The Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 is a hybrid camera and camcorder, with 1080p video capture.
Sanyo has become all but synonymous with the concept of hybrid digital video/stills cameras and this model offers both high-end video capture and 12Mp of photo detail. However, we weren't fully convinced by its implementation of full HD video.
The specification list of the Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 is sound, with 1080p video on offer and the ability to view your footage immediately by hooking up the camcorder to a HD-TV via its HDMI port (you'll need to supply the cable though). The Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 is a little heavier than the Panasonic SDR-S26 we looked at a couple of months ago, but shares its slim profile and comfortable hand grip.
In fact, this Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 is one smart-looking camcorder in shiny black with silver accents that extend to the perimeter of the fold-out 3in display.
Sanyo has nailed the photo/video mode switching by having crescent-shaped buttons for each at the top right of the menu button on the rear.
We found the Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 slightly less comfortable selecting the photo button than the video one, but this is as it should be: for all Sanyo's protestations, this is more of a camcorder than a compact digital stills camera.
We used a standard compact camera to shoot the same scenes as on the 12Mp Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 and had noticeably better results with the former, despite the lesser megapixel count of the two-year-old Panasonic FX12. However, you get nine point autofocus, image stabilisation and face recognition, making it every bit as well-equipped as the average entry-level compact.
The video, too, holds its own in terms of features, with slow-mo and other options that are fun to experiment with and reward patience. Sanyo has also fitted the Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 with a flash and effective stereo sound recording.
Most importantly, taking video with the Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 is an enjoyable experience - the unit is the right size, easy to navigate with a responsive wide-angle-to-telephoto rocker zoom on its top and is not too heavy or bulky. The results look good too. The colours were so well-rendered they burst out of the built-in screen, coming out much brighter than the Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1's screen suggested.
We were also pleased to find the Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1's image stabiliser had done its job and our footage wasn't especially afflicted by hand-shake. Similarly, the Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 zoom - a 16x magnification - was smooth and steady.
However, we found video playback of the Sanyo Xacti VPC-FH1 on a large screen rather jerky, not helped by the fluid flow of the kite demonstration we used by way of a test. People ambling past were rather staccato in their movements.
To be fair, the Xacti FH1 is hardly an expensive piece of kit: we think its £475 asking price is fair given the overall still and video quality and the advanced capabilities of the camera. It’s simply that when a product promises Full HD at 1920x1080 and 60fps progressive capture at that, we expect superlative results. The Sanyo Xacti FH1 gives reasonable results and provided us with some memorable footage.