I was being overly harsh when I said Sony was bringing a knife to a gunfight with their forthcoming NEX-VG10 -- the camera does feature interchangeable lenses, a big 'ole APS-C sensor, and video-shooting ergonomics that will presumably put DSLRs to shame. But its lack of 24p (which Sony is saving for a yet-unannounced pro version) will mean most people interested in shooting narrative material will have to look elsewhere. Or will they? As it turns out, there may be a way to get 24p out of the camera yet.
Allan Tépper of ProVideo Coalition notes that there will be two versions of the camera: one for 60Hz countries (North Americans) and one for 50Hz countries (much of the rest of the world). Despite the camera's interlaced recording specification, it turns out the sensor itself is actually progressive. In Allan's words:
Sony have affirmed that the NEX-VG10’s 60Hz version will actually record progressive 29.97p (“30p”), although embedded in an interlaced transport over 59.94i, similarly as the HVR-V1U and HVR-V1N 60Hz models do in one particular mode… and that the NEX-VG10’s 50Hz version will actually record progressive 25p, although embedded in an interlaced transport at 50i, as the HVR-V1E 50Hz model does in one particular mode.
What this means is, the 60Hz version is actually shooting 30p, and the 50Hz version is actually shooting 25p -- both cameras wrap the resulting files in an interlaced container, from which the original progressive frames should be extractable with little to no loss of quality. 25p and 24p are indistinguishable when it comes to motion rendering; 25p gives every bit of the same "film look" that 24p does (assuming you use an appropriate shutter speed). As a result, you should be able to buy a PAL version of the NEX-VG10, shoot in 50i, extract the 25p footage, force the NLE to play it back at 24 fps, slow the audio down by 4% to match, and voila: 24p footage from the NEX-VG10. Yes, there are a few hoops to jump through, but no more than what we have to deal with when it comes to shooting with DSLRs today.
The real question at hand is what Sony will add to the pro version -- I'd expect true 24p, 60p, a more robust codec, better gamma matrices, and XLR audio inputs -- and what sort of premium they'll charge. Sony has a much higher-end camera market to protect -- like the six-figure SRW-9000 I shot with recently -- which, it's worth noting, Canon does not. That's why, when it comes down to which camera manufacturer will be mostly likely to get the post-DSLR cheese, I have to think it would be a manufacturer like Canon, who can throw every feature they can develop into a $6k camera, without holding back resolutions, frame rates, and codecs in order to justify the massive price difference between a $6k prosumer camera and a $200k pro camera. In the post-DSLR video camera market, Sony has its CineAlta line and Panasonic has its Varicam line to protect -- as does RED with its EPIC line. Of course, it's not a zero-sum game: however it shakes out, there are going to be a lot of great options out there soon.
Here's some footage from Bali taken with the NEX-VG10 (note that you can click through to Vimeo and download a 1080p quicktime):
Is it just me or is that bokeh ugly? And isn't that guy totally stalking the girl?
[via ProVideo Coalition]