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Sony Aims to 'Fulfill the Needs of Filmmakers' with New NEX-VG20 Camcorder

08.24.11 @ 3:48AM Tags : , , ,

Along with those intriguing hybrid cameras, Sony also made the NEX-VG20 official today, replacing the VG10. The VG20 shoots at 1080/60p (50p in PAL countries) using a 16 megapixel APS-HD CMOS sensor (what size is that, exactly?) and takes both Sony E-mount and A-mounts lenses, which should also allow for third-party adapters. Here’s the promo video:

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Here’s another look at the camera, although it’s German it is subtitled in English, which is where I took the “fulfills the needs of filmmakers” quote from:

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There are some ghosting issues in the latter video, though that could be a problem with the output file and not the camera originals. If I remember correctly, the VG10 was plagued by aliasing problems, which presumably Sony will have tried to fix this time around; we’ll see. While the camera is a prosumer model, it will be interesting to see what happens when one sticks some manual focus prime lenses on it and ignores the more consumerish features such as touchscreen focus and the built-in microphone. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that the VG20 is primarily a video camera, it will also ship with a RAW stills mode (which the VG10 lacked). A surround-sound mic completes the package, which will be released in November for a retail price of $1,600 (body only) and $2,200 with lens. Thoughts?

[via Digital Camera Review]


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Description image 41 COMMENTS

  • Any comparisons to FS100/ F3 footage?

  • You asked : “APS-HD CMOS sensor (what size is that, exactly?)”

    The second video said “APS-C sensor” (1’25)

  • the A77 has weather sealing and in-body stabilization, which the VG-20 seems to lack

    if the A77 also has peaking, zoom-in, histograms and zebras (I know they’re all there at times, I wonder about while recording), what does the VG-20 bring to the table?

    anyway, the biggest issue is aliasing/moire, so we’ll just have to wait patiently for some sample videos to come out…

  • John Sutton on 08.24.11 @ 8:44AM

    I have the VG-10 and have been pleased with what it’s capable of. I’m really not as impressed/jealous of the VG-20 as I thought I was going to be. I do wish I had 24p and manual audio controls, but I’m not changing just for that.

    I checked and the sensor on the 20 is 23.5 x 15.6 mm while the 10 is 23.4 x 15.6, so not a big difference there.

    From looking at the specifications there’s not a whole lot performance wise that separates the 10 from the 20 in my opinion other than 24p and audio controls.

    • I think that if you come on a cinematography site and tell someone that you don’t feel that …. upgrade from only 30p to 24p and to a lesser extend 1080 60p, then I am a bit baffled :-) Look at what happened to the 5d when it was only a 30p camera and the pressure until they put a firmware update.

      • John Sutton on 08.24.11 @ 1:50PM

        What I’m saying is the 24p isn’t enough for me to sell my camera to get one that is exactly like it in every other respect. I would much rather Sony provide a firmware update so the 10 has 24p, but that’s not going to happen. As a VG-10 owner I was just trying to point out the differences between the two and besides 24p and manual audio the only changes seem geared more to consumers (i.e. touch screen) than people that frequent site such as

        • I do understand your point, I was just pointing out that on a filmmakers point of view it is a big big addition or you could say omission on the vg10. Camera like the DVX100 have had such cult status because of it in the indy filmmakers community because of it. The 5d is another example of it, in more recent history. I am not telling you that you should upgrade in anyway if for you it is not that important, but for me it put this camera back as a contender (no interest before) for doing films.

        • I understanding being defensive of your purchase, god knows we’re all like that from time to time. That said, I think you’re underestimating just how big an update this is.

          - 24p and 60p are HUGE tools in your arsenal.
          - AVCHD 2.0 at a higher bit rate = sharper, clearer image.
          - Just because the sensor is the same size doesn’t mean its similar in quality. ISO tests of this newer sensor on the NEX 5N have it performing usably at ISO 3200. You would know better, but from what I understand the low-light on the VG10 isnt anything to write home about.
          - Focus peaking can make or break your shot
          - Manual audio control is worth the price of admission alone

          I know it sucks to sell your stuff but it’s just plain wrong to say that this isn’t an update worth making. The difference between a t2i and a 7D or 5D Mark II is much smaller than the difference between these two cameras and people make that upgrade every day.

          On paper, the same filmmaker working on the same project with both cameras will find it much easier to make a film that looks and sounds great with the VG20.

          • 24 is just a hold over from early limitations of film cameras. It pans poorly and looks slightly strobey. I
            Lighting dof and composition are way. More important.
            Even James Cameron wants to change to a 48fps standard.
            I would be very stoked for 1080 60p though for slo mo and speed ramps

    • “the A77 has weather sealing and in-body stabilization, which the VG-20 seems to lack

      if the A77 also has peaking, zoom-in, histograms and zebras (I know they’re all there at times, I wonder about while recording), what does the VG-20 bring to the table?”

      That’s what I want to know!!

  • I’ll say this: this camera is clearly a shot across Canon’s bow. The body only VG20 has the same price as the body only 7d, and is clearly much more suited to film and video applications. Adapters already exist for using PL lenses on NEX cameras, and just about anything else as well. The sensor is slightly larger and closer to Super35-sized than the 7d. You can control audio, get a swivel LCD and a (low res) VF, and actual video camera ergonomics. I’m curious to hear about the aliasing and rolling shutter artifacting vs the 7d, and about the HDMI output. If it gives a clear 1080p 16×9 signal out, then it can be used with external recorders as well. Every bit the camera you’d hope for from a camera that costs less than a third of what the FS100 costs, and a seeming no brainer at the same price as the 7d.

