A slightly different episode of Tech Therapy this week. I’ve been doing some cleaning and came across the first ever Full HD camera I ever bought. It also happened to look like the ideal Vlogging camera. Despite being more than ten years old, the specs suggest it could do a decent job even today. So I tested it out…
Sanyo Xacti HD2000: https://amzn.to/2IHtAun
Whatup nerds? I’m Jay Shareef. Welcome to
another episode of Tech Tuesdays. Normally
I’d be telling you all about whatever gadgets or
tech I’ve bought in the last week. However, this
episode is going to be a little bit different,
because I’ve been doing some spring cleaning,
And I happened to come across some old equipment.
Including the first HD camera I ever bought,
more than 10 years ago. And it’s still in the
box, obviously. Because that’s the kind of nerd
I am. Whenever possible, I always keep the box and
the accessories. Because you never know when you
might need to sell your old equipment. So this
is the Sanyo HD2000 which first came out in 2009.
And I distinctly remember when and where I got
this. Back in 2010 I was living in Kent – about
an hour away from London – but commuting to my
offices at Trafalgar Square. Now my job involved
a lot of foreign travel. And I decided I wanted
to buy a new camera to document my travels,
and to record some family videos as well. It’s
hard to believe it now but back in 2010 online
shopping wasn’t normal. People still didn’t quite
trust the idea of ordering from a website. I mean
I still read online reviews. I still did my
research online. But when it was time to buy,
I went to a shop. And my favourite destination for
gadgets and tech was Tottenham Court Road. Where
they had row upon row upon row of electronics
shops. And maybe they still do have them. But
we live in a very different world now, and
I suspect a lot of those shops don’t exist
anymore. Anyway, I loved to browse the tech and
gadget shops in central London. And one day,
in the summer of 2010, off I went to browse
the shelves for a new camera. I was basically
looking for a good all-rounder that could take
great photos and record high quality video too.
And that’s when I spotted this Sanyo HD2000. The
salesman was kind enough to show me a display
model. And I absolutely loved the look of this
thing. The big selling points for me were that it
has two big buttons – one for photo one for video.
It has an articulating screen that you can use for
selfies as well. It takes photos at 8 Megapixels
- which seemed like a lot back in those days.
And it records video at full HD at 60 frames per
second. Which was quite a novelty at the time.
And, finally, from the outside it looks like
it has a massive lens. And I assumed this meant
it delivered excellent picture quality.
At the time I was very naive and I knew
nothing about the importance of sensor
size. In fact, the sensor on this thing
is only… 1 / 2.5 inches. In other words,
it’s less than 25 square millimetres. That’s
absolutely tiny! Anyway, I bought it straight
away, for the very reasonable price of £500 GBP.
So let me give you a quick rundown of the
specs on this camera. It records in full HD,
widescreen, at 60 frames per second,
at a rate of 24 Megabits per second.
Photos can actually be taken at 12 Megapixels –
via something called “interpolation” – but I think
that’s only possible in the 4×3 aspect ratio. For
widescreen images, in 16×9 format, the limit is
8 Megapixels. It saves your footage to an
easily removable SD card – up to 32 gigabytes in
size – with photos in jpeg and video in mp4. And,
by the way, it’s worth keeping in mind that when
this camera came, out back in 2009, SD cards were
not yet the standard format for camera storage.
The HD2000 weighs about 310 grams, including the
battery and SD card. The removable battery has a
capacity of 1900 milliamp hours – which is pretty
impressive – and it’s supposed to be good for
90 minutes of video recording. Unfortunately
there’s no USB charging. You have to charge
the camera from the mains supply. However, it
does come with a dock, which acts like a stand
so you can plug this into the mains and record
video at the same time. Which I can see being
very useful. It has an internal mic built-in as
you’d expect. And it claims to have electronic
wind noise reduction. However, you can also
plug in an external mic. Unfortunately, it
doesn’t have a standard 3.5mm socket. Instead you
have to use the bizarre 2.5mm microphone input.
And I think I do have a converter so I might
give that try later. The HD2000 has a standard
headphone socket at the front, so you can listen
to whatever you’re recording. It also has a HDMI
output in case you wanted to connect this to a
monitor or a projector. In addition, it also has
component, composite and S-video outputs. And I
expect most of you don’t have a clue what any of
that means. But back when I first started making
short films S-video was a really important part of
my process. But now that everything is digital …
that’s all meaningless in this modern world. The
view screen is 2.7 inches in size. This is a TFT
screen, which is a type of LCD that was popular
at the time. And it looks reasonably good for a
device from 2009. Now, as I mentioned before ,it
has a tiny tiny sensor just 1/2.5 inches in size.
