September 8, 2011

Sony's VG20 Large-Sensor Camcorder Not Looking So Good

I suppose it makes sense that with the $5,000 FS100 out there, Sony would not want to make the newly-announced $1,600 VG20 a direct competitor. At the same time, you'd think they would want the picture quality of the VG20 to be significantly better than the $600 NEX-5N hybrid camera. But here's some video evidence from EOSHD's Andrew Reid that shows otherwise:

Those are some pretty hideous moire and aliasing artifacts. Andrew doesn't mince words in his post, stating the following:

The VG20 is an absolute piece of crap. This is a camera that is meant to sit below the FS100 and is a good $1700 more expensive than the NEX-5N and yet it has a plethora of disadvantages compared to the diminutive mirrorless camera. It brings so little to the party for that extra $1700 namely a top handle and better audio. But in adding those, it also brings massive operational and build quality frustrations to the hapless operator.

See the full review at EOSHD for more.

Link: Sony NEX 5N *vs* FS100 and NEX VG20 – hands on comparison - EOSHD

[thanks, Samuel]

Your Comment

31 Comments

Woah! I don't quite recall the last time a new piece of equipment from a major player came out and got a review calling it an "absolute piece of crap"! It's actually kind of refreshing, to be honest.

September 8, 2011 at 1:46PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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My be it is "refreshing" for someone, but not for me. I actually does not understand what Mr. Reid is proposing. Go make a documentary with NEX - 5N ??? How one can compare "incomparable" things??! Just for the purpose of "bla–bla–bla"? Well, mission accomplished. People even feel "kind of refreshing". But it doesn't correspond the reality... Concerning the footage: it's an old trick.

September 8, 2011 at 3:55PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Dmitry Poletaeyeff

This is why I stopped buying Sony after the VX1000. They always purposely degrade their pro-sumer line to protect the hugely expensive pro cameras. I feel much better now that there are more real choices out there.

September 8, 2011 at 9:42PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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please not making fun how I am talking, please

September 8, 2011 at 10:12PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Oleg

As is shown in the video, this camera is for the birds...

September 8, 2011 at 5:53PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Max

thank you Norm

September 9, 2011 at 9:48PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Lou

Looks like it needs a slightly stronger OLPF...or less in camera sharpening.

September 8, 2011 at 7:05PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Michael

LOL...Andrew's blog IS refreshingly politically incorrect...and, generally, spot-on. Maybe a few more reviewers like this and PanaSony would think twice before releasing overpriced and under-specified crap. But, then again there will always be the true believers...

September 8, 2011 at 8:20PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Skeptikal

Andrew's blog has many strong benefits to the HDSLR community, namely in the Anamorphic Shooters branch of this group, with that said I take most, if not all of his camera reviews with a grain of salt. I feel as though he fixes or misrepresents a camera's capabilities to suit his points of a HDSLR based future. If one needs any proof and look at his post about the FS100. It's a bit harsh but I feel he is the "Fox News of the HDSLR community." I don't need to have my opinion swayed by someone justifying a personal investment in DSLR video.
I recommend anyone who reads his blog to go to actually check out the cameras themselves before rejecting them based on his word alone.
With that being said, the VG line is a piece of crap.

September 9, 2011 at 11:07PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Everyone knows EOSHD is full of crap.

September 8, 2011 at 10:16PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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bob

why do you say that?

September 9, 2011 at 1:11AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Dimitry is right to point out that the review is very confused and deeply, deeply flawed. Comparing the NEX 5 and VG20 is an absurd comparison. Certainly the image quality is identical because they are exactly the same sensor and lens system. The image is very good - far from perfect but none the less very good. Remebering we're talking about a sub $2k camera and a $500 point and shoot.

But to dismiss a top handle, proper video camera body, manual audio control and an exceptionally good built-in microphone (probably the best built in mic ever put on a camera) as not worth the extra money and "brings so little to the party" is utterly ignorant of working professional needs. And Im not talking about PROFESSIONAL being based on payment, expense or other arbitrary indicators - professional means being able to shoot and deliver day in day out a consistent product. All the wanky art videos in the world dont amount to much when you have daily deadlines to deliver product in a professional environment.

