This is a re-post of a review I placed on Facebook awhile back. I put it here in my Production Diaries because this particular camera is a great starting point for budding filmmakers with very little to spend on their first camera.
I'm reviewing this video (and photo) camera mainly because it is available at Best Buy as a refurb for only $189. I've owned the Sanyo Xacti HD 1010 for about a year and wanted a matching second camera. As many of you know I used that camera to shoot a short sci-fi film and the opening of "Alien Vengeance II" while in New York. Mostly to see if I could. It cost a little over $300 and has all the manual control you could want, although it's not very easy to access. The 1000 is a very similar camera. The main difference being it shoots in 1080i, not 1080p. If you're a progressive elitist, there is a 720p function. At under $200 I think it's a great camera for an aspiring filmmaker looking to learn. Let me tell you why.
The Sanyo Xacti HD1000 is just about small enough to fit in your pocket. The main thing making it too big to carry around comfortably in your shirt pocket or pants is that it has a relatively large lens on the front. I love this lens. 10x optical zoom and a good bit of wait that makes holding the pistol grip style camera steady easier than it's feather weight competition. It's small enough have with you nearly all the time if you're like me and like to capture footage you might use later. It's also pretty inconspicuous.
The HD 1000 also has a full range of manual functions. This is a MUST for upcoming filmmakers. Auto exposure is great for on the fly shooting, but image control is key to setting your footage apart from the run of the mill home movie. It's a bit frustrating having to navigate the menu every time you want to use the manual focus, but that's the trade-off for such a small camera.
The camera also has an input for an external mic and a headphone jack so you can monitor audio. The mic input requires an adapter to plug in even a standard mini jack, but if you're buying a $189 camera the chances that you have a high end XLR mic sitting around are probably pretty slim. The on board mic is better than expected, but not suggested for filmmaking.
A 1/4 tripod mount is on the bottom of the camera for those shots that need some steadying and in a genius bit of design, the SD card slot is in the back, so you can access it while the camera in a tripod. The battery isn't as easy to switch out. However, another feature that gives this camera a bit more bit is a rear mounted A/C input so you can run the camera right from a wall socket if need be.
The screen is large enough to get a decent idea of your focus and can be turned to face front for self-recording. Great for video diaries.
It shoots MP4, which works pretty well with my Adobe CS5, but software is included if your computer needs a little help processing the footage.
So, if you want to start shooting your own movies, but would like a few bucks in your pocket for when your parents send you off to film school take a look at this camera and its sister cameras the HD 1010 and the HD 2000. Any of them are good for a start, can grow with you for awhile and will make great cameras for behind the scenes shooting when you move up to something more professional.