Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 HD camcorder
The Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 camcorder provides very good performance for its quite reasonable price.
- Good image quality for asking price, above average low-light performance, impressive battery life
- MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codec incompatible with some editing applications, unintuitive menu
Sanyo has made a name for itself producing high quality, low cost camcorders and the Xacti VPC-FH1 is no exception. While it cannot hope to match high-end models from Canon or Sony, it remains a solid performer nonetheless.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
The Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 is a low-priced digital camcorder that delivers good-looking video and stills, with image quality just slightly trailing that of HD camcorders priced nearly three times as much. Indeed, with an RRP of just $799, it's pretty hard to go wrong.
However, the tradeoff comes in its lack of bells and whistles. The VPC-FH1 omits several features that make those more-expensive cameras easier to use under many conditions, and pricier models also provide users with more image control. For some potential buyers, more-expensive camcorders such as the Canon Legria HF S10 and the Panasonic HDC-TM300 are worth their cost. For many others, the Xacti VPC-FH1 will be a stellar value.
The Sanyo camcorder uses a single 1/2.5-inch CMOS sensor to capture 1920-by-1080 video at 60 progressive frames per second (60p), 60 interlaced frames per second (60i), or 30 progressive frames per second (30p). The camera can also record 720/30p video and 8-megapixel stills.
The VPC-FH1 also includes a slow-motion option that supports recording at up to 600 fps (though at increasingly reduced resolution), employs face recognition to improve focus and exposure, has a 10X optical zoom lens, and records to SDHC cards.
Video is encoded as MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 with AAC audio. Although these are the same codecs used by AVCHD camcorders, Sanyo doesn't implement the full AVCHD spec. The VPC-FH1's MPEG-4 files play nicely in the bundled Nero 8 Essentials software, but some editing applications may require first converting the MPEG-4 files to another format.
In playback, the Xacti VPC-FH1's output performs quite well. In PC World Test Center jury evaluations, the VPC-FH1's video quality was just a shade below that of three $1500-and-up camcorders from Canon, Panasonic, and Sony. Video shot under typical interior lighting conditions earned a score of Good, falling short of the dynamic range and colour accuracy found in footage from the best HD camcorders.
In low-light conditions, the VPC-FH1 outperformed every camcorder except one in our six-camcorder test group. Even so, jurors rated low-light image quality as only Fair. Overall, the Xacti VPC-FH1 earned a combined video-quality score of Good, with only the Canon Vixia HF S10 and the Panasonic HDC-TM300 faring better in our tests.
You can also take still photos of good quality with this camcorder. In PC World Test Center jury evaluations, the VPC-FH1 earned high marks for sharpness, lack of distortion, and overall image quality. Still-photo quality earned an overall score of Good--about what you'd get with a decent yet cheap point-and-shoot camera.
And not only is the VPC-FH1 cost-efficient; it proved to be fairly fuel-efficient, as well. The camcorder lasted a little over 2 hours on a single charge of its battery, outpacing all the more-expensive camcorders in our roundup. Its 122-minute battery life earned it a score of Very Good.
So what do you give up with the VPC-FH1? The 3-inch LCD screen looks less sharp than those on some expensive cameras, and the digital-only image stabiliser isn't always effective. The camera lacks a microphone jack, an accessory shoe, and an option for recording at 24 progressive frames per second. We also didn't find the menus to be as intuitive as we'd have liked, and the automated and manual recording modes are not as robust as those on more-expensive cameras.
But if you can live with these shortcomings, and if your editing software works well with the camera's MP4 files, then you can save a lot of money with the VPC-FH1. It's a lot of camcorder for the price.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 2 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
- 3 Panasonic Viera UHD TV review: good hardware, fragmented software
- 4 Ford Focus ST (2015) review: Absolutely mental styling, engine, handling
- 5 LG 65-inch UHD TV (65UF950T) review
Deals on Good Gear Guide
- Networking, Wireless & VoIP
Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- U2 tours with all-flash array to rock latest video effects
- Presto finds an unlikely ally in Quickflix
- Olympus targets movie makers with OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera
- Foxtel bands with Seven Network ahead of Neftlix's upcoming launch
- SanDisk eyes 4K video market with high-speed 512GB SD card
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTDatabase Marketing ManagerNSW
- FTSales SpecialistNSW
- FT1st & 2nd level IT support all-rounder in beautiful rural BathurstNSW
- FTLevel 2 IT Support TechnicianVIC
- FTDigital ManagerNSW
- FTBusiness Development & Account ManagementNSW
- FTMid level IT consultant | Systems Integration & Managed ServicesNSW
- FTProduct Marketing ManagerNSW
- FTAccount Manager | Client Side - Previous Agency Experience Welcome!!NSW
- FTSenior Account Manager - PR AgencyNSW
- FTSystems Administrator | National commercial law firm | MS, AWS & eDiscoveryNSW
- FTManual Test Engineer | Financial Institution | Web testingNSW
- CCMilitary simulation programmer with C# and Unity - 3 monthsNSW
- FTSystems Administrator - Managed ServicesNSW
- FTLinux Administrator with AWS & DevopsNSW
- FTAndroid DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Consultant | Project work | National Systems IntegratorVIC
- CCE-Commerce - Senior Web Application DeveloperNSW
- FTField EngineerNSW
- FTAccount Manager | Music IndustryNSW