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Sanyo Xacti VPC-TH1 HD Camcorder (Blue)

by Sanyo

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is HD - not bad for under $300 14 April 2009
By A. Chan - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I also bought this camera without doing much research. I was looking for a camcorder that was HD "quality", uses SDHC memory card and for a price around $300. The Sanyo met all the criteria so I purchased it from Amazon.

I also picked up a 16 gb Transcend memory card.

Let's go over the PROS first --
++ It is really easy to use. Just point and shoot. Just like using a digital camera, except it's a digital video camera.
++ Having the memory card is so much better than using mini-DV tapes. There is no longer a need to plug the camcorder into your computer fireport or USB port. After I am done shooting, I just pop out the memory card, put it in my memory card reader and copy it onto the hard driver. Doesn't get much better than that!
++ Transferring files are a lot faster than mini-DV tapes. Before, you had to play/record in real time. Due to fact that everything is digital, the transfer is quite fast!
++ Battery life is very good. You can get around 200 minutes of video time. I also like the fact that the battery indicator tells you the approximate MINUTES left. I hate it when they just show a battery symbol and start deducting "spaces/icons" from the battery. I need to know the numerical time value, which this camera provides
++ YouTube uploads are amazingly easy. Just click on the file you want to use, and upload. Make sure you watch in HQ quality on YouTUbe
++ Size is perfect. It's a lot smaller than my mini-DV camcorder, but not too small where it feels like a toy.
++ Build/Construction. I bought the blue version and the blue looks very good. It feels solid in your hands and appear that it could take some abuse. It's not too light and not too heavy. It just feels good in your hands.
++ Quality - overall, quality of the video is good for a $300 video camera. You cannot expect true HD quality from this. However, I do have a problem with the focus (see the CONS below)
OK - here's the CONS

- Focus ---- the although the camera has face recogition, there is no way to "lock" onto one person. In other words, if there are 3 or 4 people in the same shot, the camera tends to jump around with the focus between the different faces and it gets annoying during playback. It seems like the camera keeps searching for the right focus. If there is a way to "lock" onto a face, please let me know so I can use that feature.
- Indoor quality not good. There seems to be more noise than usual while shooting indoors. Of course, I should have turned on more lights indoors but I am still working on improving my indoor shots.
Would I buy this camera knowing what I know? Absolutely!! The price is right. If they could fix the focus issue, this camera would have met all my expectations
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not all HD is equal: good camcorder for beginners, but don't expect too much from the "HD" imagery 13 Jun 2009
By N. Andersen - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The specs for this camcorder are exciting; the images, sadly, are not really much better than standard definition images. If you want something to capture video for the web, and that allows you to do more tweaking than you can with simpler camcorders like the Flip Mino, then this would not be a bad choice. Just don't expect it to give you truly high quality images. Also, the onboard memory holds next to nothing, so when buying this camcorder you should factor in the price of at least an 8GB SDHC card to store the video you shoot. Overall, I think this would be a very good camcorder for beginners, since it is easier to work with flash memory than to mess around with tapes, and since practicing with the functions here will prepare one for using a more advanced camcorder when the time comes (and the budget allows). It does look good, and is fairly well designed. For many purposes this would be just the thing.

I shot some footage with this in its "SD" 30fps mode and its "HD" 30fps mode (which uses a lot more memory per minute of video), and played it all back on my 42" SANYO LCD HD television using an HDMI cable. What surprised me was that I could distinguish very little overall difference in quality. There was more contrast in the HD picture, which is important, but otherwise I couldn't tell a difference - at least, I couldn't say for sure which video images I preferred. In a situation where my aim was just to capture what's going on, I'd be as happy with a Flip as with this (of course with the Flip there is next to no zooming, so it wouldn't work in every situation). But if the idea was to create a certain "look" or adapt to the needs of a unique situation (e.g. bright lights against darkness, very bright sun or snow, etc.) then it would be nice to have the flexibility of the controls on this one.

Some people think that what really matters in a camcorder is the resolution. 720 pixels or even 1080 pixels sounds a lot better than 480p - this one can be set to shoot at 720p, which is, technically, "HD" - but, as it turns out, that's just one factor in a much more complex equation. The quality and size of the lens, the quality of the processor, the size of the sensor, are all factors that contribute to the overall character of the picture you can get from a camcorder. What that means is that just because a camcorder is "HD" doesn't mean it will give you the best in quality.

