Water and electronic gadgets don't normally go well together. But an increasing number of camcorders now offer waterproofing, so you can capture your experiences in the rain or when diving. Panasonic led the way with the SDR-SW20 and SW21, and Sanyo recently upped the ante by moving to HD with the Xacti VPC-WH1. Now we have another HD waterproof camcorder from Sanyo in the shape of the Xacti VPC-CA9. Where the WH1 focused mostly on its underwater credentials, the CA9 gives more of a nod to style. Using the now familiar ‘gun' format for Sanyo Xactis, it's far less of a chunky beast.
The major difference in the headline feature of water resistance is that the CA9 is only rated to a depth 1.5m, where the WH1 can go down to 3m. So the CA9 is on par with Panasonic's original SDR-SW20, although this still qualifies it for IPX8 accreditation. As with the WH1, there is no mention of impact resistance. So, although the body feels quite sturdy, we wouldn't recommend dropping the CA9 then expecting its waterproofing to remain effective. A single door covers the battery, SDHC memory card slot, and combined USB and AV port.
However, on a more positive note the CA9 incorporates a much larger 1/2.5in CMOS than the WH1's 1/6in unit, and boasts a native 9.02-megapixels rather than 2.0-megapixels. Thus, despite both claiming to be ‘Dual Cameras' due to their ability to shoot both video and stills, the CA9 warrants the title far more, at least on paper.
The same range of video recording options are available, topped by 1,280 x 720 at 30 frames per second. There are also two 640 x 480 options, using 60 or 30 frames per second, and a voice memo recording facility. The top video mode uses 9Mbits/sec, so 8GB will be enough for just under two hours of footage.
With its higher-resolution sensor, however, the CA9 offers much more creditable photography specifications. The top native still image resolution is 3,456 x 2,592, but there's also a ‘Pictrise' interpolated option which bumps the resolution to 4,000 x 3,000. A separate camera button is provided next to the video button so you can quickly switch between the two functions.