The current trend sees HD camcorders getting smaller and more portable. And now, we have SANYO's latest Xacti HD1010 in the labs as we examine if the pay-offs between miniaturization and quality are worth it.
Like the bulk of its Xacti designs, the HD1010 retains its ray gun physique. The shooting angle will be slightly skewed as you won't be holding the device straight due to this design. Nonetheless, you'll get used to it after a while. The grip is comfortable but the HD1010's petite nature left little to no space for your last finger to hook onto. The controls are within comfortable reach and the layout makes perfect sense since we managed to access the various functions without spending too much time figuring out which is what. To check on its battery stamina, you'll have to access the menu to view the battery indicator on the shooting screen.
Without in-built memory, the HD1010 depends heavily on the SD cards you load it with. On spec, a 2GB card will give you 18 minutes and 37 seconds worth of Full-HD (1920 x 1080, 60 fields) video, but in fact we've shot a maximum of 21 minutes and 40 seconds. An 8GB card maxes out with 1 hour 14 minutes of Full-HD. The HD1010 gave us about 108 minutes worth of battery time, from a full charge and recording at the highest quality setting (1920 x 1080, 60 fields) with the LCD panel open, which is very decent.
Still imaging quality goes up to 8-megapixel. However, its 8-megapixel quality is actually interpolated from the original 4-megapixel, giving resolution results of around 800LPH vertical and 700LPH horizontal. Shooting at the native 4-megapixel setting gives you much clearer shots, with a 900LPH vertical and 800LPH horizontal result. Beyond its line resolution, colors on the final imaging results are clear and vibrant too.
In good lighting conditions, the video quality of the HD1010 is superb. Resolution is 500LPH horizontal at Full-HD setting and colors are brilliant. The HD1010 sports a great macro mode and its low aperture creates nice bokeh effects. Its face detection feature works really well in identifying where the focus should be and the optical zoom is superb.
Where it falls down however, is in low-light and action shots. Low-light creates noisy shots (the onboard flash doesn't double as a video light) and there tends to be pixelation with moving objects in action shots. The image stabilizer tries its best to minimize camera shake but doesn't deal well with walking and zoomed in shots.
Its 300fps slow motion feature is considerably fun. This mode stretches a 10 second shot into 50 seconds, which makes for some cool videos. There are a few limitations though. For one, it's only available at the resolution of 448 x 336. Secondly, there's no sound and you cannot stop the shot before 10 seconds is up. Lastly, zooming is not active when you're shooting at 300fps. The motion, if especially fast leaves behind a trail of aliasing artifacts. And because each frame is exposed for such a short time, you can't get anything in low light.
In the end, it's a matter of trade-offs. As we've mentioned, the fun factor is definitely there with the SANYO Xacti VPC-HD1010. Though there is a slight loss of features and quality with the introduction of portability within the HD camcorder genre, the features are sufficient for your run-of-the-mill shoots. If you're not strict about perfect picture quality, but want an easy to use camcorder for casual recording, the SANYO Xacti VPC-HD1010 presents itself as a good choice.