39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fills a gap between PRO and "pro"sumer camcorders
I've now used this camera for a couple weeks and have been very pleased with it.
I was watching the NEX-VG10 for some time and was very interested in seeing what the VG20 would be like.
After visiting a Sony Store and learning that I could buy the camera and try it with the ability to later return it (holiday season), I figured I had nothing to lose and gave it...
Published on December 4, 2011 by b.Christopher
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problem child
Some day this may be a great camera. I have had the VG10 for a year and had great hopes for the VG20. However, what is shipping in November 2011 feels like a beta version. Many features that were on the VG10 are missing, and the control structure is even more difficult to use than the one on the VG10.
The video stream is great, as it is with the VG10, and if...
Published on November 25, 2011 by J. Crawford
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fills a gap between PRO and "pro"sumer camcorders,
This review is from: Sony NEX-VG20H Interchangeable Lens HD Handycam Camcorder with 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Lens (Electronics)I've now used this camera for a couple weeks and have been very pleased with it.
I was watching the NEX-VG10 for some time and was very interested in seeing what the VG20 would be like.
After visiting a Sony Store and learning that I could buy the camera and try it with the ability to later return it (holiday season), I figured I had nothing to lose and gave it a go. Honestly, I'd say when I bought it, I felt like there might have been a 25% chance of me keeping it, mainly because of the steep price with the lens ($2300 + tax). But now using it for 2 weeks, I'm figuring out ways to justify the expense.
I think it should first be said that if you're a pro (or "more than a pro" as some might say) and shooting high-budget commercials, movies, or whatever and you expect a PRO camera, buy/rent a pro camera - at the end of the day, this is still a Sony Handycam.
At $1600 for the camcorder itself (without a lens), I am coming to feel like this is a more fair price. Still a little steep, but as others have pointed out, there's really no competition right now.
I'll speak from my own experience and how I've come to appreciate this camera. As I mentioned, if I'm on a commercial job, I'm renting a camera and not using equipment that I own myself, so I'm writing this review more from a consumer perspective, who also happens to work professionally.
Before this camera I switched between my Panasonic HDC-TM700, my Nikon D7000 (with attached Zoom H4N) , and my Panasonic DMC-GF2.
The GF2 was handy in that it was so small and had a nice 14mm lens on it, and I could put my Nikon lens' on it as well, but certainly wasn't the leader in video picture quality. I found I used that camera less and less.
The TM700 was and is great for a small camcorder. The 1080p60 video is impressive and it was convenient carrying the camera around anywhere since it is so small. However, with that built in lens you're just not going to get a nice depth of field look. It was convenient when I just wanted to grab the quickest camera to capture video, but if I had a little bit more time I found I often reached for one of my other cameras with a more sophisticated lens.
I love my Nikon D7000 for still photography, and it's shot some great looking footage. The big disadvantage here was just the opposite of the TM700 camcorder - the setup was so much more complicated that it wasn't good for quick captures. My footage was always shaky even with the VR lens' that I used, so I got a nice monopod to help. That helped, but the audio also was poor, so I got the Zoom H4N and a hot shoe mount.
But then there I was, DSLR connected to a monopod with a big H4N audio recorder attached to the top, all to get a shot at my nieces birthday party. Not an ideal setup, even if the footage/audio did turn out nice.
So in comes the NEX-VG20. For me, it has the quality I was aiming for with my DSRL camera, but in a much more convenient package. The microphone also is quite good so I don't have to worry about capturing separate audio with my H4N and syncing it to the footage later.
The optical image stabilization does a very good job, and of course the top "pro style" grip also aids in smoother shots as well.
I've found while the camera+lens is quite a bit larger than other camcorders, like my TM700, it's not too large to carry around casually and also breaks down nicely when you take the lens off the body.
The colors are great, and as many have pointed out, this camera does very well in low light conditions.
Having options between 1080p24 and 60 is great.
And finally, the stills that I've gotten from the camera are also pretty good if it's the only camera I'm carrying at the moment and want to get a picture. My only gripe right now is that the raw image format isn't recognized by Adobe Lightroom or CameraRAW. In time I'm sure.
True the user manual isn't great - you kind of have to just use the camera a bunch and figure out all its characteristics. Kind of like when hitting the Auto A/E button and you get a message about brightness on the screen. I too thought this was a bug. It's not, it's actually just telling you that it's setting it to auto in a less than intuitive way. But these few quirks for me do not take away from what the camera can actually do.
