This is a hard one…on one hand we have a superb shallow depth of field camcorder and on the other hand limitations. I have had this camcorder for at least two weeks now and although I have not been using it for a solid two weeks I have had some time to get to know it.
I am coming to this from a professional camera users point of view so I may be a bit harsh forgetting the domestic user this camcorder is aimed at.
The first thing that has confused me is the 1080 50i now for all intent and purposes this camcorder records 1080 50i but that is capturing at 25p and wrapping it as 50i why…Confused ? Well, you’re not the only one. In brief, what’s going on is that the AVCHD standard doesn’t include 25P, but it does include 50i. This is relevant for those that want to burn a Blu-ray disk because Blu-ray uses the AVCHD standard. So it seems Sony are not only confusing the human users but Blu-ray burners as well. The main point is that if you bring your footage into Final Cut Pro it will be seen as 1080 25p.
The dreaded “Moire”. Sony seem to have taken the NEX-5 chip and stuck it inside the VG10 hoping that the DSLR problem of moire will not haunt them…wrong…surprisingly Sony have not tackled the moire problem and to be fair only appears in less than a handful of shots mainly on tiled roofs. Remember moire is a natural phenomenon with photographic sensors and most people don’t know what it looks like till pointed out to them.
Using one of Sony’s sister camcorders the MC50 I have become used to lack of sound control but the VG10 takes this to the NEXt level with no control of the sound at all which is very surprising given the price of the product and the main jibe with DSLR is lack of sound controls. You can use an external mic and headphones but beyond this nothing.
I do think Sony have maybe taken the manual zoom a tad too far with this product, domestic users have never in my knowledge ever had a camcorder with no zoom control and not only is this confusing some people but can be a turn off as they don’t understand the concept. This camcorder would have been better placed as a semi Pro unit rather than confusing the domestic user.
This camcorder does not perform well in low light although the f3.5 lens @ Wide Angle that ships with this camcorder does not do it any favours. I would like to assess the low light with an Alpha f 1.4 lens to get a true reflection of low light capability.
The menus are as I would expect from a domestic camcorder and the big thumb wheel is nothing short of a pest…sit it out a bit and give it a rubber feel and I may warm to it.
Lastly the auto focus works very well when it’s locked onto a subject but has it’s moments focusing in general…if truth be told it’s a tad on the slow side.
So whats left…well surprisingly the “look” grows on you, as long as you take on board it’s limitations and use manual focus, turn it down to 0dB, turn it onto 24Mbs, take off auto white balance the camcorder performs very well in daylight. Unlike the MC50 it does have external buttons for direct access to WB, gain etc and that has to be commended. The 18-200mm lens is very sharp and so are the 14MP JPEGs. Note. You can’t take photographs while filming and vice versa.
As I have said before this is not a domestic camcorder as it is far from a point and shoot but if you are prepared to work at it you will get some wonderful footage that only this camera can produce and it does come with it’s very own wind jammer !
Tomorrow NEX VG10 versus the DSLR