Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 camcorder review

4.5 out of 5
£490

For

Very impressive video quality, good stills performance, easy to use

Against

No external mic support

Sanyo has been steadily building a reputation for excellent quality video cameras recently and the new Xacti FH1 looks like continuing that trend. The headline feature of the Sanyo is Full HD recording. You can capture 1920 x 1080p at 60 frames per seconds onto SD or SDHC memory cards. With an 8GB SD card you’ll be able to record about 44 minutes of footage at the top resolution.

The Xacti can capture still images too with top resolution of 4000 x 3000 pixels giving it a megapixel rating of 12. A 16x zoom lens and 3-inch LCD screen round off the most important specs.

But Xacti has much more up its sleeve, however, and there are a slew of other interesting features, which add to the camera’s arsenal. Two high-speed recording modes are available with 240 and 600 frames per second. Though the resolutions are restricted to an adequate 448 x 336 pixels in 240fps mode and a barely useable 192 x 108 pixels at 600fps. Still, experimenting with these super slow motion options is lots of fun.

The Sanyo has a slew of manual modes allowing you full control over options such as focusing; you can choose between the 9-point auto mode or spot focus. There are three metering options: spot, multi or centre-weighted and ISO options from 50 to 3200 and, of course, auto. There’s an image stabiliser for both video and photo modes and you can choose to have both on or off individually.

There are eight automatic scene video recording modes to suit various circumstances. Perhaps the most intriguing option is one called Face Chaser, which, sadly is simply a face detection mode whereby exposure will be biased for better results when the Sanyo detects a face. And if all the menu options are too much for you simply switch to the simple menus and let the camera decide on what to do for the best.

The controls are all mounted on the rear of the camera with the exception of the zoom toggle, which is on the top. At first we found that having the controls on the rear was a bit of a pain, but after a while you get used to it and shooting becomes easier.

You can connect directly to an HD TV with the mini HDMI port on the side of the camera, however you’ll have to supply your own cable though a Component cable is provided. You can output to a non-HD set with standard connections through the AV socket.

It’s easy to be really impressed with HD footage as even the lower-end video produced by the likes of Kodak’s Zi6 is notable: however the Sanyo really did make an impression. The clarity of the video and range of colours captured is excellent and, importantly sound wasn’t bad either. Obviously, without a tape mechanism constantly whirring the Sanyo has an advantage, but even so the captured audio was excellent.

Verdict

The only real niggles we had with the FH1 were the placement of the controls on the rear of the camera and the inability to use a separate microphone. Otherwise this is a great little camera that for the price provides really excellent video quality in a tiny package.

The Slow motion video is a bit of a gimmick, but a compelling one nonetheless and we can’t praise the HD footage highly enough. For the money this Sanyo would be a really good buy.

Truly impressive full HD image quality a compact body and a decent range of features make the FH1 a very impressive camera.