mean the clarity... got you now.
The images are as clear as looking through a freshly cleaned window on a lovely sunny day and, to add extra bonus to it, there's plenty of little icons and the like that appear on the screen, around the edges, in order for you to know exactly what is happening inside the camcorder itself. Such things as the battery power, recording time, amount of images/video taken and amount of images/video that can be taken before the memory is full, timer icon, MP size, mode playing in and a few more things too.
All letting you get the best out of this flat camcorder that can fit into a shirt pocket, almost.
This really does look the part and is almost as easy to carry around with me as my mobile phone is, almost, and fits into certain pockets, such as my jacket.
It is a delight to hold, (blimey, I sound quite intelligent there... a delight..) and can so easily be held in one hand for a good length of time.
The buttons are all easy to access without even having to think to hard about where they are and how to get to them
The zoom button is more a slider which is easily pushed by my thumb so that zooming in and out from a shot is so quick and simple to do.
The record button is placed in a nice position making it easy to press yet it can't be accidentally knocked when you're about to get that most important bit of footage of that mouse running up some ladies leg in the forest of screaming monkeys, (Yorkshire, I think).
To be perfectly honest, if I may, it does look better closed, although when it's closed it's not really being used. The black body is nice and shiny, with the Toshiba logo and HD info the only real insults to the sleek look.
It's when you open out the screen that the silver of the interior section then seems to spoil the black colouring. Not enough to warrant turning away from it in disgust, but they could have stayed with the black colour throughout of maybe brightened the silver up a little. (although that could just be personal preference on my part).
The top part, where the lens is embedded in, can be seen as chunky, although it is only chunky as the lower section of the camcorder is slim.
The light is bright enough to make taking footage in the dark very easy indeed, giving clear enough pictures in the end. Although as I said, the light does take its toll on the battery after a while.
The touch screen isn't the most responsive and can drag a little, but not too much. In fact I've used laptop and phones with a worse touch screen that this. But when it does respond it shows you quickly and clearly just exactly what is there to be accessed and what this camcorder can do for you.
As for what is really the most important thing that a person want to know about a camcorder, will it sell well on E-Bay if I decide to get rid of it..????
Well, I should think so, without a doubt, just make sure you delete all your footage off before you send it to the buyer as you don't want that secret video of you and that lady from Amsterdam going global when it gets uploaded to youtube. I mean, what would your mother say?
No seriously, the most important thing about any camcorder, or camera, is the quality of the footage that it takes, and this one does a cracking job in doing both stills and video, although this does depend a lot on the steady hand of the person holding the thing.
I have taken several shots using this, both stills and video, distance shot and very close up shots, using the macro function. I've also used it when I myself was moving about and recording moving things as this is where a lot of 'blurring' comes into its own on many camcorders, but this one did fine in everything I threw at it.
In some shots it wasn't perfect but 99% of the time the finished products were as clear as the proverbial bell?
The sound quality is not that bad either, with the single speaker managing to give out enough noise so that you can hear what is on the footage easily enough. But this speaker has nothing to do with how the sound quality is when you transfer these to you PC as that is when you find out just how good the microphone is. Which again is second to none as it picks up everything, even things that you don't really want picking up. There are settings to change the way that the microphone works, such as adjusting it so it picks up less wind noise so that your voice is heard in stead of that gushing sound as the wind rips you toupee off and sends it rolling along the sandy beach.
What more can I say about this pocket size camcorder?
Well, not a lot really as it is one of those things that the more you use the more you realise how simple it is to use and how much it has to offer.
The internet button is not something I tend to use but it means that you can upload files, be those images or videos, to the internet using your PC and an internet connection.
To use this facility you do have to install ArcSoft media impression onto your PC but once done you can upload to Youtube, picaso and face book in the press of a button or two, or maybe three.
So how much would one have to pay for this Toshiba camcorder that can be hidden in a persons coat pocket...?
This little camcorder sells on the open market for about £70, or thereabouts, which is not to bad really for what you get and what it can do
Would I recommend this unit..?
Yes, most definitely I would. I have been using it for a bit now and have enjoyed the simplicity of it, not to mention the cracking footage that I have captured.
It is easy to carry around with me when I want to and is quick to get going when I see something that I'd like to get a picture of.
What more can you ask of a device like this..?
I was bought this product for my birthday as a suprise and have used it since having it.
Starting with the positives, the camera is small and fits in your pocket which is good and takes fantastic full quality HD videos which is a significant improvement on my last camcorder which used tape. The camera is quite stylish and has a large screen.
There are however a few negatives which means that I probably wouldn't recommend this product to someone. Firstly the lens is fixed which means that it is digital zoom only which is fine in some circumstances but means that if you want to zoom in on something you are going to loose a lot of the quality. Secondly there is no protective cover on the lens which means that if you aren't careful you could scratch it. Thirdly other products can do a similar job if you have an iPhone 4 or above or many other mobile phones they can take full HD video at a similar quality so if I were you I would probably try and collate several features into one. You can also buy cameras (Panasonic Lumix for instance) which have optical zoom and will take HD video for a similar price.
Overall if you wanted to buy a purely video recording camera this would not be a bad choice but I would recommend that you look elsewhere perhaps at the Panasonic Lumix