I shot this video comparison you see here at a local nature park, using both the HD and the SD mode of the Sanyo TH1 and also shooting for comparison roughly the same images with my Flip Mino. It's hard to really see all the differences here on the small screen (especially given that I had to compress the video for playback on the web), but I find that even when I play it at best quality on my big screen TV it is hard to say which images I prefer. They all have a fair amount of grain to them, and none even come close to the quality of the images I can get on my Canon VIXIA HF10, but they all look okay and for some uses just fine. The critical point for me is that between the three, even though there were some detectable differences, I couldn't decide which I liked best. (You will note in this video the obvious difference in aspect ratios, since the HD footage is widescreen and is here letterboxed so it will fit in the same size screen as the SD footage; another feature is that in bright sunlight the Flip images are pretty washed out, but they are about equivalent in normal light conditions and even relatively low light conditions).

For the purposes of this test I had all the settings on automatic, and only changed the video capture setting from HD to SD between shots, but it's worth noting that unlike simpler camcorders the TH1 does give you some flexibility with the images, allowing for all the standard adjustments (white balance, exposure, etc.) and the usual settings (sports, snow, fireworks, etc.) and effects (transitions, sepia, b/w, etc.). It has an impressive 30x optical zoom - though it's not wise to zoom that far unless you've got it on a tripod because at that focal distance the image stabilization can do nothing for the shakes.

This is advertised as a dual purpose camcorder, meaning it shoots both video and photos, but it is worth noting that the photos are very poor quality - not even as good as you get with most cellphones these days (technically, they are shot on a 1.1 MP sensor and blown up to 2.0 MP photos, and while the number of pixels is not the most important thing it is not unimportant and that is pretty low). One other secondary purpose is served by the fact that you can set the camcorder to record only audio, which uses much less memory than shooting video and audio at the same time. So this could also serve as a "dictaphone" or recorder. For that purpose it does well enough - and the onboard mike seems to be comparable to other camcorders in its price range. But apart from a possible use as a dictaphone, for all intents and purposes this is a camcorder that ostensibly shoots in HD but is probably best suited for video intended only to be screened on the web or personal computer or where the overall quality of the images is not of utmost importance.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You Get What You Pay For . . . 12 April 2009
By CoronaLite - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this camcorder for a "cheap" way to enter the HD world of video capturing. I will wait to get a much better camcorder once I figure out how to get around editing AVCHD (and when I buy a new computer that can handle HD video editing with ease). My main use for this camcorder is capturing orchestral performances, editing it, and uploading the video to YouTube in HD quality. I also like taking video that requires no editing. In summary, this camcorder isn't the best in the world, but isn't the worst in the world.

Things you should be aware of before buying this camcorder:
1) The zoom button seems flimsy. It feels like it'll break any moment.

2) The image stabilizer is not that useful (especially from 15x-30x zoom if shooting with hands). However, the image stability is greatly improved with a tripod (the video is still shaky nonetheless).

3) Not that great in low lighting conditions.

4) In a complete silence environment, you can hear noise when you zoom in or out. Not only that, you can hear other noises made from the camcorder in the audio recording in general. There's no mic input to work around this flaw. But if the environment is NOT in complete silence (like an orchestra playing), you probably won't hear the extraneous noises coming from the camcorder.

Other Observations/Thoughts:
1) I use a Transcend 16GB SDHC that comes with a card reader, and it seems to work out.

2) All videos captured are saved as file type mp4.

3) It uses SDHC, which means it uses the FAT32 filing system, which means the biggest file you can create is 4GB. At the highest video setting, that would be about 1 hour of non-stop recording. I decided to test what would happen if I try to go over 4GB. So I left the camcorder on for about one hour and one minute. Then in the LCD screen, there's a countdown timer in red font indicating that it is running out of time to record. When it reached zero seconds, it auto-saves the recording, and then it starts a new recording. The file (in the SDHC) indicates that it is 3.99GB. However when I try to copy and paste this file to my computer, it won't let me. The file is now useless. So the moral of the story is, if you are using the highest video setting, don't go over 55 minutes of non-stop recording, and you'll be fine.

4) I don't really care about taking pictures on this, so I didn't test that.

5) Regarding the battery: [UPDATE: 4/14/2009] Out of the box the battery says it has 72 minutes left on it. So I started to recharge it. According to the manual, the LED will turn red if it's recharging and turn off if it's finished. Three hours pass and the LED is still red. I was wondering how can this thing charge for so long. So I unplugged it and checked the battery life. It says 207 minutes. I plugged it back in to recharge it again. The LED is off. In summary, it seems that the recharging indicator isn't reliable.

