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The Xacti VPC-CG65 is a pocket-size treat that captures tasty video and photos.
While a still photo may say a thousand words, moving images can say so much more, which is why video recordings are quickly becoming the way to capture a slice of life. One setback, however, is that camcorders tend to be big, bulky, and difficult to tote everywhere. Instead, you’ve probably turned to your still digital camera’s video-recording feature to shoot short movies - and if you don’t mind grainy, blocky video, it’s a viable solution. A better solution is the Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG65, a pocket-size camcorder that produces good-looking video and photos.
The Xacti VPC-CG65 measures 3.1 by 4.7 by 1.4 inches and weighs a mere 9 ounces. It’s about the same size as a point-and-shoot digital camera, but you don’t hold the Xacti VPC-CG65 horizontally. Instead, you hold it upright in your right hand; lefties will find that the 2.5-inch LCD gets in the way. If you wear men’s XL gloves or larger, you might find the camera too small to handle, but everyone else should be able to operate it comfortably.
When holding the camera, you can access the main control buttons with your thumb. There are two action buttons - the left one is the shutter button for photos, which we wished had a better ability to sense when we were focusing and when we wanted to take a picture. The right one is the video record button, which works as expected. Conveniently, you don’t have to switch between photo and video mode, as you would on a standard camcorder or digital camera.
Still shots have a maximum resolution of 6 megapixels, and fortunately, the quality is much better than the mediocre-looking stills some camcorders take. The colors in the photos we took in well-lit areas were accurate with good saturation, the details were sharp and clear, and we didn’t notice any noise. However, the Xacti VPC-CG65 didn’t do as well under low light. In these cases, detail was lost and shots turned out grainy. We also found the flash to be weak, with a reach of barely 6 feet.
Video is limited to 640-by-480-pixel or 320-by-240-pixel resolutions, and there’s no widescreen mode available. The camera encodes video using the H.264 codec, and we noticed some jagginess in our footage, but not enough to detract from the overall quality. The colors are strong and the video is smooth, even in typical room lighting. In dim light, we had the same problems as we did with still photos: grainy images and some disappearing detail.
The camera saves files to an SD card, so you’ll get 40 minutes of 640-by-480-pixel video and 293 maximum-resolution photos on a 1GB card. By comparison, MiniDV tapes are available in 60 to 90 minutes, and a hard-drive-based camcorder can record hours upon hours - but that’s the price you pay for portability. The Xacti VPC-CG65 offers additional convenience when transferring video, because you just connect the camera via USB, drag the video files to your Desktop, and import them into iMovie HD for editing. That’s a lot easier than doing an iMovie video capture from a tape-based camcorder. For photos, the Xacti VPC-CG65 works with iPhoto.
The bottom line. Given our tendency to want to record so many of life’s moments - even the trivial or goofy ones - it’s nice to have a versatile, portable camera like the Xacti VPC-CG65. And when you’re not shooting, it fits easily in your pocket or bag.
Compact. Easy to use. Good still image and video image quality.
A bit on the slow side for still photos. Still photos suffered in dim lighting.