The Good Small and lightweight; rotating LCD screen; digital image stabilizer; quick response for spur-of-the-moment shots; excellent detail in moderately low light.
The Bad Tripod mounting requires tripod head tilt; manual focus isn't continuous; slow focus in low light.
The Bottom Line While the Sanyo Xacti VPC-C6 falls well below MiniDV quality, this pocket-size hybrid camcorder can produce acceptable video and stills.
Sanyo Xacti VPC-C6
Think of the future. Think Jetsons. Now imagine the camcorder you'll be carrying around with you. It would be pocket-size, tapeless, and equally adept at recording video and photos. In theory, you can buy that product today in the form of the Sanyo Xacti VPC-C6. It's the latest incarnation of Sanyo's slim-and-small digital movie camera, and you have to give the company credit for steadily improving the line. The sensor is now 6 megapixels (up from 5), and the zoom is much quieter than before, which is critical when shooting video. Other features include a 5X optical zoom, a digital image stabilizer, 60fps television output, and advanced low-light video recording. As with most devices this small, there are trade-offs. While much improved and relatively decent as far as MPEG-4 goes, the video still falls short of MiniDV quality. If portability nudges out image quality among your top criteria, this might just be your future camcorder. According to Sanyo, this is the world's thinnest, smallest, and lightest video camera that has both a megapixel-or-higher image sensor and an optical zoom lens. The sturdy metal-and-plastic outer casing is 2.7 inches wide, 4.3 inches high, and 0.9 inch deep. The Sanyo Xacti VPC-C6 weighs just 5.6 ounces and comes in three colors: gold, red, or black. The gold is actually more of a champagne color.
Thin, small, and lightweight are desirable qualities for a camcorder, though there are design trade-offs. The LCD screen is a cramped 2 inches. Fortunately, it's relatively bright, it holds up well in direct sunlight, and it has a high resolution (210,000 pixels) for its size. The upward slope of the lens is meant to let you tilt the camcorder for easy access to the small back-mounted controls. That complicates mounting the device on a tripod, as it requires you to tilt the tripod head forward to compensate.
The Sanyo Xacti VPC-C6 feels comfortable for single-handed shooting. Its LCD screen swivels over a 270-degree range, which makes this lightweight model well suited for overhead or low-angle shots. All the controls, with the exception of the on-off switch, are clustered on the back near the top. The tight configuration places the vertical zoom button awfully close to the dedicated video and photo shutter release buttons. Similarly, the five-way button that controls the menus is smaller than we prefer.
PMA 2009's photo finish
Another annual Photo Marketing Association show ends, leaving some new product anticipation in its wake.
Indecent Exposure 35: Interrogative excitement
Reflections on our reflections contest, why depth of field varies deeply, and digitizing mom's photos.
Indecent Exposure 8: Inaccordant experts
Today, we bring you news to Flip over, camps for creative kiddies, and tips for recovering corrupted photos.