Pros: Smallest, lightest camcorder we’ve seen that delivers usable footage.
Cons: Video quality much worse than pro-level camcorders; US framerates only; highest setting not Mac-compatible.
Sanyo’s Xacti HD1010 is a high-definition camcorder that’s much smaller even than your typical consumer HD model, making it ideal for shooting in small spaces or on the fly. It’s no rival for true pro-level cameras, but it delivers reasonable quality and if your demands are modest, it’s an inexpensive tool for inventive creatives.
When you pick up the HD1010, the first thing you notice is its solid feel. It weighs around 300g with the battery, and you hold it as you would a traditional handheld cine camera. The 2.7-inch LCD opens up and extends out.
When you’re holding the camcorder, you access all of the controls with your thumb. The ring of buttons and switches atop the HD1010 looks intimidating at first, but is actually intuitive to use. A mini joystick is used to navigate through the camcorder’s copious features.
The HD1010 uses SD memory cards for storage, and video is saved in the MPEG-4/H.264 AVC format. A 2GB SD card can hold about 20 minutes of video shot at 1,920-x-1,080, 30fps (12Mbps), the camcorder’s second-best setting. The HD1010 has a top video setting of 1,920-x-1,080i, 60fps (14Mbps) – but unfortunately, this version isn’t Mac compatible and crashes Final Cut Pro. There’s also no option to record 25p or 50i, which is a major pain for UK-based users.
To test image quality, we shot an indoor scene that includes flesh tones, colour chart, various textures, and spinning objects. Despite having a single CMOS sensor, the video quality was quite good for a consumer-level camcorder; detail was sharp, the lighting exposure was even, and the clarity was stunning.
However, image noise was slightly more noticeable in the HD1010’s video than it was with other pocket-sized HD camcorders (and while models from Canon and Sony are jacket pocket-sized, the HD1010 will slip into your jeans’ pocket). Also, our video had a slight red tint. The camcorder was able to keep moving objects in video clear, but there was some minor jitter.
We also used the camcorder for several outdoor shoots; one day was bright and sunny, the other overcast. Image noise was a little more noticeable, and the red tint was still apparent. Fast-moving objects sometimes created minor streaking.
The Sanyo Xacti HD1010 is a charming little device. While its image quality reflects its size and price, it could be highly useful is you need a model that’s extremely small, light and inexpensive, and it’s a great take-everywhere option. The lack of support for UK TV output framerates is its key flaw.