Sanyo Xacti SH1 Full HD camcorder

An affordable and attractive Sanyo HD camcorder with a 23x optical zoom

Sanyo Xacti SH1
  • Sanyo Xacti SH1
  • Sanyo Xacti SH1
  • Sanyo Xacti SH1
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Classy and compact design, 23x zoom lens, good video performance for asking price

Cons

  • Some minor build quality issues, small sensor struggles in poor lighting

Bottom Line

The Sanyo Xacti SH1 is an attractive entry-level HD camcorder that performs well for the asking price. It will suit casual users and fashion conscious videographers.

Would you buy this?

The Sanyo Xacti SH1 (AKA VPC-SH1TAR) is an entry-level Full HD camcorder that records MPEG-4 video to removable flash memory cards. Its main claims to fame are a powerful 23x optical zoom lens and ultra-compact size. For an asking price of $599, it’s a competent little performer that will satisfy the majority of users.

The Sanyo Xacti SH1 is surprisingly attractive for a budget camcorder. It sports a traditional camcorder shape — as opposed to the ‘pistol-grip’ design favoured by the Xacti HD1010, Xacti VPC-CA8 (EXBK) and Xacti VPC-CG9. It has an eye-catching red and silver finish, but if red’s not your bag you can choose from a multitude of other colours, including black, blue, yellow and purple.

In addition to looking great, the Sanyo Xacti SH1 is also incredibly compact: it measures a minuscule 42x59x118mm and weighs just 209g. By contrast, the Canon Legria HF M31 — which we complimented for being svelte — measures 68x60x123mm. The Xacti SH1’s smart looks and portable size make it an ideal handbag accessory (er, or jacket gadget for the blokes).

While it certainly looks fashionable, the Sanyo Xacti SH1’s build quality could be a bit better. We were especially disappointed by the cheap connectivity flaps: it’s easy to accidentally jam the battery door, for example. The dangling lens cap can be a bit of an annoyance too, but these are small quibbles given the budget price tag. All in all, the Sanyo Xacti SH1 looks better than any budget HD camcorder on the market.

For menu selection, Sanyo has stuck to a traditional joystick interface, as opposed to a touchscreen. The menu is well laid out and very beginner friendly -- there are no symbols or quirky phrases to memorise; instead everything is in plain English. There’s a respectable array of modes and features on offer, including manual focus, exposure and white balance, face detection, nine scene selections, a colour targeter and a handful of digital effects.

The Sanyo Xacti SH1 boasts a 23x optical zoom, which is above average for a Full HD camcorder; most high-definition cameras come with 15x zooms or lower. This allows you to capture close-ups of distant objects or people with zero loss in image quality — although you’ll need to practice keeping your hand steady at full zoom.

The Sanyo Xacti SH1 did a pretty good job when it came to video quality. We previewed our footage on a Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A plasma TV and were satisfied with the results. Our outdoor test shots were full of detail, while colours remained bright and accurate. Its performance took a nosedive in dim environments, however — a side effect of its solitary 1/3.6in CMOS sensor. Nonetheless, for a budget camcorder we think it acquits itself well.

Sanyo is touting the Xacti SH1 as a ‘Dual Camera’ due to its ability to capture both photos and video. This is something that practically every camcorder on the market offers; apparently Sanyo didn’t get the memo. The still image mode has a maximum native resolution of four megapixels (which can be boosted to 10 via interpolation software). It also comes with an inbuilt flash, a red eye remover and eight ISO settings. Its output will prove suitable for Facebook and other social networking sites, but medium and large prints are probably best avoided.

In addition to SD/SDHC, the Sanyo Xacti SH1 is compatible with SDXC memory cards. This is a faster, higher capacity format that can hold up to 64GB of memory.

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Read more on these topics: sanyo, digital video, camcorders, Sanyo Xacti
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