To suggest that such daily grind video production could be done on a NEX 5 point and shoot camera is just deluded - particularly in the documentary space where the VG20 is clearly aimed. The VG20 (and vg10 before it) however are very much capable of this kind of production because of exactly the things the author saids are not worth it.. The Vg10/20 is far from perfect but I have used it for many such doco shoots both as a B-camera and a primary. And I know a number of institutions and doco makers who are doing the same.

Why...? Because its NOT a DSLR. Because it handles like a proper video camera. Because you can shoot handheld All-Day Every-Day with it without going insane or breaking your wrist. Because its HAS a top handle which is Crucial and Manual audio which is Essential. Because it has excellent onboard mic for good quality reference audio or even primary audio in run-and-gun production. Hook it up with a Beachtek and you have dual XLR audio. No other Videocamera on the market gives you Real Video camera handling in a body actually made for shooting Video with interchangeable lenses, at this tiny price point. The only alternative to the VG10/20 in the same price range is a DSLR... And a DSLR, with a body entirely NOT suited to handheld video production, with no manual audio or a top handle or a decent onboard mic, is simply NOT a suitable option for many forms of video production at all.

I love my DSLR as much as the next guy, the NEX5 is a lovely little camera but the perspective expressed in this review in regard to the VG20 is deeply flawed and I cannot help but see it as written by someone who has never really had to work day to day in video production. You cannot do day to day - especially handheld and documentary - with a Mirrorless point and shoot camera like NEX5. . Its just the wrong tool for the job in every way. Thus to suggest that the VG20 is not worth the extra money just for a 'top handle, video body, manual audio and good mic' is absurd and ignorant. Those features the reviewer dismisses are exactly the most important and valuable parts of the Vg20, the parts that make it Absolutely worth the extra money for anyone that needs a very low cost interchanagble lens camera for day to day real-world video production.

Its times like this that I lament the dumbing-down and mis-information that the internet has delivered by way of prolifically ill-informed user-reviews that far too many base their production choices on. The lesson is Dont believe everything you read and interrogate the validity and parameters of the Authors claims before buying into the rhetoric.

Mike Jones

September 8, 2011 at 10:44PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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to me, ‘top handle, video body, manual audio and good mic’ are definitely not worth $1000
it looks like Andrew also thinks it is too much, but you think it is not
at least he said why he didn't like it, so you can form your own opinion

in any case, it's not just that $1K higher price: you're also loosing flexibility on the picture style settings, and thus image quality

September 9, 2011 at 3:27AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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I agree absolutly with you, Mike Jones. The VG20 is a videocamera, and the Nex 5 is not. If you are going to work daily recording videos, no doubt about your election: the VG20. I also have a Canon 7D, and it´s wonderful, but to record video... a video camera.

June 5, 2012 at 4:05PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Gotzon

Hi guys,

I think it's much too early for making such final statements on a product which is not really available yet.

The VG20 has some really nice features, and from that point of view it's likely the best what you can get for your money in the prosumer range (sad but true).

So maybe in 3-4 months we will really be able to get a true image about this baby.

September 9, 2011 at 2:14AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Tim Zett

I don't hate panasonic GH-2 but everytime EOSHD review something, he always pointed out the GH2 that's finally made me hate GH-2. Go figure.

September 9, 2011 at 3:30AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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I'm regularly astonished at how EOSHD/Andrew Reid is able to have so many readers believing so much garbage. I stopped visiting his site when he began heralding the GH2 as the second coming.

Poster Mike above is exactly right. The VG20 isn't for everyone but that does not make it crap. Sadly, because some webmasters have loud voices and like to be controversial in order to get more readers, the misinformation of the masses will continue. Perhaps an even sadder reality is the obsession of shooting pretty pictures of inanimate objects with lots of creamy bokeh and dazzling anamorphic lens flares in place of actual storytelling will also continue...

September 9, 2011 at 5:35AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Neil

GH2 with the hack is the best in it's price class for video.That's why he heralds it and compares it with all other large chip cams. Very simple concept, except that most people drink lots of canon flavored Koolaid.

September 9, 2011 at 8:47AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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JonF

Key words there being "GH2 is the best in it's price class for video" - In it's price class? i.e. cheap-ass plastic pieces of garbage. Also, if you're going to make sweeping generalized statements like "the best" you're a) paying no attention to the fact that everyone has a different set of requirements and b) you're sounding like you're drinking the same EOSHD Koolaid as all the other angry, arrogant and opinionated Andrew Reid zealots.

