Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1010 review

Price when reviewed

Sanyo has adopted unusual tactics over the past couple of years with its camcorders. Rather than offering dedicated video cameras it has kept resolutely banging away at its “dual camera” drum – camcorders that not only shoot good video, but also decent stills.

The HD1010 is the current flagship of the dual camera range, and the follow up to the HD1000 sees a number of key improvements. The range of shutter speeds at the top end has been extended, from 1/500 to 1/1000, while at the slower end a lamp mode has been added for shutter speeds as slow as four seconds.

There’s now an accessory shoe to add to the microphone and headphone mini jacks and though the resolution and recording format is left untouched (full HD and MPEG 4 AVC/H.264), the HD1010 can record at a slightly quicker frame rate – 1,080/60i (14Mbit/sec) compared to 1,080/50i. In the 14Mbit/sec top quality mode the HD1010 will let you record around 40 minutes on a 4GB SD card.

Video quality is good. In our tests colours were generally well exposed and in low light recordings exhibited an acceptable amount of grain. It’s not as good as the Canon HF10 or Panasonic HDC-SD100, but it’s very close and considerably cheaper. The only issue we had was that the autofocus didn’t feel particularly speedy and [neither did autoexposure]. Sanyo has also added its Face Chaser technology this time around, which attempts to detect and expose for faces in a frame and this worked well.

Photos, which can be shot at anything up to eight-megapixels, had their problems: there was a fair degree of chromatic aberration and barrel distortion up close, while dynamic range was lacking too – it won’t compete with a top-end dedicated compact. But as long as you don’t expect best in class stills you’ll be happy with the output, which is generally well exposed, crisp and in focus. There are plenty of manual controls too, from spot focus to aperture/shutter speed priority modes and ISO controls, and we found it possible to get decent results with a bit of effort.

it_photo_6350The HD1010 does have rather a significant Achilles heel, however – it’s not the easiest or most comfortable camera to use. The pistol-style grip is slippy not grippy; it’s also a little on the short side; and it often feels like you’re reaching for the controls.

Despite this, the HD1010 is a very impressive device: not only does it take good quality, full HD video recordings, but also decent snaps and its attractive price should fall even lower with the HD2000 just around the corner. It’s not the last word in HD quality, but it is still a very good compromise.

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