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