The GH2 has a lot to offer. So does the 5DmkII. As does the Sony and Red cameras discussed in this thread. Some people like apples. Some like oranges.

September 9, 2011 at 3:54PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Neil

That kid Andrew deletes most adverse comments at his site and under his videos, he's that petty. EOSHD is widely known as a joke resource and totally arbitrary. And yes, his world view is motivated by having pinched pennies (pence in his case) for a GH2, and he'll defend that "major" investment of his at any cost.

The truth is, any “test” from an amateur filmmaker at a tradeshow without verifying symmetrical manual settings between devices is minimally useful. And let’s not forget, besides all his GH2 crowing, that all DSLR sensors are horrible at downsampling and if there were GH2 footage side-by-side with these, aliasing would show too. Naturally the NEX-FS100 is the dramatically superior performer. That should be obvious to anyone who watches the quick-and-sloppy “test” video.

If this sounds cranky and mean, I am proposing that the field of “testing” is serious stuff, and if you can’t afford or don’t have access to the real gear, you do no one a favor by just showing up at a trade show, popping in an SD card and making your rounds with rushed results.

Could everyone just start ignoring this kid? That includes you, Nofilmschool.com.

September 10, 2011 at 10:12PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Im afraid I agree with Paul, Koo. I was really disappointed to see NoFilmSchool - which is generally a very reliable and bullshit-free resource - parroting the ill-informed nonsense from Andrew Reid and presenting it as a valid assessment. Best to keep the filters up to ensure NFS retains its value.

Mike

September 11, 2011 at 6:45PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Who says ya have ta have just one camera? I have a love-hate relationship with SONY, but I purchase their products anyway. My first camcorder from SONY in AUGUST 2007 was a HDR-SR7 producing over 1 million clips n photos. The hard drive gets flakey when it gets warm so for about a year I kept ice packs on it for summer baseball games. I just bought a NEX VG10 in August and now have about 50,000 clips and photos from it. I get great video imaging from it, but I know it would be better with 60P instead of 30P converted to 60I. The 14 megapixel JPEGS are turning out better than any camera I've owned since my NIKON 6006 film camera. I'm miffed that the VG20 is coming out with features that were missing from my VG10. I plan to order one ASAP and I'm struggling financially though. I wanted 60P and RAW capability from the start. The microphone on the VG10 produces excellent spacial sound, so that advantage on the VG20 plus manual control will be welcome. Zooming with the emount lenses during action is difficult and produces unwanted movement plus a little noise compared to the buttery smooth zoom control on the SR7 with the Carl Ziess zoom lens. Surprizingly the 18 to 200MM lens is very good at macro zoom and brings shots like bugs on a flower in very nicely. I shoot sports videos and am constantly zooming in and out to add some visual action to boring sections of a baseball game for example. I liked the touch screen controls on the SR7, and have managed to learn the push button controls on the VG10, but am looking forward to the VG20's touch screen. The SR7 had 3 seconds of video at 120 frames per second expanded into 12 seconds of slow motion(GOLF SHOT) feature, with some resolution being comprimised. I like using slow motion often in my Sports Team season highlights videos. Neither the VG10 or the VG20) have slow motion capability, however in post production with SONY VEGAS STUDIO PLATINUM slow motion capability of any 60I clip renders slow motion reasonably well. 60P would probably look better. I was considering a DSLR after the SR7 but decided on the VG10, and now VG20 because someone reported that their DSLR wasn't capable of recording long periods of time without overheating and quitting after 7 minutes of continuous recording, something to consider. Also the image stabilization on the VG10 and 20 is excellent. I plan to order a VG20 body only, get a NEX7 bundle with the other two emount lenses and use the NEX7 in situations where I need to, "look like a tourist, shoot like a pro", without scaring people with the larger video camera. Also I like the panorama feature on the NEX7 where in video production I can zoom/pan slowly across the long photo image. Further I was a Nikon buff before videos, and the VG10/20 has aftermarket adapters to allow use of NIKON lenses. I plan to get a PRO NIKON camera such as the D3s or D3X, (When will they make a D3XS with video?), and use my lenses from it with the VG20, (manual only). Nikon also has a 64x spotting scope and adapter that I can mount the VG20 on also. After that a PRO video camera with slow motion and silky smooth zoom. Until then I'll hammer my VG10 every day, SONY products are RUGGED. Beyond that a Phantom camera which specializes in slow motion. Beyond that HASSLEBLAD H60.

