The WH1 does have some manual settings available, but these are all buried in the menu, and clearly not intended for regular access. The eight scene modes are found in the first level of the menu, including an Underwater option. You need to head to the second menu level to adjust focus manually or select macro mode.
Only when you get to the third menu page do you find the settings for white balance and exposure. The latter actually provides aperture and shutter priority modes, as well as a fully manual option where you can configure both independently. The iris can be varied from F/2.1 to F/8, and the shutter from four seconds to 1/500th, although we found the shutter didn’t actually appear to go below 1/30th with video even if we set it lower.
Other optional settings include a Face Chaser detection system, which tracks up to 12 faces. There’s a high sensitivity mode, which is actually what other manufacturers call slow shutter. The minimum shutter speed then drops to 1/15th, reducing the minimum amount of light required to 3 lux. If you head further into the settings, you can even adjust the image saturation and sharpening, with vivid, soft, plus soft and vivid modes available. However, backlight compensation is nowhere to be found – a surprising omission when you could potentially be shooting up towards a brighter water surface from deeper, darker areas.
The menu also has two modes – simple and normal, with the former hiding virtually all the options except video/photo resolution, enabling macro mode, and cycling through the flash options. Not surprisingly, there are no minijacks for external microphone or headphone, nor an accessory shoe. You wouldn’t be able to use these underwater, but some people might be tempted to try if they were available, so their absence is probably a good thing.
The WH1 is relatively comfortable to handle, with video record buttons both at the rear and on the front near the lens. So you can hold it either in the traditional HandyCam style or in the torch-like orientation which is now becoming a popular alternative. Both options put a finger on the zoom rocker. However, there are no extra record and zoom buttons on the edge of the LCD, which we usually find can come in handy.