I've been extremely pleased working with the footage that I've gotten from it. So again, I wouldn't bring this camera onto set suggesting that we use it for a commercial shoot, but by golly, I'm getting the best looking footage from it for my own personal recordings and am thrilled with it.
Nice move Sony. I thought I'd buy your expensive camera, use it over the holidays with the assurance that I could return it if I wasn't totally sold on it, but you've clearly won in the prosumer camcorder market and I'm keeping the NEX-VG20H.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great low light abilities and decent colors,
This review is from: Sony NEX-VG20H Interchangeable Lens HD Handycam Camcorder with 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Lens (Electronics)After playing with the camera for 10 days and two lenses (stock and pancake 16F28) I must say it gives great resolution, perfekt low light shots and decent colours.
The most important thing here to consider is the following: Where else do you get a camera with lens exchange, a full APS-C sensor and 50/60p frame set, all of that good for great film look, for that price? As a matter of fact, the VG20 is without any competitor in this field currently.
OK, maybe the price might be 500 bucks less to be really fair, but as there is no real alternative choice, that's what we need to cope with.
I also tested the camera in comparison to my 3 year old Panasonic HDC-SD100, which has 3 small CMOS sensors, one for each color. The latter one couldn't keep up with the VG20 at all anymore.
The new Sony has 12 db more gain (!) but due to the huge sensor much less grain, and definitely the better Full HD resolution.
Together with the additonal lenses with wide aperture size (2.8 and below) you get some kind of night owl with magnificent bokeh :-)
It seems to me that my previous speaker had some kind of bad luck , and expected some things on the camera to be in video mode even though they are actually available in photo mode only.
About 'missing features' previously complained on, they are there but for the photo function. And by the way, you also get a really great photo camera with 16 megapixels on the VG20.
So these features might be badly advertised by Sony marketing before so that some misunderstandings occurred.
Anyway, I don't need several style or white balance sets with that camera. When I use Auto or Manual for white balance, I always get great results without frazzled colours (the cinematone they could have dumped, I won't use that).
So actually I don't know what most of the complaints are about. Sure, such a big sensor gives you some moiré in critical situations, but first, any advanced video operator can handle/fix that, and secondly, it occurs rarely.
About the camera 'jams' previously mentioned: I also saw them, but they occur only in critical (e.g. low) light conditions. I'm quite sure that will be tackled with the next firmware update.
And when you switch to Auto A/E the camera just wants to tell you which previous manual settings will now be reverted to Auto, maybe bad English, but that's actually a good feature ;-)
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is what it is and I love it.,
This review is from: Sony NEX-VG20H Interchangeable Lens HD Handycam Camcorder with 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Lens (Electronics)Here's a short review of mine.
This is not a professional camera, it is something in between your typical HD camcorder and a professional camera (with a bunch of inputs and dials that is too much to deal with for an average person like me). This camera is made for amateur videographers who enjoy making videos and realise that good video isn't just about resolution. This camera is basically a DSLR camera that was redesigned into a Handycam body that is more suitable for taking videos. As you may already know, DSLRs take stunning videos with their large CMOS sensors, but they were not designed for taking videos and have some limitations that make them unsuitable for using it as your primary video camera. Some have video length limit, some overheat after 10 min of video recording, most have a poor built-in microphone, etc. This camera has a large CMOS sensor of a DSLR (20 times larger than a typical camcorder), 5.1 Surround Sound microphone and interchangeable lenses of DSLRs. There are plenty of other "pro" features of this camera, which you can find in the description.
The camera itself is made in Japan and has a nice build quality, it doesn't feel cheap as most of it's body is made out of metal. It is actually pretty heavy with the lens that comes with it. I feel like it's a very good investment and can last a long time and despite of introduction of 3D consumer cameras - it will still be a decent camera to use five, maybe even ten years from now. It has enough "pro" settings, features and configurations (lenses, filters, etc) to keep me busy for years. I don't regret buying it and highly recommend it.
The promotional video for the previous year's model (NEX-VG10) has the following phrase in it that I think explains the purpose of this camera very well: "Reinvent Your Creativity, Discover Your Passion".
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Sony NEX VG 20 Video Camera,
However, I often shoot video for really smart professionals and entrepreneurs and this camera was the perfect fit, or so I thought.
The first thing I noticed about this camera is it is lens-heavy. It has 18 mm-200 mm silver zoom on the front end of it. It has a handle at the top which is awkward to hold. It is not formfitting. If you hold the camera at waist height, the lens will tip forward and appear unbalanced. It is clearly awkward to hold from the top handle.