    • Chris Hubbard on 08.24.11 @ 12:34PM

      my thoughts exactly.
      unfortunately i doubt this supports clean HDMI out =/

      • People have been using external recorders with the vg10, saying that it outputted uncompressed signal. I am also eagerly awaiting to know about it.

      • Why wouldn’t it. Even consumer camcorders have clean HDMI out. DSLRS are not meant to be film making tools.

  • Damnit – WHY do these manufacturers think that people like having touchscreens on cameras? They are a nightmare – not to mention impossible to use with gloves or to commit to muscle memory.

  • dpreview has updated some info, in particular adding a 1080p60 sample from the A77 (direct download of the camera video file, I think) and a further explanation of what the swivel screen can do:
    not the best sample I could imagine, but quite useful
    in particular, I don’t see any aliasing/moire

  • Back in 2008, I own Panasonic HDC-HS9 which is my first consumer AVCHD camera. The reason why you see ghosting it is because it was shot in 1080 interlaced. Interlaced was the big issues for AVCHD codecs when watching on a device that is progressive that brings out combing effects without a proper de-interlace. If you watch the same ghost video on a regular CRT SDTV, you might won’t notice it at all; But on a HDTV progressively, yes you will.

    This is how I experienced it when I shoot videos in 1080 60i with HS9 camcorder and watch it on HDTV. I believe this video, the camera person never shoot in 1080 60p because there is no HDTV in consumer stores can show the signal (1080, 60p). Even blu-ray players can’t show 1920×1080 60p yet. Most films are recording in 23.976 (24p) and fast motion at 59.976 (60p) or more.

    So don’t think this camcorder NEX-VG20 cant do any better unless someone do some real video testing cause promo videos never show the best out of a camera/camcorder. This is why we must see it for ourselves with better lenses and better output.

    • I’m always surprised when a major electronics company launches a new camera with anything less than stunning promo videos. I mean… in a controlled lighting setup, with a good DP, almost ANY camera can look great.

  • VG 10 Owners… You dump it at stupid price (750$ to 999$ range) and move up every few years… Price of perfection i.e.,
    The new changes each year will offer huge rewards…(RAW-24 etc.,)

    However, subject to a few more Q &A’s. (i) Full detail on power ZOOM in/outfunction

  • Last year we shot this feature film on VG 10 (we used Sony and Sigma primes):

    As the technical consultant on the film I initially suggested shooting with a 7D ( they wanted a 35mm film sensor camera, so no 5D), but the producers ultimately decided on the NEX VG10.

    This teaser has not been graded, so what you see is pretty much raw footage.

    My experience with it (as 1st AC) was that the test shots we did with nanoflash output (@ 100 Mbps 4:2:2) were pretty good , but without it and straight out of the camera we ended up with a lot of noise in low light scenes.

    I’d recommend this camera for documentary work, but for feature films it’s lacking imo.

  • AVCHD @ 60 to 80 mbps (less than currently on the hacked Gh2) and 4:2:2 would… ‘Fulfill the Needs of Filmmakers’ .

    As if they can’t do it for this camera.

  • Here’s a really shaky sample shot on the VG-20. You can’t tell anything from this clip other than the fact that there’s surprisingly little CMOS skew:

  • “A choice of seven E-mount lenses can cover virtually any shooting situation. The optional LA-EA2 lens mount adaptor provides even wider compatibility with the established family of A-mount optics. Sony is also planning to develop a third-party “eco-system” to allow consumers to use the camcorder with other brands’ lens assets.”


    Looks like quite a step-up from my FX-1′s :P

    how do you think it will compete with the 7D’s footage?

  • I have a vg10 and I have a large collection of ancient primes I use with the system (Nikkors, Zeiss, etc.) which continually amazes me with the quality of output theses old lenses produce in the way of video and still images. With that in mind, the question to ask Is, is the camera perfect, of course not. The 20 should have been the 10 when the 10 was released a year ago as the 20 has the firmware and configuration to make the camera a real success. Be as it may, the 10 shoots really good video and stills, output of which has been used in commercial video projects and high end 4/C printing. Because of my experience with the 10 has been fairly extensive, I feel the comments made about the camera are valid.

    Based on that, I can honestly say the camera performs as it should. Depth of field and color accuracy are superb and the stills are high quality. As a very experienced Photoshop user, I can justifiably say the concept of RAW is vastly overstated unless you are a photographer/retoucher who needs the highest possible content to edit as the jpeg compression of the 10 is at 10, the maximum quality setting of PS. Would I like the 20, of course, but I can live without it as the main requirement to create anything of value is to know your craft and the tools needed to do your craft well. The 10 does this for me without issue.

    • Good to hear it remoran. I guess in my mind aliasing is acceptable in video on a camera designed primarily to take stills, but when you start marketing a camera primarily for video, it seems to me it shouldn’t exhibit such problems. Going forward, I expect this to become the case; it seems we’re not there yet, is all.

  • Awesome website & discussion going on here :)

    I had to ask if anyone knows if the VG20 supports touch to focus?

    I have seen this on the NEX-5N but could not find out if this exists on the VG20.

  • vg20 great cam – yeah it has limitations but once you ditch the kit lenses and strap on some decent vintage glass the vg20 comes alive – if you want super sharp images then go Canon 7d/5ii/gh3 but if you want more movie and softer mid range the vg20 chip offers a nice chunky 16mm film look and contrast that is intriguing – forget the 25p mode as it’s adman nonsense, shoot full 50p/60p and enjoy the big HD files that can be massaged in post to great effect.