Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2000 review

£480
Price when reviewed

Having only released its Xacti VPC-HD1010 very recently, it came as a surprise to discover that Sanyo was planning to release yet another new flagship dual camera so soon. But here it is: the Xacti HD2000 is due to hit the shops in March, with just a few months in between.

To look at it seems identical to its predecessor. It’s a pistol grip design, as with many of Sanyo’s camcorder-cum-snappers, and we have the same reservations about this one as we had with the HD1010. The grip is too small and slippery for such a chunky camera and the controls are a bit awkward to reach.

But though the ergonomics haven’t seen any improvement at all, and neither has the rather fiddly joystick-drive menu system, in terms of raw specifications, the HD2000 posts several notable advances. Instead of shooting in 1080p/60i, the HD2000 ups the specifications to an astonishing 60 frames per second at 1920 x 1080. It’s the first camcorder we’ve seen to boast such a high end feature.

Other extras include a 16x zoom – up on the 10x of its predecessor – and a number of other features that range from the fun to the gimmicky. The 8mp stills camera mode boasts a 12fps burst mode function, and if you drop the video resolution you can record ultra-slow motion sequences – at 240fps in 448 x 336 resolution and 600fps in 192 x 108 resolution.

As long as you’re aware that you’ll have to own a powerful PC to play back the 24Mbit/sec H.264 MP4 footage let alone edit and render it without grinding your teeth to stumps in frustration (there’s no guarantee your favoured video editing package will support it either) – you’ll get pretty good looking footage.

Its low light performance is good without being particularly outstanding, but motion is super-smooth and in normal and bright light the results can be exceptional. Colours are well rendered too.

There’s also plenty of scope for adding accessories, with mini jack sockets for microphone and headphones, a threaded lens surround for telephoto and wide angle add-ons, plus a hot shoe connector behind the pop-up flash on top.

In photo mode, there’s loads of manual control on offer, from spot focusing to aperture and shutter priority modes to a fully manual mode – and the results can be pretty good.

In fact it photo quality is notable better than the HD1010’s with reduced chromatic aberrations and less barrel distortion. Take note, though – the autofocus still isn’t the slickest or quickest in the world – this camera won’t replace a top quality compact.

But as with previous Sanyo Xactis, the HD2000 is a very impressive compromise, combining an incredibly impressive specification with very decent video and stills quality.

For video fanatics, the Panasonic HDC-SD100 with its intuitive control system and all-round excellence still shades it, but this Sanyo is a great alternative – it adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

Specifications

Camcorder HD standard 1080p
Camcorder maximum video resolution 1920 x 1080
Camcorder recording format MPEG-4, H.264
Accessory shoe? no
Camera optical zoom range 16.0x
Camera optical image stabilisation yes
Electronic image stabilisation? no
Screen size 2.7in
Touchscreen no
Viewfinder? no
Built-in flash? yes
Number of sensors 1

Dimensions

Dimensions width 70
Dimensions depth 41
Dimensions height 111
Dimensions 70 x 41 x 111mm (WDH)
Weight 311g

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