Loving the wet stuff, the sleek Full HD pistol grip-styled Sanyo is waterproof to 3 metres. It’s marketed as a ‘dual camera’, in that it shoots 14-megapixel photos too. A built-in flash sits directly beneath its lens. The other advantage is a 5x optical zoom.
Unfortunately we still get the relentlessly cheery transatlantic sounding female voice giving us verbal prompts now and again – a feature of the Xacti dual camera series.
Sanyo Xacti CA100: Controls
Bulkier than vertically styled pocket HD camcorder rivals but still well-built and sturdy. Curiously the card sits beneath the battery, so one has to removed to locate the other.
The widescreen LCD that folds screen-inwards against the ‘handle’ of the device when inactive and flips out and twists around at right angles when in use, also provides a means of steadying the camera with your left hand. That said it’s awkward to avoid judder when shooting handheld at maximum zoom.
In common with most budget devices the Sanyo features electronic as opposed to the preferred optical or mechanical image stabilisation.
Menu options are selected via a touch sensitive panel that sits at the base of the grip and ‘hides’ beneath the screen when it’s folded against it in dormant state. As the menu, record and play and four-way control pad are flush with the body, this makes for slightly fiddly operation – our fingers tended to slip about a bit on the shiny surface, even when it was dry.
Fortunately the zoom, video and stills shooting are controlled via larger, chunkier buttons that fall under the thumb at the top of the handgrip. Beneath these is a further, smaller button marked ‘zoom range’. Press this and what Sanyo is calling its ‘double zoom range’ kicks in for video shooting; providing you with the option of a wide mode with an equivalent focal range of 40-240mm in 35mm film terms, or a tele mode with 80-480mm equivalent offering.
The main power button is beneath the screen, so, perversely, you can’t actually find it when the camera is in its folded state, once this has initially been pressed you can activate or de-activate the CA100 simply by folding the screen out from the body or folding it in.
Sanyo Xacti CA100: Features
What sets this model apart from the crowd is of course its waterproofed capability down to three metres in depth, singling it out for use on the beach, splashing about in the pool or on the ski slopes. The doors for the flaps covering the HDMI and standard AV/USB connectivity ports and the battery compartment have sliding catches and warning stickers, with a red indicator showing when either isn’t properly shut.
Though we had no problem opening and shutting the battery compartment, the smaller slider on the cover for the ports made it much more fiddly to shut, again with dry (bare) hands. Using the device with gloves, if you’re going skiing for example, would be nigh impossible.
That’s a shame, as for fans of the sport, the dual camera’s ability to shoot bursts of 22 photographs at up to seven frames per second – albeit with a resolution drop to two megapixels – is a nice little extra to have on board.
Sanyo Xacti CA100: Image quality
As we’ve found with Xacti devices in the past, when it comes to still images they’re no match for dedicated digital cameras – slightly soft pictures resembling video grabs – nor, when it comes to video are they a match for a pricier dedicated camcorder. That said, colours are well saturated and sound is deep, crisp and even.
Battery life is good for around 200 shots or roughly one hour of continuous usage, which is par for the course.
So, viewed as a best of both worlds solution for those who don’t want to lug two separate devices around with them, the VPC-CA100 provides an adequate if imperfect showing. A better bet may be to save up for a hybrid digital camera like the Sony NEX-5, with interchangeable lens offering excellent stills and 1080 HD video into the bargain. Its waterproof qualities may however make this more of a temptation for those engaged in active and/or damp pursuits.
The Sanyo Xacti CA100 is out now, find out more from Sanyo
Posted by Gavin Stoker