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Sanyo VPC-HD2000 review

Seth Barton
20 Mar 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
550
inc VAT (estimated price)

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Specifications

1/2.5in CMOS sensor, 1,920x1,080, 10.0x zoom, 311g

Sanyo's VPC-HD2000 camcorder is a surprising update to the company's VPC-HD1010, which it launched just a few months ago.

The two look pretty much identical. However, the VPC-HD2000 is the first consumer camcorder to shoot full HD footage - 1,920x1,080 pixels - at 60 complete frames per second, or 1080p/60fps.

Previous consumer camcorders have been limited to shooting at 30 full frames per second (1080p/30fps), or 60 interlaced fields per second (1080i/60fps), both of which the VPC-HD2000 is also able to do. This frame rate is certainly data intensive, with an incredibly high bit rate of 24Mbit/s. Not only will this fill an 8GB SDHC card in just under 45 minutes, but editing such footage can bring even the most powerful PC to its knees. However, the higher frame rate should provide a more stable image, with smoother motion and extra detail.

In our tests, video didn't look significantly more detailed than that from the VPC-HD1010, but objects in motion appeared more clearly defined. For most purposes we'd opt for a lesser frame rate, as it's easier to edit, play back and store. Colours are realistic, with none of the oversaturation we've seen on some other HD models. The VPC-HD1010's sluggish autofocus has been improved, though it's still not as quick or as accurate in low-light conditions as Canon's Instant AF. Video quality is good, with excellent detail in good lighting conditions. However, we noticed some ugly compression issues in low light, creating mosaic-like patterns. This is a pity, as the large sensor should provide better results.

As well as 60fps mode, there are high-speed shooting options, much like those on some digital cameras. You can shoot 240fps at a resolution of 448x336 or 600fps at a postage stamp-sized 192x108. Both modes play back at 60fps, giving a 4x or 10x slow-motion effect, and are great for making oddball videos for YouTube.

Despite it not receiving top billing, the CMOS sensor has had a significant upgrade. It's 1/2.5in across, around the same size as those used on many compact digital cameras, but the number of pixels has doubled to 8.1 million. This doesn't affect video quality, but it enables the camcorder to take stills similar to those from a typical compact camera. The camcorder has Sanyo's new Dual Camera branding, with video and photo functions given equal prominence.

The 10x optical zoom is physically identical to the VPC-HD1010's, but the VPC-HD2000 can increase this to 16x using its Advanced Zoom feature. Here the additional pixels on the sensor are used to zoom in further. However, unlike a traditional digital zoom, which often results in poor quality, here there's always at least one pixel on the sensor for each pixel in the video. This works fine in good lighting, but should be avoided in more challenging conditions, as it reduces the amount of light the sensor receives.

The VPC-HD2000 has an unusual pistol grip design. This is great for casual point-and-shoot use, which fits well with Sanyo's Dual Camera branding. One downside is the lack of a built-in lens cap, something you'd take for granted on a stills camera. If you prefer a more traditional camcorder shape, an almost identically specified model, the VPC-FH1, will be available soon.

Despite its impressive specifications, the VPC-HD2000 isn't the best HD camcorder we've seen, and it's only passable as a stills camera. If you're looking to buy the best HD camcorder, we would advise waiting for the latest models from Panasonic, Sony and Canon. These should hit the shops in the next couple of months, and we'll be reviewing selected models.

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