46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2007
I normally don't use a video camera and generally stick with digital stills. As far as still images go with this camera, they are only "alright". If you want a compact camera for excellent still pictures, I suggest any of the Canon S series or higher end powershots. It is useful if you just want a quick picture of something you're recording, but it's slow to actually take the picture (about 3-5 seconds) and the quality isn't as good as a stand alone camera.
However, for video, I'm highly impressed. The one downside I have with it is that when shooting in the highest quality (SHD), the battery only seems to last about an hour. However, bump it down one notch (HD) and the battery seems last quite a while longer. After an hour of use, the indicator said the battery was still full (it has 3 values for battery life).
Personally I couldn't tell the difference between the 2 high def qualities, so I'll be shooting at the lower one to get more battery life and longer videos. On an 8 gig card, I get (in hour:minute:second) 1:54:26 at highest quality, and 2:49:53 at the lower HD quality.
One other thing, if you plan on shooting extremely long videos, the camera doesn't use the AC input while recording, only playback. This means you can't charge a battery while recording. I suggest getting a second battery and an external charger if you plan on long shoots with this camera.
Just to clarify on the AC while recording: The camera will still record without a battery as long as the AC is plugged in. It just doesn't charge the battery while recording.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
I just received this device yesterday. I got to play with it for about an hour so far. So, this review is going to be "first impressions" or "initial quality" review.
Quality, packaging, instruction manuals, and supplied accessories all look good quality.
I couldn't find an SD card in the packaging. I did have a 2GB memory card with me, so I was OK.
I could put in the battery, charge the device, take a couple of pictures, and a couple of videos without even reading the quick reference manual. I would call that intuitive enough and user friendly.
Quality of the pictures and video is acceptable considering that I used the device straight out of the box without adjusting any settings. Actually pictures and video looked much better on my home LCD monitor, but looked pathetic on my work CRT monitor. (This is not the first time I have experienced this.)
I have played the video on a 61" widescreen HD TV using S-Video cable and the quality was acceptable. Nothing compared to off-the-air HD programming, but it was not bad at all.
I have placed a couple of pictures and videos elsewhere on the Web. Amazon doesn't allow URLs in reviews. Search in Google groups and you may find a link to the pictures and videos.
I will come back here and update the review over the next few weeks.
I have uploaded a couple of low light videos. Link to the Web site in the first comment to this review. Results are disappointing. With what I know now, I would probably give it only 4 stars. Can't change the rating now.
I could quickly and easily compile and burn a DVD using the supplied ULead software. I didn't try any bells and wistles, just used the simplest path and I was done with the production process in about 10 minutes. Burning process itself (with an 8x burner) took a long time (unattended). DVD played fine on a regular Panasonic DVD player.
MiniDV based camcorders probably produce much better HD footage. But, that is not of much use for me, because burning a DVD out of MiniDV footage is very hard. I don't think I could have posted sample clips on the Internet so quickly if I were using a MiniDV camcorder. So, should we compromise on quality of the video or ease of sharing the footage?
This camcorder is going back. While it is very easy to use and very convenient to quickly share the footage (compared to MiniDV based camcorders), I don't think this can replace my existing DCR-DVD201 due to the poor video quality under low light conditions. I am not the kind to maintain multiple camcorders and use different one for different situations.
49 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2007
Fill flash syncs at all shutter speeds.
Video shutter speed priority and internal mechanical neutral density filter for bright scenes.
Focus hunts. Focus fails to lock on nearest central object even when that central object has high contrast and fills >50% of frame. Focus prone to locking on background instead of subject. Focus is substantially worse than every camcorder I've ever used.
Taking stills while shooting HD video is useless. Viewfinder goes black while still is written to card. During playback video freezes. Taking stills while shooting SD video does not interrupt recording only if lowest resolution 640x480 still is selected. Unable to disable still button to prevent accidental activation.
Audio is full of clicks from auto focus hunting and grating from zooming. External microphone is a must. Can't adjust external microphone level while viewing a meter. There is no meter in any display or menu. External microphone level can't be set high enough, even when using battery powered microphone. Zooming during recording adds high pitched whine to audio from external microphone. Likely due to lack of proper shielding in camera and microphone.