However, if you didn’t know that, you could be
fooled by this large-ish lens here into thinking
it had a much better spec than it actually does.
Obviously, with a tiny sensor it’s going to
have poor low-light performance. However,
there is a small pop-up flash built into
the camera body. Which is fantastic.
But doesn’t work with video. That’s to be
expected. The battery would die pretty quickly
if this flashlight was used continuously.
However, there is also a cold shoe mount
at the top of the camera. So, if I wanted, I could
attach my modern LED light onto the top of here.
There are a few different modes included in
this, such as: landscape mode, portrait mode,
sports mode, a macro mode, a night mode, and
even a fireworks mode. However, what’s really
interesting is the beauty mode. Yes, the “beauty
mode”. Nowadays, a lot of cameras have a beauty
mode, specifically pandering to the vanity of
vloggers. But I was genuinely surprised to see
it in a camera from 2009. Does it work? Does
it make your skin look soft and smooth? Well…
we’ll test that out later. As you can see, there
is a small hook here for attaching a wrist strap.
Which is always a very useful feature.
And should stop the camera from falling
if I ever lose my grip. You can mount the HD2000
onto a tripod quite easily, because it has the
standard quarter inch hole at the bottom. However,
it’s not really designed to be used with a tripod.
The “pistol grip” design is obviously there for a
reason. Basically, you’re supposed to hand hold it
like a gun and point it towards whatever you want
to film or photograph. And it’s just as easy to
turn the gun on yourself – for some vlog style
video or if you want to take some selfies. But
keep in mind that the internal microphone
is behind the screen here. So if you’ve got
the camera pointed at yourself then the mic is
on the wrong side and the sound quality will be
much worse. Also worth noting is that the lens
on the HD2000 has an equivalent focal length of
38mm at its widest setting. In other words,
this camera has a maximum viewing angle of about
50 degrees. Which probably isn’t wide enough
for handheld vlogging. Now, personally,
I think a 90 degree angle of view is the best
choice for vlogging. And that would be a full
frame equivalent focal length of about 18mm.
Anyway, that’s enough talking. I think what we all
really want to know is: how does this thing
perform in the real world? And how does it
compare to a modern camera? Now i’m not going to
put it up against a modern day mirrorless camera.
That would be stupid. But it might be interesting
to compare it to something like my GoPro Hero5
Session. Mainly because the image sensor in this
four-year-old GoPro is exactly the same size as
the sensor in this 11 year old Sanyo. Let’s start
with some photography. But keep in mind that these
two cameras have very different lenses. The GoPro
has a 3mm lens. While the Sanyo has a 6mm lens. So
the GoPro photos will always have a wide angle
look, and will always have image distortion.
So this is an image taken by the Sanyo. it looks
pretty good and it’s probably good enough for
posting on social media. Now here’s the same
photo taken by the GoPro. And I think it’s
pretty obvious it’s an inferior image. And when
you zoom in the difference becomes even clearer.
Now obviously these two cameras are about
six years apart in age. And a lot can happen
in six years. And the technology world moves very
fast. However, lenses can make a huge difference.
Also the Sanyo takes images at 12 Megapixels.
Whereas the GoPro tops out at just 10 Megapixels.
Here’s another photo taken with the Sanyo. Again
it’s decent. Nothing to write home about. And it
doesn’t even come close to what a modern compact
or mirrorless camera can achieve. But at the same
time, it’s good enough for posting online.
And here’s the same image when recorded by
the GoPro. And, again, it’s not even close to the
same quality. Which is a bit disappointing, but
not really a surprise. And once again, when you
zoom in, the differences become even clearer. And,
again, this isn’t a surprise. OK, so it looks like
the Sanyo has the advantage over the GoPro when
it comes to photography. But the Sanyo has a much
wider aperture. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.
Next, let’s check the video and sound quality.
That is going to involve a trip outside. And
i’m going to put both the Sanyo and the GoPro
at the end of a long monopod. Also keep in mind
that I’m setting both the cameras to Auto Mode.
I’ll be filming at full HD, 30 frames per second.
