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Old Apr 12, 2009, 8:04 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2009
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Just got my sanyo xacti vpc-cg10 a few days ago and have been messing around with it in a variety of situations to get a feel of what it's capable of. BTW, this is my first post here, but not the first time I've been to the site.

Anyway, just want to make it clear I'm no pro photographer, but I do have some technical knowledge. I'll try to be as detailed as possible, but don't expect anything terribly in depth. I figured I'd just throw up a bunch of sample stills and video and let you guys decide for yourself. I'll also probably be referring to the samples quite abit in this post to describe certain aspects.

The photo and video samples can be downloaded at the following links.
There's also a pic of a test pattern. Obviously not framed correctly, but the print quality wasn't worth it anyway.
Product specs

I should also note that the majority of the photos were taken with the noise reduction turned off. AFAIK the noise reduction technology on this isn't anything I couldn't do with software after. I also noticed virtually no difference with the noise reduction on or off (except for the wind silencer).

Now on to what I think about this thing...

I paid $260CAD + tax for this camera. My main purpose in buying it was for the 720p video. My dad has a Canon TX1 and I have used it plenty. I figured I'd get my own so I don't have to keep bothering him to borrow his.

Below are some pix of the box contents, the camera, and the camera next to a deck of cards so you can get an idea of the size.

The camera takes video at 720p@30fps, 640x480@60fps and 640x480@30fps. Stills can be taken at 10MP full frame with 12MP interpolated and 7MP wide, it also offers the usual lower resolutions. It can also record just audio and uses a stereo mic.

It also comes with digtal noise reduction that can be enabled seperately for photos, video and audio (which is just wind noise reduction). It also has a 'High Sensitivity' setting which will slow the shutter speed and offer brighter images in low light. There is also digital image stabilization. None of these options I found worth using in terms of the quality-benefit trade off and couldn't notice any appriciable difference with the noise reduction.

The camera does offer manual options for:
-shutter speed

The video quality seems pretty good, but not great (which is basically what I expected at this price). In moderate-bright light, the video looks just fine. Though when there is a lot of motion in frame, you do get some macroblock artifacting caused by the compression. If you frame advance through the "cubing" video I took you'll be able to notice this, particularily around my hands.

In indoor lighting (in my case incandescent/CFB light source) the picture is grainy, but not as much as there seemed to be on the TX1. It also seemed to record fairly smoothly. With the "High Sensitivity" option turned on, the video does appear brighter as the camera is using a slower shutter speed. The downside is that the image appears more grainy/noisy and the framerate looks like 10fps. A little too much for me, so I rarely used it. I also tried the noise reduction filter, but didn't notice much difference at all.

The video at 640x480@60fps seemed a little off. The playback was fine - nice and smooth as 60fps should be - but there were jaggies on sharp lines. Almost as if the camera was just doing nearest neighbor resampling from full resolution.

The audio is recorded as MPEG4 AAC @ ~130kbs. The audio recording quality seemed about the same as just about every other hand held I've tried. Nothing I'd use if the sound was important, but just fine to get what's there.

I figured being able to take 10MP stills would be a nice bonus, but the image quality isn't all that great. My regular digicam is a Sony DSC-W7, a nice little point-and-shoot with carl zeiss optics that I feel takes nice photos. The xacti will take stills at 10MP, but compared to my 7MP sony, they were clearly inferior. I've seen cameras with half the resolution of this thing that took better stills. I don't believe it to be the sensors fault (I can't be certain on that though).

The stills are fine if you're just planning on whipping out the camera to take a snapshot, but I wouldn't count on it for much more than that.

Image Quality
The image quality seemed to be decent, but I'm hesistant to use any really positive adjective to describe it. Most of the video/stills I took were on overcast days or indoors, but the colours still seemed to be a little washed out and not terribly bright. I decided to whip out my Sony and take some comparison shots and it was clear that the xacti was inferior. (I've included some comparison shots so you can see for yourself).

I decided to print out one of those digital camera test patterns and try that. My printer couldn't print the test pattern at a high enough resolution to use it for LW/PH so I didn't care much for framing it correctly. The pattern did have lots of fairly sharp lines, and after looking the photos of it, it became pretty clear of the limitations of this camera.

For one, the camera seems to have trouble with fine detail. If you zoom in on any photo with sharp lines (the test pattern or cutting mat grid are good examples), the lines are all kind of rough. Not warped or blurry, but just not sharp or smooth. I'm not sure what causes this, if it was just consistently blurry or undefined, I'd say the lens, but it's not, so I don't know.

The other thing is the chromatic aberration caused by the lens. Just look at some of the lines near the outter edges of the test pattern and you can clearly see what I mean. That picture is clearly worth a thousand words in this case.

The macro seems to be better than regular for some reason. I don't know why, but they just look better.

The auto exposure control seemed a little off too, like it was always half a stop under.

The form factor is pretty cool and the ergonomics are nice. I'm not used to the pistol grip, but it's nice for snapshots. It does make it a little awkward for anything else though, and makes it a little front-heavy for use with those mini tripods. The buttons all easily accessable and I'm liking the 3" screen.

The 4-way hat switch (mini joystick) can be set up with custom shortcuts, but for some reason the shortcut for 'Manual' settings don't work (at least on mine).

The battery is a 3.7v 700mAh battery and the specsheet states the power consumption at 2.7w when filming which should give it just under and hour of filming time. I've only drained the battery twice, but it didn't feel like I got nearly that much out of it. I can't give you specifics, I wasn't exactly timing my usage.

Final thoughts
I'm liking the camera so far, but are a little underwhelmed with certain aspects. I do enjoy being able to carry a 720p camera in my pocket, and really like it when a point-and-shoot gives me the ability to control shutter speed and aperture. Though the still quality makes being able to control shutter/aperture a somewhat moot.
I also really like the super macro. I've always personally like macro photography, and the macro on this camera is pretty spiffy, if I do say so myself.

There are a few things I'm not fully satisfied with, but nothing critical. The greatest drawback is the image/lens quality, it just irks me. But the image quality mostly effects the stills, as I'm more than satisfied with the video quality. I am considering trying the VPC-TH1 instead as I'm not planning on using the CG10 much for stills anymore.

Overall I still think it's pretty nice HD camcorder for the price but am disappointed with it's still quality.

Also, it's all glossy. ugh. finger prints all over the thing. personal pet peeve.

I guess that about covers it.
Questions and comments are welcome. If anyone wants some other samples, let me know and I'll see what I can do.
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Old Apr 12, 2009, 10:05 PM   #2
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The design looks sleek!

On some of the picks, I did notice some fringe and lens distortion. There is tons of chromatic aberration in the macro settings but gimp with chromatic aberration plugin fixes such issues. Also, The image quality shown show up like old enemies to pro photographers. It should not be used as a main camera but is okay for a backup incase you want that shot. Excellent for on-the-go from my perspective due to the dual nature if the camera.

Video performance Is good. It's actually better than any aiptek I seen. Not as good as the hd1000 but it's almost there. I mean almost because of the panning problem this camera has. Not as bad as other products.

Your review covered many aspects. I think it's better than most because you used an uncontrolled environment as to the professionals use a controlled environment with lighting and such. These are real world results.

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Old Apr 16, 2009, 11:01 PM   #3
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 9

Thanks for the review!

I'm currently on the fence between the HD700 and the CG10. Do you happen to have experience with the HD700 to compare against the CG10's performance?

Cheers, Ogún Niké
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