Microphone jack smaller than standard 1/8" plug. Adapter cord is included.
No standard USB jack on camera, docking station or cable adapter block. Must use supplied adapter cable and either docking station or cable adapter block to connect to computer.
This camera is a poor substitute for dedicated still camera. Stills have many artifacts. Substantially worse than my oldest 1600x1200 2.1 Mega pixel Canon Elph camera.
No front lens threads. No lens hood. Lens cap prone to marking lens.
Lens adapters and filter adapter use friction push on "mount" instead of secure aligned threaded connector. Lens ring does not turn. Hama rectangular hood is good fit to filter mounted to Sanyo's filter adapter.
Tripod socket not perpendicular to lens axis.
Camera does not naturally point at subject. At telephoto end finding subjects is difficult.
No place to mount an accessory light or microphone on top of camera.
No provision to alter file naming convention.
Video data rate at minimum secure digital flash card rate. Rate is not even close to the transfer limit of current flash memory. Artifacts so prevalent that it is hard to tell if image is in correct focus. Shooting with tripod is a must to lessen artifacts. Image stabilization ok, but not good enough to prevent compression artifacting of background.
Does not come with HDMI cable. HDMI cable not available for purchase 3/2007 .
Fastest shutter speed only 1/2000.
No thumb wheel for manual focus. Manual focus isn't smooth, but jumps in steps. Unable to adjust manual focus during recording.
Changing between focus modes requires one way cycling through all options. Focal length jumps to widest and stays there when cycling past macro range focus setting.
Unable to adjust exposure compensation during recording.
Instead of smoothly changing to new lighting conditions, automatic exposure noticeably jumps between exposure levels.
Recording display confusing. Displays red "REC" even after pause button is activated, "REC" stays on while card is written, long after actually recording has ended.
Screen momentarily goes completely black after pushing video record button. User unable to follow subject motion with black screen.
Settings menu confusing. Box end wrench menu shows two tabs, but only first is used.
Videos require fast computer to play smoothly. 2006 Apple 1.5GHz G4 Macmini unable to smoothly play unscaled 1280x720 video.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2007
I have to say I am very disappointed with this camera. I had really high hopes for this one. I waited for the hd2 to come out and when I saw a lot of positive reviews I bought one, I should have waited. For Sanyo to call this an HD camera doesn't make sense. The picture has more grain and noise then my old High 8 camera. Outdoors in bright light the camera is ok. Low-light is horrible
- Nice form factor, love the look and feel and it's so tiny it fits in your pocket. Very portable and something you can take anywhere.
- Secure Digital cards are great, can transfer and edit on the computer quickly
- Still pictures are pretty good. Although still digital cameras are better.
- HDMI output can plug directly into your HDTV (although if you are used to watching things in HD you will be disappointed)
- Indoor and Low light situations very grainy, even with the high sensitivity button.
- Don't attempt to take still shots while you are filming, it works but when you watch the film you hear loud noises and the shot pauses for 2 or 3 seconds and then continues. Very cheesy.
- You can hear the data being written to the secured digital card on the video which is annoying. I thought SD was supposed to minimize noise.
- Watching the playback of movement with this makes me dizzy, not even fast movement either.
- Image stabilization is not that great either compared to other cameras I have used.
- Audio sounds a bit tinny
In my opinion this camera is geared for portability and being able to capture moments quickly as this is something you can always carry with you. If you aren't too concerned with quality picture it's probably fine. I really think Sanyo has a great concept and one day this could be the end all be all device. For now it should come with a warning of it's limitations. I am not saying it's total garbage, but if you have high hopes like I did, you will be disappointed.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2007
I purchased the hd1a model and returned it since I was made aware that the new model was soon coming out.
Honestly although I want so much to love this camera, I am disappointed and decided to send it back as the video quality did not measure up to my old Sony P350, and the camera stills did not measure up to my wedding camera, which is a Canon 30D.
