Sanyo Xacti VPC-E6 Review
By Movable Type Admin
The Xacti VPC-E6 is one of many offerings from Sanyo this year (2005), and the third model we have seen thus
far. It includes many high-end features like a 6-megapixel imager, massive 3.0-inch LCD, 3x optical zoom
lens, 640x480 QuickTime video, and unique Touch Sensor Shutter Button. It can be used by any member of your
household with its various automatic exposure modes, and for those who want to be creative, you can also
choose from several digital filters.
Like we have seen with past Sanyo models, the ergonomics are excellent. The majority of its exterior is made from durable metal, which ensures it will survive an active users lifestyle or being tossed in your handbag; even the LCD has a protective plastic covering. All of the controls are well positioned and the Menu system is logically organized. The extra-big 3.0-inch LCD allows for larger text, which is easier on the eyes. This is the first model we've ever seen that features a "touch sensitive" shutter release. You simply make contact with it and it will pre-focus the camera. While this eliminates the "half-press" technique we have all come to know, I was very glad to see that you could turn this function Off. It works well and is very "cool", but I just did not care for it; I guess I'm just stubborn and like the older method. The 3.0-inch LCD is very nice and worked great outdoors in the bright sunlight. However, it does not gain up when shooting in dim lighting conditions.
Not only is it well designed, but it's quite the little performer too. Power up to first image captured measured approx. 1.8 seconds. Shutter lag, the time from depressing the shutter release and capturing an image, was almost instantaneous when pre-focused and about 5/10 of a second including autofocus. When shooting a sequence of still images, the shot to shot delay averaged 2 seconds without the flash and 2 - 3 seconds with the flash, depending on how far away your subject is. The E6 does offer a Burst mode. Using it, I was able to capture 3 images in approx. 1.1 seconds before the camera stopped. The display goes completely black during recording, making it impossible to follow moving subjects; you'll have to just point the camera. Switching from record mode to playback or vice versa takes about a second. All of our tests were done using a Lexar High-Speed 512MB SD card, with the image size/quality set at 6M-H, Auto exposure mode, preview off with all other settings at default (unless noted otherwise.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera setting, media, etc.
The overall image quality of the 6M-H (low compression) images is good for a camera in this class. Outdoors it captured sharp, properly exposed images that showed good color balance. Its internal 3x optical zoom lens covers a focal range of approx. 38mm - 114mm (35mm equivalent), offering the typical amount of versatility for composing shots. I like there internal lens, because you don't have to worry about bumping or obstructing it. The wide angle extreme allows you to capture pleasing landscapes, while its telephoto end works great for shooting portraits. Overall, we noticed an average amount of barrel distortion as well as slight pincushioning. Noise was present in open blue skies and shadow areas, however no more than we typically see on similar consumer models, and it's very unlikely that you'll see anything in your prints. I also noticed some traces of purple fringing around objects with high contrast, but again, not enough to raise any concerns.
While using the camera indoors, I found the flash had a pretty short range. But like we have said many times, ultra-compact camera means tiny batteries and a tiny flash. I achieved the best results when shooting portraits of individuals or small groups in mid sized rooms. Even then, you have to be within 5 feet from the subject to get a good exposure. When it comes to shooting subjects up close, the E6 is just the ticket. Its macro autofocus mode allows you to focus on subjects as close as 0.4 inches (1cm), and also does an excellent job of controlling the flash output. Take a look for yourself by checking out our macro candy shot on the samples page.
I was pleased with the movie mode results. The 640x480-H mode produces high-quality movies with very little compression noise. Even though sound is recorded, you may use the zoom during recording. I found you can hear the zoom mechanism, but it wasn't loud enough to cause any displeasure. I was actually surprised at how well it performed, when you consider I captured our samples shooting through the thick glass of the aquarium's tanks. The only feature I think it would benefit from would be some type of image stabilization.
Power is supplied by a tiny 3.7v 720mAh Lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which is charged in-camera when used with the included AC adapter/charger. Sanyo claims it will capture 170 images or up to 85 minutes of video on a full charge. I would have to say that battery life was great, allowing me to capture a large majority of our sample images (over 85 shots and about twenty 10-second movie clips) before the battery was exhausted. However, we still recommend you purchase at least one extra battery pack; and a large SD card if shooting movies frequently.
Bottom line - The Sanyo VPC-E6 is a great digital package. I loved using it, in fact when going to family events this holiday season, it was the one I grabbed for my personal photos. Its small size allows it to be carried just about anywhere, in just about any size pocket or bag. And with good image quality and blazing fast performance, you're sure to capture those special moments. So if you're in the market for an ultra-compact 6-megapixel model, be sure to grab up a Sanyo E6.