I have owned a Sony VX 2100 which was a SD Mini DV tape-drive camera and had excellent ergonomics. Holding that camera from the top handle was beautiful. It had a rocker switch for the telephoto lens as well as an on off record button that you operated with your thumb from the top handle.
This camera has no such luxury. In fact, it does not have any rocker switch for the zoom. Ironically, the remote control includes a telephoto and wide angle button switch that is absolutely useless since there is no automatic or remote control zoom function.
Aesthetically, the camera looks awesome. Sitting on top by the handle is a funky looking multidirectional microphone that allows you to achieve 5.1 channel sound. I cannot understand why anyone would use the built-in microphone except to pick up ambient sound. I always use a wireless mic and the built-in mic, though cool-looking, fails to achieve the sound quality I need.
The carry-handle has a convenient cold shoe and a microphone input also attached to the top handle. The camera has an adjustable up/down electronic eyepiece viewfinder that I never use.
Holding the camera through the strap attached to the side of the camera, the power button appears comfortably natural by my right thumb. It has clear and simple controls for on-off and record. It also allows you to switch easily from movie mode to photo mode with the press of one tiny button.
When your palm is resting against the right side of the camera as you slip your hand through the camera strap, there are two buttons near your pinky that are somewhat awkward to reach and unusually positioned. One is a record button, and the other is an extended focus button.
The extended focus button allows you to achieve an immediate zoom for the purposes of achieving proper manual focus. You will find this to be a useful function, but it's in an awkward position.
The record button by my pinky is also awkward to reach. The only time I find it useful is when shooting on a tripod from waist height at a sporting event. While attempting to zoom in and out manually to watch the action, I found the record button on the right side of the camera easy to use. However, if you're holding the camera in your right hand in a shooters position, the record button using your pinky is a stretch to reach and not comfortable to depress with your pinky.
VIDEO QUALITY SETTINGS
The camera takes SDHC memory cards and shoots to AVC HD. Wanting to shoot at the highest quality setting, I purchased a class 10 SDHC memory card, popped it into the camera and began adjusting my camera settings. The camera creates video at 60p, 60i and 24p. It also shoots in high-definition and standard definition. You have the option of shooting at different speeds of 24 MPS, 17 MPS and two lower settings.
For some inexplicable reason, the camera does not allow you to shoot at the highest quality 24 MPS setting while using a class 10 SDHC memory card. That defeats the purpose of using the class 10 SDHC card and achieving the highest quality, hi-definition video. Instead, you have to drop down to the next lower setting of 17 MPS in order to allow it to write to AVC HD using a class 10 card.
The 3" viewfinder is touch screen and quite simple and fun to use. Anyone who has an iPhone will appreciate this viewfinder. The manual controls allow you to set iris, exposure, gain, white balance, auto exposure and more. With so many manual features, you would expect a single button to reset everything to automatic, yet there is no such button. Instead, you must drill down into the manual functions while in live shoot mode and figure out intuitively which one will allow you to revert to auto mode. It's a challenge.
The controls on the actual camera are again simple and easy-to-use. You have your iris button, aperture button and a button to switch from play mode to live mode.
The really cool thing that I like most about this camera is its ability to obtain a shallow depth of field where the subject is in focus and the background is out of focus. I do shoot typically static head shots with someone sitting or standing in one position.
STAY IN FOCUS PLEASE...
The camera does not have a facial focus feature while in movie mode. It does have it for photo mode. When your subject moves and you are in manual focus mode, you have to refocus manually. It does have an electronic focus feature that is totally silent. That is a really cool function, but it has one major drawback. It is slow. It is also inaccurate.
When shooting video of myself, on my own, despite being the primary subject in the viewfinder, the camera will often track my background as being in focus and I will wind up out of focus. That is such a waste of my time and my shot. Frustrating too.
When shooting video on my own, this becomes a true challenge. The only workaround I have found is to start out 2 feet in front of the camera and allow it to focus immediately on me. After a few seconds when it focuses, I then start walking backwards and stop every few feet so the camera can refocus each time. This is an extremely frustrating feature that I'm still trying to work around. If someone is operating the camera then it is easy to refocus by pushing the focus button until the subject is in focus.
However, since I often shoot my own videos, this is extremely frustrating task that should be a no-brainer for a camera that cost in excess of $2,100. Every camera I have used before this has had an excellent autofocus system. Not this one.
Once in focus though, the image looks great. That brings me to the telephoto lens. As I mentioned at the beginning, there is no rocker switch to advance telephoto or wide-angle. It is totally manual.
