By >Daimaou - G.G-B
[Quick Review] Sanyo Xacti DMX-CA100 / VPC-CA100
Announced late May, Sanyo’s new Xacti DMX-CA100, also known as VPC-CA100 in North America, is what many of us have been waiting for quite sometime now, a fully capable Full HD dual Camera (photo & video) that can be used underwater up to 3m of depth. Now to be honest with you this review will be quite “light” due to the bad timing of the delivery. I was in fact supposed to get the DMX-CA100 on a Friday leaving me 4 full day (with a full week-end) to review the unit, however due to the lack of professionalism on the part of the delivery company, I could receive the Xacti late Monday morning, giving me barely a single day to give it a try… So rather than going too much into details here, I will only be capable of providing you some basic feedback.
Sanyo Xacti DMX-CA100 / VPC-CA100 specifications
• Image sensor:1/2.33 inch CMOS sensor, Approx. 14.40 Megapixels
• Resolution (pixels) Video
- Full HD: 1920 x 1080 (60fields/sec 16Mbps)
- Full-SHQ: 1920 x 1080 (30 fps/ 12Mbps)
- HD-HR: 1280 x 720 (60fps, 12Mbps) HD-SHQ: 1280 x 720 (30 fps/9Mbps)
- (iFrame): 960 × 540 (30fps, 24Mbps)
- TV-SHQ: 640 x 480 (30 fps/3Mbps)
- f=6.8 to 34.0 mm
- F=3.5 (W) – 3.7 (T)
- Auto Focus
- 8 groups, 10 elements (3 aspheric elements, 4 aspheric surfaces)
- Built-in ND filter
- 5x Optical zoom lens
- 16M: 4640 x 3480
- 12M (16:9): 4608 x 2592 (16:9)
- 14M-H: 4352 x 3264 (low compression)
- 14M-S: 4352 x 3264 (standard compression)
- 14M-S: 4352 x 3264 (standard compression)
• Resolution (pixels) Sequential:
- 14M: 4352 x 3264 (1fps/ 14 photos)
- 2M: 1600 x 1200 (7fps/22 photos)
- Auto (ISO50 – 400)
- Manual (ISO50/100/200/400/800/1600, Switching system)
• Monitor: 2.7 inch Low-temperature polysilicon TFT color wide screen LCD
• Dimension: 92.0 (W) x 40.8(D) x 123.0 (H)mm (maximum dimension, excluding protruding parts)
• Weight: Approx.242g (including battery and SD card) , Approx. 225g (Body only)
Packaging and first impressions
Being the latest Xacti camera in Sanyo’s line-up, the DMX-CA100 comes with the latest goodies and technical wonders that you can find in the DMX-CS1 for example, however due to its water sports and all-weather oriented usage, the DMX-CA100 comes in a more “rugged” design in order to handle any roughness of underwater activities.
Like any descent Camera available on the market nowadays, the DMX-CA100 comes with the strict minimum to use it with the obvious Battery charger, AV Cable, strap, instruction manual and an CD, but as usual no HDMI cable for you sir!
Closer than what we get used to see from Xacti, the DMX-CA100′s design is just perfect to my opinion and while in America some people fear that the “Gun”-like shape of the camera may put them in troubles with local authorities, we, however are glad that Sanyo kept this design for the sake of image quality. Yes, just “Gun” -ike design is by far the best design possible to get the best pictures ever by holding firmly the camera in one hand and possibly stabilizing your shot by holding the LCD in the other hand.. such design will sure give you better results than your average camcorder.
Although we at Akihabara News are big fans of Sanyo’s design choice for the DMX-CA100, we are not so sure about the choice they made with the design of their control button, to be specific “the shape” . After spending some time chatting with an Engineer working on this product, we learned that Sanyo7s previous underwater-capable camera’s biggest flow was that people had a lot of difficulty controlling the camera with gloves when skiing or underwater. With this feedback in mind, Sanyo worked on giving people better and bigger control buttons to give everyone in any conditions the possiblity to never miss a single video or photo. Sure the buttons come now in a bigger shape, but they don’t feel right and the camera’s (photo) button gave me a lot of trouble all along my test. To be more precise they feel like they were mounted on the camera at the last moment and just won’t stop wobbling while manipulating them, obliging you to double-check each and every single time if you have shot something. If you think this is annoying as it is, just think how amazingly boring it would be with gloves underwater, especially when shooting still pictures.
On the Bright-side, we like Sanyo’s choice of using the same Battery than can be found on other Xacti products, including their latest cameras and Voice audio recorders, as well as their decision of using SDXC cards which, by the way, has the support of MiniUSB to connect and charge the camera.
Let’s Shoot Baby
As we said earlier we did not have abundant quality time to test this camera and to go too much into details, so unfortunately, we won’t be much of a “help” here and we are truly sorry for that, however, what we can tell you is that pictures and videos seem better than the ones you would get using Sanyo’s high-compact Xacti the DMX-CS1. But unfortunately that doesn’t mean that our new DMX-CA100 is a real masterpiece in these fields.
Sure, we’ve definitively been spoiled by these compact DLSRs or Micro 4/3rd Cameras offering stunning results in both photos and videos, and comparing the DMX-CA100 to any of them would not be too much fair here. Also it is important to notice that our Xacti here costs twice as less as any compact Micro 4/3rd and besides none of them happen to be waterproof. On the other hand, the fact remains that videos and photos shot with the DMX-CA100 will not look as good as you would expect from a Full HD Capable camera. However, if you start comparing the DMX-CA100 to a compact camcorder like the Flip Video Camera for example, available roughly at the same price (depending where you are looking at), you will quickly realize that not only the videos and photos of DMX-CA100 are way better than its competitors, but also it comes with a wider range of functionality that will put to shame any Flip Camcorder, including their latest SlideHD 4Hours for example.
Simply put, the 2 major improvements we noticed that it needs during our very short test ( and these are the points we would love Sanyo to fix in their next release) are: Having Sharper images and Better Low Light handling.
The very last point before we wrap this up and let you check our video sample, is the not-so-impressive IS (Image Stabilizer) that comes with the DMX-CA100. Sanyo’s choice to go for a digital IS on our Xacti does not always give the best results when pushed to the limits.
Not having had much time playing with this camera, we are not in a good position to give you a straight answer whether or not you should get this camera, but let’s think about this for a moment. Indeed the DMX-CA100 did not give us the stunning pictures or videos we were expecting, but can you tell us which affordable camera can handle both Full HD Video and Photo under 3m of water? Which other cheap camcorder can you think of that would fit in your back pocket and be used underwater? Sure there are plenty of equivalent models available on the market including the Flip Camera, but none of them will give you all the functionality that the DMX-CA100 will offer you and none of them will be capable of matching our Xacti’s main features : Being able to shoot correct videos while diving.