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Sony NEX-VG900: a Real Video Camera, or a Full-Frame DSLR in Disguise?

01.3.13 @ 7:33PM Tags : , , , , , ,

Many had very high hopes that the first full-frame video camera from Sony, or anyone for that matter, the NEX-VG900, might be a huge step up from DSLRs, not only in form factor, but in image quality. While there may not be enough footage out there (it’s certainly not as popular as DSLRs or something like the BMCC), reviews are starting to come in for the camera. We’ve got a full review from Caleb Pike over at DSLR Video Shooter, as well as some comparisons between the VG900 and cameras like the GH2, GH3, Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Canon 5D Mark III, and the FS100.

First, here’s Caleb’s full review, which includes a lot about actually shooting with the camera, which is equally as important in some cases as the overall image quality:

Check out some more footage from the VG900 below:

A comparison from EOSHD of the VG900 with the Mark III, GH2, GH3, BMCC, and FS100:

There is a lot to like about this camera, at least in terms of specs and what it has to offer over a DSLR. I still can’t fully speak to the usability without getting my hands on one, but it seems like it will be similar to any of the video cameras you might have used in the past, like the HVX or XH-A1 — or any other cameras from Sony in the same form factor. In this camera size I feel like we can do better — closer to the Canon C100/C300/C500 — but none of them will be as steady as a shoulder camera unless you’re using some sort of rig to stabilize.

This camera likely has the same sensor as the Sony A99, which is probably the reason for the pricing — $3,300 vs. the A99 at $2,800. It doesn’t offer many of the features that one might expect in a true video camera, like ND filters, but it does have a flip-out LCD which might seem like a non-issue for DSLR users, but if you’re trying to keep things small and simple, this is still the easiest way. At this price I would have liked to have seen ND filters, but that may have raised the price too much for this camera to really compete.

I almost feel like the VG900 is in a strange in-between in terms of performance. It looks like it might resolve a bit more than the 7D/5D, but there is a bit of moire in the image. If you really need an event camera, the Sony NEX-EA50 might be a better choice, as it does basically the same thing this camera does, but in a much better form factor for shooting. You would lose the full-frame capability, but that may not be useful for everyone. It’s really going to come down to what your needs are. If you’re looking for a slight step up in image quality, and you’re interested in autofocus and the occasional 24MP still image, and the FS100 is too pricy (currently at $4,200), this might be a good option. For a lot of uses, if you don’t need full-frame and want to stick with the E-mount, the FS100 will probably give you a better image, and it has full-size XLR inputs built in.

There are other hybrid cameras from Sony in this range, like the NEX-VG30, but this is probably the “flagship” of those cameras — somewhere between consumer and professional, with just enough to satisfy one and maybe not enough to satisfy another.

Is this a camera that might fit into your shooting style? Have you used the A99, if so, would this camera interest you over that one, especially since they are very similar in specs — with the VG900 possibly having a slight edge?

Link: Episode 50: Sony NEX-VG900 Camera Review — DSLR Video Shooter

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  • From the EOSHD shootout vid, it looked worse than any of them. It got hammered in the review as well… Even so, had I not read the review to be swayed, it flat out looked bad. The A99 flick “The Calling” looked amazing and you would think this is the camera it would have been shot on, being primarily a video camera..

  • No ND filters, no XLR, lame touch-screen, unimpressive footage, moire problems, and hardly an aggressive price.

    Pass.

  • Fullframe, 60p and uncompressed output in price between 6D and 5D3. For me this is crazy deal, i would go for that. With some fast lens…im really excited. I was looking excatly for something like this.

    Only that examples from EOSHD look quite poor. I realy need to try it somewhere. But for me, someone who wants to move from cheap asp-c canons to full-frame range, this camera offers features, which seemed to be unreacheable some time ago.

    And also asp-c function for sensor. They just got me :D

    • FWIW, the Mk. III can be had for well under $3k now. And it’ll do uncompressed output in April’s firmware. Still no 60P, though.

      • VINCEGORTHO on 01.3.13 @ 9:34PM

        Hopefully in April, they can upgrade the MII to look as if it shoots 1080p and no 620p.

    • VINCEGORTHO on 01.3.13 @ 9:33PM

      I always mention the D800.
      Why not that camera. Or even a D600.

