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If you’ve ever purposely left your camera behind knowing that your outdoor adventure is going to include water, then you’re familiar with that cold, empty feeling you get when you return home and realize that you’ve failed to document your trip. Sanyo’s new Xacti VPC-CA102 handily solves that problem—it’s a waterproof video cam fit to weather the storm.
The VPC-CA102 comes in three colors (black, yellow, and pink) and sports the upright “gun” style grip, which allows for great control while shooting video in extreme situations. Its 2.7-inch LCD screen can rotate 285 degrees—but if audio is a priority, rotate with caution because the microphone is located on the back of the display panel. Twist it too far, and you’re recording the ground rather than your subject.
Of course, if you’re underwater there’s not much audio to capture anyway. The VPC-CA102’s most appealing aspect is its ability to function at depths of up to 10 feet. After years of babying our precious electronics, it took us a few tries before we could comfortably dunk a $350 camera underwater. But once we got used to it, we happily dove into the water to catch some waves in Huntington Beach. Check out the resulting video for yourself here.
We were pleased with the VPC-CA102’s ability to shoot full 1080 HD video, but it’s not the greatest quality we’ve seen from cameras in the point-and-shoot arena. In bright sunlight, colors appeared a bit washed out, and shots in low light were fairly grainy.
Videos are encoded as MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 and stored on an SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory card, which you insert behind the lithium-ion battery inside a lockable side panel. Both USB and mini-HDMI ports are also found behind an adjacent spring-loaded panel.
The 14-megapixel photos were smoother than we expected. There’s still a little bit of noise, especially in darker areas, but the resulting images are fine for casual snaps. And of course, photos and videos can be taken under conditions not accessible to the common camera: rainstorms, water parks, swimming pools, and the like. But the waterproof design comes with tradeoffs. The watertight menu buttons, zoom controls, and photo/video mode buttons on this camera don’t provide much tactile feedback and are a bit of a pain to operate.
The bottom line. The VPC-CA102 is a solid camera that allows you to capture high-quality images in situations that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. It might not replace your everyday HD video camera, but it deserves a spot in your lineup if you do any extreme, water-intensive shooting.
XACTI WATERPROOF DUAL CAMERA
Waterproof. Solid construction. Digital image stabilization. Great still photos and zoom functionality. Removable battery.
Frustrating buttons. Mic placement isn't ideal. Not the greatest HD video quality we've ever seen.