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Old Nov 10, 2006, 11:10 PM   #1
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Sanyo Xacti HD1a review

First of all don't get upset by this little review, they are my views only & basically I still "love" this little camcorder, despite it's shortcomings (mostly relating to Pal).


This first con is specific for Pal countries only. Does not apply if you live in NTSC land e.g. U.S.

1. The in camera software allows you to select between Pal & NTSC, great, I live in Australia & we use Pal, so Pal it is. Videos play great on the computer but when I create a Pal DVD, I end up with choppy, jerky videos. No it is not a progressive/interlace problem.

The videos from the camera in Pal mode are shot at NTSC frame rate of approx 30 instead of 25 frames per second (fps). Any DVD creation software is going to follow the standard & re-encode the video to the 25fps for Pal, thus decimating approx 5 frames/second leading to choppy video. What the heck! Didn't I select Pal!!!!!!!! Is't one of the specifications for Pal, 25 fps?????

Tried using numerous pieces of software & many convoluted techniques to work around the problem (a whole weekends worth) & yes I can improve on it but the end result is still a jerky video using very convoluted methods for little improvement. Don't forget you have to keep the audio in sync when frames are removed.

The best compromise if you live in Pal land is to encode the DVD as NTSC video. Most Pal DVD players will play NTSC videos just fine & you will get smooth video but wait for it, you lose about 100 lines of resolution (compared to PAL), so you end up with as sub standard, standard definition video & you began with a high definition source to begin with, argh!!!!!

So two choices, choppy Pal video at standard definition or smooth NTSC video at a lower resolution then Pal standard definition.
Actually there is a third choice if your DVD player will play Divx & that is to encode at Pal resolution but leave the frame rate at 30 (using DIVX codec). Not all DVD players play Divx though.

Sanyo really needs to fix this with a firmware update so that the Pal/NTSC selection will shoot at the correct frame rate.

Bottom line, if you are planning on using this device in a PAL country to produce DVD's then you are out of luck, unless you are happy producing lower res NTSC DVD's.

2. Focus (erratic at times). Locks on but can tend to go hunt & seek again. Yes I have played around with spot & multipoint focus.

3. Colour Saturation (way to high). Should give another option to turn this down (alot) in a firmware update.

4. Dynamic range (poor, but I Knew about this before hand). Don't think much can be done about this but you should be aware of it.

5. Image stabilizer fairly poor (compared to my 6 year old Canon MV430i). It also give a slight digital zoom when engaged. Firmware update may help to improve this????

6. Produces quite noisy video in poor light particularly with night mode turned on, though this may be better then getting no image at all.

7. Quality control. I have one stuck/hot pixel that shows up more in "dark" videos. Don't notice it much in daylight videos as it gets kind of camouflaged by other light neighboring pixels. It is very noticable when in night mode though.

8. Attach the xacti to a tripod & whoops, you can't open (or close) the lcd display cause it is hard pressed up against the base plate! Simply fitted a small "spacer" washer over the thread mount & know it opens & closes fine.


1. Love this size & form factor. Will take this everywhere, walking the dog, supermarket etc.

2. The lowest cost for H.D. around, so some lower performance is acceptable (but failing to follow PAL specifications when selected via in camera software is not one of them).

3. No moving parts, uses SD cards. Well I think that is an advantage. Yes minidv tape is better quality but heads may only be rated at 50 hours or so before servicing is required & sd cards certainly keep the size down. There are 8Gb cards available, I'm using 4Gb.

4. Is capabable of taking beautiful video at times if you take the trouble to set up the camera, yes it takes a little more work to get the best out of it, but the detail that can appear on videos played back on computer can be very impressive.

5. MP4's are easily converted to AVI's with no quality loss (no re encoding) using some free software (MP4Cam2AVI http://www.sourceforge.net/projects/mp4cam2avi) & is therefore easily edited in most existing software.

Generally I shoot stills using a canon 350d so have not discussed the still aspects of the xacti. The stills suffer from over saturation, noise & over sharpening but it still takes better stills then any camcorder I have seen, not that I have seen stills from every camcorder out there! A bit of post processing & very usable images are to be had.

There will no doubt be more produced by other manufactures in the near future that are similar in concept (HD), hope Panasonic & Canon come to the party. In the mean time I will continue to use this, & no doubt it will give me great fun & joy in collecting little videos while out & about. A nice little camcorder thrown in with my canon 350d while out shooting that does nothing to add to the extra space required or weight of my still gear. Just wish I could easily make standard definition Pal DVD's from it! Hope Sanyo provides a firmware update for this.

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Old Nov 11, 2006, 1:13 AM   #2
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Thanks for the review.
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Old Oct 14, 2007, 1:58 PM   #3
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I recently bought a HD1a.. unfortunately, i discovered same problem: 30/25 fps! :sad:

I have mailled that problem to Sanyo Support Team:


Hello support team,

I recently bought a "Sanyo HD1a" camera. I have a problem with DVD disc movies that produced by Ulead DVD MovieFactory.
As you know, HD1a records 1280x720 HD movies at 30 fps. But, with the conversion that MP4 formatted movie into DVD disc (via Ulead DVD MovieFactory), its fps value decreases to 25 (for PAL). As a result, the movie does not be smooth.

Also, I tested Ulead DVD MovieFactory with NTSC format (30 fps), this made my movies smooth but it changes the aspect ratio of the movie.

I live in Turkey, and in our country PAL systemis used.

Problem like mine is written also here:

Is there any firmware update, or clue to record 1280x720 HD movies at 25 fps with HD1a? Because, I don't want to track the following 2 different ways to correct my movies:

A) Resampling to 25 pfs:
1) MP4 to AVI with a 3rd party tool,
2) Resample AVI 30 fps to AVI 25 fps with a 3rd party tool,
3) AVI to DVD

B) DivX:
1) create DivX movies by using a 3rd party encoder
2) Divx to DVD

These are not good and simple solutions for me.

Thank you in advance.
M. Egemen Pembe


SANYO support team wrote this:

Dear Mr. Pembe,

Thank you for your inquiry.

No, there is no firmware update for the Sanyo VPC-HD1A Digital Movie Camera available, which would enable it to record movies at 25 fps.

Best regards

Your Sanyo Support Team


As a result, I'm using Dr. DivX for converting mp4 to divX :sad:

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