One thing you wont be seeing in the near future is all the meccano that surrounds the DSLR for the VG10 but then it’s just appeared so who knows. I actually like the look of the pull focus, deep lens hoods and bolt on’s you can get for the DSLR it makes them less photographic which is probably the intention.
Lets look at the sensor, it’s the only part of the VG10 that shares a common thread with the DSLR. The APS HD CMOS sensor, sadly Sony decided not only to use an APS photographic sensor but did nothing to combat “moire” which has opened a wave of criticism and sneering from the DSLR camp, though as a camcorder in both practicality and ergonomics it is 10x easier to use that a conventional DSLR.
Sony have taken the decision to abandon the zoom rocker switch seen on 99% of all video cameras in order to accommodate the E Mount camera lenses, that one decision should have told Sony not to bring this camcorder into the domestic domain but that’s a decision Sony will have to stand by. Some people will tell me that a DSLR does not have a zoom switch and that Sony were right but I think when you re-design the wheel you don’t have to conform to “whats not done elsewhere” this camcorder may have a large sensor but personally I would have preferred a choice of wether to use a zoom lens or a photographic lens…small point.
Strangely the swivel LCD is smaller than I was expecting and like most LCDs useless in bright sunshine, hence the loupe for the DSLR and more recently small hi rez monitors/viewfinders. The VG10 has a second viewfinder on the back of the camcorder but Sony forgot to make the LCD inactive during filming as once you choose to deploy the viewfinder you have no access to the switches and thumbwheel that sit behind the closed LCD. The VG10 does allow low angle shots that are almost impossible with 95% of todays DSLRs.
Picture quality during daylight is as good as any DSLR with that creamy shallow depth of field on the tighter end of the 200mm lens, the 200mm allows drop dead gorgeous pinpointing SDoF where your subject walks into and out of focus.
Sony’s decision to bring this camcorder into the domestic market takes the camcorder away from headlines like the “DSLR killer” as clearly it’s not going to have an impact on the DSLR market, it’s another tool for the serious amateur film maker in my opinion and bucks the trend for camcorders that in general have large depth of field.
It gives you 1080 25p footage which is less of a hassle for UK users than our American counterparts stuck with 30p, we are a lot closer to the magical 24p that everyone and his filming granny bangs on about personally I defy anyone who can tell the difference between 24 and 25p in reality. As far as editing…the VG10 scores with the AVCHD codec and the fact you can play in your footage straight off the camcorder into your NLE something the DSLR does not share.
So to answer my own question “how does the VG10 compare to the DSLR” it’s a NEX-5 in a more practical body so it’s pedigree starts from a photographic sensor. To be honest it’s a good first attempt combining the best of the NEX range of cameras in a camcorder shaped body and don’t forget it can also take the full range of “A” mount Sony lenses with an adaptor, as yet I don’t know anyone who has tested the VG10 with large aperture f 1.4 lenses which might just help it’s poor low light reputation.
The NEX VG10 is number one of a long line of SDoF camcorders from Sony and by this time next year we will no doubt see a string of such camcorders from Panasonic, Canon and JVC. To reply to a fellow blogger I would have never seen the VG10 in a roll for serious filmmaking thats what the new December launch Panasonic AF101 is poised for. In fact if you are interested Philip Bloom is trying out a 75% finished, one battery Panasonic AF101 as I write so nip over to his blog to see his “3 Days with the AF101”.
In conclusion the video manufacturers are in the same position as Sony was with the iPod…too little to late, the DSLR horse bolted well over a year ago and Canon will never be so grateful, Sony is once again playing catch up…something they are getting used to. I don’t actually think Sony has totally understood what the market is looking for in a video version of a DSLR, no sound control and moire are starters for ten but no doubt the VG11 will have all the bells and whistles…something we are very used to in the video world, they just never get it right first time !