ZOOM IN. CLOSER.
While shooting video of my daughter's volleyball game, it was extremely difficult to achieve smooth zooms by manually twisting the zoom lens. It is not an easy turn. In fact, it is a slow-turning zoom that comes with significant effort, especially when shooting fast-moving play and you want to get all the action.
If you have time to set up a manual shot and you have a close-up static subject with a nice shallow depth of field, then this will be the camera for you. However, when you want the video camera to do double duty at your kids sport event and also use it to shoot static subjects, you're going to have a real challenge achieving competency for both uses with this camera.
EDITING YOUR VIDEO FOOTAGE
My next challenge with this camera involves taking the footage off of my memory card and uploading it to my Mac computer. I use Final Cut Express for my editing and FCE does not recognize this particular AVC HD format. It gave me many error messages when trying to log and transfer video files.
In fact, I was so frustrated with a lack of intuitive ability to log and transfer the raw footage into my Final Cut Express software, that I was tempted to return the camera to B&H Photo. My Canon Vixia HF S10 video camera never gave me any problem and the raw footage was always immediately recognized, transcoded and error-free.
I wasted hours trying to figure out a workaround to get the raw footage into my editing software without error messages. The bottom line was that the AVC HD files have to be re-wrapped into a different format in order to allow Final Cut Express to recognize them as Quicktime .mov files. There are free workarounds that I tried with varying levels of success. I then learned of a piece of software called ClipWrap that cost $50. It rewraps .mts files (native AVC HD video files) to .mov files and does so really fast.
I only wish Sony had let me know before I bought this camera that the video footage would not be natively applied or accepted into Final Cut Express.
All in all, the camera is small, it is lens-heavy, shoots beautiful outdoors footage, has difficulty shooting in low light and appears grainy, as most video cameras do. The zoom lens is awesome as long as you're not using it to achieve smooth zooms or wide-angle shots that are moving quickly. If you're willing to use a wraparound to convert your video files into a format that Final Cut will accept and want a camera that looks different from all the rest, then this camera may be right for you.
Before finally deciding to buy this camera, I strongly considered the Pro Canon HF 105, the new professional camera in Canon's line-up. However, I did not need all of those features and it did not have an interchangeable lens system to achieve shallow depth of field.
Another camera I strongly considered was the JVC 105, which natively plays directly to Final Cut Pro. However, that also did not have an interchangeable lens system and found that it was too advanced for my needs.
As of right now, for my static video shoots, this camera should be ideal for the time being.
This is the upgraded model from the NEX VG10. Some of their ergonomic choices are not easily understood including the placement of the pinky buttons; the fact that there is no rocker switch and the incompatibility to make these video files recognized by Apple software.
Also unusual is that they have eliminated the 30 fps function and instead only allow you to shoot at 60i, 60p and 24p. Although I'm sure there is some engineering principle to explain why the camera will not record at 24 MPS using a class 10 memory card, the promo materials should clearly state this. It doesn't.
The camera itself without the lens retails for $1,599. With the lens, before tax, it comes to $2,100.
Depending upon how this camera does over the next few months, I may consider switching to the top of the line Canon Vixia Prosumer camera which has gotten stunning reviews but alas has no interchangeable lens system.
I do love using my Canon 60D to shoot video. However, it does have file limitations that cause the camera to shut off after 12 minutes of continuous usage. In addition, with extended usage the camera overheats, gives you a heat warning, then shuts down. You literally have to let it cool off for about 10 minutes in order to use the camera again.
If you want a really cool looking camera for static video shots with great interchangeable lens system and shallow depth of field, then this camera's right to you. Otherwise, you may be better off moving to a level above including the Canon professional line, the JVC professional line compatible with Final Cut, or moving one level below to the top-of-the-line Canon prosumer level.
Gerry is a practicing NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer. He is also the Founder of the Lawyers Video Studio, where he helps lawyers, professionals and entrepreneurs create video to market themselves online using video that teaches and educates. He is the Chairman of the Lawyers Video Marketing Alliance and has lectured across the country about video marketing. He has written hundreds of articles on video marketing and is considered one of America's leading authorities on video marketing for attorneys in the country.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Video Camera,
All in all, this is a GREAT camcorder that i actually kept. I use it for school function for my kids and just every day things. Larger then normal but not to large to not take around. So people get off your high horse, if you want a PRO camera shut up, put up the cash and buy it, and spend the money. Don't expect a 2500 dollar camera to do a 8K camera job, never will this happen.