Video Editing/AVCHD section ------------------------------------------
Of course editing video in AVCHD is a different beast altogether. So my review rating is not affected by this.

My Computer Specs:
OS: Windows XP
CPU: AMD Athlon XP +1800
Memory: 2 x 512MB
Video Card: ATI Radeon 8500 LE 128MB

First, here is what I WANT done in the video editing process:
1) If the video doesn't need to be edited, I should be able to upload to YouTube in HD quality

2) If a video DOES need to be edited, there should be a way to "uncompress it" with a lossless technique (like huffYUV), or a way to edit the mp4 file directly with advanced editing techniques, compress it, and output to YouTube, DVD, or Blu-Ray.

Now I will tell you if steps 1) and 2) can be done based on my experience.

Step 1) can be done. Just upload the mp4 file to YouTube (it's in HD quality), and that's it.

Step 2) is rather interesting. Here's what I've done so far.
a) install lame mp3 and ffdshow codecs
b) install and load "pazera free mp4 to avi converter"
c) uncompress the mp4 file to HuffYUV lossless (this will be the intermediate file for editing). This may cause the frame rate to lag (but I'm using a slow computer). Also take note that HuffYUV will produce a big file (about 31 MB/s for me). We do step c) because VirtualDub can't load mp4 files.
d) install and load VirtualDub (or whatever video editor you use that can let you edit HuffYUV), and do your video editing.
e) compress video to ffdshow mpeg4 (fourcc = MP4V) 4000kbit/s: audio to lame mp3 128kbit/s
f) Done (the compressed file doesn't lag for me anymore).

I am still searching for software that can do advanced video editing for AVCHD (or an uncompressed format) since VirtualDub can only do simple editing.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You wont be disappointed if you set your expectations right! 1 Aug 2009
By Tarun Chachra - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So I have reviewed quite a few cameras..everything from a Flip, a Vado, a Canon Vixia, and now this Sanyo. My review is more about setting your expectations to a level that will allow this camera a sweet spot in your home. I am probably one of the few that is rating this camera high and that is simply because I know what it is meant for and what it can/cannot do. So here we go:

Box Includes:
Lens Cap
Hand Strap
AC Adapter
USB Cable (Micro USB)
Composite Analog Video Cable
Software for both PC/MAC (LESS SW for MAC then PC).

When you read this review and or evaluate the item description, it is very important to keep in mind that this camera is in the $250-275 range. It is not meant to be a high end High Definition camera.

The camera is about the size of a small paper back book and is very light and comfortable to hold. The battery slides inside of a hidden compartment at the bottom and can be charged by plugging the adapter into the rear end of the camera. Once charged I found that the battery lasted for about 2-3 hours of heavy torture testing. The camera starts up for the first time and a little voice tells you to set the date and time...I dont know about you but I love voice feedback. After initial setup the camera, when powered on, says "Starting, Internal Memory". This makes any gadget a bit more fun.

I love the fact that Sanyo has a 30x optical zoom on this little camcorder, but I am not a fan of the time it takes for the camera to focus in on a subject. It is SLOW at best. That being said, 30x optical is awesome and with the image stabilization features built in the SHAKE is reduced quite a bit, not entirely..but enough. The camera also takes 2mp still shots and has a little flash built in under the lens. It is a nice feature...but lets be honest here..2mp is lower then what newer cell phones provide these days and, to me, completely worthless. Video is captured on the built in 32gb of storage in 720p mode using the h264 codec. Still images are captured at 1600x1200 at 2mp. The images and video can be captured to the inbuilt storage and or you can add a SDHC card to the camera (size is up to you 8-32gb is accepted). The rear of the camera has a very simplistic layout. Two buttons towards the top to select still or video, a rec/play button in the center, a menu button to the right, and a joystick to the left that lets you navigate throughout the various options. The joystick is excellent and works well. On top of the camera you have a rocker panel for wide/telephoto...it is very sensitive and works well..it feels good to the finger.

I seldom use software that is provided by manufacturers as most computers today, pc or mac, have enough built in abilities to manipulate images and video. The OS X platform especially with iPhoto and iMovie works wonders.

I generally like to test camera gear on MAC's since most manufacturers tend to provide more software for Windows based pc's. The MAC is a very graphics oriented platform and thus I like to see if it will recognize and utilize a camera such as this one. Once you connect the micro usb cable to the computer and to the camera, it comes up with a menu of options. Screen Capture, PC Camera, Card Reader etc... With the Sanyo software on your computer you have many more options then without. When you do not use the software you are limited to the Card Reader mode which does allow for iPhoto and Windows based PC's to see this as an actual Camera that you can process images/video from. Works flawlessly.

