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First Impressions: Sony NEX VG-900

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today, Sony has finally outed two new NEX camcorders. One is the VG30: an update to their VG20 camcorder with an APS-C sized chip. The other is very special. Rumors have gone around the web with none of them being perfectly correct. The new camcorder is the Sony VG900; and it is a full frame E-Mount camcorder.

Wait, does that make sense? Yes. Attach an APS-C lens onto it, and it will shoot in cropped mode. Attach a full frame lens (we tested a Leica 35mm f2 that Jim from PCMag brought along) and you’ll be able to shoot in full frame mode without any problem.

Exciting, no?

Editor’s Note: Since the VG900 is probably all that you care about, we’re going to focus on that camcorder vs the VG30.

Tech Specs

VG900

- 1080p HD video at 24p and 60p

- Raw stills

- 24.3 MP EXMOR full frame sensor

- Quad Capsule Spatial Array Stereo Microphone

- 5.1 Ch surround sound

- XLR adapter will connect via the multi-interface shoe and can be powered with Phanton power

- Included 18-200mm Zoom lens (NEX, and cropped sensor lens)

- 3 inch wide touch panel

- Picture effects (god only knows why)

- Manual control jog dial for iris, shutter speed, gain an white balance

- Memory stick duo

- Headphone jack and microphone jack

- $3,299.99 for Body Only

Ergonomics

The VG900 is a world’s first: it is the very first camcorder with a 35mm full frame sized sensor.

The camera comes with an E-Mount and using the included adapter, can attach Sony Alpha lenses. And there are many very good ones out there. Their entire line of primes are simply gorgeous. When putting such a lens on the camera though, I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t feel a little unbalanced. You’ll definitely need a steadicam or shoulder rig with one. Or, you can go super old school and use a tripod.

For sound, the top of the camcorder has a 5.1 surround sound system. If it’s anything like previous NEX camcorder models, it will be quite good.

But you can have more than that for audio though if you want. There is also an XLR adapter kit for use of better microphones.

The attachment gives the user much more control over the audio and it also includes a giant shotgun microphone if you’d prefer to use that as well.

On the other side of the camcorder are a couple of controls for the user to handle if they choose to hold it like a traditional consumer camcorder.

On the inside are much more controls: such as the peaking setting, display, and the touch LCD panel. Some of the exposure settings can be controlled here, but there are also dials for you to do so as well.

Autofocus

Get this: with NEX lenses, the camera focused super quick.

Put on an Alpha lens, and it will be slow as molasses. If anything, I would still say that it is faster than Canon’s T4i with EF glass mounted on it.

First Impressions

I really didn’t get a lot of time with the camcorder, but I absolutely do have to say that if anyone in the camcorder industry is going to take this seriously, it may very well be the news shooters. This isn’t a cinema camcorder because the codec is still AVCHD.

The VG900 has a handle on top: which is an essential for news shooters when needing to shoot from the hip. Additionally, you’ve also got and XLR adapter for better audio.

I’m interested to see how the footage performs when different gain is used though. As a former news videographer (you have to start somewhere as an intern) I would want to stop my lens down to around F8 or so when interviewing someone with a full frame camcorder. With that said, I would surely need lite panels like the Switronix Bolt that we reviewed if the gain needs to be kept down lest there be too much noise in the image.

Pair the lenses with something else like the Light Craft Workshop Vari ND filters and you could be all set.

Although this may sound like an extremely crazy, the end of DSLR video could be upon us. Why deal with all the ergonomical problems that a DSLR provides you just for such beautiful footage?

That, and why the hell hasn’t Canon released something like this?

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