I’ve been kayaking for 20 years now, and during that time I’ve found my motivation for paddling changing. In the last few years, that direction has taken me towards documenting my experiences on video and in turn sharing them with others. It’s a craft I’m still learning and trying to refine.

During that course I’ve had a multitude of both cameras and camcorders; all to varying degrees of success. I’ve run the gamut from waterproof bullet cam’s with the recording unit in a water tight box such as a Pelican Case, to a full fledged camcorder in a bulky watertight housing such as the Sony SPK-HCE.

[vimeo 9741938 nolink]

My latest flavor is the VPC-WH1 HD from Sanyo. A couple of things caught my eye immediately; it comes in HD (720p) and it’s waterproof to 10′. Doesn’t hurt that the price is reasonable as well ($322 at Amazon.) So, I grabbed one and recently took it out for a spin. Here’s my initial opinion of it as well as a short clip of some of the footage I took.

[vimeo width=”400″ height=”225″]http://vimeo.com/9741938[/vimeo]

s which are cheap and interchangeable with my other gear. I get about a half hour recording per gigabyte.


  • That zoom that’s so easy to get to on top of the body. Well, it also makes it easy to inadvertently zoom when you don’t mean to. Especially while holding the unit underwater from the cockpit. I had some footage which got cut that has me zooming all over the place while I was attempting to film Shield-Back Kelp Crab (Pugettia producta).
  • Silver ring holding the view port has a large distinct shoulder which really pools the water. (Again see video) Not a deal breaker but you’ll want a cloth on hands for repeated cleanings of view port.
  • And here the big dislike or potential problem. The cover and locking mechanism for the SD card is on the left side of housing. When filming scenes under the boat from the cockpit I would pinch the camcorder from above. When I returned home and went to flush the unit with fresh water I found that I had unlocked the door. Luckily it didn’t open and flood the camcorder but from now on I’ll be taping that locking latch before using. Think I dodged a bullet there! (see photos)
Possible Trouble Area
Latch that could cause problems with the camcorder. (Photograph by Steve Weileman)

So overall I’m happy with it so far (if that changes I’ll let you know as well) and, considering the price, think it’s a great value if you’re looking to document your paddles. (Wish we had it in Alaska!)

Sanyo VPC-WH1 H - Rear View
The rear view of camcorder. Notice the extra record button on the front right. (Photograph by Steve Weileman)

I think it’s a no-brainer as a second camcorder; I wouldn’t trade in my Canon HS100 which has a much more sensitive sensor.

The Sanyo VPC-WH1 HD might do as a primary camcorder if you’re not too picky about exposures. You’ll notice in the video that there are times when the highlights get completely overblown. But it defiantly is fun and I’m already thinking of usual camera angles I’ll be able to include on our next production.

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