Image Quality: As I mentioned above, I have used FLIP's HD, Creative' Vado HD, and now this camera. Why am I not mentioning my higher end Vixia...because that camera need not be compared to this particular model. The Flip and Vado are pretty much neck in neck when it comes to video quality and compact size; they work well and the image quality is as good as can be for their lens sizes. The Sanyo one ups them and gives you a better lens with 30x optical zoom which makes this the winner in the compact category. Low light quality is so so...it does need a bit of ambient light around during the dark...even with a little light there is some noise and grain can be seen..its not great but neither are the other two compacts mentioned above. Outdoor video's and indoor daytime videos are comparable if not better then the other two above. The optical zoom does allow for a great variation of shooting and is HIGHLY recommended...(30x optical at this price is truly amazing).

As my title suggests, if your expectations are correct then this camera will work for you. This is not intended to become your household camcorder...at least for me. It is intended, in my opinion, to be the camera that you carry around in place of a Flip or Vado so you have more storage and better optics. Since the camera is shaped like a traditional camcorder it is easier to shoot with and believe me, it still fits in your pocket and or pocket book..but does not have the weight of a brick. That being said, this camera's image quality is comparable to older dvi tape camcorders and it may be what you need for your memories.

I can provide a lot more detail about this camera, but feel it is un-necessary since the above should suffice. I am giving this a 4/5 only because of two negatives:
1. The 2mp still photo feature is worthless.
2. Again, another manufacturer that fails to give us a cheap mini hdmi to hdmi cable.

Other then that this camera will more then likely be a hit for its price category and is something I would recommend you take a look at if it is within your budget. [...]
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Low video quality and inferior overall performance 26 May 2009
By Roger - Published on Amazon.com
I needed a replacement for my seven-year old MiniDV camcorder and this one seemed a good deal. At the store it looked very impressive and the specs were decent. I've had the camcorder for about 10 days and have tried every possible setting and feature available. I believe I can review the camcorder properly now.

The pros:
+ Nice overall design, fits comfortably in the hand, the controls are well placed and easy to access. Every control can be accessed with one hand only.
+ The LCD display is bright and clear and the size is good.
+ The battery life is impressive.
+ The menu is well organized and easy to navigate.

The cons: Unfortunately, the camcorder performance is very weak where it really matters.
+ The auto-focus is probably the biggest problem. It takes a few seconds to focus on the subject and it just doesn't seem to be able to keep focused on anything for more than ten seconds or so. Even still objects would get out of focus quickly if you zoom in/out or shake the camera slightly. It would then take another few seconds to refocus again. I've tried every possible focus setting available, i.e., spot focus, 9-point focus and AF-lock. To add insult to the injury, the manual focus only seems to work prior to pressing the REC button. That means you have to focus on the subject prior to start shooting the video. You can't make adjustments once you start recording. The best solution I found is to let the auto-focus on and then press AF-lock once the camcorder finds the focus. Then you have to do it all over again if the subject moves or if you zoom in/out. Quite honestly, that's way too much work if all you want is to take some quick video shots.
+ Lots of noise even with adequate indoor light. You can somewhat control that by adjusting the ISO settings but it is still far inferior to my old MiniDV camcorder. Forget about relatively low light conditions, the videos are just awfully grainy.
+ I'm no expert but the color saturation doesn't seem right. For example, the reds and greens stand out too much in relation to the other colors. I tried the different setting provided for that but quite frankly I could not notice any difference between these settings.
+ The video motion is not smooth. It looks like a video shot on a cell phone at times. The specs claim 30fps, but it does not look like it at all. Even SD videos @60fps perform poorly as far the video motion is concerned.

I really wanted to like this camcorder and I assure you I've tried really hard to make its performance at least acceptable to me. But the final video quality is just plain bad. You might not notice how bad the videos are until you download them to your computer or watch them on a good size TV (42" or bigger). Every video lacks detail, focus, and it is grainy and full of noise. Just for comparison, I've also tried a Panasonic SDR-S26 and, despite being an SD camcorder, it performed well above the Sanyo VPC-TH1. Mind you, the SDR-S26 is not really regarded as a top performer in the SD world.

Needless to say that I returned the product to the store. Interestingly, the store offered a 50-dollar discount if I was willing to keep the camcorder. I can only guess that many of the other buyers are returning their purchases too. Personally, even a 100-dollar discount would not convince me to keep the camcorder as its poor performance makes it useless to me.
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