Sanyo Xacti VPC-CA8EX review

£245
Price when reviewed

The latest pistol-grip Xacti is an update to the company’s previous waterproof model, the VPC-CA65EW. Rather than attempting to beat the competition on storage capacity, price or even image quality, Sanyo here is instead going after the niche market of swimmers, surfers and careless holidaymakers who want the novelty or peace of mind of a submersible camcorder.

Click here to see our undertwater test video – in a fish tank.

It certainly is an unusual feature for such a complex piece of kit, requiring a larger amount of extra protection and seals than other models in the Xacti range. This means that, although the camera is the size of the VPC-HD700, it only manages to house the features of the far smaller VPC-CG9.

The camera can be used at depths of up to 1.5m, although there are some caveats. Knocking the camera while underwater is a no-no, warns Sanyo, as one of the watertight flaps may open and allow gadget-killing water inside. The camera also needs to be rinsed with fresh water after any dip in the ocean, and Sanyo recommends the rubber seals be replaced every year. Despite these restrictions, the image quality remains largely the same above and below the water, and even audio is captured.

Unfortunately, image quality is unremarkable, whichever medium you happen to be filming in. The 1/2.5in sensor will only capture webcam-quality footage at 640 x 480 pixels, although still images can be taken at up to 2-megapixels while filming or 12-megapixels using interpolation when not. The video output is poor quality, as well as low-resolution. Performance in low light leaves much to be desired, losing much of the detail in any darker scene, and bright light is similarly confusing for the sensor.

In standard daylight, results are not much better. The auto-focus struggles to keep the image sharp when cutting between near and far objects, and the image stabilisation is far from the level of those we’ve seen in better-equipped devices, such as the A-listed Panasonic HDC-HS9.

it_photo_5961If the poor image quality wasn’t bad enough, the price is worse. At £213, the camera costs the same as better featured cameras, such as the HD700, which will also provide superior image quality, although none of the water-proofing.

However, the lure of shooting underwater footage is enough to forgive many of the problems that the new Xacti is stuck with, and considering the technical challenge of waterproofing such a delicate and fragile piece of electronics, Sanyo has done rather well.

Specifications

Camcorder HD standard None
Camcorder maximum video resolution 640 x 480
Accessory shoe? no
Camera optical zoom range 5.0x
Camera optical image stabilisation no
Electronic image stabilisation? yes
Viewfinder? no
Built-in flash? yes
Number of sensors 1

Dimensions

Dimensions width 40
Dimensions depth 70
Dimensions height 111
Dimensions 40 x 70 x 111mm (WDH)
Weight 252g

Storage

Integrated memory 0GB
Camcorder internal storage type Flash memory
Memory card support SD/SDHC Card

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