It’s raining outside. So I’ve had to take shelter.
Anyway, the youngsters out there might well be
wondering: “what the hell is a Sanyo?” You might
even suspect it’s like one of those cheap knockoff
brands that are so common in China nowadays.
Actually, Sanyo was a highly respected and very
successful electronics company back in the 1980s
and the 1990s. They were based out of Japan, and
produced all kinds of products. Including cameras,
camcorders, projectors, audio equipment and a hell
of a lot more. Things started to go wrong for
them in the early 2000s. However, by the time
I bought this camera in 2010, they’d already been
taken over by Panasonic. And, not long afterwards,
the Sanyo brand was retired. Panasonic then went
on to be quite a major player in the camera world.
And they were instrumental in the success of the
Micro Four Thirds format for mirrorless cameras.
Anyway, how does this sound? I’m now going to plug
in an external mic, so you can compare the two.
And I’m going to switch on the “beauty mode”
and set the Sanyo to Aperture Priority F1.8…
Right, so here we are on beauty mode, aperture
priority at 1.8. Now what’s really interesting
is that Sanyo produced quite a lot of these
Xacti cameras in the pistol grip format. What
I didn’t know was that they even produced some
waterproof versions. And you could literally
take them swimming with you. They weren’t
rated for diving. But you could take them
down about five feet and they’d cope just
fine. Unfortunately, none of the waterproof
versions were full HD. The best you could
hope for was 720p. Nowadays, of course,
the GoPro cameras are waterproof straight out
of the box, all the way down to about 10 metres.
So… there you have it. The Sanyo
HD2000. My first ever HD camera. And,
in a way, this was my first ever vlogging camera
too. Even though I’ve never done a day of vlogging
in my life. I’m not a vlogger. I’m an artist.
The disappointing part of that video footage was
the very poor autofocus capability of the Sanyo. I
actually filmed quite a lot while outside and the
face tracking feature does work… but most of the
time it doesn’t. I will say this: the Sanyo camera
does have some impressive features for a device
so small. Firstly, it has some decent slow-motion
credentials for its age. It can shoot slow motion
down to 240 frames per second. Not in HD, but it’s
not too bad under the circumstances. You can also
record slow-mo at 600 frames per second, but the
quality of that video is absolutely atrocious. The
HD2000 also has an inbuilt 10 times optical zoom,
which is quite a feat considering how small this
is. It’s also supposed to have inbuilt image
stabilisation, and face detection autofocus. But
neither of those seem to work very well in video
mode. In case the camera nerds were wondering…
yes you can shoot in full manual mode if you want,
with full control over Aperture, Shutter Speed and
ISO. The ISO can be set as low as 50 and as high
as 3200. You can also shoot in Shutter Priority
and Aperture Priority. Incidentally, the aperture
range goes from F1.8 all the way to F8. And the
Shutter Speed can be varied from 4 seconds all the
way to 1/ 10,000 of a second. Now Sanyo advertised
this very prominently as a “dual camera”. And it’s
definitely capable of shooting photos and video.
There is a catch though. Being a camera for both
means it’s not particularly good at either. Its
video wasn’t as good as an equivalent camcorder
of the time. And its photos weren’t as good as a
dedicated stills camera from back in the day. The
more experienced photographers and videographers
are likely to notice barrel distortion, vignetting
and purple fringing, due to chromatic aberrations.
Which is disappointing considering this camera
cost me £500 GBP. And right now, in terms of
quality, this Sanyo is clearly one of the worst
cameras I own. However I can’t bring myself to
sell it. Because I’m quite nostalgic about it.
It did travel the world with me. And the
Sanyo brand doesn’t even exist anymore. So
i like having this in my collection. The good
news is there are plenty available online if
you want to buy one for yourself. They are all
second-hand, of course. And you can pick one up
for about £50 GBP on ebay. However, in my opinion,
it’s much safer to buy second-hand camera stuff
from Amazon rather than ebay. So I’ve put
a link in the description for you, in case
you were tempted and willing to part with £170
GBP for this. However, for that kind of money,
you can easily pick up a used DJI Osmo Action. And
the Osmo Action is an absolutely brilliant little
machine – a hundred times better than this.
Anyway, this has been another episode of Tech
Tuesdays. And a much more nostalgic one than
you’re probably used to seeing. Thank you for
joining me on this trip down Memory Lane. I’ll
be back again next week with more. Later nerds!