Fortunately, video resolution has been bumped up to compensate. Apart from the top Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 option, 1,280 x 720 is also available as with the HD1 and 2, plus 640 x 480 and even 320 x 240. Annoyingly, the HD1000 only records video at a 30 frames per second base rate, not the 25 we use in Europe. So although most TVs will be able to play the video, the footage won’t be ideal for creating DVDs in European PAL format. The 1,280 x 720 and 640 x 480 resolutions can also be recorded at 60 frames per second – great for fast motion – but Full HD uses 60 fields, so is essentially 1080i.
All these video formats are recorded using the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 format, as with AVCHD. The Full HD and 60fps 1,280 x 720 are recorded at 12Mbits/sec, dropping to 3Mbits/sec for 640 x 480 at 30fps, with other options in between. SD memory is used for storage, so even in Full HD mode, you should be able to fit 90 minutes of video on a 8GB SDHC card. Unfortunately, one thing Sanyo doesn’t include in the box is an SD card, although 8GB SDHC cards can be had for under £50 these days and 16GB models are just arriving on the market.
The Xacti is entirely aimed at the point-and-shoot market, and has few features for the enthusiast. Nevertheless, it does offer microphone and headphone minijacks, although no accessory shoe. In its place, there’s a built-in flash which pops up at the press of a button. There are seven auto-exposure modes on offer, including sports, portrait, landscape, night portrait, snow & beach, fireworks and lamp.
Manual focus is available, but is operated via the joystick rather than a lens ring. You can choose between nine-point and spot focus when in auto mode. The exposure uses multiple points, the centre, or spot. You can also select aperture or shutter priority modes, or control both separately. The aperture can be varied from F1.8 to F8, which isn’t a particularly wide range, and shutter from ½ to 1/500, which is also fairly narrow. In general, the menu setup and choices will feel more familiar to a digital camera user than a camcorder expert, although there is a lot of overlap.