      • Ok, realizing that the d800 and d600 are respected cameras, and though Nikon made them with serious video functions, I can say that I have a friend with a d600 and its low light sucks. D800 also has ho-hum low light performance that gets really noisy with high iso’s.

        From my experience of owning nikons and canons, Nikon is really intended for photography during the day time, and canon is more for videography in the evening time.

  • Arturo sanchez on 01.3.13 @ 9:38PM

    I think that there is not a change to use nikon or canon lenses with it yet because the current adaptors like the metabones do not cover the full frame

  • Sony is really flooding the market with cameras, which is good. The hard thing to understand about this camera is that emount does not necessarily mean crop sensor. That said, you put an emount lens on and it activates the aps-c mode. If you put the adapter to amount lenses then you are able to shoot full frame. The thing is once you get amount lenses, there are no other cameras to use them on besides SLT (SONY DSLR) cameras. There is no Amount to EF or Nikon or MFT. If there was you couldn’t control aperture. It makes the case for off brand lenses with no electronics and aperture control on the barrel of the lens. With those lenses you can adapt to emount, the 5D, AF100, GH3, PL, F3 all day every day. Seems the mirror less cameras are super flexible in terms of lens selection.

    • You can actually adapt A-mount to MFT and manually control the aperture on the adapter itself. It’s even clickless, despite having a very short throw. It’s a little known fact that the Alpha mount actually rocks the house. You can get old Minolta lenses on the cheap that will continuously autofocus and track subjects on all the Sony E-Mount cameras (with LA-EA2 adapter) and adapt to MFT as manual lenses too. Same with Nikon G, except they focus backwards.

  • Arturo sanchez on 01.3.13 @ 10:20PM

    Read the description below:

    http://www.metabones.com/sony/buy-eos-nex-adapter

    Then the metabones canon-nex adapter does not work with the vg900.
    Does anyone know if there would be another option to use canon lenses with the vg900?

    • Yes, there are other electronic adaptor coming out so hopefully someone will find out what works on the VG.
      I have one (not metabones) in the mail and when it arrives it I’ll be doing a review.
      ( youtube.com/nitsanpictures ) with the NEX-6.
      I havn’t got a VG-900 but i’ll take a trip to a shop that has one and i’ll give it a go.

  • Can’t believe moire is still there at this price point.

  • Pierre Roquet on 01.4.13 @ 4:25AM

    I think Canon and Nikon should really go for this market. A video camera, at a DSLR price point, with a DSLR brain and with our current collection of lenses.

  • is it just me or is the word “shooter” misspelled in the first video titles? Someone should let them know so they can fix that, sort of embarrassing.

  • mike_tee_vee on 01.4.13 @ 11:24AM

    How is the video quality on the EA50? Is it in the same realm as the NEX 5N? Reviews seem few and far between.

  • Someone pointed that out on his site and he said he was fixing it. That was kinda funny….and painful too.

  • If you want a full frame camcorder that could use almost any FF or APS-C DSLR lens made the VG900 is it.
    https://vimeo.com/56737845
    https://vimeo.com/54180819
    https://vimeo.com/54131282

  • Wow…I was given so much bad info on this cam in HD VIDEO PRO magazine: full frame sensor shooting great in low light and heavy shadows?; XLR inputs?; lenses pop on without needing an adapter? Am I misreading these reviews again? Are they legit reviews without being bought and owned by SONY? I really thought this was going to be the cam to shoot an hellacious indie feature as opposed to the BLACKMAGIC and even the RED ( at least dollar for dollar).

  • I am going to Buy a Camera for Professional Film Making and Now my search stop on 2 Model

    1- Cannon EOS 5D – Market prise – 2,50,000/- INR

    2- SONY NEX VG 900 – Market prize – 1,70,000/- INR

    both are good quality HD picture and easy to Operate but SONY is Cheaper then Cannon

  • Hi,
    Can someone shed some light for me please. Pardon my ignorance but I dont really understand technical jargon so I’m hoping someone can give me a simple answer to my question.
    I currently own a Canon XL2 Camcorder and use a XL adaptor to attach my Canon 100 – 400 lens. By using this adaptor is magnifys the images by about 7 times…I think its 7. (superb for what I film – wildlife footage)
    I’m now looking for a HD cam, which is lighter to carry & one that will accept my Canon 100 – 400 lens and most importantly magnify the image to the same degree…does the Sony NEX VG900 tick the box? will it allow me to zoom in really close?
    Thanks in advance
    Steve

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