Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1000 Review

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Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1000

Steve's Conclusion

Sanyo has recently introduced the Xacti HD1000, which as of February 2008 is the world's smallest and lightest full HD (1920 x 1080) digital camcorder. Featuring a 4-megapixel CMOS imaging sensor, 10x optical zoom with image stabilization for both video and photography, hot shoe for addition of an external flash, 2.7" wide format LCD screen that swivels 285°, an all glass f/1.8-2.5 lens as well as controls from full auto to full manual; nothing was left off of this camera. Between the full auto and numerous scene modes, the advanced 9 point TTL auto focusing system and "Face Chaser" face detection that works in both video and photo modes, this camera a breeze for anyone to use.

The ergonomics are very similar to the rest of the Xacti models. It fits very comfortably into the right hand, using the thumb to work the controls on the back of the camera. The camera is made with the same "pistol grip" style that makes it usable by both righties and lefties. Not many cameras these days can offer such a comfortable feel for those who are left handed. On the back you will find 6 buttons and a joystick that allows you to control all functions of the camera. This includes a button for "Full Auto" mode, the menu screen, REC/PLAY, Zoom, and a separate button for Video recording and one for photos. The power button is located under the 2.7" swivel screen on the left side of the camera.

The LCD screen has a wide format to match the HD recording resolutions and the new HDTV's that are on the market today. The screen is very bright and easy to see in all lighting conditions, including bright sunlight thanks to the non-glare coating. The screen can also swivel making it easier to record in difficult positions, such as over a crowd.

Performance from the HD1000 was good. The startup, however, is a little slow, taking just over 4 seconds before you are able to capture your photograph or start shooting video. Once the camera is on things are completely different. There is virtually no shutter lag (delay from when you press the shutter release to the time the image is recorded). When allowing the camera to focus first it can take between 6/10 of a second to a little over 1 second, depending on distance and lighting conditions. The shot to shot delay was just over 2 seconds without the flash and 2.3 with the flash. Burst mode is difficult to find as it is located under the image quality options. It performed very well though, capturing 7 images in just 7/10 of a second. If that is not enough, you can record movies with one of the many video settings. When shooting video you will have about a half second delay until the camera starts recording and about 2.5 seconds delay if you stop and start recording again. Our tests were completed using a ATP Pro Max Class 6 4BG SDHC memory card, ISO 50, flash off, and all other settings at the factory defaults unless otherwise noted. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera setting, media, etc.

By combining the 4 megapixel imaging sensor with the all glass of the f/1.8 10x optical zoom lens, the HD1000 allows almost 4 times the amount of light as a conventional lens. Sanyo has created a camera that captures excellent still images as well as full 1080i high definition video in lighting conditions that most other cameras can't even come close to. In fact when taking still images I was able to shoot with a lower ISO and faster shutter speeds without a flash than I could with some dSLR's. The smaller megapixel imaging sensor combined with the f/1.8 lens allows more light to reach the sensor, allowing for increased shutter speeds and reduced noise. Shooting with ISO 200 and below, you will barely notice any noise even when viewing them at 100% on a computer. When you get to ISO 400, the noise starts to become more noticeable, but the pictures are still usable. Any higher and the will start to show in your prints.

Shooting outdoors was a pleasant experience with the HD1000. With the versatile and fast 10x lens, there is almost no need for a tripod when shooting outside during the day. The camera does a very nice job adjusting and exposing the images. They come out crisp, clear and the colors are vivid. When combining this with the 10x optical zoom lens, that has a 35mm equivalent of 38-380mm the versatility of this camera is outstanding. The wide end of the zoom is perfect for taking landscape shots, but you will notice some barrel distortion, which is typical for consumer models. With the telephoto end of the zoom range, you will be able to single out an object way off in the distance or zoom in for a nice tight portrait of your subject. I did notice some slight chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) in areas of high contrast as well as very slight pincushioning on the zoom end.

Indoor and portrait shots were also very nice. When shooting either with or without the flash in portrait mode, the color saturation and skin tones looked very natural. The flash does an excellent job of adjusting so that the images do not end up over-exposed. The pop-up flash has a listed range of over 16 ft. throughout the full range of the zoom. While shooting at ISO 50, I was pleased with the results of the flash between 10 and 15 ft. but anything further and the image quickly got darker. I did notice a few instances of red-eye in some of the portrait shots when using the flash, however, this can be solved with the red eye flash option. There is no red eye removal tool inside the camera. If you need to extend the flash range even further, the HD1000 also offers a flash hot shoe for an external Speedlite; adding even more to the appeal of this model.

When it comes to shooting video, this camera is by far the most versatile. You have the option to shoot in full 1080i HD, 720 HD at either 30 or 60 fps, standard 640x480 at 30 or 60 fps and 320x240 web mode at 30 fps. The camera also features a sophisticated image stabilizer, to help reduce camera shake that will definitely be noticeable in high definition. I would still recommend shooting with a tripod if at all possible to make sure that there is no excess movement in your videos. The quality of the videos is outstanding, they are incredibly smooth running and the color is very vivid. The videos are encoded so that they can easily be imported into itunes and uploaded to a video ipod. As for opening the full 1080i videos on a computer, we have not yet been able to. Even with the latest version of Quicktime, the videos freeze and will not run. The 720 HD videos run a little choppy on the computer and the 640x480 run very smooth. Because of this, at the moment we are unable to add a Full HD 1080i movie sample to our samples page.

When the camera is docked in the included camera cradle, you have the option of various types of output including HDMI. When hooking this up to a HDTV the results are excellent. The videos are clear and crisp and the sound is excellent. I did notice that they camera does have a little trouble focusing when it is moving quickly though. Besides the image stabilization, there are a few other features that can greatly help in video recording. There is a wind sound reduction, flicker reduction, face chaser recognition software and external mic input to assist in producing the best quality videos possible.

Powering the HD1000 is a monstrous 1900 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable battery. This battery allowed me to complete all of my tests and shoot between 40 and 50 full HD movies on just a single charge. Even though this battery lasts so long, it is still recommended that you have an extra battery just in case. Nothing can make up for that one perfect shot that you missed because of a dead battery.

Bottom Line - For the second time this year Sanyo has set a standard, this time with the worlds smallest full HD video camcorder and 4-megapixel still camera (as of 2/2008). Sanyo has only put the best into this camera, such as the fast f/1.8 10x optical zoom that allows for use in extreme low light situations. The only issue we found was when shooting stills or movies in marginal lighting conditions using the mid to telephoto end of the zoom range, the AF system tends to have problems acquiring focus. This model can be used by anyone, with full auto for the beginners, to shutter/aperture priority and full manual modes for the more experienced. With an MSRP of US$799, the HD100 may seem a bit expensive at first, however we feel with the quality, performance, and versatility it offers, the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1000 is an excellent deal for the amount of camera that you are receiving.

Sanyo Posts Firmware Update For The VPC-HD1000

Purpose of Firmware Update (November 21, 2007):

  • Improve quality of image processing during shooting and playback of movies
  • Improve quality of audio recorded during shooting of movies
  • Improve display issues when using the Xacti Library function

For more information or to download this new update, please visit Sanyo's Support Site

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