Summary

Our Score

6/10

User Score

Review Price free/subscription

Last month I reviewed the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1, a hybrid still/HD video camera. I was impressed by its unique abilities, especially its HD video mode, as well as its futuristic style and exemplary build quality. I was less impressed with its price. £540 for a five megapixel camera is a lot of money, especially since the still picture quality was below average.

This week I’m taking a look at its junior sibling, the sleek and rather lovely VPC-C6, which shares Sanyo’s ambitious hybrid still/video design ethos. It lacks the HD video capability of the HD1, but does offer VGA MPEG-4 video with stereo sound, as well as six megapixel still images and does so at the slightly more realistic price of £294.95.

Sanyo hi-fi systems, perhaps unfairly, have a reputation for being a bit cheap and nasty, so it’s surprising to see the same brand name on this beautifully designed and well engineered product. The C6 looks like it’s been stolen from the set of a particularly stylish high-budget sci-fi movie. The temptation to flip the screen open, tap a few buttons and say “beam me up, Scotty”, or wave it over someone while making Tricorder noises, is almost irresistible. Or maybe that’s just me… {nope... I’d do that too.. ed.}

Geeky fantasies aside, the C6 is certainly an impressive little gadget. The body is made of aluminium alloy and finished in an attractive champagne-gold colour with gunmetal and chrome details, although a black version is also available. The f3.5-4.7 6x optical zoom lens is quite a lot larger than on most comparable compacts, and the 2in flip-out LCD monitor has 210k pixels for above average sharpness and a good anti-reflective coating for use in bright sunlight. Build and finish is excellent and the whole thing looks and feels like a real quality product. The overall design has that finished look of a third-generation product, which in fact it is.

While the pistol-grip format may not appeal to everyone, it is a good compromise between the camera’s dual functions. It is actually quite comfortable and easy to hold steady in still mode, and also to move about smoothly for video shooting. However it is worth noting that left-handed people could have a real problem with it.

As with the HD1, the position of the controls takes some getting used to. All the controls are mounted on the back of the camera, and are operated with the thumb. There are two shutter buttons, one to shoot a still picture, the other to start filming a video clip. Between them is the zoom control, which is one of the nicest I’ve found on a digital camera. It is designed for video shooting and has a variable speed action; the further you move the slider, the faster the zoom moves. The zoom is stepless, so it is easy to accurately frame pictures as you shoot.

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