Best Waterproof Camcorders
Panasonic's heritage making toughened products gave it a head start in the waterproof camcorder market. But Sanyo has a knack of keeping costs down, and this has allowed it to leapfrog Panasonic to produce a number of keenly priced waterproof HD models. Our favourite is the VPC-CA9, which blends decent underwater credentials with 720p video shooting.
The VPC-CA9 is rated to a depth of 1.5m and is IPX8 accredited. A single door protects the battery, SDHC memory slot and combined audiovisual and USB connection. However, the CA9 has no impact-resistance rating, so is not guaranteed against drops. This makes it less ideal for extreme aquatic sports.
The reason we like the CA9 so much is its video quality. It uses a 9.02-megapixel CMOS with a large 1/2.5in diameter. This provides much better low light performance than other underwater camcorders we've tested. It's still not up with the best premium HD models, but the CA9 will shoot decent video in murky depths - an essential feature for a waterproof camcorder.
So although the VPC-CA9 isn't the most accomplished for depth or robustness, it does shoot the best video in its class. Factor in the sub-£250 price, and it could even be a second camcorder just for the beach or swimming pool.
Panasonic may have been usurped by Sanyo for general-purpose underwater video-making antics, but it still rules the roost for toughness. The SDR-SW21 is waterproof to 2m as defined by the IPX8 standard, dustproof according to IP5X, and will resist drops of up to 1.2m, conforming to MIL-STD-810F METHOD 516.t SHOCK. The box also includes a floatation device, so if you drop the SW21 in deep water it won't sink to an aquatic grave. However, the SDR-SW21 only shoots SD video, and low light performance is not as good as the Sanyo VPC-CA9.
The VPC-WH1 is another of Sanyo's underwater HD models. Its main claim to fame is its 3m depth rating, the best of any waterproof consumer camcorder currently available. It shoots 720p video like the VPC-CA9, but is based on a 1/6in CMOS. So its video quality is also inferior, particularly in low light. If you need to go deep, go for the WH1, but otherwise stick with the CA9.