Then I started thinking. I pass up taking my Sony or Canon anywhere because they are not small enough for it not to be a bother. I realized that now with my Sanyo, I actually take it in my man purse with me everywhere I go so now I get shots and footage I never got before. What good is a great camera if you leave it at home? The point is, my Sanyo is just great if I just except that it does not take professional level HD video and that the pics are just a little grainy indoors even with flash. For casual use, this Sanyo is the missing link. I can at least improve video and stills with software if it becomes critical, but as with my wife, once I stop expecting her to be a superwoman, I realize how amazing she really is. This camera is the best hybrid out there and the macro mode blows me away. It is worth it and I am keeping it!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2007
No tapes to carry, works with memory cards, after shooting plug the SD card in your PC and Voila', transfer your videos fast or watch-edit them right in the SD card. No tapes makes this camera easy to carry around. There are other home video camaras in HD (even higher resolution) but there are much larger in size and the media is tapes.
I got first the HD1a and days later was released the HD2, so I exchanged for the later model. HD2 is basically the same camera as the HD1 but with much more improved features. The low light capture is much more efficient and now you can take decent shots with interior lights. Zoom is great, fast and focuses with no trouble. Super silent. You will not hear the zoom gear working at all.. The microphones are located on the flip screen away from the body so I think that helps a lot on isolating any zoom noise away from your movies. The still camera features are also excellent. Took several flashed pics of faces and no one shows red eye. Many ways to customize your scenes. This is the video camera we were all waiting for: Small, High Def, Dual mode, SD media for easy sharing and editing and reasonable priced. Enjoy!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2007
After a week of testing this camcorder, I found it good enough for daily use. The HD2 does not come with an SD card, so make sure you buy one before or at the time you get the HD2. I got a 2GB SD A-DATA and a 4GB SDHC QPI Class6. Both worked fine. The 4GB gives me about 1:20h in StandardHD mode, and 55mns in SuperHD mode. I didn't notice a speed difference between a Class2 and a Class6 SD card using the HD2, I think you should be fine with an 8GB SDHC class2.
My first impression of the camera is how small it is, however it may not fit in a jean pocket. It turns on very quick, you can start filming within 2secs of startup. It has a lady voice telling the mode you are using (ie camera mode), not sure if this is useful for others, but not for me.
The video and still pictures are great outdoor. The video quality is impressive during a bright sunlight. In a room lighten by a 60W equivalent fluo light, the video quality is grainy/noisy, this has been confirmed by other people as well. The High Sensitivity feature (to boost the image quality at low light) helps but not enough. My 7yrs old Sony DIgital8 does a better job at 1lux. I noticed that video quality is grainy at low light, but 7MP still picture quality is very good for the same lighting. Compared to my new Canon SD800 at 7MP, it is obvious the Canon Digital Camera wins. On the video side, I played with several configuration, ISO setting, white balance, resolution, etc... It does helps, but the video is still grainy at low light. This camcorder has not been designed for low light filming.
I ran into an issue when transfering the video & Pictures from the HD2 with its cradle to the PC via USB connection. I got errors transfering the files if you use the craddle (this will freeze the HD2). I am not sure why, I have to check with Sanyo on this. If you connect the HD2 directly to the PC (without the cradle), the transfer goes smooth. So there is an issue with the cradle and USB port.
I am also using Pinnacle Studio 10.5 for my video editing. So far, I have not been able to use it and control my HD2. You can however copy the files from SD to your PC, and use these files with Pinnacle Studio.
Since I film most of the time outdoor during daytime, this camera does the job fine and video quality is great. I would still give a 5 stars even with the video issues at low light.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2007
I bought this product after doing months of research and looking at comparison videos between this, the Canon TX-1, and the super cheap Aiptek GO-HD. I bought this one because it was the best bang for the buck. I thought the TX-1 seemed to have a slightly better picture (and price), but I went with the Xacti because the file size of the movies were much smaller. Giving me about 40 minutes on a 4GB SD as opposed to the TX-1 that would have only given me about 14 min. And although the Aiptek had superior image quality to both. I didn't trust the camera build, and the images seemed much more jerky then the other two. Not to mention the Aiptek's lack of zoom.
