Toshiba Camileo X100 review
1/2.5in CMOS sensor, 1,920x1,080, 1,280x720, 640x480, 10.0x zoom, 270g
The Camileo X100 stands apart from the majority of solid-state HD cameras. With its 3in touchscreen and 10x zoom lens, it’s a step up from basic HD cameras such as the Flip UltraHD. However, it’s considerably less expensive than AVCHD cameras from Canon, Panasonic and Sony.
The design is a little clunky compared to its more expensive counterparts but the conventional shape fits snugly in the hand. The 3in LCD isn’t widescreen so video previews and playback appear the same size as on 2.7in widescreen LCDs. However, the extra space above and below means on-screen buttons don’t obscure the picture.
The touchscreen-based controls are sparse, with a choice of resolutions but no other picture quality settings. These resolution options include 1080i and 1080p, but as there’s no European version of this camera, it uses the US and Japan’s standard 30fps frame rate. That’s not a problem for the web – YouTube happily accepts any frame rate – but it could pose problems for DVD and Blu-ray authoring.
There are a couple of fun features among the shooting options. A Slow motion mode captures low-resolution (432x240-pixel) clips at 240fps and plays them back at 30fps for 1/8th speed slow motion. Meanwhile, a Time Lapse mode captures a 1080p frame every one, three or five seconds for 30, 90 or 150-speed playback.
Video is recorded in AVC format with an AAC soundtrack and wrapped up in an AVI file. These aren’t unusual specifications, but for some reason Sony Vegas refused to import the footage. Premiere Elements was fine with it, though. Video is encoded at 8Mbit/s, which keeps file sizes down but resulted in artefacts in complex and fast-moving scenes. We would have liked the option to increase the bit rate for those most of cherished moments.
Battery life was disappointing at just 78 minutes, and recharging was painfully slow at three hours and 39 minutes. We also found that the camera discharged when we left it unused for a week. This means it’s crucial to plan well in advance when you want to record something, or leave the camera permanently plugged in.
Toshiba doesn’t publish the size of the X100’s sensor, but some detective work leads us to believe that it’s a 1/2.5in CMOS. That’s big for a video camera sensor, and big sensors usually produce sharper details and less noise, but its high 10-megapixel resolution throws away some of the noise advantage. The lens isn’t particularly sharp, either, particularly in the corners of frames. The X100 can capture 16-megapixel photos but they still looked a little blurred when we resized them down to 2 megapixels - that's likely due to the fact the sensor interpolates from 10 megapixels to 16 megapixels.
Details in videos didn’t match the crispness of pricier AVCHD cameras, but they weren’t disappointing. However, there were other problems that took the shine off the quality of the X100’s clips. The autofocus run into difficulties at times, taking quite a few seconds to lock onto subjects.
Contrast was too high, giving a dramatic boost to colours but often burning out highlights and under-exposing shadows. The lack of optical stabilisation made handheld clips at the full zoom extension very wobbly. We also found the slow, fixed speed of the zoom motor a little tedious to wait for when framing shots. Sound quality was thin, and overall the X100 failed to make a great impression.