Photokina Report: First hands on with the Sony NEX-VG10

As some of you may have picked up by now I enjoy shooting video even more than shooting stills, provided I have the right equipment. We also know that all the DSLR manufacturers are trying to get in on the action of the 5D MkII. We also now that Sony has been hanging back.

We recently reviewed the NEX-5 which is a crossover camera offering the simplicity of use of a compact camera. This camera was the first interchangeable lens camera available from Sony to shoot full HD video. The NEX-VG10 I am talking about here is the video form, big brother of the NEX-5.

I have always maintained that although a DSLR can shoot HD video and the quality is unquestionable, there is a reason a video camera has always had a very similar shape or form. This is because you hold a camera differently when shooting video as opposed to shooting stills. The reason people ‘struggle along’ with a DSLR is the size of the sensor. The bigger sensor of the DSLR allows better low light performance and the ability to use faster aperture lenses gives you more control over depth of field.

With the NEX-VG10 you get the same 14MP EXMOR APS-C HD CMOS sensor that you will find in the NEX-5 and Sony’s Alpha range but in a conenient to use video form factor. It even uses the same E-Mount lenses as the NEX-5 and will take the A-Mount Alpha lenses with an adapter. Current the A-Mount adapter only supports manual focus on the lenses but will have autofocus compatibility with the A-Mount Lenses (SAM\SSM only) in the firmware update announced for November this year.

Now you are getting the same video performance as a DSLR because of the bigger sensor and the convenience of interchangeable lenses in a form that is familiar to the videographer and will immediately feel comfortable in the hand. The NEX-VG-10 has a standard side grip with strap for eyelevel shooting as well as a handle on the top of the camera for getting those low angle shots. My only complaint here is the lack of a record stop\start button on this handle.

The NEX-VG10 fetaures a Quad Capsule Spatial Array Stereo Microphone (that is a mouthful) for great sound using four omni directional capsules and advanced processing algorythms. The NEX-VG-10 also features a mic input via a mini-jack socket, more importantly for the serious amateur it has a headphone mini-jack socket for monitoring your audio while shooting.

Some may complain about the lack of a motorized zoom facility but there has to be a trade off somewhere for being able to use almost any lens on this camera (with an adapter). I have also found that when using a high quality zoom lens like the 18-200mm E-Mount lens that comes on the NEX-VG10 Manual zoom can be done with more precision than with a motorized zoom lens.

All in all this is going to be a great seller. The ability to shoot professional quality video using many different lenses is going to attract many amateur as well as semi professional and professional users.

I am eagerly anticipating the day I get to call a NEX-VG10 mine.