November 10, 2011 at 10:47AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Paul Harris

I’ve owned one for 6 months, put a Nikon lens on it and looks as good as any DSLR camera.
Oh, wait it is a DSLR camera in a different form factor. FAnBoYs..

June 20, 2012 at 3:39PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Greg Hall

Own a VG 10 and a NEX 5 and had to shoot live music at a summer festival. NEX was constantly overheating and would take 30-45 mins to cool down leaving me with no B camera footage. The NEX is not suitable for anything professional. I learned the hard way and will not bring it on any shoots that matter.

August 16, 2012 at 9:41PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Colin Morris

I started out in television news shooting Betacams, then, HDCAM, then DSLR. I am a working professional, as in I pay all my bills from the proceeds of my work in television, film and docs. I have 2 5D MKII's, a 7D, and I just bought 3 VG20's last month. Why? Well, I needed a run and gun b-roll and quick interview cam to do light commercial work with, and it preforms beautifully. Does it match the RED or Arri cams? No, and it was never meant to. If I am doing a quick doc style package for a non profit in a third world country (Haiti to be exact), I don't want to fool around with my 5D on a Gini Rig with a crazy ass follow focus, worrying about dual system audio and all the other fun with a DSLR. If I lose a a VG20 (and I did in Haiti), it only set me back $1,700. The moire and other small issues were well worth the trade off. And honestly, only some rich kid with time on his hands to compare the various cameras and pick them apart could possibly notice the difference between a 5D, a RED or a Sony VG 20/30. The hilarious thing about all these "expert" reviews, is that most working professionals work is distributed on the internet, if you can tell the difference between my work on a 5D, a RED and the VG20, then you are just bullshitting. Sure, RED and 5D have way better dynamic range, but in most well lit, properly shot situations, it all looks very good. Just my opinion, which is based on real world (third world) experience. I am happy to post links to my doc when it is finally cut and on the festival circuit. Thank you all for reading my rant :)

February 22, 2013 at 11:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Todd

Anyway we can discuss per years and we can use 2 Alexa, 5 Red, 9 Canon 5d mk XVII, compressed, uncompressed, in RAW... etc. etc. but telling a story as Stanley Kubrick was able to... even with an old Arri BL with just one lens... is another HISTORY!!! Hi guys... don't worry, be happy... and take it easy!!! :-)

May 18, 2013 at 1:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Orso

Or just to mention one of our best living "maestros" like Ettore Scola that is shooting right now a Federico Fellini bio-history, here in Cinecittà in his mythic stage 5!!!

May 18, 2013 at 1:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Orso

Gain is controlled with the wheel, so I'm not sure why you had to go into the touchscreen to do that. Ergonomics are great IMO. This review was obviously done by a DSLR gate keeper. Th only people who measure ISO are DSLR shooters. This is a good camera, IQ is good. Peaking is awsome. 1080p at 50/60 fps is outstanding. This camera has turned my 7D into a paper weight.

January 2, 2014 at 1:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Logan

Moire, Aliasing and LLN aren't as bad as the 7D (which is appalling) In my job i need the AF and sound capabilities on this type of camera.

January 2, 2014 at 1:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Logan

Well looking back at this site now, it all seems to have been a lot of huff and puff over very little. I have been using my vg 20 for a couple of years and am very happy with it. The camera is not a DSLR and is not fraught with all the problems of having to get decent sound etc but performs well for my needs. But at the time the investment looked somewhat risky. I do love my Sony NEX VG 20 but I do get that it is not the ideal camera, it is one camera in a kit of tools, like any other professional.

May 20, 2014 at 5:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Armchair Geographer

Still using a Nex VG-20 in 2016, haha, paired up with a Nex 5, it does provide a great A & B camera for corporate stuff, YouTube videos and events... It's not perfect, but I'm not scared busting it out for filming the family or throwing it in a bag to go. I guess that's the main take-away for me, they're both cameras I'm still using nearly weekly for work and play, even after 5 - 6 years.

August 24, 2016 at 2:42AM, Edited August 24, 2:42AM

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Chris Bentley
Media & Production Coordinator
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