Well, after having the Xacti for 2 weeks, I packed it up and sent it back. With real world (my own) tests. I found the image quality was complete crap. although these cameras give you 720p images. The look like crap! The contrast is too harsh. Whites are always blown out and everything is very soft. This camera also had a very hard time focusing on anything while zooming. No matter how slow you went. And it was useless for fast motion. Everything was a jerky mess, or complete blurs. Most of the sample videos I saw online were out door. Which dont look too bad at all with perfect even/natural sunlight. But I did a lot of tests indoors with very bright light (natural sunlight) and even then this camera had issues. The image wasnt grainy. But the camera had a very hard time with too much light and shadow. Handheld was a complete waste. Dont even bother. The "image stabilizer" didnt help at all. It's just a garbled mess.
I personally think that using a regular MiniDV camera with a good image sensor will give you a far far FAR superior image, even if you upscale to 720p during your import for editing. Oh and speaking of importing. It was a breeze! Just plug the camera in and it gives you multiple options for connecting to the computer. The only problem is that if you want to edit on a mac, it's not quick. iMovie still has to convert all these so that they can be edited. Which kind of makes things a pain. And there is no documentation on this. It took me hours to figure out why I could play these files but not edit them. I personally like the old tried and true firewire method of importing. At least you know exactly when you're getting, doing it this way. Unfortunately, this camera does not have firewire. Only HMDI with an adapter for USB. Which brings me to another point. Although it does have HDMI out. That's it as for as the camera goes. everything else (component, composite, power and USB) are through, either an adapter or the cradle. And the HDMI port is on the bottom, right next to the tripod mount. So forget setting this thing up on a tripod with it plugged into the wall. Better have your battery charged up all the way!
Other then the image quality/performance. I thought this camera was solidly built. A great size, with great features. And I didnt have too many problems with the control layout.
I think these small consumer grade HD cameras are a great idea. But they need more time for the technology to catch up. With the image quality as it is. I wouldn't trust it to be something I want to record my personal memories with. 5 years down the line when I want to review my child's progression in life. I would be very very sorely disappointed. My personal opinion is that you wait another year before diving in to this category of personal video cameras. I was very glad I was able to return it. Thank you Amazon for having a great return policy!
In conclusion. Stick with MiniDV for the price range, for now. And for stills, get yourself a cheap a real point and shoot!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2007
I was surprised how well this camera takes still pictures. I was expecting it to take bad still photos and great HD video, but it's just the opposite. The HD video looks more like regular video, just in widescreen format.
If you want true HD quality video, buy another camera. If you want portability and just want better video than a digital still camera, get this one.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2007
I had high hopes for this camera and wanted to love it. It looked like the ideal way to move from my current setup (Fuji S7000 for stills, old Sony Digital Hi8 for video) to a compact hybrid that would do both.
First impressions were very positive. It is indeed a solidly built camera. The menu system is organised nicely and very easy to figure out without the manual. You get every kind of cable you could need, a nice docking station and a sweet little case that will take the camera, spare battery, spare SDHC card and included remote.
I started with some outdoor/bright light scenes. The video quality was great. Before long I was editing HDV in Adobe Premiere Elements (you need v3.0, not included) and feeling very happy. Stills were 'OK', nothing special and not as good as my old Fuji but acceptable given the camera size. And the 10x zoom and image stabilisation are great.
Then, I went indoors. Oh Oh. Grainy video, grainy stills. Very bad. There really is no point in having hidef and 7mp if the output looks worse than my 5 year old hi8 recorder and an old 2mp Canon SD100 I used to have. I had read other reviews on this site saying they were grainy and I thought "yeah, I've seen grainy before but I can live with it". But this was an education. I've never seen this kind of grainyness. - Skin complexion and solid colours just look dirty in low light (not darkness, just normal evening indoors environment).
So... Maybe my expectations were too high. Again, it is a nice camera in bright lighting situations - if you want to video and photo outdoor events/sports/family events, its a winner. For me, I want something that will do family shots indoors (I live in Ireland where it isnt always sunny). So with a heavy heart I'm returning it (thanks Amazon) and postponing the search for the holy hybrid grail for another while. For now, I'll probably just start with a Canon SD for decent stills at least.