Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 full review

Sanyo has become all but synonymous with the concept of hybrid digital video/stills cameras, and this model offers full HD video and 12-megapixels of photo detail. However, we weren’t fully convinced by its implementation of the video.

The specification list is sound, with 1,080p video on offer and the ability to view footage by hooking up to an HDTV via HDMI. It’s a little heavier than its rival the Panasonic SDR-S26, but shares the same slim profile and comfortable hand grip. This is a smart-looking camcorder in shiny black, with silver accents that extend to the perimeter of the 3in fold-out display.

Sanyo has nailed photo/video mode switching by having crescent-shaped buttons for each on the rear. We found it slightly less comfortable selecting the photo button than video, but this is probably as it should be.

We used a Panasonic compact camera to shoot the same scenes as on the Xacti and had better results with the former, despite its smaller megapixel count. However, the Xacti offers a nine-point autofocus, image stabilisation and face recognition, making it every bit as fully equipped as the latest compacts.

Video holds its own with slow-motion and other options that are fun to experiment with and reward patience. Sanyo has also fitted the VPC-FH1 with a flash and effective stereo sound recording.

Taking video with the VPC-FH1 is an enjoyable experience. The unit is the right size, easy to navigate and not too heavy. The results look good, too. The colours were so effectively rendered that they burst out of the built-in screen. We were also pleased to find the image stabiliser had done its job and our footage wasn’t particularly afflicted by shake. Similarly, the 16x video zoom was smooth and steady.

However, we found video playback on a large screen rather jerky, not helped by the fluid flow of the kite demonstration we used by way of a test. People ambling past were rather staccato in their movements.

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