Take it from me this is a great step up from best buy type stuff, and i would recommend it for anyone who is willing to give the it a try. Great Product..... Nuff Said.... (Per the Great "Stan Lee")
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great camera for those who know what they are getting.,
But, and this is a big one, the larger sensor gives you a shallow depth of field very similar to super 35 (the film size most of your favorite older movies were shot in). If you want to achieve that look, this is a good start. You get zebras at 70 & 100 percent to help you dial in the exposure. The focus peaking is an excellent aid for getting good shots. Gain seems to be tolerable up to around 15dB.
The kit lens is 18-200 (27-350 in 35mm equivalent), which is both wide enough and long enough for general shooting. The image stabilization is built into these sand quite good. That said, the lens is heavy, weighing more than the camera. You are better off shooting with two hands. Of course, that is true with any camera, but the small ones have made people complacent. The kit lens goes from f/3.5-6.3. I wish it were faster, but understand why it isn't. Lenses with long zoom ranges don't come in F/1.4 without costing as much as a car. You can get a few other lenses that are faster and weigh less. Consider the Sony 50mm f/1.8. The wider aperture will give you the shallow depth of field you want without killing your bank account.
This camera does not have power zoom. The zoom ring works just like a DSLR. It has a bit of weight to it, but I like the feel. While this makes zooming during some kinds of shots more difficult, zooming and shooting at the same time is generally to be avoided. Watch your five favorite movies and count the number of shots where you see the camera zooming in. If Vertigo isn't on your list, you probably won't even get to 1.
A side effect of the manual zoom is good battery life. The manual wheel isn't exactly where I would want it, but it isn't under the LCD door either. I like the interface which gives me quick access to the features I most want (aperture, shutter, gain for me, but others on the list).
You cannot take stills while shooting video. It takes a little less than a second to switch from video to still mode or back. The camera shoots in 24p, 60i, and 60p (NTSC). Note that 1080p60 is at 28 megabits per second if using the highest quality setting. Your SDHC card might not like this even it it claims it is class 10. Be sure to get one rated to 28 or more megabits if you want to shoot at maximum quality (and if you want to shoot lower quality, why do you need a camera in this price range?). I am on a Mac, and FCP X handles the data ok.
Color is outstanding. Lowlight performance is solid, and will be better if you use a faster lens. The microphone is good, even exceptional for an on camera mike, and it comes with a 'dead cat' to reduce wind noise. It is still an on camera mike, and the laws of physics didn't change for Sony. Use it if you need it, but a mike closer to your subject is better. Luckily, there is a 3.5mm mike jack in the handle so you can plug in a wireless receiver.
It is better in low light than the Panasonic HMC40 I had before or the Sony FX7. It has clean HDMI out if you are looking at a hyper deck or similar recorder.
Yes, the high end pro cameras have more features. A low end pro camera will hit you for a lot more money- pretty close to double this at the low end.
The only real warning I feel is important is the weight of the lens. If you have a weak wrist or dealt with an RMI, this may be a concern. Find one you can hold and see how it feels. The video is great, though.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problem child,
The video stream is great, as it is with the VG10, and if Sony can ever fix this thing up, I'll buy it again. As it is, I returned it.
I would in any case not buy this camera without extensive hands-on testing. You probably won't like how it works, and the pressure-sensitive screen, used for most adjustments, is a nightmare. The menu strcture feels unnecessarily clumsy.
I don't know if they'll call it a VG30 or just silently upgrade the VG20, but I would expect Sony to fix this camera eventually. The potential is excellent, but this camera is not useful for me in its current form.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great camera but consider filming needs first,
GOOD: picture is great, awesome low light, huge zoom, interchangeable lens; 200mm lens is one of the best that I have ever used. Responsive and fast camera while filming. If you have other e-mounts lens or any Sony lens (adapter not included, downside) they will work on this camera. Auto focus is fast and has many features. 16-mega-pixel camera fully manual camera. Viewing display is amazing.
BAD: no auto zoom, a-mount adapter not included (expensive adapter, but cheaper then buying new lens) battery is rated for 3 hours and small (7 hour battery exist) software that is included crashes all the time (but I use adobe production pro which doesn't crash) camera mode has limited features. All features are hidden in menus. Reviewing pictures and video function on camera is slow and audio from small screen is almost non-existent.
Overall, I am very pleased with the camera and can deal with everything, if given the option I would select a camera that also has an auto zoom as well but couldn't find another that was capable of being both a D-SLR and a film camera that is this good.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BETTER THAN MY $4000 PANASONIC,
5.0 out of 5 stars Great size,
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