Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 Ambleside
Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1
The Xacti range has been slowly and steadily growing a great reputation for Sanyo in the video market. Its latest camera, the Xacti VPC-FH1, offers both video and still photography with full HD recording at 60 frames per second (fps) and a 12-megapixel camera. Video is captured at 1920 x 1080p and still shots at 4000 x 3000 pixels, and both are stored to SD or SDHC cards. The VPC-FH1 has a 16x zoom lens, 3in LCD screen and slimline body. There's no viewfinder, but this would have increased the size of the camera so it's not a serious loss.
The VPC-FH1 has a couple of system features worthy of note. First, there's an internal video editing option. It's hardly iMovie, but it's surprisingly good. Second, there are two slow motion capture modes. The 600fps option only records at 192 x 108 pixels so it's not really all that useful, but there's a 240fps mode that outputs video at 448 x 336, which is suitable for the web. Watching things happen in super-slow motion really is compelling and it's a fun feature if nothing else.
There's plenty of manual control available, with nine-point and spot focus modes, as well as three metering options: spot, multi- and centre-weighted. ISO levels can be set between 50 and 3200 and, naturally, auto. The image stabiliser works for both photo and video mode, while eight scene modes and a face detection option make capturing images simple. If all the various menu options are too complex for you, you can opt for a few preset menu choices.
The rear-mounted controls take a bit of getting used: at first, we found we'd accidentally press a button we didn't mean to. Further, there was a bit of a lag when taking still shots as the screen switched to a 4:3 ratio image to show you what part of the image you were capturing - not terrible, but not quick by any stretch of the imagination.
You can connect the VPC-FH1 directly to an HD TV through the mini HDMI port on the side of the camera, but there's no bundled cable so you'll have to buy your own. You do get a composite and component connector, though, and a USB cable for connection to a Mac.
Viewing any HD footage on the appropriate equipment is impressive, but we have to say the Sanyo really surprised us. Colour clarity, exposure and, impressively, audio quality were all great. The Sanyo produced the kind of output that makes even the HD cynical sit up and take note. Still images were good, too, but we'd take the claim that this is two cameras in one with a pinch of salt - it's much more impressive as a video device.
The slow motion and video editing capabilities might be a bit of a gimmick, but the video quality of the Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 certainly isn't. If you're after a high-quality compact camcorder, this one's definitely worth considering.
This compact camcorder captures superb-quality HD footage, and you'll have great fun with its slow motion features.
Author: Christopher Brennan