Sanyo Xacti E1 review: Sanyo Xacti E1

Physical navigation aside, the menus are easy to read and logically arranged, exposing you to the relatively basic, camcorderlike feature set. The E1 incorporates a slowish f/3.5-to-4.7, 38mm-to-190mm-equivalent lens with a built-in neutral-density filter and a 2.5-inch LCD that gets difficult to see in harsh light and that must be viewed head-on underwater. Though it lacks aperture- and shutter-priority exposure modes, you can select from among spot-, center- and pattern metering; sensitivity settings from ISO 50 to ISO 1,600 (as high as 7,200 in the Lamp low-light scene mode); auto, manual and four preset white-balance settings; spot or nine-point autofocus; and exposure compensation. At best quality--and you don't really want to drop below that--it records MPEG-4 video at about 409K per second or 24MB per minute of video.

The super macro mode can focus as close as 0.4 inch, the Normal focus mode can only lock beyond 31.5 inches, while a Total mode focuses as close as 4 inches; theoretically, by limiting the range of focus distances in Normal mode the camera can lock focus faster. Nonetheless, the E1 generally focuses pretty slowly--even more so in low light. Plus, with underwater reflections it takes even longer. The manual focus locks at stepped intervals, which means you eventually end up focusing with your feet. These focus issues, combined with the iffy shutter button, results in perceptible lag when photographing.

Sample photos from the Sanyo Xacti VPC-E1

On top of performance issues, the E1 gets mixed marks for video and still quality as well. On one hand, it can take some very nice photos. But more often, the photos suffer from the camera shake caused by frantic presses, followed by jabs, at the unresponsive shutter button. The photos tend to have a little more image noise than I like at sensitivity values above ISO 50, but that's typical for its class. And as usual, I don't recommend setting it above ISO 200 and can't imagine shooting at ISO 1,600, much less ISO 7,200. Video shot in outdoor light looks pretty typical--OK for YouTube or mobile device playback, but not recommended for editing and reencoding. Video shot in low light looks especially muddy and noisy. And the E1 could use a wind filter.

What you'll pay

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